All Episodes

March 15, 2024 7 mins

The Ides of March is an artifact of an ancient Roman calendar that's stuck with us thanks to Julius Caesar getting himself assassinated and William Shakespeare writing about it. Learn more in this episode of BrainStuff, based on this article: https://history.howstuffworks.com/history-vs-myth/ides-of-march.htm

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mark as Played
Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Brainstuff, a production of iHeartRadio, Hey Brainstuff, Lauren
Vogelbaum Here. Thanks to a murder in Ancient Rome and
a play written by William Shakespeare, people are still proclaiming,
beware the IDEs of March. This infamous day has become

(00:21):
synonymous with betrayal, lost loyalty, and unwelcome surprises. So what
is the IDEs of March? And should it really make
us wary? Ancient Romans, those clever folks known for aqueducts
and amphitheaters, also had a hand in developing a predecessor
to our modern calendar. The name they created for the

(00:43):
first day of each month, Calends, eventually led to the
modern word calendar. They also determined that one day each
month would be known as IDEs, a day that often
corresponded with religious observances. According to their reckoning, the IDEs
fell on the thirteenth day of you each month, with
the exceptions of March, May, July, and October when the

(01:04):
iides occurred on the fifteenth. But it was the iides
of March that became a real stickler. It presented a
deadline on which citizens were expected to settle all of
their debts. It became a day of celebration for those
who received payment, and a day of woe for those
who paid. For many, it was probably a little both.

(01:24):
The concept of IDEs was closely tied to the way
people of ancient Rome tracked the passage of time. The
Latin route of eyd means to divide, and in keeping
with the sentiment, the iides took place about midway through
each month. The iides also corresponded with the rise of
the full moon. This worked well for as long as

(01:45):
the lunar cycle and the calendar months matched up as expected. Eventually, however,
a mismatch between the two was apparent. A solution was
presented in about forty five BCE, when days were added
or removed so that the calendar would stay in sync
with astronomical seasons such as solstices and equinoxes. The resulting

(02:06):
Julian calendar was based on Earth's revolutions around the Sun.
It was a three hundred and sixty five day year
divided into twelve months, with an additional day added every
four years to resink the calendar, an event now known
as a leak year. The Julian calendar was named posthumously
for the military general and politician Julius Caesar, who had

(02:27):
declared himself ruler of the Roman Republic back in forty
nine BCE. For the article this episode is based on
How Stuffworks. Spoke by email, Kelly Ann Diamond, PhD, an
assistant teaching professor at Villanova University. She said, what is
interesting is that the change came about after Caesar had
spent some time in Egypt, specifically in the city of Alexandria.

(02:51):
The Egyptians had developed previously a calendar of three hundred
and sixty five days. However, they did not add that
extra day, so the Egyptian calendar drifted one day every
four years. Through ancient writings, including those of the philosopher Plutarch,
it was recorded that Caesar sought help from expert mathematicians,

(03:11):
including in Alexandria, and adjusting the calendar, and Diamond said
this is important to note because ancient Egypt does not
always receive the credit it deserves as part of the
foundation of Western culture. Usually the story begins and ends
with Julius Caesar and relegated to the footnotes is the
fact that the Egyptians were technologically savvy and passed on

(03:32):
their wisdom to the Roman world. For a time, this
Julian calendar seemed to propose an ideal solution, until people
realized that an extra day every four years was too many,
and a modified Gregorian calendar was developed in fifteen eighty two.
The Gregorian calendar is now used as the official civilian

(03:53):
time tracker in most parts of the world. Even so,
the IDEs of March from the Julian calendar is still
part of our collective consciousness, thanks in large part to
Caesar's untimely debt and the Shakespeare play that immortalized it.
Okay in forty four BCE, about five years into Julius

(04:14):
Caesar's rule of Rome, things seemed to be going well.
He had a number of military victories under his belt
after taking over parts of what's now Belgium, France, Germany, Spain,
and Switzerland, and he was generally quite popular among his constituents.
As Caesar had appointed several political leaders the comprised Rome Senate,
but tensions were building. Members of the Senate worried that

(04:38):
Caesar's mounting popularity and his recent self appointment as dictator
in perpetuity would lead to a disastrous political outcome for Rome.
Some senators feared Caesar would disband the Senate and rule
of his own accord without their input. The brewing opposition
to Caesar's rule came to a head on the IDEs
of March March fifteenth in forty five for BCE, when

(05:01):
about forty Roman senators stabbed Caesar to death as the
group was on its way to a sporting event at
the Theater of Pompeii in Rome. The conspiracy, led by
Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus, was kept under
wraps by the dozens of senators involved. Houstuffworks also spoke

(05:21):
by email with Kate Wiswell, historical hobbyist and author. As
she said, Julius Caesar managed to anger enough people that
he was taken out by his own senate for the
greater good. Sadly, his removal did not usher in the
revolution people had hoped for, because they fought so much
about how to replace him that they ended up with
yet another empirical Caesar just like him. After a period

(05:45):
of public outrage and a series of civil wars, Caesar's
nephew Octavian began calling himself Caesar Augustus and claimed rule
of what would become the Roman Empire, ending ancient Rome's
brush with the government ruled by representatives of the people.
But fast forward to the turn of the sixteen hundreds
ce Throughout the Renaissance there had been a renewed interest

(06:08):
in cultural touchstones of the past as a way to
help society move forward. This included an interest in, for example,
the historical events of ancient Rome. Back in the thirteen hundreds,
Dante had written Brutus and Cassius into the deepest part
of the Deepest Circle of Hell in his work Inferno.
It's no surprise that Shakespeare chose this richly metaphored and

(06:32):
richly biographed story is the basis of a play. Julius
Caesar was probably the first play performed upon the grand
opening of the New Globe Theater in fifteen ninety nine,
and it was actually just one of four plays about
Caesar from that decade that have survived. But the ethical
questions that Shakespeare's play raises have helped it survive across centuries,

(06:54):
and with it the line beware the IDEs of March,
spoken to Caesar by a Susai, predictor of the future,
whom Caesar promptly ignores, so that's where the phrase comes
from and why you probably don't need to beware of
March fifteenth, unless you're getting a little overly ambitious there.

(07:14):
If so, might want to check that today's episode is
based on the article no need to beware the IDEs
of March actually on HowStuffWorks dot com, written by Lareel Dove.
Brain Stuff is production by Heart Radio in partnership with
how stuffworks dot Com and is produced by Tyler Klang.
Four more podcasts from my heart Radio, visit the iHeartRadio app,

(07:36):
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

BrainStuff News

Advertise With Us

Follow Us On

Hosts And Creators

Josh Clark

Josh Clark

Jonathan Strickland

Jonathan Strickland

Ben Bowlin

Ben Bowlin

Lauren Vogelbaum

Lauren Vogelbaum

Cristen Conger

Cristen Conger

Christian Sager

Christian Sager

Show Links

AboutStore

Popular Podcasts

The Bright Side

The Bright Side

Start your day with The Bright Side, a new daily podcast from Hello Sunshine. Co-hosted by journalist, TV host, and podcaster, Danielle Robay and Emmy-nominated journalist, host, and producer, Simone Boyce, The Bright Side brings your daily dose of culture and inspiration – with the latest trends, celebrity interviews, and real conversations with women doing amazing things while navigating life’s transitions, big and small. The Bright Side is a talk show created to inspire, educate, and empower women as they tackle life each day and add joy to their morning routines. Join Danielle and Simone and the Hello Sunshine community every weekday for entertainment, culture, wellness, books, and more.

Ways To Win

Ways To Win

Winning is an everyday mindset, and the coaches are here to help. Hosts Craig Robinson and John Calipari use their on-court wisdom to solve your off-court problems. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Dateline NBC

Dateline NBC

Current and classic episodes, featuring compelling true-crime mysteries, powerful documentaries and in-depth investigations.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.

Connect

© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.