Each year when March 15 rolls around, many of us grope mentally backward to 9th-grade English class and do our best to remember who exactly who it was that warned Julius Caesar to "Beware the ides of March" and why. But in the years since Shakespeare first coined the phrase in 1599 the fatal date has become well ensconced in literature. To bring yourself up to speed on "ides" literature, here's a beginner's list.
Of course you want to begin with the Bard. The quote comes from Act 1, Scene 2 of "Julius Caesar." Caesar is in a crowd when a seer calls out to him.
Caesar: Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.
Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March.
Caesar: What man is that?
Brutus: A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
Caesar fails to heed the words, but Brutus will ultimately be among the assassins who kill Caesar on the 15th, the ides – or day of the full moon – of March.
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