Roman Celebration of the Ides of March

Everyone thinks that the Ides of March marks the period in which the emperor of Rome, Julius Ceasar, was assassinated. While it happened during the Ides of March, the assassination is not the sole meaning.

To make things worse, Shakespeare described the assassination in his play as ‘Beware the Ides of March’. Since then everybody started associating it with the same.

Roman Celebration one of Ides of March meanings
Roman Celebration one of the Ides of March meanings

This might come as a surprise to many, but the Ides of March existed even before Julius Ceasar became emperor.

As events and festivals in the Roman empire go, Ides of March was just one similar event. But it signified two important milestones in the Roman calendar.

Here are the different Ides of March meanings.

Ides of March Meanings

Ides of March signified the New Year:

Many people have difficulty figuring out what the word Ides actually means. Ides is one of three ancient markers used to reference dates in relation to lunar phases.

Ides signifies the first new moon of every month. The other two ancient markers are Kalends and Nones.

The Ides of March in particular signified the start of the New Year in the Roman calendar.

It fell on the period between March 13 – 15 and was always an occasion for celebration.

It signified the start of the preparation for war

In the ancient period, people did not fight throughout the year. They had to retreat during winter, it was a common thing back then. They did not have enough resources to sustain the army. They had to feed them and keep them warm, which was not feasible in any aspect.

So during winter every empire laid low. What the Romans did differently was that they signified the first new moon in March as the time they would begin their preparations for war in the upcoming months.

Why this was impressive is that the other empires put off the preparation and planning till the end of April. As the Romans started early they were better positioned to win most wars and the size of the Roman empire is a testament to that.

The generals also were rotated accordingly, no general was allowed to stay as the head for a prolonged period of time. Every person serving in the army got his chance to be a general.

The only way you would scupper your chance is by being totally obnoxious and stupid. But the soldiers were pretty smart and focused.

It was during the Ides of March that new generals would be appointed and they would in turn lay down the battle plans for the forthcoming battles.

There are the two important Ides of March meanings, other than the death of Julius Ceasar. If you are interested in the death of Julius Ceasar, there is a wonderful painting of the same by Vincenzo Cammucini.

Adithya V

I have an innate interest in art and I am starting this blog to document some of the amazing things I learned. I would segregate my content in chronological order which would make sense for any beginner to read and make sense of it all.

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