What the Ides of March can teach us today

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"Watch out for the March ides!" This expression is thought to many of us as a result of Shakespeare used it in his tragedy "Julius Caesar", named after the well-known Roman normal and politician who was as soon as the strongest particular person in the world.

The warning is one that each one Americans would do properly to take to coronary heart in today's troublesome and complicated instances.


The ides of March in query had been March 15, 44 BC. More Americans want to consider how lengthy we can tolerate disruptions in the functioning of our federal authorities, postpone our upgrades to our growing older transport and water provide infrastructure, reside with ever-widening gaps between the comparatively few haves and the many have-nots, assist an economically and human pricey pre-war conflict on terror that’s fought by 1 p.c of our inhabitants, ignore the fragmentation of data in order that there isn’t a widespread foundation for an knowledgeable and respectful public debate and attribute our issues to immigrants, illegally and legally.


We shout with the assist of Shakespeare and Roman historians: "American citizens, beware of the ides of March."

This just isn’t a trivial matter, as we can see through the use of Julius Caesar for example, a wise and brave public determine and an completed army chief who Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson and Karl Rove appear like beginner politicians.

In the second scene of Shakespeare's play, throughout the public celebration of Caesar's best triumph, a fortune teller – truth-teller – proclaims his warning of a tumultuous crowd. Caesar asks who this man is. Brutus, a detailed affiliate who we all know will later assist Caesar, explains that "the fortuneteller is waiting for you for March's." Caesar desires affirmation that the fortuneteller is introduced head to head. We hear for the third time inside seven strains of the piece & # 39; Beware the March IDes & # 39 ;.

Shakespeare wished this warning to stay with us if we might comply with the political maneuvers of Caesar's rivals and the miscalculations made by the cleverly clever Caesar that might quickly price him his life. But the self-righteous actions of all the leaders of Rome and of the individuals who supported their varied teams would result in growing violence and bloodshed over the identified world and, inside a number of a long time, to the finish of the Roman Republic.


Fifteen years sooner than the motion of Shakespeare's play, Caesar permitted land-grant laws designed to assist Roman army veterans and the poor in the metropolis. As the University of Texas of the Austin alumnus and the historic author Philip Freeman put it, Caesar's invoice introduced large advantages to Roman residents, and it price the Roman treasury no denarius. # 39 ;. The robust objections of Roman aristocrats of the previous guard in opposition to the Bill and the political chicanes they tried to dam had been primarily based on political self-interest and aimed toward stopping Caesar from growing its recognition and energy base.

Even in historic instances, Caesar & # 39; s state of affairs in 45 and 44 BC stood out as a case examine of the pitfalls of energy politics. After defeating the military of his rival Pompey in the Battle of Munda in Spain on March 17, 45.C., Julius Caesar was appointed dictator, a title given to a pacesetter in instances of want. He is at the top of his energy and recognition. He doesn’t need a fortuneteller with out political energy or financial affect to affect his life with a prophetic warning. So, Caesar rejects it: "He's a dreamer; let's leave him: pass."

Caesar's carelessness has price him his life. An previous supply calculates that greater than 80 conspirators deliberate the homicide of Caesar. His opponents had been senators who not dominated for the widespread good, if that they had ever achieved so. They had been accompanied by those that had change into wealthy with the assist of senators and different authorities officers. They wished their energy and status again. They killed Caesar three days earlier than he was scheduled to steer the Roman military in opposition to the Parthen in what we now name the Middle East.

Our lives proceed to endure from advanced issues that self-governing political leaders refuse to resolve. Let us no less than take heed to the concepts of March.


Tom Palaima is a professor of classics at the University of Texas at Austin. Al Martinich is a professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin.