Thursday, March 15, 2012
Wait a second! That's not how this is supposed to go down...
March 15 and Julius Caesar are forever interlocked in history...
Long before the famous play that we all are made suffer through in high school English, the real story of the ides of March unfolded in the Roman Senate in 44 BC with the culmination of 60 different men taking a stab at the would-be dictator Julius. Ironically, only 23 wounds were recorded by Suetonius, the physican who examined Caesar's body post-hummous, with a single chest wound being the likely fatal blow.
Apparently Roman aristocrats weren't accustomed to doing their own dirty work...
The term ides simply refered to the middle of the month for March, May, July and October on the Roman calendar. These dates were often celebrated with a festival honoring the god Mars. But then again, the Romans were forever celebrating something with a festival and parades. After 44 BC, the date took on a completely different context for the Romans, and then again for the world when Shakespeare's play debuted around AD 1599.
The Ides of March have come.
Today, most of the Western world reflects on the events of that tragic day well over 2000 years ago. The date has taken on an ominous feel that is easily understandable. The real question to ponder though is: Who were the real bad guys as the demise of Caesar played out?
Not so simple to answer. While Caesar obviously got the worst end of the deal on the ides of March, the resulting consequences of his murder would ultimately result in the formation of the Roman Empire under his heir, Octavian, who would become Caesar Augustus and the first Roman Emperor. Consequently, that title raised Octavian to the position of deity in the eye's of the Romans. An honor also bestowed to Julius some years after his death...however that works exactly.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Did the conspirators acted on a desire to preserve the Roman republic or in defense of their own positions of power? Regardless, the Roman people were completely appalled that a small group of upper-class aristocrats had the audacity to take the future of Rome's fate into their own hands and rebelled against the Roman Senate.
That's right sports fans. Instead of embracing the attempt to save a governing process with representation of the people (said very loosely), the mob rose up and supported a would-be dictator that was the first in a line of several brutal rulers over the Roman Empire. That makes no sense to our society which heralds the greatness of democracy. Why would anyone in their right mind chose a dictatorship over democracy? Wouldn't anyone prefer at least some say in how their government functions?
Maybe the Arab Spring of 2011 will become the new ides of March...but only time will tell exactly how that plays out...for better or worse.