Poetry Friday: Beware the Ides of March!

Tomorrow is March 15, which on the Roman calendar was known as the Ides of March. Now, the Ides are only on the 15th in March, May, July and October. The rest of the year, they are on the 13th. But in March, they are the 15, and it was on March 15, 44 B. C. (709 AUC, for those of you using the Roman calendar) that Gaius Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times at the foot of the statue of Pompey, his rival in the Civil War.

William Shakespeare was a Latin teacher before he was an actor or playwright, and as such he was no doubt well-educated in Roman history. So he had a lot of knowledge to draw on when he wrote his play, Julius Caesar. Today, in honor/mourning of the death of a man who was at least very smart, if not very nice, I give you selections from Shakespeare’s play.

Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear; * * Seeing that death, a necessary end,

Will come when it will come.

  • Act II, Scene 2.

I could be well mov’d if I were as you; If I could pray to move, prayers would move me; But I am constant as the northern star, * * Of whose true-fix’d and resting quality There is no fellow in the firmament. The skies are painted with unnumber’d sparks, They are all fire and every one doth shine, * * But there’s but one in all doth hold his place: So, in the world; ‘tis furnish’d well with men, And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive; Yet in the number I do know but one * * That unassailable holds on his rank, Unshak’d of motion: and that I am he, Let me a little show it, even in this, That I was constant Cimber should be banish’d, * *

And constant do remain to keep him so.

  • Act III, Scene 1
Kimberly Hirsh @kimberlyhirsh