Ides of March

Today, March 15th, is the date that Julius Caesar is said to have been assassinated in the year 44BC. In the Roman way of reckoning things, this day would have been known as the Ides of March. William Shakespeare made this day famous with the line in his play, Julius Caesar, “Beware the Ides of March!”, said by the soothsayer to Caesar, warning him of his imminent demise.

Shakespeare aside, historians tell us that the soothsayer was named Spurinna and that he had predicted the death from omens that he found during the reading of animal entrails. Life was obviously a bit more interesting back then; they also had “sacred chickens” that gave omens depending on their eating patterns. It is said that Hannibal won one of his major battles in Italy (some 170 years earlier) because the Roman side did not heed the auguries of the sacred chickens. There is another great story from the First Punic War, where the sacred chickens were on a battleship and they would not eat (a bad sign), so the general threw them overboard saying, “If they will not eat, let them drink!”. Good times.

Anyway… getting back to This Day In History, a couple of years ago archaeologists claimed to have found the exact place where Caesar was stabbed (Et tu, Brute?…). It is in the archaeological site in the center of Rome called Largo di Torre Argentina (Square or Park of the Argentine Tower). Here is a photo of that site:

Photographed by Fr. Bryan Jerabek on January 18, 2013

In more recent times this area of town has been famous for its stray cat population. However, in recent years it seems to have been greatly reduced. I don’t think that the ancient Romans had a special use for stray cats, but I could be wrong.

Beware the Ides of March!

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One Response to Ides of March

  1. Magdalena says:

    Don’t know specifically about the ancient Romans, but the ancient Egyptians used cats to keep the mouse population from eating the harvest stored in the graineries.

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