Yesterday was the famous Ides of March. The Ides weren't a holiday, but a term used in Roman calendar system which was based on three dates in each month, known as the Kalends or Calends (think calendar), Nones and Ides. The Kalends always falls on the first of the month, the Nones, depending on the month, falls on either the fifth or seventh day, and the Ides is eight days after the Nones. Because the Nones falls on March 7, the Ides of March falls on March 15. In April, the Nones falls on the 5th and thus, the Ides of April is on the 13th. The Ides of March achieved fame because that is the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar. If only Caesar had listened to his wife, Calpurnia. According to the Greek historian, Plutarch:
πρῶτον μὲν καὶ μάλιστα τὸ βραδύνειν τὸν Καίσαρα τῆς ἡμέρας προηκούσης καὶ δυσιεροῦντα κατέχεσθαι μὲν ὑπὸ τῆς γυναικὸς οἴκοι, κωλύεσθαι δὲ προελθεῖν ὑπὸ τῶν μάντεων. First, the day being very advanced, Caesar was delayed by his wife and remained at home on account of the bad omens of the seer.
Life of Brutus, Ch. 15, § 1 (my translation). Eventually, Caesar ignored his wife's advice and as they say "the rest is history".
There are a number of misconceptions about Caesar and his assassination. For example, Caesar was not killed in the Roman Senate House, but in the theater of Pompey. The Roman Senate was meeting at the theater because the Senate House was being restored after being burned in a riot. Another misconception about Caesar is that his last name was "Caesar". Roman names often, but not always, consisted of three parts: the praenomen, the nomen and the cognomen. The praenomen was the given name. Caesar's praenomen was Gaius, which is a very old Roman name that was originally spelt Caius. It is derived from the Latin word meaning joy - gaudium. The nomen was the family name. Caesar's nomen was Julius. This was a clan name. Julius is derived from the name of Aeneas' son, Iulus, and thus is associated with one of the central foundational stories of ancient Rome. The cognomen was essentially a nickname. There are hundreds of different cognomens. Some referred to personal traits, such as caecus (blind) others to personality traits, such as iocundus (pleasant). The derivation of "Caesar" is uncertain and much debated. Eventually, the Romans turned it into a title which was adopted by the Germans (Kaiser) and the Russians (Czar).
Word of the Day
My use of "nonage" was featured in the Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day podcast last Friday.