Saturday, 15 March 2014
15th March - Beware the Ides
They say that though the years pass -William Shakespear's words remain relevant to the modern era.
Somehow, the words of warning from Julius Caesar will always be slightly watered down after a few series of Frankie Howard's "Up Pompeii" - but it seems that there is nothing really special about the Ides, other than it would be a bad day for the emperor...
I was unaware that the Ides were a standard counting measure for every month - particularly in those days when most would not have a calendar, and it would be rare for Julius to hear the town clock striking... especially thirteen!...
But a little research shows that the following were fairly standard: (though with typical Roman vagueness!)
Kalends (1st day of the month)
Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months)
Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months)
The remaining, unnamed days of the month were identified by counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones, or the Ides. For example, March 3 would be V Nones—5 days before the Nones (the Roman method of counting days was inclusive; in other words, the Nones would be counted as one of the 5 days).
Days in March March 1: Kalends;
March 2: VI Nones;
March 3: V Nones;
March 4: IV Nones;
March 5: III Nones;
March 6: Pridie Nones (Latin for "on the day before");
March 7: Nones;
March 15: Ides