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Photo: Corina Daniela Obertas (Shutterstock) If you’re noticing an existential gloom hanging over all of humanity today, rest assured: It’s not because today is “The Ides of March.” In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar , first produced in 1599, a soothsayer repeatedly warns the titular character to “Beware the Ides of March,” and the phrase has resonated throughout Western culture since as a dire warning about a dark day. But what does it mean? And why, exactly, should we beware? What are ‘ides?’ On the Roman lunar calendar, “ides” refers to the first new moon of a month, which usually falls between the thirteenth and fifteens. The “Ides of March,” though, refers specifically to March 15, no matter when the new moon rises. What’s the deal about March’s ides? Shakespeare’s play is based on political intrigue within the Roman Republic—Julius Caesar really was assassinated by a group of senators on March 15, 44 BC, setting off the a civil war that ultimately resulted in the formation of the Roman Empire. A fortune-teller warned Julius to watch out on the 15th (at least, if you believe the account of Roman historian Plutarch). The prescient warning from the seer was specifically directed to Julius Caesar, though, not to everyone, so even if a seer really could see the future, there is no reason for us to be more wary of The Ides of March than any other day. How do we celebrate the Ides of March? In the modern world, we don’t […]