Thursday, March 15, 2012
The Ides of March
Let's take a moment, shall we, to remember that brilliant general and elected dictator, Julius Caesar. Contrary to Shakespeare's incredibly inaccurate and fictional account, poor Julius was assassinated on the steps of the Senate, not because he was a crazed, power-mad politician out for his own gain, but because he was changing long established laws, working on political reform, and fighting corruption in the Republic. He was, in fact, trying to stop the greedy bastards who were corrupt and most definitely didn't want such sweeping changes to their extravagant way of life.
We also have to discount Hollywood's version of events, both with the assassination, and regarding Cleopatra. She was an integral part of things for over a decade, but she didn't have a torrid affair with Marc Antony while she was with Caesar. She gave Julius a son during one rendezvous, but generally she ruled in Egypt and pretty much did whatever the heck she wanted, happy that Caesar stayed in Italy minding his own business. It wasn't until after the murder that she got together with Antony, eventually having three children with him. And yes, she and Antony both nuked themselves, but again, not in the way Hollywood or Shakespeare tell it. But that's a story for another day.
In a final, bizarre twist, after Julius was murdered--and a few civil wars later--the Republic became the Roman Empire and most of his changes, modernization of law and politics, and a better quality of life for the masses, came to fruition. I can't help but wonder what would have happened if greed and corruption hadn't taken him down on those Senate steps.
Oh, and there was no "Et tu, Brute?" comment either. Honestly, Shakespeare really has a lot to answer for, the conniving knave.
And the Ides of March? Julius changed the calendar. It was originally based on the phases of the moon, but he changed it to follow the movement of the sun, instituting the 365-day year, inventing Leap Year, and giving us the calendar we still use today. The middle of a 30-day month--the 15th day--were called Ides. Little did he know that being murdered on the Ides of March, would still resonate over 2,000 years later.