In William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, the charismatic Roman potentate is ominously told to "Beware the ides of March." In the Roman calendar, the ides refers often to the 15th day or the midpoint of a month, when the moon is at its fullest. The Romans would commemorate the rites of Mars, the god of war, around that time. Caesar was an excellent warrior and military strategist and on the verge of extending his grip on the reins of power in the Roman republic, but perhaps he was a bit too cocky. Not heeding the warnings of his allies (or Shakespeare's seer), he stepped into the Senate on the ides of March, 44 B.C., and was knifed to death by colleagues and friends. Caesar may not have feared the ides of March, but generations of future demagogues would quiver at the thought of meeting that same end.
Next Dec. 7, 1941