Many people associate March 15th, the Ides of March, with the assassination of Julius Caesar…but the Ides of March had been around long before Caesar was bumped off by his friends.
The Romans didn’t number days of the month from the first to the last; instead they counted backwards from three fixed points of the month: the Nones, the Ides, and the Kalends. The Ides occurred near the midpoint on the 13th of some months, but falls on the 15th in the month of March. The Ides of each month was sacred to Jupiter, the Romans’ supreme deity, and notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debt. So how does this relate to Caesar?
According to Plutarch, a seer named Spurinna had warned Caesar he was in danger that would come no later than the Ides of March. On his way to the Theater of Pompey, he passed the seer and said, “The Ides of March are come,” in a jesting way. The seer responded with, “Aye, Caesar, but not gone!”
As they say, the rest is history. Caesar’s death was a closing event in the period known as the Crisis of the Roman Republic, and triggered the civil war that enabled Caesar’s adopted son, Augustus, to become the first Emperor of the Roman Empire.
Heads up guys: if you think the movie The Ides of March is about Julius Caesar…it’s not. However, if you want to watch a film about the ancient Roman Dictator during the Ides of March as a way to celebrate events from long ago, here’s a few that made my list.
Top Five Films About Julius Caesar and Rome
- Cleopatra (1963), starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
- Julius Caesar (1953), starring Marlon Brando and James Mason.
- Spartacus (1960), starring Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis.
- Rome (2005 – 2007), starring Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson.
- Gladiator (2000) – This isn’t about Julius Caesar, but it’s a fantastic film featuring Rome, and is always worth a re-watch. Gladiator landed 29 film awards, including the Oscars for Best Picture, and a Best Actor win for Russel Crowe. It’s among the IMDb’s Top 250 Films and is also a MUST-SEE RunPee favorite.
All these movies are Oscar winners and spectacular in its own way, but my strongest recommendation is Rome, a 2005 – 2007 mini-series shown on HBO. It has been praised for its historical authenticity, high production values, and simultaneous grit and splendor. The show won 19 awards and was nominated for an additional 36 awards.
Beware the Ides of March,
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