Beware the middle

When you think of today, March 15, what do you think of? It’s the day after Pi Day and two days before St. Paddy’s (​not St. Patty’s​) Day.

And you might have heard that it’s a day you’re supposed to “beware” of.

That’s right, the phrase “beware the Ides of March” refers to March 15. Ancient Romans ​parsed months​ a little differently than we do today, dividing months into groupings of days that fell between specific named days of the month: the ​calends​, the ​nones​ and the ​ides​. The first day of the month was the “calends,” followed by a period known as “before the nones.” After the nones — the fifth or seventh day of the month, depending on the length of the month — came the period simply known as “before the ides.” That, of course, was followed by the “ides,” which falls on the 15th day in months with 31 days. Following the ides, we have “before the calends,” as the calends would then be the first day of the next month. Complicated enough for you?

Tl;dr, “beware the Ides of March” means “beware March 15.”

But why March? After all, each month has an ides.

History buffs might recognize March 15 as the ​date Julius Caesar was assassinated​, and literature buffs might recognize the line “beware the Ides of March” from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

Capitalize "Ides of March" when referencing the bad omen: "He warned her to 'beware the Ides of March.'" "Ides" is a term ancient Romans used to refer to the middle of the month. The Ides of March is March 15, the day of Julius Caesar's assassination. The phrase "beware the Ides of March" comes from Shakespeare’s play "Julius Caesar."

So there you have it: The famous bad omen has its origins in Shakespeare’s play and not in the idea that there is anything bad about this day of the year. However, due to the ancient Romans’ fun way of organizing the month, the ides falls on the 13th in other months, so it could refer to ​Friday the 13th​.

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