It’s an odd word to modern ears, but it all goes back to the original Roman calendar which divided the year into ten months, beginning with one dedicated to the Roman god of war, Mars. The days were then counted down in relation to the lunar phase of the moon using three markers: Kalends, which came with the first phrase or new moon, Nones, denoting the first quarter moon (usually on the fifth or seventh day of the month) and Ides, which marked the full moon, falling either on the 13th or 15th day.
The Ides of March was thus initially the first full moon of a new year, or March 15. Romans knew how to party, of course, and so the day was generally celebrated down on the banks of the Tiber River with food, wine, and music. And in the era before the Empire in Rome, the Ides also marked the beginning of a new political year in which the two annually-elected consuls took office as the leaders of the duly constituted Republic.
Not long after changing the calendar, however–modestly naming it after himself, we might note–Julius Caesar also decided to change his own terms of office, becoming the Dictator Perpetuus, or “dictator for life.” And it was that monarchial grasp for power that led a group of Roman senators to try to take their Republic back by stabbing Julius Caesar to death at a meeting of the Senate itself on March 15, 44 B.C.
It’s said that he was stabbed some 23 times, in fact, by over sixty conspirators, but apparently only one of the wounds proved to be the fatal one, giving Caesar ample time to register his shock at the betrayal of even his friend Brutus. And so forever after, at least as envisioned in Shakespeare’s words, a soothsayer’s prophetic warning to Caesar has linked the day with the deed: “Beware the Ides of March.”
Given what has transpired over the past few weeks in the Ukraine, it is now clear that there is another Caesar on the world stage, whose brutality and grasp for power likewise seems to know no bounds. The task of those who believe thus is to fervently pray that Vladimir Putin will either listen to God, or be dealt with by God who is hearing the cries of His people, not just in Ukraine, but also in Russia which has fallen under Putin’s cruel grasp.
If I were Putin, however, I think I might take a lesson from history on this Ides of March 2022 as to what eventually happens to all dictators. For the phrase which some have attributed to Brutus (though he probably never actually said it) is nonetheless true: Sic Semper Tyrannis. Thus Always to Tyrants.