The Ides of March is the 74th day in the Roman calendar, which corresponds to March 15 on our calendar.
Romans used the day as the deadline for settling debts, and the day was also marked by several religious observances.
Each month has an Ides, relating to a full moon as the Roman calendar was lunar based.
The Ides of each month were marked by a sheep sacrifice to Jupiter, the Romans’ top god.
On the Ides of March, they held the Feast of Anna Perenna, a goddess whose festival marked the end of the ceremonies for the new year.
Towards the end of the Roman period the Ides also marked the start of a week-long period marking various festivals celebrating Cybele and Attis, two mythical gods.
The Ides of March is just a day in the Roman calendar but it took on much more significance when it became the day Julius Caesar was murdered in 44BC.
Such an infamous event solidified the day in history and became a turning point in Roman culture.
Where does 'Beware the Ides of March' quote come from?
While the Ides existed long before the Elizabethan era, the phrase "Beware the Ides of March" was not famous until William Shakespeare.
Renowned poet and playwright, Shakespeare, wrote The Tragedy of Julius Caesar which was first performed in 1599.
Shakespeare's plays were first published in Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, now known as the First Folio.
Julius Caesar is classed as a tragedy play in the First Folio, which was published in 1623 after his death.
"Beware the Ides of March" is uttered by a soothsayer telling Julius Caesar that his life is in danger in the play.
The soothsayer tells Caesar to stay at home on March 15 and be careful what he does.
The Roman emperor was assassinated on the day in 44BC.
Since being used as a warning to Caesar in Shakespeare’s play, the phrase has been used to foreshadow something bad happening.
Why is the Ides of March on March 15?
Instead of numbering the days of each month sequentially the Romans used three fixed points in the month and counted back from those fixed points.
The Nones were either on the 5th or 7th, the Ides on the 13th or 15th and the Kalends on the first of the following month.
The Ides were meant to be determined by the full moon and Romans based their calendar on the lunar cycles.
The Ides of March would have marked the first full moon of the year, according to their calendar.
In March, May, July, and October, the Ides fell on the 15th day.
What happened on the Ides of March?
Caesar was stabbed to death during a meeting of the Senate on the Ides of March in 44BC which may have involved as many as 60 conspirators and led by Brutus and Cassius.
According to the Greek biographer Plutarch, a seer had warned that harm would come to Caesar no later than the Ides of March.
On his way to the Senate, Caesar is said to have passed the seer and joked: "The Ides of March are come", implying that the prophecy had not been fulfilled, to which the seer replied "Aye, Caesar; but not gone".
Shakespeare dramatized the assassination and its aftermath, with the words used as a warning to Caesar in the play.
Since then the phrase has been used as a warning in other situations and hence became superstitious.
The phrase "Et tu, Brute?" was popularized by Shakespeare in the same play, although he was not the first to use it.