Monday, March 15, 2010

Beware the Ides of March... or Not...

Seeing as I'm NOT Julius Caesar, I think I'll be just fine today.

No back-stabbing necessary for me.

It's funny the things you remember from enforced assignments from school days of old -- Julius Caesar (the one by William Shakespeare)  was one of those assignments. I never had a problem with reading Shakespeare -- in fact, I found it fascinating, unlike some of my classmate who felt that reading and trying to understand Iambic pentameter was more in the realm of pulling teeth.  Thing is, of that particular play, the quote about the Ides of March is pretty much all I remember.
except for the fact that the Ides of March was the day that every Roman senator took a stab (literally) at Julius Caesar. That was one ANGRY bunch of senators. 

But there was one bit about this Ides business that bothered me right from the beginning -- why is it only MARCH that has Ides?  Well, technically, I know that the other months probably could have the 15th of the month be called the Ides... but the only one we ever talk about -- or even remember after 400+ years, is March. 

What about beware the Ides of August?  (My grandmother's birthday was August 15th -- and frankly, on a BAD day, I'd definitely be wary of her and it).

Beware the Ides of January.... just doesn't have the same ring to it.

And that, I suppose is the insidious nature of the works of Shakespeare (not in the bad sense, but the gradual, yet overwhelmingly prevalent nature of his words and how they have morphed into parts of our life that we don't even realize.)

We use phrases from Shakespeare REGULARLY in our every day lives and most times we don't even realize where they came from.

I've always been more fond of the comedies than the tragedies -- though Kenneth Branagh has made a real impact with some of  his re-interpretations of the historical plays.

And, I should probably hate to admit it, but one of my FAVES is Kiss my Kate with Katherine Grayson and Howard Keel.  Not only are the tunes catchy, but you can really see the shrewish nature of Kate at the beginning.  I've  never believed that a bit of pushing women around will make them turn to mush, as this play / musical implies, but as far as musicals go, it's one of my favorites.

So, sure - beware the Ides of March.
Don't let the senators take a hack at you,
and before you speak, think about where that turn of phrase, or pithy statement, or hackneyed old quote came from before you utter it.

In other words,

Brush up your Shakespeare!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, just for weird future reference, the Ides of March, May, July and October are on the 15th. For every other month the Idea are on the 13th. Go figure.