Twenty-three Stabs on Caesar
Death of Julius Caesar by Vitorio Camuccini
Good friends, go in, and taste some wine with me;
And we, like friends, will straightway go together.
Julius Caesar Act II, Scene 2
A few scenes before Julius Caesar utters one of the most famous last words in history, he blurts out a pair of statements and invites his friends to a little wine party. Although a textual interpretation asserts that the party was in defiance of his wife’s persistence to have him stay home because of nightmares and signs pointing to his death, Caesar’s celebratory mood was actually consistent with societal celebrations at that time:
During the late Roman Republic, a new year’s festival was held on the ides of March in which people would gather a mile outside of Rome on the Via Flaminia by the banks of the Tiber River. Participants celebrated with food, wine and music and offered sacrifices to the Roman deity Anna Perenna for a happy and prosperous new year. Between 222 and 153 B.C., the ides of March also signaled the beginning of the new consular year, in which two annually-elected consuls took office as leaders of the republic (More on the historical context of the Ides of March).
After Caesar’s assassination, the Ides of March became primarily associated with Caesar’s tragic death. I am often baffled1 when I encounter individuals who appear clueless when the context of a conversation allows me to
nerdily incorporate Ides of March and/or “Et tu Brute” in a sentence. Thoughts of 23 stabs to my already broken heart sometimes comes to mind.