The Ides of March has come (March 15)

(N.B.  This is a very long post — I don’t expect everyone to read it.  But for anyone who feels the way I do about Cleopatra, in particular, and the Goddess, in general, I believe you may really enjoy it. 😎

I remember the term, the Ides of March, from when I was in the 8th grade or so.

Elizabeth Taylor as "Cleopatra" 1963

Somewhere around that time, I saw the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton movie, “Cleopatra.”

In the language of the time, this film  “blew my mind.”  It was the most expensive film ever made, to date.  And, remember, I was a full-fledged drama queen by the 8th grade, and can you imagine a movie that would appeal more?  I couldn’t, and can’t now.

The film was not my first experience of the story of Cleopatra VII of Egypt.  When we were in Turkey, I read a biography, written for teens.

Cleopatra and Ancient Egypt -- A Ladybird Book by L Du Garde Peach

(I can’t find the actual book, but this children’s book is similar.)  Her story enchanted me from the very start; the beautiful queen, with a wealthy country, loved by an emperor and a famous general.  When I finally saw the movie, I connected the knowledge I had from the book with the opulence of the film.  All that gold, the exotic animals, the dancers, the thousands of slaves, (yes, at 13 I still thought that was terribly romantic.)  And most especially, the affairs of Cleopatra and Caesar, (Rex Harrison,) and Cleopatra and Antony, (Richard Burton.)

I remember well the prediction about the Ides of March. It may have been my first exposure to the concept of a soothsayer.   This is an historical account attributed to Plutarch:

According to Plutarch’s account, written in 75 AD, Caesar had decided, wisely, to remain within the safety of his chambers on 15 March. However, Caesar’s ‘friend’ Decimus (Albinus) Brutus (not Marcus Brutus) managed to convince him that the astrologer’s warnings were nothing more than superstition; so Caesar attended the Senate anyway on that date. On his way to the Senate, Caesar contrived to meet up with Spurinna and, upon seeing him mocked, ‘The Ides of March are come’. Spurinna replied, ‘Yes, they are come, but they are not past’. Later that day – on 15 March, 44 BC – Caesar’s enemies assassinated him in the Pompeii theatre, at the foot of Pompey‘s statue, where the Roman Senate was meeting that day in the Temple of Venus.    (Written by According to Plutarch’s account, written in 75 AD, Caesar had decided, wisely, to remain within the safety of his chambers on 15 March. However, Caesar’s ‘friend’ Decimus (Albinus) Brutus (not Marcus Brutus) managed to convince him that the astrologer’s warnings were nothing more than superstition; so Caesar attended the Senate anyway on that date. On his way to the Senate, Caesar contrived to meet up with Spurinna and, upon seeing him mocked, ‘The Ides of March are come’. Spurinna replied, ‘Yes, they are come, but they are not past’. Later that day – on 15 March, 44 BC – Caesar’s enemies assassinated him in the Pompeii theatre, at the foot of Pompey‘s statue, where the Roman Senate was meeting that day in the Temple of Venus.  (Written by According to Plutarch’s account, written in 75 AD, Caesar had decided, wisely, to remain within the safety of his chambers on 15 March. However, Caesar’s ‘friend’ Decimus (Albinus) Brutus (not Marcus Brutus) managed to convince him that the astrologer’s warnings were nothing more than superstition; so Caesar attended the Senate anyway on that date. On his way to the Senate, Caesar contrived to meet up with Spurinna and, upon seeing him mocked, ‘The Ides of March are come’. Spurinna replied, ‘Yes, they are come, but they are not past’. Later that day – on 15 March, 44 BC – Caesar’s enemies assassinated him in the Pompeii theatre, at the foot of Pompey‘s statue, where the Roman Senate was meeting that day in the Temple of Venus.  (Written by BigAl Keeper of the Glowing Pickle and Monobrows, 2005;  Edited by:
The H2G2 Editors, 2005)

Why, Caesar?  Why, oh, why didn’t you listen; you didn’t heed the warning of the soothsayer, and you ended up stabbed to death by friends and senators in the Temple of Venus.  (I can hear myself saying this — I bet you almost can too!)  Deep Breath!!!

And then we have Cleopatra’s death.  Many historians today believe the story of the asp in the fig basket to be a cover-up; they believe Caesar’s son, Octavius, had her killed.  But I prefer the asp.  Her emperor lover is long dead, her famous-general lover has died now as well, throwing himself on his sword, (in the movie, anyway,) because he is told Cleopatra is in her tomb.  (Her mausoleum was where she spent the last several hours of her life, safe from Octavius, or so the story goes.)  She had nothing more to live for, so she has her handmaidens dress her in about 2000 pounds worth of gold, and the three of them lie down and pass the snake.  So when did this description become a comedy?

Seriously, my notions of royalty, of dignity in the face of adversity, of the power of lost love, and of the unfairness of the world to this female Pharoah, all came from this short time in my life, when Elizabeth Taylor rode into Rome in that gold dress.

Cleopatra enters Rome -- Elizabeth Taylor, company, 1963, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

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5 responses to “The Ides of March has come (March 15)

    • Your Grace, I am beginning to think we were separated at birth — except you already have a twin, right? So maybe we made some decision before we were born! Who knows? wooooo-oooooooo-oooooooooo! 😎

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