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The Ides of March

Filed under History/The Book of Days

Thanks to Chambers’ Almanac, The Book of Days:

The assassination of Cæsar on the Ides of March, a. c. 44, was immediately preceded by certain prodigies, which it has greatly exercised the ingenuity of historians and others to attempt to explain.

First, on the night preceding the assassination, Cæsar dreamt, at intervals, that he was soaring above the clouds on wings, and that he placed his hand within the right hand of Jove. It would seem that perhaps some obscure and half-formed image floated in Cæsar’s mind of the eagle, as the king of birds,—secondarily, as the tutelary emblem under which his conquering legions had so often obeyed his voice; and thirdly, as the bird of Jove. To this triple relation of the bird, the dream covertly appears to point. And a singular coincidence is traced between the dream and a circumstance reported to us, as having actually occurred in Rome, about twenty-four hours before Cæsar’s death. A little bird, which by some is represented as a very small kind of sparrow, but which, both to the Greeks and Romans, was known by a name implying a regal station (probably from the audacity which at times prompted it to attack the eagle), was observed to direct its flight towards the senate-house, consecrated by Pompey, whilst a crowd of other birds were seen to hang upon its flight in close pursuit, towards Pompey’s Hall. Flight and pursuit were there alike arrested; the little bird-king was overtaken by his enemies, who fell upon him as so many conspirators, and tore him limb from limb.

More about The Ides of March (and the Ides in context of the Roman calendar) or more of The Book of Days’ commentary about Julius Cæsar.

I read The Book of Days’ entry for each day of the year during the year 2000 (the “Book” is actually a 2-volume set of approx. 1500 pages). It’s a fascinating glimpse of what was probably common knowledge in the Victorian age. More info:
Chambers’ Almanac, The Book of Days.

Posted by Leslie, March 15th, 2011

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