About 2,054 years ago, Julius Caesar should have heeded that advice from his soothsayer. If he had just listened to his wife’s dreams and stayed home on the Ides of March it might have saved him from having a very bad day. And while it might have ruined the ending for William Shakespeare’s famous play, Julius Caesar, it could have spared high school English teachers from having to explain the Roman calendar to generations of tenth graders. Every month has an “ides”. It’s the Latin term for mid-month. In March, May, July, and October the ides falls on the 15th. In other months the ides falls on the 13th. For triskaidekaphobics, who fear the number 13, that means the ides of those other months are the ones to be wary of, especially if they fall on Friday.
Speaking of phobias, it’s fairly well known that Julius Caesar suffered from ailurophobia, a fear of cats. Since cats were highly regarded in Egypt, I wonder if that ever created a problem in his relationship with Cleopatra? Perhaps Caesar had a touch of divination skills of his own, because today Torre Argentina, the site of his assassination, is a sanctuary for the famous feral cats of Rome. Estimates are that the city is home to over 300,000 strays whose ancestors probably stowed away on Roman ships after the fall of Egypt. The cats are welcome citizens of the city and are often featured on postcards and in travel guides.
As for me, I prefer to spend the ides curled up in my chair with my cat on my lap, watching a DVD, listening to a CD, or reading a good book; perhaps a novel about ancient Rome, a mystery solved by a cat, or a guide to divination. It’s also a good day to brush up on my Latin skills, using the library’s free online language program, BYKI, which has over 80 languages to choose from. Some other library items that may interest you:
Imperium : a novel of ancient Rome by Robert Harris – a fictional biography of Marcus Tullius Cicero, the politician and superb orator who rose to the empire’s highest office after starting as an outsider from the provinces.
Medicus : a novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth Downie – this series debut is set in Roman-occupied Britain and features a wry army doctor, Gaius Petreius Ruso, who lands in the middle of an investigation into the deaths of two local barmaids.
Cat of the century : a Mrs. Murphy mystery by Rita Mae Brown – in this new mystery starring Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen, the sleuthing cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and corgi Tee Tucker, they must catch a killer determined to turn a birthday party into a funeral.
Astrology and divination by Robert M. Place – a guide to Tarot cards, astrology, and other forms of divination throughout history.
The complete Arkangel Shakespeare : 38 fully-dramatized unabridged plays on CD
Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran – the story of Cleopatra and Marc Antony’s orphaned children, who were taken to Rome to be raised as hostages in the palace of their father’s greatest rival.
Monk : Season five – The phobic detective’s latest season of adventures.
Rome – Traveler Estelle Bingham explores Rome.