Beware the Ides of March

Meaning of “Beware the Ides of March”

The phrase “beware the Ides of March” often refers to some betrayal that is going to happen to somebody. When somebody tells a person about the Ides of March, it usually means the 15th of March. However, the phrase mostly implies in terms of some treachery or some alert.

Origin of “Beware the Ides of March”

The phrase “beware the Ides of March” has been used by William Shakespeare in his popular play, Julius Caesar, published in 1601. The soothsayer issued a warning to Caesar that something dangerous is going to happen to him thus: “Beware the ides of March.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Julius Caeser Act -I, Scene -II

    Caesar. Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry ‘Caesar!’ Speak; Caesar is turn’d to hear.

    Soothsayer. Beware the ides of March.
    Caesar. What man is that?

Here a soothsayer warns Caesar to beware of the half of March. The soothsayer calls him from the crowd. He asks who that person is. Hence, the soothsayer warns with this phrase. The phrase here means to be alert for the danger that is looming over the head of Caesar. The phrase also foreshadows Caesar’s death. He is later assassinated in the court.

Example #2

Beware of the Ides of March by Godfrey Morris

Beware of the Ides of March!
Beware or else see;
A thousand daggers launched on your back.

The above poem is an English language haiku, also known as unrhymed tercet. Here the poetry warns readers – beware of the Ides of March. He is talking about the backstabbing friends are compared to daggers in his back. He also means that if a person becomes passive and non-alert, he may face various dangers from his friends as well as foes. Although the meanings are the same, the poet has generalized them to everybody.

Example #3

The Ides of March by Cat Russell

I knew his time was short:
his suffering would end

beginning another,
shoved into the dark
dusty corners of my mind.

Beware the Ides of March,
for when a life ends
others are changed.
Knowing it’s coming

does not lessen the pain.

The poet sums up the treacherous meanings of this phrase through this poem. He explains that when death comes, others change their attitude toward that person. They know the victim is going to die and leave them. It means when a person is close to death, people change and pretend to be nice. However, it does not lessen the pain of this treacherous act.

Example #4

Dark South: And Other Strange Tales by William T. Stewart

“Yeah – well next Sunday is the 15th of March. Remember – “ beware the ides of March.” And with that he smirked and left me standing alone in the hall.

As Sunday approached, I began to feel more nauseous than I’d ever felt, even when I had the flu. My mother had flown to Dallas to spend the weekend with my dad, so I was all alone. ‘The Ides of March’ I thought. Maybe someone was trying to warn me.

The narrator’s friend warns about ‘the ides of March and leaves her. Surprisingly, the narrator falls sick after her mother leaves for Dallas. She recalls the warning as she feels if something terrible is going to happen. It is a sign of bad omen for her.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “As soon as the teacher announced the examination day, Charlie whispered, ‘beware the Ides of March’.”

Example #2: “The new counselor is not to be trusted. Can you recall the Ides of March? So, Beware!”

Example #3: “Don’t walk into the woods alone. Especially at nights, beware the Ides of March, you might get robbed and worse, killed.”

Example #4: “Hosea is a very timid fellow. Every time the bell rings at the fire station, he yells – beware the Ides of March.”

Example #5: “Sharon’s friends tease her birthday as the Ides of March. They believe it will be chaotic, and someone brings a terrible present.”