Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Few Thoughts on The Ides of March

Today is March 15th, also known in the old Latin/Roman calendar as “The Ides of March.” It was on this day in 44 B.C. that a group of senatorial conspirators, led by Marcus Junius Brutus (who may have been Julius Caesar’s illegitimate son) assassinated Caesar in the portico of the Roman senate.  I have a fascination for this period in western history, and I often wonder how different the world may have been if Caesar had lived. The post assassination period was tragic for Rome, as Brutus and the other co-conspirators were hunted down and killed by the forces of Caesar’s young nephew Octavian (later Augustus) and the brilliant but troubled Marc Antony. Antony and Octavian then began to vie for power against each other, with Antony eventually allying with the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. The whole conflict ended nearly a decade later with the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra’s forces at the Battle of Actium and the eventual suicides of the tragic lovers Antony and Cleopatra.

The world was forever changed by this one tragic act, and the Republic of Rome fell into a decadent empire that was doomed to extinction by its own excesses. While most of us will spend the day working and watching the NCAA basketball tournament, I’ll spend it watching “Cleopatra,” one of my favorite films of all time, and marvel at the brilliant script and virtuoso acting of Richard Burton, Rex Harrison and Liz Taylor.

And I’ll wonder how different the world might have been...

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