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The Ides


This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, March 15, 1995.

There may be more ominous dates than the Ides of March, but it would be difficult to recall what they might be.

April 15, IRS day, Titanic Day is possible, but for over 2000 years, the day Brutus casually slipped one final cut to Julius Caesar is the date that yet reverberates.

It’s nice to recall Julius Caesar every once in a while. He did, after all, so subsume his civilization that his very name became a synonym for king, enduring into this century, with the Czars and Kaisars still bragging of some sort of affiliation. His very birth - by Caesarian section - is recalled, though somehow it might seem more appropriate to let the eyes moisten for the mother, for surely her’s did.

Events in his life, although we as a rule are utterly unfamiliar with it, still haunt our language. Irreversible decisions are still referred to as crossing the Rubicon, an Italian river north of which Rome had stationed Caesar and his army, and prohibited Caesar from ever crossing it.

When he did, he had to conquer or he would be killed as all tyrants before him had been. By being stoned and thrown from a rock. Although most of us no longer know Gaul is an elder name for France, we know it was divided into three parts. We know he came, he saw, he conquered, although the beauty of the statement in Latin is forgotten. Weni, widi, wiki.

It is amazing to note that Caesar, for all his powerful heritage to us, was a failure. He never did really rule Rome above its Senate, although he attained titular power. He had great, if unknown to us, plans for a sort of extended democracy. Even his military victories were incomplete, as he was still dealing with the effects of his war against Pompeii, and his power was so wrapped up in his personality that his beloved nation dissolved into prolonged civil war when he slid down the Capital steps. It is decidedly ominous to note that such power was not protection, even when all enforcement was within his grasp.

Still, even when future generations will associate only pizza with his name, that his literacy, military, and philosophical bent of government will still be with us. Long after the victors of two World Wars are forgotten, the objects of those wars lost, the heritage of church and state are altered, chances are good the greeting "Hail Caesar" will resonate somewhere among us, among people who may not know Caesar overpowered the original fascists because they did not appreciate the power of government as he foresaw it. As it surely became.

It is a dark and ominous day, the Ides of March.