Yes. I know. Technically, that’s wrong. The correct saying is: “Beware the Ides of March.” What, you ask, are the Ides, and why are they to be feared?
The term “Ides,” taken from the earliest Roman calendar, simply means the fifteenth of March. According to history or legend, when the great Roman emperor Julius Caesar consulted an oracle when he feared assassination by his enemies, he received a dire warning: “Beware the Ides of March.” Translation: “Watch your back on the fifteenth, Julius!” Over time, that ancient prediction somehow assumed a different meaning, perhaps no less ominous: “Watch out for inclement weather in March.”
As a child, my friends and I had never heard the word “Ides.” In our impressionable minds, what we mistakenly heard, “Beware the eyes of March,” meant SNOW…SNOW…SNOW, and we felt it was our duty to spread that good news to every kid wishing for a snow day from school. To illustrate how smart we were, and how privileged to be privy to a secret adult code, we freely dropped the phrase “Beware the eyes of March” every chance we got. Little did we know that we were wrong.
Or were we?
Last week, as four Robins hopped across my lawn, and birds chirped in the treetops, I sensed spring approaching. I happily filled my bird feeder, and envisioned tulips poking through the barren earth. But Mother Nature was watching. And laughing. Needless to say, when I heard the weather report of the upcoming storm, Mother Nature’s potential fury became all too apparent. Tomorrow, if my husband and I must shovel what is expected to be upwards of a foot of snow, Her powerful message will be clear: “Watch your backs, folks! Don’t rush me outta here before my time. I ain’t done with you yet!”
“Beware the Ides of March,” the ancient Roman phrase, isn’t quite so different from “Beware the Eyes of March” after-all.