March 15:  Beware the Ides of March Day

On this day in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was assassinated by the Roman Senate.  

After defeating his rival Pompey, Caesar returned victoriously to Rome in 46 B.C.  The Roman Senate made him dictator for life, but some senators feared Caesar had grown too powerful.  These conspirators planned a public assassination.

Days before March 15th, the augur Spurinna had warned Caesar to “Beware the Ides of March.”  (The Ides were simply a way to designate the middle of each month. In March, May, July, and October, the Ides fell on the 15th day; in the other months, the Ides fell on the 13th day of the month.)

As Caesar approached the Senate meeting on the morning of the 15th, a friend handed him a note, warning him of the assassination plot.  Caesar, however, did not read the letter. As he entered the theatre where the Senate was meeting, Caesar saw the augur Spurinna. He addressed him mockingly, saying “The Ides of March have come.”  Spurinna replied, “Yes, but they have not yet gone.”

As Caesar took his seat, conspiring senators surrounded him, pretending to be paying their respects.  A frenzied attack ensued in which Caesar was stabbed 23 times before falling dead to the floor (1).

For Caesar’s assassins, the Ides of March was an important date.  The first month of the Roman year was March, and the Ides marked the first full moon of the new year.  On this date each year, the Romans celebrated the festival of Anna Perenna, the goddess of the cycle of the year.  To her faithful worshipers, Anna Perenna awarded a long life. By eliminating the dictator Julius Caesar, the assassins no doubt believed they were ensuring the long life of Rome. (2)

Today’s Challenge:  Diverting Doom and Disaster

Julius Caesar would have been smart to have listened more carefully to the warnings of Spurinna, who made his determination of the future by examining the entrails of animal sacrifices.  Today we receive our warnings from Public Service Announcements (PSAs).  PSAs began during World War II when radio broadcasters teamed up with advertising agencies to create the Advertising Council.  This partnership produced numerous messages to promote the war effort, such as advertisements promoting war bonds and famous messages like, “Loose Lips Sink Ships” — a warning against careless talk that might provide state secrets to the enemy.

Both Smokey the Bear and his famous slogan — “Remember… Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires” were created by the Ad Council.  Perhaps the most famous PSA of all time was produced by the Ad Council in 1987. It featured the simple image of a single egg in a frying pan along with a concise message of just 15 words:  “This is your brain. This is drugs. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

What are some possible dangers that people face on a daily basis?  What do people need to know to avoid these dangers? Write a PSA that identifies a specific danger. The purpose of a PSA is to equip the listener/reader with a specific strategy for avoiding the danger. Do some research on your topic to gather some facts and statistics; then, consider the target audience for your PSA.  Begin by doing something that grabs the audience’s attention, and do the best you can to show, not just tell, the danger along with how to avoid it (4). (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  NOTICE: Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. -Mark Twain in his preface to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

1-365:  Your Date With History (124-5)