Something to teach your kids today: The Ides of October

I’m kind of a trivia buff. No, wait, nerd. Nerd is the word I’m looking for. Anyway, I’m convinced I got where I am today (specifically, the tiny web office at Chicago Parent’s Oak Park offices) by knowing, for example, that there are 14 punctuation marks in the English language, or that the Magna Carta was signed in 1215 or that men are about 7 times more likely to be colorblind than women (explains a lot, doesn’t it, ladies?)

Anyway, every day is full of moments to pass this kind of knowledge onto our kids. So I bring you a new daily dish: Something to Teach your Kids Today.

Today’s Lesson: The Idea of Ides

Today is October 15. In addition to being exactly six months before your taxes are due (chop, chop!), it’s also the Ides of October. The ides was the day in the Roman calendar that approximated the middle of the month. It was celebrated on the 15th of March, May, July and October, and the 13th of all other months, I guess because the Romans weren’t very good at counting.

Today, then, is a great day for a lesson in history and hubris. Julius Caesar was assassinated on the steps of the Roman Senate on March 15, 44 B.C.E. after ignoring the warning of a soothsayer, who told him “Beware the ides of March,” in a moment dramatically enshrined in Shakespeare’s Jullus Caesar. Caesar thought he was off the hook, and was promptly stabbed to death.

Ancient Rome is a great era to introduce budding history buffs to. Gladiators, democracy and Hannibal and his elephants make it a wonderful window into the ancient world. A few online resources to get you started:

Also, fun fact: “The Ides of March” is the name of a rock band from Berwyn, which was officially formed on October 16 (so close!), 1964.

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