Beware the ides of March
Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.
Beware the ides of March.
What man is that?
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
The quote, “Beware the ides of March,” comes from Act 1, Scene 2 of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.
It is Lupercalia, an ancient Roman religious holiday. Caesar,
the Roman dictator, makes his appearance before the "press" (crowd)
in the streets. From out of the crowd, a soothsayer issues his
famous warning. And Caesar, a very superstitious man, isn't the
sort to take a soothsayer lightly.
Who said, “Beware the ides of March?” It’s a warning delivered to Julius Caesar by a soothsayer: a person believed to be able to tell the future. The quote is then repeated word for word by Brutus.
The "ides" of March is the fifteenth; which day of the month the
ides is depends on a complicated system of calculation Caesar
himself established when he instituted the Julian calendar, a
precursor of our own. The ides of January, for example, is the
thirteenth; the ides of March, May, July and October is the
The importance of the ides of March for Caesar is that it is the
day he will be assassinated by a group of conspirators, including
Brutus and Cassius. Despite numerous and improbable portents—the
soothsayer's warning, some fearsome thundering, his wife's dreams
of his murder, and so on—Caesar ventures forth on the ides to meet
Shakespeare borrowed this scene, along with other details of
Caesar's demise, from Plutarch's Life of Julius Caesar. An English
translation was readily available, but its precise phrasings
weren't quite dramatic enough for Shakespeare's purposes. Where he
has the soothsayer declaim, "Beware the Ides of March," the more
prosaic original notes merely that the soothsayer warns Caesar "to
take heed of the day of the Ides of March."