BBC Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

John Denney 18 January 2006

This was pre-recorded for 15 March 2007, but I was re-scheduled for a live broadcast on 16 March.

Too much Denney is a bad thing, obviously, so this will not be broadcast until 15 March 2008.

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Ides of March


Today is the Ides - or should I say Idēs - of March. And you'll remember that in Shakespeare's play, the soothsayer said to Julius Caesar "beware the Ides of March"[1]. You have to be careful about Latin pronunciation. My father was mercilessly teased to the last days of his life by a schoolfriend who had heard him read Caesar's dying words "Et tu, Brute?" as "Eartch, yer brute!"


The term "Ides" comes from the earliest Roman calendar, and you have to say it's not the simplest way to make a date. There were three days in each month from which all other dates were reckoned as so many days before them. The Kalends was the first day of the month; the Nones was the 7th day of March, May, July, and October, but the 5th of all other months; and the Ides was the 15th day of March, May, July, and October but the 13th of all other months. And you count inclusively, so, for example the 3rd of March is 5 days before the Nones of March. But not the third after the Kalends, of course. Got that? Me neither.


Mind you, our calendar is complex, too. What's the date of Easter? Easy. It's the first Sunday following the first (ecclesiastical, not actual) full moon that occurs on or after the vernal equinox. It is easy . not! This year (2007), we celebrate Easter on Sunday April 8th. So: only 24 days of Lent to go, then the feast.


But we worry too much about time. Jesus said, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own[2]. As Julius Caesar found out!


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[1] Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene 2

[2] Matthew 6:34 NIV