Friday, March 19, 2010

Welcome to Finals Week, and oh yes, the Ides of March.

So, what are the Ides of March, and why do I need to beware? The Ides were simply calendar days (or, nights) on the Roman calendar when there was a full moon. It was a moveable date that happened every month. The need to beware of the Ides of March was attributed to the vision of a soothsayer in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, who felt the day was unlucky for one Gaius Julius Caesar of Rome.

March 15, 44 BCE: Julius Caesar is assassinated by fellow Senators, including buddies Brutus and Cassius. Poor guy, after all he had done for the Republic.

One perk to being the leader of Rome included issuing coins that carried your visage. In the fifth century B.C. (or possibly earlier) bronze began to be used in central Italy as a medium of exchange valued by weight. In the second century an annually elected board of three were tasked with the casting and striking of bronze, silver, and gold, created to control the issuance of the currency.

Under Augustus the mints and the entire monetary system were reorganized so that the emperor issued the gold and silver coinage, while the bronze was left to the senate to issue. Under this system, the money changed virtually every year. Sort of makes you glad that quarter, dime, nickel, penny situation need not be relearned every year.

In other words, coins were ancient Rome's People magazine.

----- directly quoted and/or paraphrased from Roman Civilization Volume I, Selected Readings: The Republic and the Augustan Age, Ed. Lewis and Reinhold 3rd edition (my textbook from HST414 which, of course, I kept).

Speaking of holidays, did you know St. Patrick was not Irish? It's always a school day around here.

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