… for the Ides of March.
Is there any date more portentous than March 15th after a tense – if truncated – month of waiting and worrying since the frolics of The Lupercalia?
Hallowe’en has lost any sharp edge it once had – buried under glow-in-the-dark novelty vampire fangs, pumpkins on offer at Sainsbury’s, and themed Haribo strategically piled alongside for the convenience of the casual shopper. Not forgetting those ‘fun’ slutty witch’s fancy dress costumes …
My dad relates how ‘back in the day’, Good Friday was a day full of sombre reflection, much like Armistice Day (perhaps a subject for another rant on the subject of ‘ostentatious tribute’, but I’m not feeling very un-PC tonight). In dad’s childhood, children were forbidden from playing games or running around on Good Friday. The TV, once his family got one, was switched off. Even laughing or shouting were frowned upon. My own childhood Good Fridays followed a diet of respectful reverence, Mass (Holy Day of Obligation, as I recall), and Charlton Heston reprising some biblical hero or other. This was before I realised he was a trigger happy maniac, obviously. Today, the only reflection is about how we can stop those children whining about getting their nasty Easter Eggs early, whilst we endure the deluge of Sofa adverts urging us not to waste a minute in taking advantage of their incredible interest-free selections. We need to check the score of Solihull Moors vs. York City, and quick – our entire accumulator’s resting on the Moors scoring in the next 15 minutes.
Which leaves Friday 13th. Simultaneously ignored by a non-superstitious population, and mined for all its commercial worth through a series of low-grade horror films.
The Ides of March seem to have escaped commercial exploitation, or much attention at all. I’m torn, promoting it – Oscar Wilde warned us that you always kill the thing you love, after all. And you don’t need to take our words for that – ask Brutus.
‘If there be / any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar’s to him / I say that Brutus’ love to Caesar was no less than his.’ (BRUTUS: III.ii.17-19)
It IS ‘Everyday Shakespeare‘…
And I think it’s one for the grownups. The notion of ‘betrayal’ is one that a child would find hard to articulate or dissociate from the general concept of unfairness. But once we hit the ‘real’ world, it seems we spend our lives balancing the need and desire to trust, with the allowances we need to make about their trustworthiness for our own self-protection. It’s something I’m not very good at, to be honest. Like Caesar, I’m far too ready to give trust, or at least the benefit of the doubt. Fingers burned? Oh yes.
I can’t be the only person who has wished their betrayers into Dante‘s Ninth Circle of Hell along with Brutus and Cassius, two of the three Great Betrayers. We should make the Ides of March the day when we acknowledge betrayal in the previous year, mentally consign the perpetrators to the Inferno, and then get on with our lives. Imagine Satan chewing on the tormented corpse of your foe for eternity, wryly smile, and get some closure … no spending on cheap landfill tat necessary, either!
Line references refer to the Arden Third Editions of the Shakespeare texts.