Beware the Ides of March!
Updated: Mar 15
By Mr. Falconburg
Western Heritage and Logic Teacher
The Ides of March
Earlier today, the upper school students at Belmont Classical Academy were given the opportunity to remember this infamous day. On March 15, 44 BC, Julius Caesar was assassinated in a meeting of the Senate. The assassination of Caesar marked a closing event in the crisis of the Roman Republic and is remembered today as one of the most historic days in history. Caesar’s death was an event that triggered a period of even greater crisis — another civil war that would, eventually, mark the official end of the Roman Republic after Caesar’s adopted heir, Octavian, became the first official Emperor of Rome.
To remember the Ides of March, students dressed as Romans for a two-hour combined history/literature class. Class began with students putting on their Roman togas and, immediately after, reciting from memory Marc Antony's famous speech from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. For family and friends who are interested, this speech will be recited tomorrow during our Thursday devotional.
Then, with their speech recited, students watched a 2007 production of Julius Caesar. Mrs. Wright, the upper school literature teacher, would occasionally connect a scene to a conversation they previously had about the play during class. Some students were especially interested in watching the character that they will be performing later this spring.
Remembering the Ides of March wouldn't be complete without good food. Thus, the students were able to enjoy Little Caesar's pizza, caesar salad, and a "blood"-spattered cake, pictured below.
Next in the Curriculum
Students have learned about the death of Caesar in a variety of classes. They first encountered it when reading Russell Kirk’s The Roots of American Order, one of the best books written about the history of Western civilization as it relates to the American constitutional order. Students then encountered the death of Caesar when reading The Life of Julius Caesar by Plutarch, and then again when reading Julius Caesar by Shakespeare. In fact, students have been immersed in Shakespeare's play as they prepare in their drama class to perform it for family and friends later this spring.
Next in the curriculum, students will continue to read Cicero’s On Obligations and begin Virgil’s Aeneid. When these two books were written, they helped renew culture in the aftermath of the crisis of Roman civilization in which students have been immersed. Cicero, a statesman, reminded his countrymen that there are enduring moral laws. He likewise taught that we have obligations to the natural societies to which we depend — especially to God, family, and country. Virgil, a poet, reminded readers of these same truths, but unlike Cicero, he did not do so by means of an argument. Instead, he inspired readers by beautifully showing images of piety and historical memory. As Russell Kirk writes, by piety, Virgil meant “a humility before the gods, a love of one’s country, and a sense of duties that are not adequately expressed by any English word; and he gave this concept of pietas to an age groping for renewed purpose.” These two upcoming books touched the hearts of Romans two thousand years ago, and we trust they will speak to our students today as well.
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