The Ides of March

Fear grandeurs, O soul.
And if you cannot overcome
your ambitions, pursue them with hesitation
and caution. And the more you advance,
the more inquisitive, careful you must be.

And when you reach your peak, Caesar at last;
when you assume the form of a famous man,
then above all beware when you go out in the street,
a conspicuous ruler with followers,
if by chance from the mob approaches
some Artemidorus, bringing a letter
and says hastily "Read this immediately,
these are grave matters that concern you,"
do not fail to stop; do not fail to push aside
all those who salute and kneel
(you can see them later); let even the Senate
itself wait, and immediately recognise
the grave writings of Artemidorus.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

[ Greek original ]


Julius Caesar had been warned to beware the Ides of March (March 15th.) On that day in 44 B.C., Artemidorus tried in vain to warn him about the conspiracy of Brutus and Cassius.

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(C) George Barbanis