Roman ruins (During the Roman Spring of 2005) in the Roman Forum

Roman ruins (During the Roman Spring of 2005) in the Roman Forum

The Ides of March, i.e. the 15th of March, happens to be the middle of the first month according to the ancient Roman Calendar, whence the month of March use to be the first month of the year (back then there were only 10 months in a calendar, and 51 days of the winter season were not accredited to any month), March also signified the start of Spring, thus back then there use to be many a religious observations and festivals culminating with the Ides of March. Ironically, the Ides of March is also coherent with the death of Julius Caesar, the man responsible for re-formatting the calendar, making it easier, i.e. the Julian Calendar.

From Roman times to today: The Calendar

The Roman Calendar (made in 753 BC)  is attributed as being the brainchild Romulas, the founder of Rome. The calendar began with the spring equinox, thus making March the first month, and the Ides of March (15th of March now) the middle of the Month, and in the first calendar year, Ides of March might have been a full moon day as well. Since this calendar had only 10 months, and no consistent dates, it was revived in 713 BC by King Numa Pompilius. Whereas he added two more months, but days per month differed, and for leap years, he added days to more than one leap month. Then, the high priest of the College of Pontiffs, Pontifex Maximus, lengthened the year by inserting an extra month, thus now having 13 months a year, around the early 1st century BC. 

In 45 BC, Julius Caesar re-revised the calendar, making it much easier, called the Julian calendar. He had the year consisting of, 365 days, divided by 12 months, abolishing the extra month, and a leap year added every four years, to the month of February.

Then it was re-polished up a bit in 1582 AD, by Pope Gregory XIII, which majority of the world uses as the civil calendar today, except for, apparently, countries like Saudi Arabia (uses the Islamic calendar for all purposes), Ethiopia (uses mainly the Ethiopian calendar), Iran and Afghanistan (uses mainly the Persian calendar). Two countries, mainly use the civil calendar, but also use their own for religious reasons, i.e. in India (along with Indonesia’s Java and Bali regions) some people use the Indian national calendar (a 1957 reformed Hindu calendar) as well ; and in Israel (they also use the Hebrew calendar).  

Hail Caesar !!!

With Julius Caesar in Jardin des Tuileries, Paris (April 2009)

With Julius Caesar in Jardin des Tuileries, Paris (April 2009)

 Ever since I was kid, I’ve known who Julius Caesar was, and was aware of Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. Mainly due to my late grandfather (my maternal grandfather), who loved throwing famous quotes and clichés at us. His most favourite was ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him’, the first line uttered by Mark Antony, from his speech at Caesar’s funeral from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. This speech is famous for, not only the way Mark Antony ends up praising Caesar, but also how he manipulates it to inform the general public of the conspiracy, and finally verbally attack the opponents. A style used by a lot of politicians running for office today. If, when it comes to cinema, ‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn’, from Gone with the Wind (1939), happens to be the most quoted line in history of film; and Casablanca (1942), is famous for having the most amount of quoted lines within one movie; in literature, this 16th Century play definitely has, not only the most amount of famous quotes in one text, but also the most famous line ever quoted. Some of the other famous lines from Julius Caesar, include; ‘Et tu, Brute?’ (You too, Brutus?), ‘Beware, The Ides of March are upon us’, ‘Then fall, Caesar’ and ‘Did not great Julius bleed for justice’ sake?’, to mention a few. My late grandfather would sometimes, out of the blue, all of a sudden say, ‘Hail, Caesar !’, Yes, ‘guess eccentricities run in the family. He was a person of great taste, when it came to literature, music and cinema (Westerns mainly). Healthy as ever for his 82 years, he died when a speeding car killed him, 10 years and 10 months ago to date. Julius Caesar was killed today in 44BC. I visited The Roman Forum, now in ruins, in the spring (April) of 2005, during my month long Eurotrip. And I saw Caesar’s grave (just some red bricks now) where he was cremated, and saw the ruins of the portico of Theatre of Pompey, where the senators plotted and killed Caesar.

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

I did this play for Bachelors in Delhi University, back in the late 90’s. 

JC On Celluloid 

Many a actors have played Julius Caesar in many a movies since the birth of Cinema, besides the stage and the small screen. From Charles Kent (the silent era, 1908) to Claude Rains (1940’s) to John Gavin (late 50’s) to Alec Guinness (the 70’s) to Timothy Dalton (the 90’s) to Alain Delon (2008), there have been more than a 100 JC’s on the big screen alone within those hundred years.  From the ones I’ve seen till date, the most powerful performance happens to be that of Rex Harrison in Cleopatra (1963).

Now, a new cinematic venture, on the life of young Julius Caesar, is in production, titled Emperor: Young Caesar. The film will depict Caesar’s early years from 92 BC to 71 BC. Caesar was born in the month of July (Julius), in 100 BC.

I am really looking forward to this movie to be directed by Burr Gore Steers (nephew of novelist, the late Gore Vidal and also of the former US first lady, the late Jacqueline Kennedy), whose directorial debut, the dark comedy, Igby Goes Down (2002), was very good movie, that I liked, though not excellent. I really hope he does an excellent job here.

°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

Julius Caesar on Celluloid

Julius Caesar on Celluloid

 Pix: Top Left -Marlon Brando (playing Mark Antony) in the poster of the film Julius Caesar (1953), based on Shakespeare’s acclaimed play, along with other cast members below him. Let me be a little clearer here, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, does not deal with Caesar’s life. The play is actually about the plot and murder of Caesar and the aftermath. And Caesar generally is almost always depicted in heavy robes, while Mark Antony, a soldier, in a mini tunic. 

Top Right (main picture)- Poster of film Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) depicting Vivien Leigh (who plays Cleopatra) and Claude Rains (JC); (inset picture) ex-James Bond (of the 80’s), playing JC, actor Timothy Dalton in Cleopatra (1999), I watched this back in the late 90’s, and it was one of the worst television movies I have ever seen till date, and Dalton was just as bad.

Bottom (main picture) Rex Harrison playing JC in Cleopatra (1963), among the best films I’ve seen till date; (inset picture) Alain Delon in the French comedy,  Astérix aux jeux olympiques (2008). 

– Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense – Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense.

Advertisements