The Ides of March, Celebration of Roman Goddess Anna Perenna

The Ides of March, Celebration of Roman Goddess Anna Perenna

The assassination of Julius Caesar on the 15th of March 44 BC was a turning point in Roman history. Centuries later, the expression ‘Beware the Ides of March’ was found in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in 1601 in the soothsayer's message to Julius Caesar, warning of his death. Since then, the Ides of March became notorious as being associated with death. However, long before the Ides of March became associated with Julius Caesar’s murder, it was a day of celebration for the ancient goddess Anna Perenna, a goddess beloved by the common people.

Reproduction of the Fasti Antiates Maiores or Roman Calendar (Bauglir /CC BY-SA 4.0)

Reproduction of the Fasti Antiates Maiores or Roman Calendar (Bauglir /CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Ides of March: Festival on Via Flaminia

Anna Perenna’s two names both refer to the year: anna meaning ‘to live through a year’, while perenna means ‘last many years’ - the two words are still seen in the English words annual and perennial. As her concern seems to be cycles of renewal and connecting the past to the present, the festival of Anna Perenna was full of contradictions such as old and new as well as death and rebirth. The month of March itself was believed to be the first month of the year. It was a time when springtime was in full bloom and newness was all around. Therefore, the celebration would have marked the first full moon in the year in the old lunar Roman calendar.


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