If you're heard the saying, “Beware the ides of March”... (No, not the EYES of March..what do they teach in schools these days?)... you may wonder what's so bad about the 15th? You've got 2 days left to plan your St. Paddy's pub crawl, lay in the Guinness, and buy those stupid leprechaun shoes. Well, to people who know their history, in lieu of their Blarney Stone pubs, this is the day upon which Julius Caesar was murdered by a few of his senators, including his best friend. His last words were supposedly, “Et tu, Brute?” Which is loosely translated “You, too, Brutus?”
No not BLUTO....
Beyond murder, this time every month does have religious associations. The ides were sacred to Jupiter, and a sheep was sacrificed to him each month. Also, the ides of March was the feast of the goddess of the year, Anna Perenna, celebrated with drinking and picnics...partying.. are we sure this wasn't held on the 17th?
Anyway, it was also thought to be the date of the Mamuralia. This is similar to a “scapegoat” ritual, where an animal (usually a goat) – representing the sins of the community – was driven into the wilderness. At the Mamuralia, they dressed an old man in animal skins, beat him up, and drove him out of town. Kinda like the Whacking Day episode of the Simpson's where it's mentioned, in olden times, they clubbed the Irish to drive them out of Springfield...
..but I digress...
The ides of March is only the beginning of this festive time of year. It also celebrates Cybele, the great Mother. She refused the advances of Apollo..but no one refused the advances of Apollo. He caused her to fall into a deep sleep, then proceeded to..er...”spill his seed” upon her. Typical male, right ladies? Nine months later, Cybele gives birth to a demon. Apollo probably said he looked like Cybele's side of the family. This demon was so out of control that all the gods feared him .. and had him castrated. Remember: always spay and neuter your demons. From the blood of this castration there sprang an almond tree.
Wait...it gets better. The river goddess had a daughter, Nana, and she ate from this almond tree. Immediately, she becomes pregnant, eventually giving birth to Attis. Not wanting this child, she left him exposed to nature to die. Instead, he was discovered and raised by shepherds.
When he was grown, he was so handsome he caught the eye of Cybele. She immediately fell in love with him, but he was unaware of her attention and relationship to himself (grandson). He was to be married to the daughter of a king, but Cybele drove him mad out of jealousy. Attis ran wild through the woods until he came to a pine tree. There, he castrated and killed himself.
His spirit went to dwell in the pine, and his blood turned to violets. Later, Cybele regretted her actions, and Zeus helped her resurrect him.
After this, it became a yearly celebration to cleanse the body of Attis. His eunuch followers would cut down a pine tree, cover it with violets, and bring it to the temple of Cybele, where it was mourned. After the Vernal Equinox – when the resurrection of Attis is believed to have taken place (around March 25th) - the mourning turned into joy and celebration.
I think that pretty much beats all our St. Pat/Equinox plans. And how typical in the long run. With Easter on the horizon, here we have another dead and resurrected “son” (in this case “grandson”) sacrificing himself for the salvation of the fertile earth (or the fertile soul of mankind/Nature). Something to chew on, along with your corned beef and cabbage.
In Sherlockian news:
If you've seen pictures from the Oscars of Benedict Cumberbatch photo-bombing U2, you can't really appreciate his athletic moves until you see the video..set to the music of jaws:
Let's not forget that this is the same youthful man who can recite a poem with the voice of “a panther purring in a cello”, as one journalists put it: