Beware the Ides of March

By Jose B. Maroma, Jr.


March 15, the Ides of March, is the day Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of erstwhile allies in the Roman Senate who wanted to save the republic from becoming a dictatorship.

Although Caesar was warned by a soothsayer of the impending tragedy, Caesar set aside the prediction, falsely assured by his perceived strong personal grip on power. The fact that the plot never leaked out showed a degree of conspiracy unlikely to be expected against a ruler who gobbled up vassal states into the enclave of Rome as the seat of power in Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia.

This treachery reminds us that absolute power does not always stay absolute. Envy and divergent selfish interests are bound to wash away the shaky moorings of an empire. It is said that one of the causes of the decline of the great Roman empire was the pampering by the emperor of the victorious generals of the famed Roman legions who were treated to bacchanalian orgies and rewarded with the bounty of loot and riches in order to keep their loyalty.

With generals getting richer and more powerful, soldiers shifted allegiance from the emperor to the generals, covetousness and greed displaced gratitude, and the empire eventually imploded from internal strife

We can draw lessons from this event in history. It teaches us that personal loyalties gained from patronage are bound to sink in the shifting sands of personal ambitions. An American essayist and philosopher reminds us that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”


The author is a retired civil engineer from Cabatuan, Iloilo. He likes to spend his time reading and writing about the burning issues of the day.