Julius Caesar takes Ides in stride

This one doesn't call Rome home

Staff WriterMarch 15, 2006 

What's in a name? Julius Caesar won't say.

Julius Caesar is not too worried that today marks the Ides of March.

The retired oil company worker has survived 79 already.

Unlike the toga-wearing Roman emperor who was stabbed more than 20 times on this day in 44 B.C., Julius Caesar of Durham, brother of singer Shirley Caesar, knows of no political enemies who would wish him ill.

Nevertheless, the Bull City's Caesar has heard throughout his life the far-sighted warning that William Shakespeare made famous in his play about the man with the same name: "Beware the Ides of March."

The phrase has been used by dramatists, cartoonists, comedy writers and others to set up the classical image of political betrayal.

"It doesn't bother me one iota," Caesar said on the eve of the 15th of the month. "I'm not a superstitious man. I'm a religious man."

The "Ides" were part of the ancient Roman calendar -- falling on the 15th day in March, May, July and October and on the 13th the other months.

Julius Caesar, the one who, legend has it, ignored the soothsayer warning of his death those thousands of years ago, was dragged down and killed by his erstwhile supporters.

Lucky for Durham's Caesar, his closest friend is not a Brutus. Nor does he have any plans to head toward the Senate today.

"I don't do anything now but just take it easy," the retiree said.

Every once in a while, the native of Winston-Salem ponders his name and why his parents chose to call him what they did.

"It's a long story," he said, "and it's one I want to keep to myself."

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