Beware of the Ides of March

Beware of the Ides of March

Its really amazing that literally nothing has changed in 2,000 years.  Sure, we have smartphones, cars and technology to put humans on other planets, but if you think about it, back then they knew about the other planets, had horses and chariots which were far less expensive, more reliable, used far more fuel efficiency (oats) and little pollution to the environment.  As for the smart phone, well, they had a quill pen and paper to record significant events.  They didn’t need to log on to the internet to see yet another adorable pet or baby photo or check someone’s status.  If someone was at the local tavern, cafe, library or restaurant, they could see that walking through town.   Let’s take a look at what social media might have looked like 2,000 years ago.  Let me spare you the details of this day and simply put it into today’s form of information:

– Caesar & Brutus are Now Friends
– Caesar Joined the group “Rome”
– Caesar Updated his status to “Ruler of Rome”
– Caesar & Cleopatra are now friends
– Caesar just checked into Alexandria, Egypt
– Caesar changed his relationship status to “It’s Complicated”
– Brutus ‘Unfriended’ Caesar
– Augustus Caesar updated his profile to “Ruler of Rome”

One day on the way to the Senate, Julius Caesar was approached by an astrologer and was warned about the Ides of March.  The Ides is the middle of the month, in this case, March 15th.  Julius Caesar ignored him just as any politician would ignore a news reporter today if they were in a hurry and not in the mood to deal with nonsense.

There were many Caesars, ancient historian Suetonius wrote a book about the first 12 Caesars.  Only 4 of them were direct blood descendants, but the original, the first and most famous and noble of all Roman Rulers was Julius Caesar.  He was a man who conquered the known world twice before age 30 and somehow still didn’t know (or did know) better than at age 41 to be seduced by the teenage Cleopatra, ruler of Egypt, who was placed there by the Greeks.  Maybe she was 15 and he was 45, maybe she was 19 and he was 39, we really don’t know and its mostly irrelevant, even more so today. Whether or not it was a younger woman seducing an older, wiser, richer man, or an older man taking advantage of a younger woman is all irrelevant because in the end there was what most would fail to see, and that is 2 of the greatest ancient empires merging together and stolen away from Greece.  Sure, if they were two average people with average histories and were only on the throne because it was handed to them, this story would not be as colorful, but the fact that they were both extraordinary people in history, is what makes this so colorful and interesting.

So, the idiots in the Senate (yes they had those 2,000 years ago, even back then) decided that Caesar was not spending enough time at home in Rome, he was having an affair with a woman half his age, and they were nervous, envious, jealous and even worried about their future.  After all, the life expectancy was about 45 and Caesar was already 44.  Augustus was the next in line to be Ruler of Rome, after all, he was Caesar by name, in blood, and young enough to fill the position.  So, people like Brutus would surely go along with his plan, even though Brutus was Caesar’s best friend, and possibly even his son.  He had a very unusually close relationship with Brutus’ mother, one that would not be tolerated today, let alone 2,000 years ago.  No one knew who Brutus’ father was.  You can do the math on that and figure it out yourself.

So, Julius gets to the Senate and as usual a heated debate takes place, and one thing leads to another and soon a dozen or so Senate members rushed Caesar with drawn swords and tried to kill him.  Caesar, never having turned down a fight fought back using his quill to sign documents to gouge into his attacker’s arms to cut their arteries and slash their wrists.  When finally defeated, and bleeding to death from multiple stab wounds,  looked up at a shocked Brutus, his best friend and possible son and this is when he uttered his last words “E tu Brutus?” which translates to “You too??”.  It is said that those who assassinated Caesar who were not killed by his fans and supporters, ultimately committed suicide.   They fell to peer pressure.  And, an unlikely but likely Caesar supporter rose up to defeat Augustus.  That was Marc Antony, Caesar’s top General.  Usually, then as now, the head of the military is always in tune with the ultimate commander and chief, but Augustus did not plan on Marc Antony being seduced by Cleopatra.  Ultimately, Marc Antony was more in love than in a warrior state of mind, and when he lost to invading Roman forces while fighting to keep Cleopatra’s empire, Cleopatra also committed suicide via poisonous cobra before she could be captured, chained and dragged through the streets of Rome as the woman that was “responsible” for Caesar’s death, Marc Antony’s death, and war with Rome.  It would have been a great Public Relations stunt but Cleopatra proved to be the smarter person in this case.  Augustus in fact, could not even hold a candle to Julius. About the only memorable thing he did was make the month of August 31 days long as to not be outdone by his Uncle and Godfather Julius.  This is why the months of July & August have 31 days, the most any month can have.

What followed for the Caesar family makes today’s reality TV look anything tame as Leave it to Beaver or the Brady Bunch.   What followed in the decades to come were wild parties which included Christians and prisoners being killed by lions for sport, so much drinking that instead of a living room or bathroom there was a “vomitorium” where people could go to relieve themselves by vomiting due to over-drinking then return to the party.  Certainly it had to be a large pool or communal bathing room but more absurd and bizarre were the orgies and the mental insanity of inbreeding which led to the rulers like Nero playing the harp, or whatever the equivalent was, while Rome burned after he set fire to it for fun.  He also made his horse a member of the senate and Claudius was just as bad if not worse along with Caligula.  Removing Julius Caesar did nothing except accelerate the downfall of Rome.  They royals that took his place only wasted more money, lived more lavishly, even dissolving rare pearls in champagne just because they could (like lighting cigars with $100 bills).  A few more wars and too many armies they could not pay spread across Europe to Asia, its all beginning to sound familiar now isn’t it?  While the sun was setting in one region they controlled, it was rising in another.  The old saying was “The Sun never sets on the Roman Empire” but like all empires, they fall and fail for a few reasons but mostly 2 either lack of leadership and/or lack of money, often one cannot outweigh another.  A smart leader will spend limited money wisely, but be unpopular, but a foolish ruler will waste an abundance of money on things which do not bring a good return.

So, seeing how things have not really ever changed in 2,000 years, people also obviously do not learn.  There is the old saying by Voltaire “Let God defend me from my friends, I can defend myself from my enemies”.   So true. I can go into a very personal aspect of this in my own industry, but times are tough, and I don’t need to expose those who deceived me, I know who they are, they have dug their own grave, They won’t get business from me, I will not take business from them, and hopefully in the end they will realize that while relationship sour, especially business relationships, the wrong was to go into anything is charging like a bull or only looking to take advantage.  Approach slowly, there will be plenty of time for war later.  Be fair, allow others to appreciate that fairness and act in kind.  But if people think they are going to go in, take what they want and leave holding the bag of gold are far beyond naive or inexperienced, they are stupid.

So, I dedicate this day to all who have tried to take advantage, all those who have been taken advantage of, and for all the negative repercussions that have followed as a result of stupidity, greed, jealousy and/or anything else Karma might frown upon.

There are 2 great sayings that explain it all, the first from The Godfather Trilogy “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” (Mario Puzo); then Niccolo Machiavelli “It is better to be feared than loved (because those who fear you will think twice to cross you but if you love someone its basically giving them access to cross you).  Its a sad world when you have to worry about those closest to you, at the same time. Socialize with caution, analyze any friend suggesting a business partnership, and if you do take a risk decide how much what you are willing to risk?  Reputation on a limited scale? Money? How much? You can’ succeed without taking risks or making alliances, but just be sure you don’t put 100% of your money and trust in any one particular person.  If failure can happen to Caesar and the most well known Ancient Empire known as Rome, it can happen to you… so choose your friends wisely, know their lives, the motives and hopefully you will come out whole in the end.




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