Beware the Ides of… January?

8 Mar

March 8, 2011

This past January, the 19th, I was involved in a car accident. Not major, though my car was wrecked and I suffered some damage. Ever see the lawyer ad where the wimpy guy whines “I had pain. I need law”? That was me. To keep the details deliberately vague, I was making a legal left turn when some tool sped through the red light and hit me.

So I’m going through the process with my lawyers and any forms from the insurance company I just forward to them. Everything is moving along.

The other day I got a letter from my insurance company and after the merest glance I stuck it in my folder for the lawyer. But something bothered me. Oh, not enough to do anything about it, like go back and look at it, but it still bugged me, a little tingle in the back of my head.

Turns out my Spidey-sense was correct. A few days later I got another letter but this time I opened it up. It was in reference to my accident of January 19th but something was off. First of all it was from my old insurance company, not the one handling my claim. Second of all, the date was wrong. It was January 19th all right, but January 19th 2009.

It was in reference to an accident from two years earlier on the same day! On January 19, 2009 I was hit from behind by a speeding police car which had crossed the double yellow line with no lights and sirens and tried to pass me on the left- driving in the path of incoming traffic!- as I made a left turn. Why were they speeding? Their shift was over and they were rushing back to precinct so they could go home.

Two accidents, both involving left turns, two years apart to the day.

I have racked my brain trying to come up with anything else that may have happened to me on that date but so far I can’t think of any. Regardless, next January 19th I am staying in bed with my covers pulled over my head. It is just too dangerous.

Want to read my original, much longer, possibly funny blog about the 2009 accident? Click here.


Obviously it is meant to be a smart and witty play on Shakespeare’s line from Julius Caesar “Beware the ides of March.” However, it breaks down when you realize that the ides of March is March 15th, not 19th. Never one to let facts get in the way of a joke (funny or not) I left the title as is.

I did, however, try to figure out what day of the month it actually would be. After some research I gave up. Here is an explanation of the ancient Roman calendar system.

The term Ides comes from the earliest Roman calendar, which is said to have been devised by Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome. Whether it was Romulus or not, the inventor of this calendar had a penchant for complexity. The Roman calendar organized its months around three days, each of which served as a reference point for counting the other days:

Kalends (1st day of the month)
Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months)
Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months)

The remaining, unnamed days of the month were identified by counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones, or the Ides. For example, March 3 would be V Nones—5 days before the Nones (the Roman method of counting days was inclusive; in other words, the Nones would be counted as one of the 5 days).

Days in March

March 1: Kalends; March 2: VI Nones; March 3: V Nones; March 4: IV Nones; March 5: III Nones; March 6: Pridie Nones (Latin for “on the day before”); March 7: Nones; March 15: Ides

Used in the first Roman calendar as well as in the Julian calendar (established by Julius Caesar in 45 B.C.E.) the confusing system of Kalends, Nones, and Ides continued to be used to varying degrees throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance.

So, the Ides of March is just one of a dozen Ides that occur every month of the year. Kalends, the word from which calendar is derived, is another exotic-sounding term with a mundane meaning. Kalendrium means account book in Latin: Kalend, the first of the month, was in Roman times as it is now, the date on which bills are due.

So January 19th may or may not be XIII Kalends of January if I understand the system, not to mention if I counted correctly.

“Beware the XIII Kalends of January” simply doesn’t have the same ring to it.

3 Responses to “Beware the Ides of… January?”

  1. JRD Skinner March 8, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    At least it’ll be easy to schedule your holidays well ahead of time.

    I hope the legal process has moved along smoothly. Lawyers are a pain, even when they’re on your side.


    • bmj2k March 8, 2011 at 12:12 am #

      So far so good. If anything there is too little communication. I never hear from them unless I call them, and then I hear that everything is fine. Last week I got a letter from my lawyer telling me I had an appointment on Tuesday, March 2nd. When did the letter arrive? Tuesday, March 1st. No that’s not a typo- not on my part. Justifiably confused, I called up and wondered if the appointment was on the Tuesday, in which case I missed it, or March 2nd, in which case I had one day notice. It was the one day notice.


      • JRD Skinner March 8, 2011 at 11:45 am #

        Ugh – who sends a letter for a short term appointment anyhow? I guess at least they didn’t schedule it as being on the VI Nones.


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