Stab Your Friend in the Back Day

That’s right, folks, today, March 15, is Stab Your Friends in the Back Day!

Well, yes and no. Today marks the Ides of March, the day Julius Caesar was told to beware of and also the day on which he was stabbed to death by a horde of grumpy senators, starting with his alleged buddy Brutus.

The story of the soothsayer warning Julius Caesar came from Plutarch, in case you were wondering, and wasn’t just some artistic license taken by some hack playwright in the 1500s.

"Et tu Brute" is the phrase Julius supposedly uttered after having been stabbed, instead of "ow" or "hey, that was really mean" or "was it something I said?" That, however, is not from Plutarch. Suetonius reported Julius didn’t say anything at all, but also reported other people claimed he’d said "You too, Brutus, my child," which lent a bit of credence to the old rumor going around that Brutus was Julius’s illegitimate son by his mistress, Brutus’s mom. Of course it also might have been metaphorical.

The backstabbing, like so many stabbings before it and since, was political. Rome was a Republic and had a serious disdain for kings, which they believed to be barbaric. Julius Caesar had become extremely popular and had accrued significant personal power and adulation after a brutal civil war, and word around the well (since they didn’t have water coolers at that point) was that he was going to try to grab more power and become a de facto king.

So a group of the senators slaughtered him.

Of course, there were other factors.

But if they really just wanted to stop Julius from becoming king, they messed it up, because his adoptive son Augustus pretty much made a power grab after the nasty civil war caused by Julius’s death and became de facto king, passing on the de facto kingship to his adoptive son, Tiberius, and so on and so on down the line.

The Republic of Rome became the Roman Empire, collected loads of territories and eventually fell apart into a bunch of squabbling unimportant little states we call Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, France Egypt, Turkey, etc.

So! Please celebrate Stab Your Friends in the Back Day by not stabbing your friends in the back. It’s very messy and can create unintended consequences, like aqueducts and the use of Latin legal terms.