Beware the Ides of March: Assassinations That Shook the World

On the anniversary of Julius Caesar's assassination, TIME recalls other politically motivated murders that shook the world — and in some cases changed the course of history

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Assassination as a political tool is as old as … well, as old as politics. By knife, gun and garrote, in dynastic fratricides, bloody palace intrigues and modern presidential killings, the murder of a head of state — whether by a lone wolf or a clan of executioners — sends a singular message: we’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore. First thing on our agenda toward setting things right? A change in leadership, no ballot box required.

The Ideas of March, of course, is famous as the day in 44 BC on which Julius Caesar himself was assassinated by a group of Roman senators. Shakespeare immortalized the date with a phrase now recognized around the English-speaking world — “Beware the Ides of March” — although it’s likely that many of those who occasionally employ the phrase probably have no clue 1) who first uttered the line (it was a soothsayer in the Bard’s 1599 Tragedy of Julius Caesar) or 2) what it actually refers to. Nevertheless, on the Ides of March 2013, TIME recalls not only that long-ago assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar, but a series of other politically motivated murders that shook the world — and in some cases changed the course of history.

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9 comments
TatianaCovington
TatianaCovington

And on March 13, 1963, I got thrown out of Leonia (NJ) High School.

MikeMittchell
MikeMittchell

What are you saying? This month of all months is the time to focus on "famous assassinations"? Only one of those happened in March, Julius Caesar. Don't try to make presumptuous statements to draw attention.

kordian.kn
kordian.kn

The murders of the other Indian politicians called Gandhi (Indira, Rajiv) were also notorious. First president of Poland, Gabriel Narutowicz, has been shot in 1922. Before the World War II also assasination of Yugoslavian king Alexander and French minister Barthou in Marseille in 1934 created great outrage.

RyanDurant
RyanDurant

Spellcheck and autocorrect are well and good, but "Ideas of March"? Really?

JackKennedy1
JackKennedy1

@RyanDurant yeah my ipad writes some really stupid things sometimes too.

ShlomoBupkis
ShlomoBupkis

It's "Ides," not "Ideas of March."  Nice editing, guys. 

EricLurio
EricLurio

You forgot Sergei Kirov, who's murder sparked the Soviet purges of the 1930s. Or Ernst Rohm, the #2 Nazi, killed at the order of Adolph Hitler, the #1 Nazi.