Shortly after becoming dictator perpetuo in 44 BC, Caesar was murdered by conspirators.
Just as his name came to mean the highest office around the world and across the centuries, from Roman and Byzantine emperors through Ottoman rulers and German kaisers to the Russian tsars, so the Ides of March has long been a universally honored day of resistance and reflection. Caesar was popular; the people raised him to a corrupting height; the institutional safeguards failed. One lesson of 44 BC, or 1848 and 1917 CE, was that constructive resistance depends on criticism and self-criticism in equal measure. This lesson was learned and taught on March 15, 1783 by George Washington, a Caesar-like figure in many respects except for unbridled ambition. On that day, Washington diffused the Newburgh Conspiracy by calling for patience and the “detestation” of anyone “who wickedly attempts to open the flood-gates of civil discord.”
According to Plutarch and Suetonius, the first blow in 44 BC was struck with a stylus. On the Ides of March, 2013, the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics launched a Working Paper series devoted to fostering critical resistance and reflection on the subject of Institutional Corruption. The series is available here, and under our own SSRN imprint. You can also receive abstracts and links to the latest papers from SSRN.