Cavete, Quod Idibus Martiis

Today is the Ides of March and we’re entering the final straight before crossing the finishing line of term and collapsing in a sweaty mess into the arms of the Easter holiday. I’ve been ridiculously busy today so, being too knackered to think of anything else to post, I thought I’d tap into a priceless bit of British cultural history relevant to this auspicious day.

This is from the First Folio Edition of Carry On Cleo, and stars the sublime Kenneth Williams as Julius Caesar delivering one of the funniest lines in the whole Carry On series. The joke may be nearly as old as me, but it’s still a cracker…



10 Responses to “Cavete, Quod Idibus Martiis”

  1. Why “cavete” instead of “cave”? Was more than one person being told to beware, or is the plural used for a single person in this instance? Is the plural used as a respectful form when addressing a superior individual, perhaps? That seems like something I might have learned in Latin class, but if so I’ve forgotten.

    My wife watched some of the Carry On movies with an English friend. She said that the experience for an American was a bit baffling. She claims that the following dialogue was repeated many times between her and her friend during the screening, for many different values of X:

    American: What does X mean?
    Englishman: Oh, that’s a slang word for your bum.

    • telescoper Says:

      I was assuming I had more than one reader, not that any particular reader was a superior individual nor any person deserving respect for any reason whatsoever.

  2. Reblogged this on Smile Circulation and commented:
    A classic

  3. I remember a funny one-liner from Up Pompeii!. Does that count?

  4. Anton Garrett Says:

    Even better I believe is the scene in which Sid James, as Mark Antony, is campaigning in England’s traditional weather and greeted by his guard in the following exchange:

    Bilius: Hail, Mark Antony!
    Mark Antony: Hail – snow, rain, thunder, lighting – the lot!

    (With thanks to Kav from the 2010 Ides…)

  5. I’ve never seen one of these films, but if this is one of the funniest lines, then I haven’t missed much.

    • telescoper Says:

      Hahaha! It’s the way you tell ’em!

      • A bloke overhears the conversation at a pub. “Number 37!” laughter all around. Someone else: “Number 143!”. Peals of laughter. He asks the barkeeper what’s going on. “They’ve known each other so long, they’ve numbered their jokes to save time. Everyone knows which number corresponds to which joke.” So the bloke walks over to the table and says “Number 17!”. Blank stares all around. Puzzled, he looks at the barkeeper. “It’s all in the way you tell ’em!”

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