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Why the “Ides of March”?

The Romans didn’t number the days of the month. Instead they identified three special days: The first day of the month, the Calends; the day of the full moon, the Ides; and nine days before the Ides, the Nones. So, instead of saying Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15th, they would say he was assassinated on the Ides of March. And instead of saying, “Let’s meet on March 6th,” they would say, “Let’s meet in March, one day before the Nones.” Accordingly, for any day other than one of the three special days, the Romans would indicate it by counting how many days it was before the next special day.

In THE DEADLIEST LIE, when Miriam’s father prepares her to take over the family business, she begins collecting payments from their mortgagors in the agora. That’s when she meets Judah, a jeweler who belongs to a secret league of Jewish artisans who study how to perfect metals. Of course, she falls in love with him despite her betrothal in infancy to Noah, the son of her father’s business partner. And so, she resists her father’s pressure to set a wedding date to Noah:

“Papa, Papa, please. Judah is just our client. I see him only on the Calends to collect his mortgage payment.” My tongue crafted the lie as I stared into the eyes of the asp cut into the glass oil lamp on his desk. Had I fooled him, or had he caught that barely perceptible moment of hesitation before my answer? “I cannot commit to a wedding date today, Papa. Please, just one more week. I beg you.”

And what a week it is for Miriam! While she is torn between duty and desire, Judah’s alchemical recipes are stolen from right under her very nose. And did I tell you that possession of those documents is punishable by a grisly death? Just click here for the book trailer.

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