CAESAR, ACCORDING TO Shakespeare, poohpoohed the ides of March -- at least in public. Strolling along with Brutus, Cassius and the gang, he was hailed -- as he was often hailed -- by a soothsayer who told him to "beware" the we-know-what. When the soothsayer repeated his warning, Caesar dismissed him as "a dreamer," implying that what he said was not the sooth. Had he but listened, he would have been praised before he was buried. But emperors listen too rarely.

Perhaps Odoacer the Barbarian listened too rarely as well (certainly his name would suggest it), for he too was murdered on March 15 (A.D. 493) by Theodoric the Ostrogoth. The Magyars also fell on this day, in 933, to Henry V of Spain. And the Philippines were sighted by Magellan on this day in 1521, which happened to be one of the last sights Magellan saw. On the whole, the ides of March has not been a happy time.

To be fair, however, some very sad things have happened on March 14 and 16, too including the shooting of King Gustavus Iii/ (of Sweden, as if you hadn't guessed) on the 16th in 1792, at a masquesade party, which would indicate the king wore a poor costume. So, in fact, superstitions about the ides of March may be just that, and we may have nothing to worry about. Caesar himself jauntily told the soothsayer, this evry morning, 44 B.C. "The ides of March have come."

To which old Sooth unfortunately replied: "Ay,-Caesar, but not gone."