Roman dictator Julius Caesar may have been warned that deadly harm would befall him no later than March 15.
But the soothsayer who supposedly delivered the prophetic message couldn't possibly have foretold what he would inspire, including a "Simpsons" episode called "Homer the Great, an episode of "Xena: Warrior Princess," and a U.S. rock band from Berwyn, Ill., named the Ides of March.
Indeed, the supposed encounter that William Shakespeare so tragically depicted in his "Julius Caesar" ("Beware the ides of March") has become the stuff of popular culture.
Samantha Thompson, a librarian who manages the New York Public Library's 24-7 reference service, says about a dozen people regularly ask about the Ides of March at any given branch on March 15.
"It's an example of a famous, ominous prophesy when the world changed," she said. "This was one of the landmark points where Rome shifted from being a republic to being imperial."
The Ides of March is now considered the spring equinox, she says. In solar calendars, the Romans referred to the "ides" as either the 15th day of some months or 13th of the other months.
But in the lunar calendar, the one in use when Caesar was assassinated, the ides of any month was the day of the first full moon. When Caesar was assassinated as he made his way to the theater, the day was significant because it was the first day of the consular year.
Nowadays, observances include a national remembrance of the 1848 Hungarian revolution against Hapsburg rule, and a toga run in Rome where Caesar died after his assassination March 15, 44 B.C., at the hands of a group of senators.