In the Roman calendar, each month had an Ides, which is Latin for 'divide' or 'the middle'. The Ides was the 15th day of March, May, July and October. In other months it used to be the 13th day. The Ides of March was also the first day of the Roman New Year. It also marked the first day of spring in the Roman calendar. Towards the end of Julius Caesar's rule, not unlike the present day state of Pakistan, the Roman Senate had become famous for political wrangling and back-stabbing. Julius Caesar was to be named king of all the Roman provinces. But Senator Cassius had a grudge against Caesar for a perceived political slight. In a fit of arrogance, Caesar had declared in the Senate: "It is more important for Rome than for myself that I should survive. Should anything happen to me Rome will enjoy no peace". A plot was hatched to assassinate Caesar. Each member of the conspirators would be required to stab Caesar, thereby not only assuring his death, but also unifying the group under a banner of freedom for the entire state. On his way to the Senate Caesar asked a soothsayer what the future held for him. The fortune-teller said, "Beware the Ides of March". (Shakespeare: Julius Caesar: Act I, Scene i). But he did not heed the warning and was stabbed by the plotters on the Ides of March in 44 BC. As he looked at the conspirators gathered around him, Caesar could not believe his eyes seeing his friend Marcus Brutus among the plotters. He said, "Et tu, Bruti - You too Brutus?" and fell dead. The soothsayer's warning, "Beware the ides of March" has forever imbued the date with a sense of foreboding. -BARRISTER BAACHAA, Peshawar, via e-mail, March 8.