Talk:Roman calendar

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The link to Bill Hollon's site is broken. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:07, 5 June 2008 (UTC)


Why is this page locked? (talk) 14:53, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

Lengths of months[edit]

This article repeats the urban myth of a 30 days sextilis, which is belied by republican fasti etc, and also contradicts what's said in the Julian Calendar article. Would anyone object if I put this right?

Francis Davey 12:24, 5 Sep 2004 (UTC)

It appears that Julian Calendar is correct. Is there a way of re-using the material here? Francis Davey 16:06, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

Different context. This article mentions a 30 day Sextilis in the supposed original 304 day calendar. For the pre-Julian calendar of 355 days it states (correctly) that Sextilis had 29 days. --Chris Bennett 21:11, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

No, we are talking at cross-purposes. This article has Sextilis as a short month before the Julian reform. That is contradicted by any number of bits of evidence and is thought (eg by Michels) to be a bit of misinformation originating in John of Sacrobosco's work 'the Sphere'. There is no contemporary evidence for a 29 day Sextilis and lots of reasons not to believe it to be have been so -- that is what the Julian Calendar article gets right. The hypothetical earlier calendar supposedly before Numa is also wrong in this respect I suspect, but who knows, its much more of a guess. Francis Davey 20:07, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, but you're confusing the Julian and the Augustan reforms. Both articles are correct and they are consistent. Sextilis was a short month of 29 days before the Julian reform, and Caesar added two days to it -- see Macrobius, and the dates of the Nones and Ides in the Julian calendar. What Sacrobosco claimed was that it was still a short month (of 30 days in his view) after the Julian reform and that it only got its modern length after the Augustan reform of 8 BC, which is also when Sextilis was renamed and when the correct frequency of Julian leap years was finally established. That's the claim which is refuted in the Julian calendar article. --Chris Bennett 15:42, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

Anno Diocletiani and AD[edit]

"During the later empire, this system was used alongside the A.D. system (ANNO DIOCLETIANI) which used the year of accession of the Emperor Diocletian as the base year for counting purposes. Note that this should not be confused with the "A.D." system which the Christians introduced in mediaeval times (where "AD" stands for Anno Domini)"

- This is ERROR and MISTAKE.

This is ERROR and MISTAKE because "A.D." in mentioned context ("Diocletian") did not use in Roman Empire absolutely!

First: S.c. "Aera of Diocletiani" did not use in Roman Empire with the exeption of Egypt. But in Egyptian usage shortening for "Aera of Diocletiani" (! Not "Anno Diocletiani") was in Greek, Hellenic. In Greek date may use postfix etoys Diokletianoy (etohs Diokletianoh ), but in this case abridgment (Latin!) "A.D." is nonsense. (see use of "Diocletian" number of year, for example, in )

Second: Earliest mention of notation "Anni Diocletiani" (plural, not "Anno") we may meet in "LIBER DE PASCHATE" by Dionysius Exiguus (see ) AFTER Roman Empire,

And, third - there are not documents, texts, coins, inscriptions etc from Roman Empire with shortening "A.D." (or "AD") as "Anno Diocletiani".

(About Roman Calendar and Aera Diokletiani - see E.J.Bickerman, Chronology of the Ancient World, London, 1969)

Please, eliminate the mistake.

Regards, Vladimir Krayushkin, Dr.Ing.,

Until when?[edit]

Anyone know until when the Roman calendar was used? If you do, please add this to the article. – gpvos 15:12, 1 May 2005 (UTC)

Which Roman calendar? The article already explains it is mostly concerned with the pre-Julian calendar which was used until 45 BC. The articles on the Julian and Gregorian calendars explain when and how those came to be used. But both of them are still Roman calendars. So we still use the latest incarnation of the Roman calendar, and the date of its extinction is not yet known (and is hopefully a long way off). -- Chris Bennett

-ilis vs. -ober and -ember[edit]

I'm wondering about the different suffixes; I would have expected Quintilis to be Quintember or Quintober; I'd have thought Sextilis would be Sextember or Sextober, and so on. Once upon a time, were the names more homogenic? That is to say, were September, October, November and December once known as Septilis, Octilis, Novilis and Decilis? If not, why the difference? Something to do with the seasons, perhaps? Very curious. -Druff

Actually, the "m" in September, November, and December is part of the basic number names (septem=7, novem=9, decem=10), rather than part of the suffix. The second "o" in October is part of the word for eight, not part of the suffix. AnonMoos 15:03, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

nomina dierum[edit]

Just clarifying my edit: Many cultures exhibit the same phenomenon. Cf. english, who names its days by the Norse gods, sun, moon, and a Roman god: Monday=moon day, Tuesday=Tyr's, Wednesday=Odin's day, Thursday=Thor's day, Friday=Frige's day, Saturday=(and this is a throwback towards the Roman system) Saturn's day, and Sunday, I think you get the point. The S in Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are genitive markers in Norse, just like in lunae, Martis, Mercuri, Jovis, Veneris, Saturni, and solis.--Josh Rocchio 02:07, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Sorry to disagree. The 7 day week is planetary, and has very clear astrological origins, which is why they are in the rather peculiar order they are. The Sun and Moon are very much planets in the original sense (and the sense that the ancients would have understood it) in that they wander in the sky as opposed to the fixed stars which do not. The 7 day week is then the 7 planets: sun, moon, mars, mercury, jupiter, venus and saturn. There is graffiti evidence of classical Greek equivalents, although modern Greek does not use planets. The Latin naming should be transparent; the English naming is based on classical equivalents (i.e. those operating when borrowed), so Mars=Tiw (god of war), Mercury=Odin (god of wisdom/cunning etc), Jupiter=Thor (god of Thunder, and chief god of the pantheon), Venus=Freya (a beautiful woman) and Saturn is borrowed directly. Ancient German statury shows that Thor was treated as head of the pantheon by many German tribes, even though in the later Norse systemisation (eg of Snorri) we have come to think of Odin as chief god. Anyone else care to comment? I would vote for a revert. Francis Davey 17:39, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
See Days of the week Francis Davey 17:43, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
As I said above, friday was Frige's day, not Freya's, though these two are often confused in germanic mythology, especially in norse mythology (the difference being mainly that Freya was a bit more of a trollop). Of course the current days of the week are based on classical equivalents, I meant not to leave that unclear, thinking that the explanation many cultures do this as well covered it. But the point is the anicent planets themselves were named after the gods. That the sun and moon were not named after gods and/or goddesses is clear indication that they were considered different in the minds of the ancients than the other wandering celestial bodies. It does disservice to a reader who is unfamiliar with ancient nomenclature, or unfamiliar with the Roman pantheon not to include this information. If nothing else add wiki links to the pertinent gods and goddess next to the planetary links. For instance, I showed this article to my sixth grade Latin class (before either of our edits) and they were immediate in their denouncement of the author "not knowing that the sun and moon weren't planets" and in their inquisition "aren't those the names of the gods?"--Josh Rocchio 04:53, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
Seems to me you had an excellent opening to talk to your students about how astronomical ideas have evolved since ancient times, I hope you took it. But the point here is not what the planets were named after, but what the days of the week were named after. Francis is right: they were named after the planets not the gods. This is very clear if you read Dio or Vettius Valens on the days of the week. Whether the planets themselves were named after the gods is not actually relevant to this article, its appropriate for an article about the planets.
Which raises another issue about this section. The article as a whole is about the pre-Julian Roman calendar, but the weekdays were never used in the pre-Julian calendar, only in the Julian one. Seems to me it would be appropriate to strike this discussion entirely, or move it to the Julian calendar article, and leave this as a discussion only of the nundinal cycle. --Chris Bennett 15:56, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

character of the day[edit]

Seems to me this is the most interesting aspect of the Roman calendar, like our weekdays and weekend it gives a good idea of what the structure of daily life was like, but seems so different our own. So, for me, the lists of months and technical discussion of converting or counting days is less interesting and would be better at the end of the article

But I find it hard to understand what was the character of these days. Was it that each month had say the first 7/8 days with one character, the next 8 with another and the last 13/15 with another. It says that certain days were for the market, or legal or fasti, when were these days during the month and what happened on them? For example, we usually have work-free days for 2 days, did they have such a thing as the weekend? Also what about feasts or festivals, were they on special days or did their "Sunday" occur on various days? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 01:29, 5 February 2007 (UTC).

order of months[edit]

"(Numa) is said to have reduced the 30-day months to 29 days and to have added January (29 days) and February (28 days) to the end of the calendar".

How do we know that a) he added them, b) he added one or both at the end and c) that he added them in the Jan.-> Feb. order? Thanks. Imboot 07:41, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

Also, there is some confusion regarding who made January (1st) the beginning of the year (some say Numa), and when. That would perhaps best be answered on this page, if it wasn't Julius Caesar, I think. Imboot 09:08, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

Let's clarify the order of the Numa months, and others post Romulus and pre-Julian. After reading the sources in the footnotes, I now see that the table is meant to indicate the diverse views on the order of the Numa months. But that wasn't apparent on the first read. Rather, because of the use of "civil calendar" and "religious calendar", I was given the impression that multiple calendars co-existed. As an improvement, I think the article should first point out that there are diverse views on the order of the Numa months, and then separate the three tables in vertical fashion, interspersing text between them to introduce each one. (Alternatively, one might opt to go with a straight text explanation of what Ovid, Plutarch/Macrobius and Fowler are saying, rather than tables; that would be less pleasing on the eyes, but less confusing, in my opinion). Finally, I note that the webexhibits source in external links follows Ovid's interpretation. This, coupled with the fact that Fowler doesn't make a very strong case to support the notion that Ovid is in error, or to support his own interpretation that places Ianuarius and Februarius at the end of the year, I think this article might consider leaning more towards Ovid. Unless other documents are provided that more vigorously support Fowler and/or Plutarch. Muso-en 04:32, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

According to the webexhibits document that is being used as a source for the article, Februarius was moved so as to fall between Ianuarius and Martius in 452 BC. The article states "modern order due to Decemviri, 450 BC". If webexhibits is not wrong, let's correct this. Muso-en 12:47, 3 January 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Muso-en (talkcontribs)

To clarify, the article says, "The first day of the consular term, which was effectively the first day of the year, changed several times during Roman history. It became 1 January in 153 BC." which is fine. It should make it clear that it stayed at 1 Jan., if that is the case. Also, there are conflicting stories about who did this (and when). Imboot 09:15, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

I agree with the above; this would add clarity. Muso-en 04:32, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

Nundinal cycle[edit]

How can the nundinae be on every ninth day if a nundinal cycle only consists of eight days? JIP | Talk 16:18, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Because the Romans counted inclusively -- day 9 of a nundinal cycle = day 1 of the next cycle.
They counted down the days the same way. a.d. III Kal. [month] is, by our reckoning, the second last day of the previous month, not the third. It's only the third-last if you include the Kalends of [month] in the count. --Chris Bennett 19:59, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
So "every ninth day" does not mean "at nine-day intervals"? JIP | Talk 15:13, 13 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes it does, you just have to count like a Roman. This is clearly explained in the text: "For the Romans, who couned inclusively....". There's even a link to a more detailed discussion of inclusive counting. I'm not sure what more one could say to get the point across? --Chris Bennett 15:58, 13 June 2007 (UTC)
Now call be bloody stupid, because that's what I feel like. Does this mean that the nundial cycle does, in fact, last eight days, but the Romans just called the nundiae the ninth day? JIP | Talk 15:27, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
Happens to us all sometimes. And sometimes what seems crystal clear to some people is not to others for a good reason.
We count the length of a cycle from first day to last -- 8 days. They counted it from the first day of one cycle to the first day of the next -- 9 days. This way of counting still exists. Two weeks in English is a fortnight -- 14 nights -- but in French is quinze jours -- 15 days. --Chris Bennett 17:51, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
I've just modified the wording of the 2nd para. of Nundinal cycle to remove a possible source of confusion. The previous text, describing the market day as "the day that city people would buy their groceries for the next 8 days" is accurate only if you exclude the current market day and count in the next one. I've changed it to "... their eight days' worth of groceries". --Thnidu (talk) 17:21, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

47 BC versus 45 BC[edit]

I am inserting the following on two discussion pages: "Julian calendar" and "Roman calendar."

Response is under Talk:Julian calendar#47 BC versus 45 BC --Chris Bennett 17:40, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

I appreciate all the scholarly effort that went into the writing of the "Julian calendar" and the Roman calendar" pages. I particularly appreciate your commitment in keeping other contributors focused on the parameters of the articles. It is refreshing to see pages that keep the focus on the topic at hand, instead of including satellite issues that are covered in other Wiki articles.

I do have two questions. They are concerning the calendars dealing with the Julian Reform period. I.e., the actual reform period dealing with the year 45 BC, and the base-line year of 47 BC – without detailing the 47 BC data, we are left to deduce the reform-period’s additions, modifications, and deletions). Hence, after reading both articles, my lack of deductive reasoning has me derailed.

Question #1 – my concern is regarding two monhs (Quintilis and Sextilis - July and August). The "Roman calendar" article indicates a pre-Julian Quintilis with a 31-day duration and a Sextilis of 29 days). How do we resolve this against the adjustments indicated on the "Julian calendar" article? I.e., 2-day adjustment (addition) in 45 BC for Quintilis; and, no adjustment for Sextilis.

The following shows the (753 BC?) 355-day calendar that resides on the "Roman calendar" page. I have added notations at the end of the months, showing the 45 BC adjustments that are referenced on the "Julian calendar" article. Read my notation on the Quintilis and Sextilis lines. Based on the two articles, I assume the following:

Martius (31 days).
Aprilis (29 days in 753? BC; 30 days (29+1) in 45 BC).
Maius (31 days).
Junius (29 days in 753? BC; 30 days (29+1) in 45 BC).
Quintilis (31 days in 753? BC). If if this is true, then it must have lost two days by the time 47 BC arrived. The "Julian calendar" article indicates that 2 days were added to Quintilis (July) on the 45 BC calendar. If something like that happened in the period between 752 and 47 BC, it would be helpful if the "Roman calendar" article indcated such. If no historical records detailing this are available, it would still be helpful to have a sentence indicating that such a change appears to have taken place "some time" before (by) 47 BC. Otherwise, easily confused folks (like me) get turned around when we try to bridge the gap between the two articles and the gray zone that is 48, 47, and 46 BC.
Sextilis (29 days). This is a bit mysterious in itself. When did August (Sextilis) go from 29 days to 31 days? Did this happen sometime after 753 BC but before 47 BC? Maybe days were taken away from July?
September (29 days in 753? BC; 30 days (29+1) in 45 BC).
October (31 days)
November (29 days in 753? BC; 30 days (29+1) in 45 BC).
December (29 days in 753? BC; 31 days (29+2) in 45 BC).
Ianuarius (29 days in 753? BC; 31 days (29+2) in 45 BC).
Februarius (28 days).

Question #2 – the "Roman calendar" article indicates, "When Julius Caesar added a day to September, he did not add it to the end of the month. Rather, the new day that was added was the day after the Ides:

"a.d. XVIII Kal. Oct. = 18 days before the Kalends of October = 14 September
"As a result, the position of all the following dates in September got bumped up by one day"

The "Julian calendar" article indicates, "Macrobius states that the extra days were added immediately before the last day of each month to avoid disturbing the position of the established Roman fasti (days prescribed for certain events) relative to the start of the month. However, since Roman dates after the Ides of the month counted down towards the start of the next month, the extra days had the effect of raising the initial value of the count of the day after the Ides."

So, which article is correct (or is it that the historical sources disagree: Macrobius, and the unreferenced source on the "Roman calendar" page)? Or, is this apparent disagreement concerning September alone (i.e., were the adjustment added the-day-after-Idus for September, but the end-of-month for other months)? The naming conventions that I have seen for September run consistently from Idus thorugh month-end.

Or, are they both correct? Was the September addition made by Caesar, as referenced in the "Roman calendar" article, something that predates 45 BC? Was this omething Julius did to September BEFORE the Julian period. E.g., September 47, 48, or 49 BC, or even earlier. If so, it might be worthwhile to clarify this in the article.

Thanks again for sharing all the great information that exists on the two pages. You have pulled together a truckload of valuable information from dozens of sources. Great job at bringing it all together in clear and thoughtful articles.

By the way, I would love to see listed details (month-name and day break-outs) for the year 46 BC too – but that’s just because I love lists. You know, in your spare time <grin>

Tesseract501 00:05, 15 August 2007 (EST)

Augustus' Birthday[edit]

I think there is a misunderstanding in this text, which seems to view 23 Sept (as we count the days in a month) as the absolute fixed date of Augustus' birthday. Rather he was born on the 9th day (not the 8th) before the kalends of October in Cicero's consulate and this remained constant throughout his life. In Cicero's consulate September was a 29-day month, so that a.d.ix Kal.Oct as the Romans counted equated with the 22nd day of September as we count. After Caesar's reform extended September to 30 days Augustus' birthdate (still and always a.d.ix kal.Oct.) equated with the 23rd day of September as we count. Appietas (talk) 08:42, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

The problem with this is that his birthday was sometimes also celebrated on a.d. viii Kal Oct. in the Julian calendar. The difference is clearly due to the extra day introduced by the Julian reform. There were two ways to deal with this if you were born before the reform: preserve the position of the birthday in the month, or preserve the date. If you preserve the date, then you delay its position in the month (i.e. a.d. ix Kal Oct moves from day 22 to day 23). If you preserve the day then you advance the date (i.e. day 22 moves from a.d. ix Kal. Oct. to a.d. x Kal. Oct.; day 23 from a.d. viii Kal. Oct. to a.d. ix Kal. Oct). Antony provably preserved the day of his birthday, because the Julian date did not exist in the pre-Julian calendar. Livia preserved the date, because the Julian day number of her birthday did not exist in the pre-Julian calendar. Dennis Feeney has a nice discussion of this in his recent book.
a.d. viii Kal. Oct. (Julian) is what you would get if Augustus had been born on day 23 (a.d. viii Kal. Oct. pre-Julian) and had decided to preserve the pre-Julian date. The contexts in which this date appear are conservative and religious, e.g. the fasti of the Arval brotherhood. So the most reasonable interpretation of both dates is that he was born on day 23 and decided to preserve the position.--Chris Bennett (talk) 14:24, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Sounds convincing, especially if a.d.viii is clear on contemporary epigraphy, and not a slip for a.d.viiii, which is what Suetonius has when dating the birth to the consuls of 63(R) (DAug.5, including also the time of birth). I've not seen the inscriptions in question, but will chase them up.

I've recently seen a reference to Feeney's new book. How does it differ from/improve upon Michels and Brind'Amour?

Does he accept or reject or ignore the C.J.Bennett papers in ZPE?

Does he have anything of note to say about the critical year 190 BC? Appietas (talk) 00:56, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

It's not a book about technical chronology or calendrics, it's about the development of Roman concepts of chronology and chronometry. For example, in the issue just discussed, his concern is not to establish what Augustus' birthday actually was but to study how the Romans reacted to the effect of Caesar's reform on personally important dates. My ZPE notes are about using new or unexamined calendrical data to establish precise pre-Julian chronology, which is not directly relevant to his theme. But I do comment at one point about the implications of the triennial leap year phase I propose for understanding Lepsius' pontificate, and he approves of that. It's an interesting book. --Chris Bennett (talk) 02:29, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
A similar problem has cropped up in modern times of course. The US celebrates the birth of George Washington on (or around) 22 Feb, though he was actually born on 11 Feb. Since he lived through the changeover in 1752, his birthday - along with all other anniversaries - was by law henceforward expressed on the new calendar, which had the effect of changing the actual date as written. However, Columbus Day is celebrated on (or around) 12 Oct, which commemorates the date on the old calendar when Columbus first landed, and is therefore technically incorrect. TharkunColl (talk) 14:32, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
It's not based on any law; it was Washington's choice to celebrate his birthday on February 22 N.S. When it became a festivity, largely for partisan purposes, it was celebrated when he did - and had been for forty years and more. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:42, 10 November 2010 (UTC)
I have read the exact opposite, that Washington continued to celebrate his own birthday on the Old Style Julian date but magnanimously accepted birthday wishes on the New Style Gregorian date as well. — Joe Kress (talk) 09:03, 11 November 2010 (UTC)

Shouldn't this article also contain the days of the week?[edit]

Check the Antiquity section in Planet or Days of the week for some starting points.Nergaal (talk) 23:11, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

The article already discusses the transition between the nundinal cycle and the sabbatical week. The week didn't become part of the Roman calendar till after the Julian reform. Since this article is really about the pre-Julian Roman calendar(s), it doesn't belong here. Maybe the Julian calendar article could discuss it, though it's not clear to me what it would say that isn't already said in Week or Days of the week. If you have some ideas, go for it. --Chris Bennett (talk) 00:41, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Length of intercalary month[edit]

A very arrogant and opinionated Wikipedian, who refuses to take a name or handle, or to debate his views on the Talk page, has been trying to impose his opinion that the pre-Julian Intercalary month had 28 days in the Julian calendar article. This is based on a comment by the first/second century jurist Celsus, which he initially dismissed (in text he tried to add to the Julian calendar article) as a mistake, but which he is now advocating, without having given any reason or explanation for why he has changed his mind.

I am opening this topic in an effort to get him to take the issue to the right place, even if he won't discuss his opinions here. Although he will not debate on the Talk page of articles, he does at least deign to read them.

I have pointed him to the standard text on the pre-Julian calendar, A K Michels "The Calendar of the Roman Republic", which, judging by his request on an Edit summary line for me to transcribe the relevant passages, he was unaware of. Michels makes it clear that the intercalary month was always 27 days long, inserted after either the 23rd or 24th day of February. He has responded by noting that "Ogilvie disagrees with her", which is apparently sufficient justification for his own views to be reimposed. No citation, and no justification as to why we should accept Ogilvie's opinion over Michels.

It is also untrue. In Ogilvie's review of Michels' book in the Classical Review 19:3 (1969) 330-332, he says:

The two main pieces of literary evidence concerning the Decemvirs (Macrobius i. 13. 2 1 ;Ovid, Fasti ii. 53 ff.) are best taken as referring to a change simply in intercalation (e.g. reducing February to 23 or 24 days and adding the intercalary month at that point in the year).

This is exactly how Michels proposes that intercalation occurred and the words "best taken" mean that Ogilvie is inclined to agree with her. At most, one could infer from the "e.g." that he was neutral. One cannot infer from this that he disagrees with her. --Chris Bennett (talk) 16:44, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

A further note on this: Mommsen, Rõmische Chronologie 23, interprets Celsus as referring to the length of February in Julian leap years, noting that this is an inevitable result of the concept of the 48 hour day. He points out that Celsus was a pragmatic lawyer, with no reason to mention a point of purely antiquarian interest. The coup de grace is that Mommsen quotes later Byzantine commentary on the Digest which explicitly states that Celsus means that February always had 28 days. --Chris Bennett (talk) 02:04, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

It's not just Celsus who's against you - Cicero is as well. See his writings "Pro Quinct.," 79 and "at Att.," V, 21,3.

Thus spake the Nameless One in his last oracular communication on an edit summary line, notionally to justify his reinsertion of a rambling diatribe on 28 day intercalary months in the Julian Calendar article.

In the spirit of talking to a brick wall, I reply that these quotations have no bearing on the length of the intercalary month. The first proves that 83 BC was an intercalary year, nothing more. The letter to Atticus concerns Cicero's account of his governorship in Cilicia and does not even mention the intercalary month at the point cited. I assume you mean the request at 5.21.14 to learn whether there will be an intercalary month -- but again this has nothing to do with its length.

The Nameless One should read Brind'Amour's book before abusing Cicero any further. --Chris Bennett (talk) 15:49, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

Stop wasting everyone's time.Celsus names Intercalaris not Feb.If Interkal is irrelevant why mention it here?Michels doesn't say Interkal never had 28 days.Why do you maintain this ridiculous position -- The Nameless One

O He Who Has No Name:

Celsus names the Intercalary month, just as he names the Intercalary year. He clearly means the Julian intercalary year so why should he not mean the Julian intercalary month? The Basilika of Leo the Wise (2.2.95) says that that's precisely what he meant:

ο Φεβρουαριος εικοσι οκτω ημερον εστιν

Michels' position is crystal clear (p16):

The month of February was reduced to either 23 or 24 days, and was followed by an intercalary month of 27 days.

This "ridiculous position" is now the standard position of Roman calendrical scholarship. If you don't believe me here is Brind'Amour (p28):

Lorsqu'il failler intercaler 23 jours, on laissait février courir jusqu'au 24, puis on intercalait ensuite le mois intercalaire habituel de 27 jours (Tite-Live, 43, 11, 13)

None of the reviews of Michels' book in JSTOR assert that she is wrong on this point, at most, like Ogilvie, they express neutrality. Apart from an oddball proposal by Radke for a one-off 31-day intercalation in 49, I have not seen any advocate of any other view in the 40 years since she published her book.

You are welcome to disagree with Michels, but not to do so in an encyclopedia article, which is supposed to reflect the state of the art, not your unsupported personal opinion, and certainly not your diatribes against viewpoints you do not agree with.

As to wasting time... look in a mirror my friend. --Chris Bennett (talk) 18:25, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

Why did Michels discard 2000 years of scholarship?Julian calendar doesnt have an intercalary month.Why would Celsus say Julian Feb had 28 days when everyone knew?He is discussing adding 22d pre-Julian -- The Nameless One.

I had hoped that getting the Julian calendar article semi-protected would finally get the point across, but apparently not. What is your problem with using the Talk page to discuss your issues? And, while I understand you are using public library terminals to access the Internet, that doesn't stop you from getting a WP account, you can configure it so that you have to give your password each time.

In answer to your questions (again):

1) Michels reasons are fully explained in her book, go read it. I have already summarised them: it's because Fasti Ant Mai has a 27-day month, and because Livy (a genuine antiquarian) describes an intercalation on the day after the Terminalia in one place and on the second day after the Terminalia in another.

2) As I have already explained, Celsus doesn't represent 2000 years of scholarship on this. He was not an antiquarian, he was a working lawyer. His scholarship was legal and contemporary.

3) As I have already explained, Julian calendar does have a month in which intercalation occurs -- February. If the Byzantine jurists who used Celsus as a working text understood that that's what he meant, who are you to disagree with them? Mommsen, Michels and Brind'Amour takes Leo the Wise at his word -- why can't you?

4) As I have already explained, he said it because, under the biduum concept, February has 29 physical days in leap years but only 28 legal ones.

We made some progress in satisfying you about the position of the Julian leap day by noting that there was scholarly uncertainty and listing the views. Perhaps something similar would work here, though it can't be the same because today there is general, and as far as I know, universal acceptance of Michels' view amongst classical scholars. How about something like:

The evidence on the length of the intercalary month is fragmentary. In the past there has been disagreement as to whether the intercalary month was 27 or 28 days long in 378-day years. It is generally accepted today that the evidence is best explained by assuming a fixed intercalary month of 27 days inserted after the 23rd or 24th day of February.

With a citation to Michels' discussion, which quotes all the source evidence in full. --Chris Bennett (talk) 15:45, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Never mind the Byzantines. Celsus was writing for a Roman audience. To a Roman, Intercalaris means only one thing - the pre-Julian thirteenth month which went by that name. The Nameless One, in the Mercedonius article, 10 Feb.

I'm not going to chase you all over Hell's half acre. I'm only going to talk to you here and I'm only going to reply to points you make on Edit Summary lines or (if a miracle occurs) on the relevant Talk page. Debate this issue properly or get lost. I'm done cutting you slack.

To state the obvious: For an ordinary Roman of Celsus' time, the pre-Julian intercalary month lay 150 years in the past. The only intercalation they knew was Julian intercalation. And, the Byzantines considered themselves to be Romans throughout their history, and with good reason. The relevant point here is that their legal tradition was a continuous evolution of the Roman one. --Chris Bennett (talk) 15:37, 11 February 2008 (UTC)

Just to emphasize the point -- and also to make it clear that Chris is by no means alone in his views though there is little reason for the rest of us to intervene at present -- Michels's book is an excellent starting point. She deals with much of this very capably and has a useful appendix of textual evidence for intercalation. I would strongly recommend anyone who wishes to argue about pre-Julian intercalation to read it first. Francis Davey (talk) 00:13, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

History of the calendar[edit]

Where were the 61 days shown?[edit]

In the Heading History of the Calendar It says

The calendar year lasted 304 days and there were about 61 days 
of winter that did not fall within the calendar

How did they acknowledge those 61 days ? or is this a reference to the Julian calendar ? Meaning they were losing 61 days per year ?

Possibly Hundreds of Years Lost[edit]

So we are are most likely off in Dates of time and events by what could be several years.
If we think about it using the Julian calendar ? Every 5 years today would have been a little over 6 years using the Roman Calendar, or the 304 day per year scenario.

DADSGETNDOWN (talk) 05:22, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

Apparently they were designated simply as "winter". So each year would include 304 named days, and ~61 unnamed days--not dropping them and getting a short year, but merely neglecting them and keeping the ~365-day year. (talk) 18:32, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

Last Four Months of the Year[edit]

I think they should have renamed the last four months of the year because their names don't fit them anymore. (talk) 00:29, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

-ilis vs. -ober and -ember again[edit]

I had the same question as that last guy and noticed it wasn't really answered in 2006. What's the difference between the suffixes -ius, -ilis, and -ber? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:40, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

a.d XVII kal. Dec.[edit]

The current edit 'correcting' the interpretation of date a.d XVII kal. Dec. to "14" November has made a previously correct statement incorrect, and no basis has been offered to indicate how the change is to be supposed as correct.

The date-abbreviation a.d XVII kal. Dec. expands and translates as "on the 17th day before the December Kalends." (See main article.) November has 30 days. Both the 1st December (the Kalends) and the target date are part of the inclusive count of 17. By ordinary arithmetic this means the target date is the 15th November: from 16th to 30th November inclusive there are 15 days, and the inclusion of the target date 15th November and the 1st December makes 17. '14th' could only be correct if there were only 29 days in November; and if there ever was a historical period when November had 31 days then a.d XVII kal. Dec. would have corresponded to 16th November. It would seem preferable to raise matters like this in discussion before an edit that makes a previously correct fact incorrect. Hopefully the change will now be reverted back to the correct version. Terry0051 (talk) 00:33, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

There were indeed just 29 days in November under the Roman republican calendar, which is what this article is about. ðarkuncoll 00:37, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
[From Terry0051] The title of the article is 'Roman calendar' which clearly encompasses more than just the republican period. The point really should be made clear rather than left hidden and implicit that the interpretation depends on the historical period, and depends on November having 29 days. It's misleading not to mention that during the much longer period when Roman dating was in use and the month of November had 30 days, the interpretation was different. Terry0051 (talk) 00:49, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
The lead prominently states "This article generally discusses the early Roman or 'pre-Julian' calendars. The calendar used after 46 BC is discussed under Julian calendar." — Joe Kress (talk) 06:02, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
[From Terry0051] [1] The article title is comprehensive as already mentioned; [2] "generally discusses" is not the same as "exclusively discusses"; and [3] the article actually shows an early calendar of Romulus in which November is said to have had 30 days. Clearly an explanatory phrase about the 29-day basis of the calculation discussed here is of potential help to the reader of the article. Terry0051 (talk) 16:24, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
The calendar of Romulus is legendary and even if it existed was only in opperation for a short time. The Roman Republican Calendar, which is very well known, had a 29-day November. ðarkuncoll 16:35, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
I'd like to add that in the pre-Julian calendar, 14 November must have been a.d. XVII Kal. Dec because the day after the Ides was a.d. XVII Kal. in every month (except Feb/Intercal). The only difference between long months and short months was that in the four long months, the day after Kalends was a.d. VI Non. but in the short months it was a.d. IV Non. In all months the day after Nones was a.d. VIII Id. and in all months other than Feb/Intercal, the day after Ides was a.d. XVII Kal. Silas Maxfield (talk) 11:12, 10 July 2013 (UTC)

"For us"[edit]

There is a weird use of the phrase "for us" in the article which assumes the reader is a user of the Gregorian Calendar, but there are places that use different calendars so this sentence seems a bit off to me.

I'm referring to the sentence "his birthday was sometimes celebrated on both dates, i.e. (for us) on both 23 and 24 September." the "(for us)" might read better as "(for users of the Gregorian Calendar)" or something similarly phrased.-NeF (talk) 21:51, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

"nundina" or "nundinae"?[edit]

As far as I understand, "nundina"=singular and "nundinae"=plural, but in chap. 5 of 'Oxford Latin Course, pt.1', they wrote "nundinae sunt" and translated it as "it is market day", isn't it supposed to be "nundina est"?

In NOVA ROMA they said that "nundinae is sometimes used to designate a market-place or a time for marketing in general", so maybe "nundinae sunt" is actually "it is marketing time"?

Thanks. (talk) 10:53, 27 May 2010 (UTC)


The one I learned in school (which happens to be in iambic quadrameter) was

"In March, July, October, May, the Ides fall on the fifteenth day the nones the seventh and besides are two days less for Nones and Ides."

I like this one better than the one on the article page. -Ich (talk) 16:34, 2 November 2010 (UTC)


I think that these months originally could be named like:

  • Primilis
  • Sectilis
  • Tertilis
  • Quadrilis
  • Quintilis
  • Sextilis
  • September
  • Octember
  • November
  • December
  • Unodecember
  • Duodecember

because of -ilis -ember endings.

We can also call them:

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • Tibery
  • Caligul
  • Claudy
  • Ner

because of avoiding false numbering scheme and finishing of List_of_Roman_emperors#Julio-Claudian_dynasty up to the end.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:25, 23 November 2010 (UTC)

Edit request from Ktikk, 3 August 2011[edit]

Under "Months", name "Ides", remove the text: "The word derives from the Oscan eiduis, of doubtful origin, perhaps < *eidh- shine or *eid-, expand." This is not true. The Oscan word is either a loanword from Latin, or the two are related and go back to the same Proto-Italic stem, though the exact relation remains obscure. Ktikk (talk) 16:06, 3 August 2011 (UTC)

YesY Removed the text, per WP:BURDEN. Feezo (send a signal | watch the sky) 17:51, 3 August 2011 (UTC)

What should be clarified[edit]

1. It is unclear from this article when the calendar ended to be lunar. If it is unknown then nevertheless there should be a phrase stating that it happened.

2. Information about beginning of the year should be clarified. Other articles of Wikipedia contain information that probably it was 1 May, 1 March, 1 January during different periods. --D.M. from Ukraine (talk) 21:42, 31 March 2012 (UTC)

Re 1: No-one knows when the calendar ceased to be lunar. If you follow the most commonly repeated story, the one outlined in the following paragraphs of the article about the 304-day calendar of Romulus being succeeded by the 355-day calendar of Numa, you could even conclude that it never was truly lunar, though Varro and Macrobius provide very clear evidence that it really was at one time. While the Romulus/Numa story is apparently the story most widely accepted in late republican and early imperial times, ancient research, as reported by Plutarch, Censorinus and Macrobius, gave several other accounts of the early history of the calendar, some of which seem in some respects to be more plausible. Generally, though not universally, the republican calendar was attributed to Numa. Most modern scholars have suggested later dates for the end of the lunar calendar, usually the second decemvirate (c. 450), but Michael York has argued that it was lunar even up to the Acilian reform of 191, and more recently Michel Humm and Jorg Rüpke have argued for the Flavian reform of 301.
IMO, it's hard to address this question satisfactorily without laying out all these considerations in some detail. To do that, at least the first part of the article needs to be totally reorganised and rewritten. I've thought about doing that from time to time, but it's a big job and a very low priority for me.
Re 2: I agree this could be clarified, the current text is a bit misleading. It should distinguish between the calendar year and the eponymous, consular year more clearly. I'll give it a go, the section on the year is more self-contained so it's not a major rewrite. At some unknown time the start of the calendar year switched from March to January but the eponymous identity of the year referred to the consular term which started within that calendar year, which did change from time to time until 153 BC. There was a similar situation in the Middle Ages: the calendar year, at least in Western Europe, always started on 1 January because the calendar year was the liturgical year published by the church, but the change in year number varied quite a bit from place to place and from time to time. -- Chris Bennett (talk) 00:07, 1 April 2012 (UTC)
Thank you for detailed replies and for changes concerning the 2nd problem. As for the 1st problem, I just added a clarifying sentence to section "History". --D.M. from Ukraine (talk) 20:27, 1 April 2012 (UTC)
Noted, though IMO anyone who tries to reconcile that paragraph with the next two subsections will still have more questions than answers! -- Chris Bennett (talk) 19:16, 2 April 2012 (UTC)

I must be suffering a misapprehension here. Since Julius reformed the calendar to the current solar one, and made one long year to fix the old system, and the old system was so far out because of the abuse of the insertion of intercalary months, then surely the calendar was lunar until the Julian reform, and then solar thereafter.[1] So the lunar calendar ended in 45 BCE, no? Silas Maxfield (talk) 15:34, 16 June 2013 (UTC)

  1. ^ Asimov, Isaac (1966). The Roman Republic. p. 215. 
I think you're expressing a real difficulty, which may have been resolved by ritual. That is, the rituals performed monthly on the Kalends and Ides (for Juno and Jupiter) were connected (originally) to the lunar calendar, and continued to be performed on those days. My impression is that scholars remain somewhat tentative as to how the Romans reconciled these rituals to observable reality. I haven't spent the time necessary to take in what Jörg Rüpke says about this in The Roman Calendar from Numa to Constantine, but I believe he addresses it. Cynwolfe (talk) 23:45, 16 June 2013 (UTC)
This is all true, but Silas Maxfield's original comment was that the calendar which Caesar replaced, the so-called "calendar of Numa", must have been lunar because it was not solar. That is wrong. A lunar (or lunisolar) calendar stays aligned to the moon with 12 or 13 months of 29 and 30 days. The Numan calendar had months of 28, 29 and 31 days, and the intercalary month was effectively 22 or 23 days long. There is no way a calendar like this could stay aligned with the moon, and the available synchronistic data is not aligned to the moon. The Numan calendar clearly had its origins in a lunar calendar, but it was not itself lunar. When it replaced the lunar calendar is not known. While many Roman scholars believed it was in Numa's time, others did not and there is good evidence that the lunar calendar was still in use in the early republic. 2602:304:7882:95F9:8506:DD3:D0B4:8F3F (talk) 01:10, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Thank you, you have clarified the issue perfectly. Silas Maxfield (talk) 13:43, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

roman calendar[edit]

the romans made thier calendar by naming the months after gods. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:41, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

445 day year is poor example of political manipulation.[edit]

Because the term of office of elected Roman magistrates was defined in terms of a Roman calendar year, a Pontifex Maximus would have reason to lengthen a year in which he or his allies were in power, or shorten a year in which his political opponents held office. For example, Julius Caesar made the year of his third consulship in 46 BC 445 days long.

The final sentence correctly indicates that the length of the year was in the gift of the Pontifex Maximus, but it's a poor example because that was the final, excessively long, year of the old system. It was not "part of the problem" as they say, but part of Julius's solution to the variable political year problem. 46 BCE was made 445 days long to realign the year with the seasons, so that 45 BCE could begin the Julian solar calendar that we use today. One (unused) source for the statement about how the year was manipulated for political purposes, using almost the same text as the first sentence above, can be found in Isaac Asimov's The Roman Republic (1966). But instead of saying that 46 was an example of that manipulation, Asimov points out that although 46 BCE is often referred to as "The Year of Confusion", it should instead be called "The Last Year of Confusion", because it was necessary to realign the year before starting a reformed calendar. I'm just expressing my view that the final sentence is misleading, since the effect of this one long year was the opposite of what the main thrust of the point was. Silas Maxfield (talk) 15:18, 16 June 2013 (UTC)