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Ab urbe condita

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Antoninianus of Pacatian, usurper of Roman emperor Philip in 248. It reads ROMAE AETER[NAE] AN[NO] MIL[LESIMO] ET PRIMO, 'To eternal Rome, in its one thousand and first year.'
Anno ab urbe condita, rubricated and with a decorated initial, from the medieval Chronicle of Saint Pantaleon

Ab urbe condita (Latin: [ab ˈʊrbɛ ˈkɔndɪtaː]; 'from the founding of the City'), or anno urbis conditae (Latin: [ˈannoː ˈʊrbɪs ˈkɔndɪtae̯]; 'in the year since the city's founding'), abbreviated as AUC or AVC, expresses a date in years since 753 BC, the traditional founding of Rome.[1][2] It is an expression used in antiquity and by classical historians to refer to a given year in Ancient Rome. In reference to the traditional year of the foundation of Rome, the year 1 BC would be written AUC 753, whereas AD 1 would be AUC 754. The foundation of the Roman Empire in 27 BC would be AUC 727. The current year AD 2024 would be AUC 2777.

Usage of the term was more common during the Renaissance, when editors sometimes added AUC to Roman manuscripts they published, giving the false impression that the convention was commonly used in antiquity. In reality, the dominant method of identifying years in Roman times was to name the two consuls who held office that year.[3] In late antiquity, regnal years were also in use, as in Roman Egypt during the Diocletian era after AD 293, and in the Byzantine Empire from AD 537, following a decree by Justinian.



Prior to the Roman state's adoption of the Varronian chronology – created by Titus Pomponius Atticus and Marcus Terentius Varro – there were many different dates posited for when the city was founded. This state of confusion required, for one to use an AUC date, one to pick a date as canonical. The Varronian chronology, constructed from fragmentary sources and demonstrably about four years off of absolute events c. 340 BC,[4] placed the founding of the city on 21 April 753 BC. This date, likely arrived at by mechanical calculation but accepted with a variance of one year by the Augustan-era fasti Capitolini, has become the traditional date.[5]

From the time of Claudius (r. AD 41–51) onward, this calculation superseded other contemporary calculations. Celebrating the anniversary of the city became part of imperial propaganda. Claudius was the first to hold magnificent celebrations in honor of the anniversary of the city, in AD 47,[6][7] the eight hundredth year from the founding of the city.[8] Hadrian, in AD 121, and Antoninus Pius, in AD 147 and AD 148, held similar celebrations respectively.

In AD 248, Philip the Arab celebrated Rome's first millennium, together with Ludi saeculares for Rome's alleged tenth saeculum. Coins from his reign commemorate the celebrations. A coin by a contender for the imperial throne, Pacatianus, explicitly states "[y]ear one thousand and first", which is an indication that the citizens of the empire had a sense of the beginning of a new era, a Sæculum Novum.

Calendar era


The Anno Domini (AD) year numbering was developed by a monk named Dionysius Exiguus in Rome in AD 525 (AUC 1278), as a result of his work on calculating the date of Easter. Dionysius did not use the AUC convention, but instead based his calculations on the Diocletian era. This convention had been in use since AD 293, the year of the tetrarchy, as it became impractical to use regnal years of the current emperor.[9] In his Easter table, the year AD 532 (AUC 1285) was equated with the 248th regnal year of Diocletian. The table counted the years starting from the presumed birth of Christ, rather than the accession of the emperor Diocletian on 20 November AD 284 or, as stated by Dionysius: "sed magis elegimus ab incarnatione Domini nostri Jesu Christi annorum tempora praenotare" ("but rather we choose to name the times of the years from the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ").[10] Blackburn and Holford-Strevens review interpretations of Dionysius which place the Incarnation in 2 BC, 1 BC, or AD 1.[11]

The year AD 1 corresponds to AUC 754, based on the epoch of Varro. Thus:

Year Event
1 753 BC Foundation of the Kingdom of Rome
244 510 BC Overthrow of the Roman monarchy
259 495 BC Death in exile of King Lucius Tarquinius Superbus
490 264 BC Punic Wars
709 45 BC First year of the Julian calendar
710 44 BC The assassination of Julius Caesar
727 27 BC Augustus became the first Roman emperor, starting the Principate
753 1 BC Astronomical Year 0
754 AD 1 Approximate birth date of Jesus, approximated by Dionysius Exiguus in AD 525 (AUC 1278)
1000 AD 247 1,000th Anniversary of the City of Rome
1037 AD 284 Diocletian became Roman emperor, starting the Dominate
1229 AD 476 Fall of the Western Roman Empire to the armies of Odoacer
1246 AD 493 Establishment of the Ostrogothic Kingdom
1306 AD 553 Italy under Eastern Roman control
1507 AD 754 Foundation of the Papal States
1553 AD 800 Creation of the Holy Roman Empire
1824 AD 1071 Defeat of the Eastern Romans at the Battle of Manzikert
1957 AD 1204 Sack of Constantinople by the Crusaders
2000 AD 1247 2,000th Anniversary of the City of Rome
2206 AD 1453 Fall of the Eastern Roman Empire
2336 AD 1582 First year of the Gregorian calendar
2559 AD 1806 Abolition of the Holy Roman Empire
2667-2671 AD 1914-1918 World War I
2675 AD 1922 End of the Ottoman Sultanate
2692-2698 AD 1939-1945 World War II
2776 AD 2023 Last year
2777 AD 2024 Current year
2778 AD 2025 Next year

See also



  1. ^ "Definition of AB URBE CONDITA". merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Definition of ANNO URBIS CONDITAE". merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  3. ^ Flower, Harriet I. (2014). The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic. Cambridge University Press. p. 51. ISBN 9781107032248.
  4. ^ Forsythe, Gary (2005). A critical history of early Rome. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-520-94029-1. OCLC 70728478.
  5. ^ Cornell, Tim (1995). The beginnings of Rome. London: Routledge. p. 73. ISBN 0-415-01596-0. OCLC 31515793. Varro likely arrived at 753 BC by counting seven generations of 35 years from his date for the founding of the republic in 509 BC.
  6. ^ Tacitus, Cornelius. Furneaux, Henry (ed.). Annals XI (in Latin) (1907 ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 17. ludi saeculares octingentesimo post Romam conditam
  7. ^ Bilynskyj Dunning, Susan (20 November 2017). "saeculum". Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.8233. ISBN 978-0-19-938113-5.
  8. ^ Hobler, Francis (1860). Records of Roman history, from Cnaeus Pompeius to Tiberius Constantinus, as exhibited on the Roman coins. London: John Bowyer Nichols. p. 222.
  9. ^ Thomas, J. David (January 1971). "On Dating by Regnal Years of Diocletian, Maximian and the Caesars". Chronique d'Égypte (in French). 46 (91): 173–179. doi:10.1484/J.CDE.2.308234. ISSN 0009-6067.
  10. ^ Migne, Jacques-Paul. 1865. Liber de Paschate (Patrologia Latina 67), p. 481, § XX, note f
  11. ^ Blackburn, B. & Holford-Strevens, L, The Oxford Companion to the Year (Oxford University Press, 2003 corrected reprinting, originally 1999), pp. 778–780.