in

Roman Calendar

Roman Calendar

The was a dating system purportedly enacted by Romulus, the cofounder of Rome, in the year 738 BCE. Originally, the had 10 months and 304 total days. Six months contained 30 days and 4 months contained 31 days. The remaining 61 days that make up our current tropical of 365 days were at that ignored, falling into an uncounted winter season.

The 10 months of the Roman calendar were called Martinus, Aprilis, Maius, Janius, Quintilis, Sextiles, September, October, November, and December. Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, inserted the of January at the begin­ning of the year and the of February at the end of the year. In 452 BCE, February was relo­cated to its current calendar position between January and March.

Despite the addition of January and February, the calendar was still a full 10.25 days short of the current 365-day calendar year. This short­age caused confusion in seasons and lunar cycles, and time became endlessly out of sync. In an attempt to prevent further misalignment of the calendar and the seasons, an occasional intercala­tion was performed, allowing for the addition of a 27-28 day month every 2 years. This created an average of 366 days per year when extrapolated every 4 years, and it kept the seasons on track. This practice, also called Mercedonius, comes from the term merces, meaning wages, because workers were paid at this time of the year.

This intercalation method continued to cause confusion. Intercalation was an official duty of pontifices, and their reasons for timing of the intercalations often remained secret. Calendars were not public documents, and political tactics to lengthen or elongate the ruling terms of magis­trates and other public officials confounded the problems.

In an effort to construct a more sound and incorruptible calendar system, Julius Caesar initi­ated a . In 46 BCE, the Julian calendar was established; it was later modified into the Gregorian calendar now in general use.

See also Gaius Julius Caesar; Julian Calendar; Gregorian Calendar; Measurements of Time

Further Readings

Feeney, D. C. (2007). Caesar’s calendar: Ancient time and the beginnings of history. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Michels, A. K. (1967). The calendar of the Roman republic. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

What do you think?

Mayan Calendar

Mayan Calendar

Asian Calendars

Asian Calendars