Ancient Roman calendar

The ancient Romans were always famous for the organization and orderliness of their lives. And one of its aspects was the Roman calendar, which, however, did not immediately become known to us Julian. This calendar has evolved, sometimes on the verge of chaos and misunderstanding. This, for example, was noted by the French philosopher Voltaire: "The Roman generals always defeated, but they did not know in which day it was happening..." So what inconsistencies had the ancient Roman calendar?

The first version of the ancient Roman calendar was very far from perfect

The first version of the ancient Roman calendar was very far from perfect. It had ten months, the names of which corresponded to their sequence behind the numbers. Four of them had 31 days, the rest - for 30 days. Thus, there were 304 days in the year, this was the year of Romulus, named after the legendary founder of Rome. And what about the rest of the days? And the other 61 days the ancient Roman calendar for months did not share - they needed to just "wait out". True, the ancient Greek writer Plutarch has information that these months had from 20 to 35 days, and the year had 360. However, in the 8th century BC. some months got their name. So, the first month was named martius for the honor of the god Mars, who first was the god of farming and animal husbandry, and later - the god of war. The second - apprilis - was intended for the goddess of love Venus. The third - the mausus - is named after the goddess of the land of Maya. By the way, the ancient Romans considered it unsuccessful for a marriage. How can one not remember our tradition - who marries this month, he will "suffer" all his life. The fourth one, the Junius, was dedicated to the goddess of the sky, Juno, who patronized women, as well as to all the young inhabitants of the empire. The rest had serial numbers: quintilis - the fifth, sextile - the sixth, september - the seventh, october - the eighth, november - the ninth, december - the tenth.

The first calendar reform in the ancient Roman calendar was made by Numa Pompilius around 690 BC, increasing the number of days in a year to 355, and the number of months to 12. Thus, the calendar appeared months of Januarius and februaarius. The first of them was named in honor of the time god Janus, who had two faces - one looked to the future, and the other - to the past. The name of the second - the februaarius - was derived from the word februare (cleansing) and this month was the month of the god of the underworld of Februs. In fact, this reform brought the ancient Roman calendar to the lunar calendar to the likeness of the Greek. Since the ancient Romans did not like paired numbers, four months had 31 days, seven - for 29, and only februaarius - 28 days. There was also developed a way of accounting for days in a month. The first days of the month were called calendas from the word calare (announce), since the priests started publicly every month. The seventh day in four long months or the fifth in the remaining eight were called nonas. They roughly coincided with the first quarter of the moon phase. The 15th number in the long months of the Roman calendar and the 13th in the short were called ides (approximately the full moon phase). Another feature - the days were not considered to be forward, but in reverse order - so many days before non, id, or calends. For example, January 2 is "4 days from non", and on January 14 - "17 in the afternoon from February calends". Thus, only the first six months had their names. They were considered "happy", in them the duration of the day increased. The remaining months were "unsuccessful," they had only a serial number. This ancient Roman calendar was more than 10 days shorter than the tropical one. And to keep the beginning of the year at the same time, it was necessary to "insert" an additional month from time to time. But the superstitious Romans believed that the 13th month would anger the gods, and they would send misfortunes upon them. Therefore, an additional month of marchedonia with a duration of 20 days was inserted between the 6th and the 5th day before the March Kalends (between February 24 and 25) once every two years. So the ancient Roman calendar was 365 days a year.

But it turned out that this ancient Roman calendar is shorter than the real one! Therefore, in the 5th century BC. the duration of each "unpaired" marcedonia was 23 days, and the "pair" - 22 days. And again failure - the year had already 366,25 days, that is, a day more than the present. Sometimes I had to delete this day from the calendar.

As the attentive reader has already noted, the beginning of the year and every month was announced by the priests. Everything would be fine, but people at all times have suffered a fashionable disease and corruption in our country. Therefore, "for friends," the priests extended the year, and for enemies or those who did not give bribes - shortened. For example, in the 50th year BC. Cicero noted on February 13 that it is not known whether there will be a new month in ten days or not. And at the beginning of the year and all calculations were conducted, and all taxes were collected...

Over time, the ancient Roman calendar was so changed that the harvest festival fell for the winter! And that was too much. And in 46 BC. the high priest and commander Julius Caesar made his reform of the calendar. But this is already in another article.

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