tum pater Anchīsēs lacrimīs :
'ō , ingentem luctum ;
esse sinent. uōbīs Rōmāna propāgō 870
uīsa potēns, , haec sī dona .
māgnam Māuortis ad urbem
campus aget gemitus! uel , Tiberīne, uidēbis
fūnera, tumulum recentem!
nec puer Iliacā dē gente Latīnōs 875
in tantum spē auōs, nec quondam
ullō sē tantum tellus iactābit alumnō.
The Roman calendar is quite similar to the contemporary American calendar. In fact, our calendar is derived from the Roman Calendar. The early Roman calendars of Romulus and Numa, although both comprised of twelve months, did not take into account the fact that a true solar year is 365.25 days and every once in a while, the pre 46 BCE Romans would add an extra month into the year to account for the irregularity of the extra quarter of a day per year. It was not until the time of Julius Caesar that the Roman calendar was reformed into a more user friendly calendar. Caesar's chief reform was to do away with the extra months and to add a leap day every four years, just like we have today. Unfortunately for Caesar though, he did not take into account the fact that a solar year is actually a little bit shorter than 365.25 days. This does not seem like a big difference, but the calendar gained 3 days every 400 years. It was not until the Gregorian reform in 1582 that this discrepancy was corrected. Incidentally, we still use the Gregorian calendar.
Names of Months
The names of the Roman months in the imperial period were as follows:
Quintilis - renamed Iulius for Julius Ceasar in 44 BCE
Sextilis - renamed Augustus for Augustus Caesar in 8 CE
Dates in the Roman world were rather different than they are today. Instead of numbering a day the January 2nd, the Romans would call that "a.d. IV. Non. Jan," or "four days before the nones of January." I'm sure you are confused operatives, but that is ok. To understand how the Romans counted their days, we must first learn some terms:
Kalendae - Kalends - the first day of the month.
Nonae - Nones - eight days before the Ides. The Nones fell on either the 5th or the 7th depending on the position of the Ides.
Idus - Ides - generally the 13th of most months, but it is the 15th of March, May, July and October.
To understand how the Romans counted their days we must first understand that they counted backwards from one of the three set days of the month: either the Kalends, Nones or Ides.
So, now we can correctly identify the 1st, 5th, or 7th and 13th or 15th of all the months. For example:
January 1st = Kal. Jan "The Kalends of January"
January 5th = Non. Jan
January 13th = Id. Jan
Now, how would the Romans say December 31st, January 4th, or January 12th? The day preceding either the Kalends, Nones, or Ides, was known as pridie , "the day before." For example:
December 31st = Prid. Kal. Jan. "The day before the Kalends of January"
January 4th = Prid. Non. Jan.
January 12th = Prid. Id. Jan
What about days before Pridie? For these days, the Romans used an ordinal number, counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones or Ides. Roman counting is inclusive so the reference day itself counted as the 1st day, pridie would be the 2nd day so the smallest cardinal number which they used would be III. Let's continue our example from above:
December 30th = a.d. III Kal. Jan "the 3rd day before the Kalends of January."
January 3rd = a.d. III Non. Jan.
January 11th = a.d. III Id. Jan.
Operatives, although the Roman dating system looks difficult, it truly is not, just remember to count backwards and inclusively. However, we completely understand if you feel a bit overwhelmed by all of this information. Thankfully, there is a video briefing from latintutorial.com which covers the Roman dating system.
CULTURALIA Comprehension Questions
Directions: Using the CULTURALIA section of your CODEX as a guide, answer the following questions:
1. What are the four main parts of a letter in the Greco-Roman world?
2. What are three examples of a standard introduction and their abbreviations?
3. Why do you think these we almost aways abbreviated?
4. What are some examples of a typical closing to a letter?
5. Are any of these conventions still around today? How much varience do we have in letter writing versus the Romans?