The Roman calendar

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					The Roman calendar
               Months of the year
• Januarius, after the god Janus     • Iulius (originally Quintilis, 5th
• Februarius, named after the          month), after Julius Caesar
  Februa festivals marking the       • Augustus (originally Sextilis,
  original end of the year             6th month), after Augustus
• Martius, after the god Mars        • September (7th month)
• Aprilis, uncertain origin, after   • October (8th)
  an Etruscan goddess, Aprilis?      • November (9th)
• Maius, after the goddess Maia      • December (10th)
• Iunius, after the goddess Juno
 The divisions of the Roman month
• Kalends: the first day of the month
• Nones: the fifth or seventh day of the
• Ides: the thirteenth or fifteenth day of the
Days were counted inclusively backwards from the next
             division point of the month

                           • For example, January 2
                             would be IV nonibus
                             Ianuarii, ‘four days from
                             the nones of January’
                           • March 10 would be VI
                             idibus Martii, ‘six days
                             from the ides of March’
What would your birthday be?
             Days of the week
• The Romans considered       • Dies Saturni = Saturday ‘Day
  that days were sacred to      of Saturn’
  a particular god or         • Dies Solis = Sunday, ‘day of
                                the Sun’
  goddess, and considered
                              • Dies Lunae = Monday, ‘day of
  these to operate in a         the Moon’
  seven-day cycle, but they   • Dies Martis = Tuesday, ‘day of
  did not have a concept of     Mars’
  weeks with weekends         • Dies Mercurii = Wednesday,
                                ‘day of Mercury’
                              • Dies Iovis = Thursday, ‘day of
                                Jove or Jupiter’
                              • Dies Veneris = Friday, ‘day of
• The eight letters A B C D E F
  G H in the columns on the
  table to the right give the cycle
  of nunindae, ‘ninth-days’
  (counting inclusively from each
  day A). These mark the cycle
  of market days, and were
  perhaps the closest that the
  Romans came to having
  weeks (seven days’ work
  followed by a day at the market
  or a day off)
                      Other days
• F = dies fasti, when business
  was permitted
• C = dies comitiales, when
  assemblies could meet
• N = dies nefasti, days
  unfavourable to business
• NP = dies nefasti publici,
  probably days of public
  religious festivals
• EN = dies endotercisi, ‘in-
  between days’, functioning as
  a dies fastus in the morning
  and a dies comitalis in the
• Holidays, when no work took place, were
  extremely numerous
• A Republican calendar has 192 dies fasti
  (business days) and 109 nefasti per year
• There were also dies atri, the anniversaries of
  disasters, when it was unlucky to do anything
• By the later second century there were so many
  holidays that Marcus Aurelius limited their
  number to 135 per year
            Hours of the day
• Sunrise and sunset
  were the two markers
  of time
• Between these, the
  Romans counted 12
  hours of the day and
  12 hours of the night
• Midday was the point
  when the sixth hour of
  the day became the
  seventh hour
•   Midday was meridies       • This meant that the
•   A.m. = ante meridiem        length of the hours
•   P.m. = post meridiem        changed depending
                                on the time of year
•   Midnight was the mid-       (day hours were short
    point between sunset        in winter, long in
    and sunrise, when the       summer)
    sixth hour of the night
    changed to the            • At the equinox day
    seventh hour                and night were of
                                equal length
           Telling the time
• Sundials were the only effective way of
  telling what hour it was
• Water clocks (clepsydrae) were used to
  time things
• Hour glasses could also be used to time
  things (speeches etc.)
                Water clocks
• A simple water clock
  is a container filled
  with water and with a
  hole at its base to let
  water out
• The problem is that
  as the pressure
  decreases, the clock
  gets less accurate
             A better water clock
• Water flow from A is regulated
  by valve F
• The flow from A into tank
  BCDE is further controlled by
  float G
• Water then drips at an even
  pace into container KLMN,
  raising float P
• This causes Q to rise against
  the drum STUV
• STUV can be turned so that
  the spaces between the lines
  match the length of the hours
  (short in winter for days, long
  in summer)
• The clock has to be reset by
  draining KLMN using O
          Another water clock
• This one works in
  much the same way,
  except that there is no
  allowance made for
  hours of different
The Roman day

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