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The second part of this monthly ritual is talking about the month (it is a monthly post after all.)
By now I've covered them all (unless I missed some and then didn't catch up on them) so this territory has been covered before.
The story people tell about August is more fun than the truth, though
The story is that Augustus was honored by having a month named after him but it was the shortest month so he, as emperor, decided to change that and took days away from February to make it one of the longest, most notably being just as long as the one named after his predecessor Julius Caesar.
The truth is that the month that would become August, Sextilis, was originally 30 days long while February has never been longer than 28.25 (28 days for three years, 29 for one, repeat.) In fact, February took a day from August, not the other way around.
What happened was basically this:
The original roman Calendar was ten months long. The first five months had names, the second five months had numbers. Hence the original name being Sextilis: 6th month.
In addition, six of the months had 30 days while the other four had 31. Thus the calendar was 304 days long. (The remaining days of the year, otherwise known as winter, were monthless.)
Numa, in his wisdom, decided that having month-less days was silly, or bad, or something like that. and furthermore decided that 29 was way cooler than 30.
This ... did not actually produce a very good calendar, but the point is that one of the days taken from August was used to make February. (January and February were added to the front of the year, which messed up the names of the number months, but apparently no one cared.)
To keep the calendar on track the high priest could declare an extra month, mensis intercalaris, but they didn't do a good job of it.
Julius Caesar thought this was fucked up, and so reformed the entire fucking calendar, and part of doing so was adding days to the month of Sextilis to give it the present number of 31.
Caesar go dead, his designated heir became the first true emperor of Rome, was eventually given the name Augustus, and eventually had Sextilis renamed in his honor. At that point the month already had 31 days.
...wow. Numa's calendar reform sounds pretty terrible - props to Julius for the reform.ReplyDelete