Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Crazy Roman Calendar

This the the Roman Calendar for March. The Roman month had three key days: Kalends, Nones, and Ides. The Kalends originally designated the day of the new moon and was called the first of the month, the Nones designated the day of the half moon, and the Ides designated the day of the full moon.

The days of the month are referenced to the NEXT key day, so for example, the second day of March is ad VI Non Mar, meaning the sixth day before the Nones. The Romans counted inclusively so the key day itself is counted in the number. After the Nones the countdown starts to the Ides and then after the Ides the countdown starts to the next Kalends (first day of the next month). Once the Ides is passed, the days reference the next month rather than the current month, so the day after the Ides is sixteen days before the first of April.

The Roman “week” had eight days although they didn’t think in terms of weeks. Every ninth day was Market day. No assemblies could meet on market day because the people had to buy food for the next eight days. Market days are shaded tan on the calendar.

Everyone knows the English rhyme used to remember the length of the months: thirty days hath September….

The Romans had their own to account for the different positions in the month for the Nones and Ides:

In March, July, October, May
The Ides fall on the fifteenth day
The Nones the seventh; all besides
Have two days less for Nones and Ides.

Beware of the Ides of March. Its coming.


Chairman Joe said...

Thanks Mike. This is much clearer than the Wikipedia article on this subject.

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