Roman Calendar

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  • Přidal/a: anonymous
  • Datum přidání: 12. března 2007
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Roman Calendar


Time is one of the world´s deepest mysteries. No one can say exactly what it is. Yer, the ability to measure time makes our way of life possible. Most human activities involve groups of people acting together in the same place at the same time. People could not do this if they did not all measure time in the same way. Calendar is a system of measuring and recording passage of time. I cannot imagine my life without such ordinary thing for us a a calendar is. What day is it today? When is your birthday? These question could not be answered without knowing calendar. In my opinion calendar was a very useful and important thing for Roman citizens. And I thought it would be interesting to know something more about the history of the Roman calendar and that is why I chose this topic for my project. In this project I will try to decribe and explain the origin of the Roman calendar, what did it look like, how do we read this calendar, and many interesting facts about it. I did not have many problems with finding sources and books. I used Internet to obtain extra information and pictures. The material I used is mentioned in bibliography. The problem was what to select from it so that I would keep to my aim and would not write unimportant things because it is quite wide topic. The origin of the Roman Calendar
Calendars have long been an indispensable part of everyday life – they tell us when to expect a change in seasons, they tell the farmer when to plow or plant, they tell the priest when to prepare for fasts or festivals, they provide a measure of years that have passed since some important event and they help us all plan for the future a well a keep track of passing time. The Roman Calendar used a system of months and special days in each month. Two hundred fragments of Roman Calendars have been found so far and they are collectively known a Fasti.(1)There is a common style and format reflected in all of them, but there are also many differences, perticularly regional differences. Some calendars were carved in marble or stone, but many were painted on walls for decoration. The ealry Roman calendar was brought by Rome´s original citizens. It was drawn up by Romulus, the first king of Rome, some seven or eight centuries before Christian Era. The year began in March and was composed of 10 months, six of 30 days and four of 31 days, making a total of 304 days. It ended in December.

Nuna Pompilus, the Roman ruler, added two extra months. January at the beggining and February at the end of the calendar to create a 12- month calendar. He also deducted one day from the 30- day months. A s a result of this they had 56 days to divide between January and February. Later, January was given an extra day. The Roman republican caôendar was introduced by the Etruscan Tarquinius Priscus ( 616-579 BCE), according to the tradition of the fifth king of Rome. Romulus, the founder of Rome, instituted the calendar in about 738 BCE. This dating system was probably a product of evolution from the Greek lunar calendar, which was derived from the Babylonian calendar. The months carried the names Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Juniius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November and December, - the lasr six names correspond to the Latin words for numbers 5 through 10. In 452 BCE, February was moved between January and March. IN 46 BCE, Julius Caesar initiated a detailed reform that resulted in the establishment of a new dating system, the Julian calendar. Roman republican calendar was carried over into the Gregorian calendar now in general use. The Romans did not have weekdays in the same sense of our Monday, Tuesday, ets., however they did have a defined markers within each month. Originally, the month and markers were based on the moon. At the time of their early kings, Roman months were of a lenght identical to the lunar cycle. Each month was divided into sections that ended on the day of one of the first three phases of the moon: new, first quarter or full. All days were referred to in terms of one of these three moon phase names, Kalends, Nones or Ides. At that tome a pontifex(priest) was assigned to observe the sky. When he first sighted a thin lunar crescent he called out that there was a new moon and declared the next month had started. For centuries afterward, Romans referred to the first day of each month a Kalendae or Kalends from the Latin word calare( to announce solemnly, to call out). The word calendar was derived from this custom.
A s mentioned above, the months of the Roman calendar contained three primary markers – The Kalends, the Nones and the Ides. The days were each identified with certain letters and names. The archaic form of the K, for Kalends, was used in front of the name of the month. The first letter was called the Nundinae ( nine day), or the Nundinal letter, and it represented the market day. Every ninth day was a market day.

Day of Kalends: The Kalends were always the first day of the moon. It was the longest selection, it lasted longer than the Nones and Ides combined. The day of Kalends itself began a new moon. Day of Nones: Nones were usually the fifth but sometimes the seventh day of the month. Nones was originally the day when moon reached its first quarter phase. When the pontifex saw the lunar crescent he noted itd width and calculated the number of days that were expected to elapse between them and the first quarter moon. If it was number six, they day following Kalends would be reffered to a the sixth day before Nones. (3) Use of the word Nones(nine) was intended to express the inclusive number of elapsed days between first quarter and full moons. (4)
Day of Ides: Ides were the 15th but sometimes 13th day of the month. Ides, dedicated to Jupiter, was originally the time of the full moon comes halfway through each lunation, its day was called Idus in Latin from an Etruscan word meanind divide. (5) After Ides the next new moon was expected to appear in from 15 to 17 days. Romans separated their months form the lunar cycle in the fifht century BCE. Month lenghts then became fixed. Later, Romans used letters A to H on the left side of each monthś calendar column to indicate days of their eight-day marketing week. The first day of each new year was represented by the letter A. Much of the knowledge we have about Roman calendars came from Ovis, a Roman born in 43 BC and from a Greek biographer named Plutarch, who wrote between AD 405 and 115. Their historical documents no longer exists. March ( the first moon) – Martius – was named after Mars, The Roman god of war a Ovid and Plutarch write in their work. Six of the other original ten were simply numbered a Quintilis through Decembris ( 5th through 10th ). There are disagreements up to the present time about the origin of the name Aprilis, Maius and Juniius. April – Ovid claimed that April was sacred to Aphrodite, a Greek name for Venus. Others say it came from the name of a god or hero named Aper or Aprus. May- Maius- was named either afther goddes Maia – a daughter of Atlas and Junius- after the goddes Juno or they refer not to these sky gods but to elders and young men. January- Januarius ( at the end of the year), was named after Janus – which could be a sky god or a planet. Early Romans believed that the beginning of each day, month and year were secred to Janus.

Some say that February – Februarius got its name from a goatskin thong called a februa or from a Latin word februare ( to purify) (6)
A calendar has a long history, and during the Roman empire it got through really important changes, which helped us to assemble our modern calendar. I hope that everyone who gets to reading this, will find this topic amazing and interesting. Bibliography. 1. Barnett Mary, Gods and Myths of the Ancient World,
Grange Books, London 1997
2. Bickermann, Elias Joseph, Chronology of the Ancient World,
Ithic, N.Y.: Cornell University Press 1968
3. Souček ján, Dejiny v pravěku a starověku, SPL PRÁCE 1995


1-6 quoted from the Internet mentioned in the bibliography. .

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