A background of the month"s name

by Borgna Brunner
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"July" is because that Julius

The roman Senate called the month of July ~ Julius Caesar to respect him for reforming their calendar, which had actually degenerated right into a chaotic embarrassment. Bad calculations resulted in the month to drift wildly throughout the seasons?January, for example, had begun to autumn in the autumn.

The high monk in charge of the calendar, the pontifex maximus, had end up being so corrupt the he sometimes lengthened the year come keep specific officials in office or abbreviated it come shorten one enemy"s tenure.

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Effective January 1, 45 B.C.

The brand-new calendar walk into impact on the an initial day that January 709 A.U.C. (ab urbe condita?"from the starting of the city ")?January 1, 45 B.C.?and placed an finish to the arbitrary and inaccurate nature the the early Roman system. The Julian calendar ended up being the primary calendar throughout Europe because that the next 1600 years until Pope Gregory made further reforms in 1582.

Certain countries and also institutions in truth adhered to this ancient system until well into the twenty century: the Julian calendar was offered in Russia till 1917 and also in China until 1949, and also to today the east Orthodox church adheres come Caesar"s calendar.

The month Julius changed Quintilis (quintus = five)?the 5th month in the early Roman calendar, which started with March before the Julian calendar describe January as the begin of the year. Unfortunately, Caesar self was just able to gain one July during his life?the very an initial July, in 45 B.C. The complying with year he to be murdered ~ above the Ides that March.

Augustus for "August"

After Julius"s grandnephew Augustus beat Marc Antony and also Cleopatra, and also became emperor that Rome, the roman Senate made decision that he as well should have actually a month called after him. The month Sextillus (sex = six) was preferred for Augustus, and the senate justified its plot in the following resolution:

Whereas the Emperor Augustus Caesar, in the month the Sextillis . . . Thrice entered the city in triumph . . . And also in the same month Egypt was brought under the authority of the roman people, and also in the exact same month an end was put to the civil wars; and also whereas because that these factors the stated month is, and has been, most fortunate to this empire, that is hereby decreed by the senate that the claimed month shall be called Augustus.

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Not only did the Senate name a month after ~ Augustus, yet it determined that since Julius"s month, July, had actually 31 days, Augustus"s month must equal it: under the Julian calendar, the months alternated evenly in between 30 and 31 work (with the exception of February), i m sorry made august 30 days long. So, rather of August having a just 30 days, it was lengthened to 31, avoiding anyone native claiming that Emperor Augustus was saddled v an inferior month.

To accommodate this readjust two other calendrical adjustments to be necessary:

since the months evenly alternated between 30 and 31 days, adding the extra day to August meant that July, August, and September would all have 31 days. For this reason to prevent three lengthy months in a row, the lengths that the last 4 months were switched around, providing us 30 days in September, April, June, and November.

Among roman rulers, only Julius and also Augustus permanently had months called after them?though this wasn"t for lack of make the efforts on the part of later on emperors. Because that a time, may was readjusted to Claudius and also the infamous Nero instituted Neronius for April. Yet these changes were ephemeral, and also only Julius and Augustus have had actually two-millenia-worth of continuing to be power.

For more reading:

Calendar: Humanity"s Epic struggle to recognize a True and also Accurate Year, David Ewing Duncan (New York: Avon, 1998).