Return to Roman Calendar
"Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them."
Supposedly, August was given an extra day from February so that it would have the same number as July (and be an odd number). That now made for three successive months (July, August, September) with thirty-one days. Caesar's system of alternating months of thirty and thirty-one days was said to have been abandoned, and a day taken from September and added to October, and a day from November added to December to give the months their familiar lengths. And obliging one to remember them all by chanting "Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November...," a rhyme that extends back to the Middle Ages.
It could have been worse: Suetonius relates that Caligula renamed September after his father Germanicus and that Nero renamed April after himself, as did Domitian for the months of September and October. (All three emperors suffered damnatio memoriae by the Senate, however, and their names damned to the memory.) There also were attempts to substitute Claudius for May and Germanicus for June. Indeed, Commodus wanted to rename every month of the year after himself. Tiberius, who succeeded Augustus and was offered a similar honor, at least asked what eventually would happen if there were thirteen caesars. And Antoninus Pius, when the Senate proposed that September and October be called Antoninus and Faustina, refused altogether.
Although it was in his capacity as pontifex maximus that Julius Caesar reformed the Republican calendar, the statue (top) portrays Augustus in that role, an office he assumed in 12 BC. His pietas toward the gods, one of the virtues stressed by Augustus, is demonstrated by his portrayal as a priest offering sacrifice, with the toga pulled partly over his head (capite velato). Although the hands and right forearm are missing, they are presumed to have held the lituus, a crooked staff with which the augur divided the sky into regions for the purpose of divination, and the patera, a shallow bowl used in sacrifices.
The statue, the head of which is of Greek marble and the toga of Italian marble, is in the Palazzo Massimo Alle Terme (Rome) and thought to date from the last decade of the first century BC, shortly after the dedication of the Ara Pacis.
Return to Top of Page