A few words on the Roman calendar and dates

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A few words on the Roman calendar and dates

Postby Tiberius Cilnius Maecenas » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:10 am

A lot of people are asking about the Roman calendar of festivals.

A few things. First off, most of what is online, Wikipedia, crappy blogs, and their sources are horrendous. I will tell you why. First they are all copying each other. No one has gone back to the original research and evidence. Mistakes are endlessly propagated. A lot of people in other groups also think they are experts and promote these trash sources as authorities.

The second reason these sources are horrible is that they give you no good information on the history of the festival. So back you go to other crappy blogs and Wikipedia which again repeat errors.

Don't be this type if cultor. Don't rely on "blog experts", don't reply on Wikipedia.

I can help you.

We have several calendar fragments and Ovid' fasti as the best primary evidence for dates. This evidence has been compiled into many good books.

One book is free and old. But it's very good and much of the research remains very valid. You can get this book here for free: https://archive.org/details/romanfestivalsp01fowlgoog

If you want even better information the gold standard work is here: https://books.google.com/books?id=bDETA ... oQ6AEIGjAA

This last book is used by the Roman Republic to set their official calendar.

Next we have a good book that talks more about how the calendar was set and constructed. https://books.google.com/books?id=pThna ... ar&f=false

Then we have this book that explores every day of the Roman calendar in fine detail. Strongly recommended together with Fowler's book. https://books.google.com/books?id=FgTWC ... ic&f=false

I am working with Philo on converting this evidence into a good free resource available through the RomanRepublic.org. It should be available soon. So please standby.

I'm happy to take any further questions.
Tiberius Cilnius Maecenas

Re: A few words on the Roman calendar and dates

Postby Numerius Antonius Paullus » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:06 am


You, good sir are amazing in coming up with resources for the Cultus. I applaud your ability and wish that I had the time and connections to do so as well. I belive these books should be added to the thread on the Cultus shopping list.


N. Antonius Paullus
Numerius Antonius Paullus

Re: A few words on the Roman calendar and dates

Postby Gaius Florius Aetius » Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:01 pm

Hm. The thing is, I highly value compatibility. Let me give you an example.

Back in the days there was a time when several PC systems were competing. So there was Windows, and OS2 and a few minor others, all trying to get their share, some arguably being better than Windows. But the result was, everyone had files incompatible with other people, so people were unable to share texts or pictures or anything. It was a mess.

So I must admit I am sort of skeptical with the idea setting something in movement like this, because even with the great intent of being "more like then", it may cause

A) fracture of various groups following different holiday times, we suddenly would have one only for the Roman Republic group and then other groups following those of Wikipedia.

B) it may also cause a possibly never ending debate on the "correct" dates, everyone will pull up other sources and we may face decades of theological debates on the "right dates".

So while I understand the desire of authenticity, I would rather argue not starting anything that might even further split our already small community, by starting a sort of "Group Internal Special Calendar", or trying to start a crusade for "the right dates". I understand the desire behind it, but I would still side with the practicality of now established dates as they are now commonly spread. If we open this, when would it end? Who would be the "holy congregation" that has the authority everyone outside the RR would listen to? Honestly, I understand the scholarly desire behind it, but I am not fond of this idea for the sake of practicality. It has the potential to split our tiny community into a myriad of 5-man-groups each with a different calendar.

I would have to see it in reality. But I still side more with the idea to just accept the status quo of the holidays than start a debate to where I see little possible gain from, tbh. I still not see why we should do this.

Almost the entirety of Christian or Islamic holidays are purely made up. Did Christ be born on December 25th? Doubtful. So is it fantasy? It is how history works. Things change. New standards get established.

Opening that debate looks like a potential bomb to our already small and conflicted community. I would want a really good reason to side with that, before I support a move that from where I look at it, has such great potential to split our community. I can see a debate about the real dates only possible when we have a real global community and grew above this level of many 1-2 man groups. If you want to alter the dates, I suggest meeting with actual historians and then start an academic project, at whose end a change of what is written in Wikipedia would be. Making a private projects seems a bit from the wrong angle. I am not per se against changed dates, but I would like to see that coming as a result of academic research rather, in the formally correct way of things.

And one final point. In the end, any religious date usually started with humans making a decisions. There was some day when Roman Citizen X said, ok from this day on, this day is the Festival of Horses or whatever. I just fail to see why random unknown Roman Citizens X's word should be Moses for me.

EDIT: I see holidays and ritual habits more as a bureaucratic formality, tbh. Human beings decide they are so and so, and then we form a community by sticking to the common standard. A bit like the "Social Contract" of Rosseau and Locke, just in religion. We the human beings put the System in place, but it is not a Leviathan that has a life of itself, we just put the systematic of dates and habits there. And like the Social Contract, I see it as negotiable, not as "the one true revelation" that has to be reconstructed. I just fail to see ancient Romans as Saints whose word is law. I see them as role models I inspire to. I am inspired by Cicero. But I am not Cicero, but my own person. That is not "made up fantasy", it means to accept change over time, living history. For me, the question if, say, Concordia is the 4th, 5h or 8th of February is relatively irrelevant. I highly doubts the Gods have schedules which they follow. We humans need schedules. I values the communality of the rules, that they bring us together at the same time for the similar rituals.
Advice is judged by results, not by intentions.

- Cicero
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Re: A few words on the Roman calendar and dates

Postby Publius Sextius Laevus » Sat Feb 18, 2017 2:03 am

Salvete Gaius Florius Aetius et Omnis

B) it may also cause a possibly never ending debate on the "correct" dates, everyone will pull up other sources and we may face decades of theological debates on the "right dates".
Auh! Aetius! What could be more fun than decades of debates on theological minuție!

I agree with Aetius,
It is how history works. Things change. New standards get established.
At some point in classical studies you will run into a wall of impenetrable historical silence, occasionally broken by new finds. I'm all for these studies, debates and speculation, but we also are living in the now. There is no reason that we cannot make our own choices and not posture our choice as 'the one true answer'.

You can download for free a pdf of a Reconstructed Roman Calendar (perpetual) at
and let's not forget that our own Gaius Claudius Quadratus has produced a most excellent calendar for 2770 a.u.c.

"Omnium enim rerum principia parva sunt, sed suis progressionibus usa augentur nec sine causa..." De Finibus, Liber V-XXI [58] M. Tulli Ciceronis
https://archive.org/stream/Cicero-DeFinibus/Cicero%20-%20Rackham%20-%20De_Finibus_Bonorum_Et_Malorum%20NOTOCR#page/n494/mode/1up page 460/461.

'Fiat Lux! Fiat Vita!'
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Re: A few words on the Roman calendar and dates

Postby Tiberius Cilnius Maecenas » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:52 am

The question is not, is the 7th or 8th the correct day. Then we debate it.

We know the Roman calendar very well. We know how it changed, why it changed and when it changed.

The evidence is great.

This is a matter of sloppy scholarship starting out from a few popular books and propagated to untold heights by people who called themselves pontiffs in NR.

There really isn't much debate over the dates. The good news is that the RR passed a law last year setting our calendar to a very good source - the book mentioned above. So the RR is ahead of the game.

More importantly we also know a lot about the nature of these festivals. But again our "blogging experts" and Wikipedia are sloppy. Details are not mentioned or things are mistranslated. Again, we don't know everything, but we know a lot more then our internet resources let on.

I hope to summarize our known evidence in a more concise and detailed way. To produce the documentation that should be already online. To point out the common frank errors. This is my goal and I'm thankful Philo with his huge amount of knowledge and 30 years of experience is willing to assist.
Tiberius Cilnius Maecenas

Re: A few words on the Roman calendar and dates

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Sat Feb 18, 2017 11:10 am

Wikipedia can be edited. Why not simply correcting the errors there? Problem solved.
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