Mark J. Reed wrote:
> On Jan 29, 2008 6:10 AM, R A Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> It was originally the last month of the year and one of purification,
>> getting ready for the new
>> year in March.
> Well, *originally* originally, it didn't exist at all; the year started with
> March and ended with December, and then they just didn't bother keeping
> track of the time in between or something...
Yes, I know that. A small farming community is not so active in winter.
So it is not unreasonable that there was just 'winter' from the end of
December (late fall/autumn) till the beginning of March (presumably the
new moon preceding the vernal equinox.
By 'originally', I meant when the original use of February when it was
added (according to legend) by King Numa Pompilius. BUT this is AFAIK
legend. I am not aware of any actual positive evidence that the Romans
did have a 10 month calendar.
BTW I am not over-impressed by the Wikipedia article
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_calendar) - I am not aware of any
evidence for the 30/31 day ten-month calendar quoted at the beginning.
Indeed, your observation about even numbers being unlucky would surely
suggest that this is not at all likely.
In any case, the original months were surely lunations. For that we
would expect months to alternate between 29 and 30 days, not 30 and 31
(Hey, that the WHAT calendar!!).
> and that'd be the Greeks who came up with that calendar.
I doubt it. An agricultural community needs to keep track of times &
seasons - there must've been a calender ever since farming developed in
IIRC the late Stone Age. The Roman calendar (like much of their religion
and their alphabet) owes more to the Etruscans than directly to the
Greeks. But the Latins themselves must surely have had a method of
calculating times and seasons before ever they came under either
Etruscan or Greek influence.
In any case, the various versions of the ancient Greek calendar (each
city state seems to have done their own version) is remarkably similar
in principle to the Jewish calendar. It seems to have been common to the
Levant and the Greeks almost certainly inherited it from the Minoans.
> I swear the Romans didn't have an original bone in their collective body. :)
That I do not agree with. But it's rather off-topic both as regards
conlanging and as regards this thread, so I'll go no further along that
> Also it was the month into which Mercedonius (22 or 23
>> days) was intercalated in alternate years to keep the year in sync with
>> the earth's movement around the sun.
> And it was this split that led to the belief that it was unlucky. The other
> major contributing factor to the month lengths is that the Romans also
> thought that even numbers were unlucky, so their lunar (and later lunisolar)
> calendar had months of 29 and 31 days instead of the usual 29/30 day
> alternation. (This meant that even if the month lengths were chosen
> optimally, the lunar alignment would sometimes have to be more than a full
> day off the true phase of the moon).
Yes - it certainly must've done. Also it appears that intercalation was
carried out by various Pontifices Maximi in a haphazard and politically
motivated way during the century of civil wars that followed the Punic
wars. The thing was a complete mess by Caesar's time.
But the development of the WHAT calendar, FWIW, is explained on:
Entia non sunt multiplicanda