The year being divided up into 12 months is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart with World History towards the end of the 7th century BC. This article explains how it transpired, starting before the reforms were implemented by Numa Pompilius.
The Roman calendar was not exactly the most accurate when it came to the division of months. The system was borrowed from the Greeks and was said to be introduced by Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome. It only had 10 months in one year which was divided into 304 days and the Romans generally ignored the 61 days of winter.
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Roman Months Before Reform:
* Martius – named after Mars
* Aprilis – named after the Roman equivalent (Venus) of the Greek goddess Aphrodite; also means “to open”
* Maius – named after Greek goddess Maia
* Junius – named after the Roman goddess Juno
* Quintilis – Latin for “fifth”
* Sextilis – Latin for “sixth”
* September – Latin for “seventh”; originally the seventh month
* October – Latin for “eight”; originally the eight month
* November – Latin for “ninth”; originally the ninth month
* December – Latin for “tenth”; originally the tenth month
The days were not numbered from beginning to end but were counted by three reference points of the Nones, Ides, and Kalends. Nones corresponds to the 7th day of Martius, Maius, Quintilis, and October and on the 5th of the other months. Ides usually falls on the 15th for longer months and the 13th for shorter ones. Finally, kalends corresponds to the first day of the month.
Around 700 BC, legendary Roman king Numa Pompilius (715-673 BC) reformed the Roman calendar and added two months that falls in winter: January and February. This reformed calendar had 355 days, and Numa inserted Mercedinus every other year so it would correspond to the solar year. The intercalary month Mercedinus was inserted after the 23rd or 24th of February, but the problem was that it now had 377 to 378 days in one year.
The system was inaccurate and prone to manipulation as the decision to incorporate this intercalary month was dependent on the current Pontifex maximus. He may or may not add the month depending on whether he wanted to extend the terms of allied magistrates or shorten the terms of his enemies. This abuse created a mess that Roman historian Suetonius noted, “the harvest and vintage festivals no longer corresponded with the appropriate seasons.”
It was used for hundreds of years until it was once again reformed by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. It was later called the Julian calendar after him, and it consisted of 365 days (366 days for leap years) with the same month names as the previous calendar. They devised a division of a number of days per month which is still being used today.
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