[Avodah] 304 Days Per Year

Jay F. Shachter jay at m5.chicago.il.us
Fri Oct 23 10:38:21 PDT 2020

> (* I know many of you were under the impression the two added months
> are Jul and Aug, but really they were renamings of Quintilis and
> Sextilis. Jan and Feb were added later. In Julian and Augustus's
> era, Rome had a decimal system -- 10 months for a total of only 304
> days per "year".)

I don't know that this reply belongs on Avodah -- except insofar as
the Torah requires us not to make things up and then proclaim them
publicly to be true -- but this is preposterous.  The Romans did not
aggregate 10 months into a "year" because they had a decimal system.
Everyone has a decimal system; nevertheless, even people who did not
engage in agriculture, or who lived in equatorial regions without
pronounced seasons, knew what a solar year was, and that it was not 10
months long.  March was originally the first month, February the last
month (although that was already ancient history by the time of the
Julian reforms), but the Romans did not have a 10-month year, that
notion is, as I said, preposterous.  Not even Danton and Robespierre
would think of doing something so idiotic.  The Julian reforms
involved eliminating the lunar month as a unit of time, replacing it
with slightly longer units with no astronimical significance (except
that they did not lengthen February, which they considered unlucky,
beyond the length of a lunar month).  The reason for the Julian
reforms is that the term of political offices in ancient Rome was one
year.  The pontifex maximus would decide whether a year should have 12
months or 13 months, and, instead of making the decision for sound
agriculture or meteorological reasons,if the pontifex maximus was
allied with the people in power, he would give them an extra month,
and if he was not allied with the people in power, he would not give
them an extra month.  The calendar thus ceased to track the solar
year, rendering it useless.  The Julian reforms fixed the calendar and
took away the power of the pontifex maximus to manipulate it, but at
the cost of eliminating lunar months as a unit of measurement.  As
always, politics messes everything up, then as now.

                        Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
                        6424 North Whipple Street
                        Chicago IL  60645-4111
                                (1-773)7613784   landline
                                (1-410)9964737   GoogleVoice
                                jay at m5.chicago.il.us

                        "Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur"

More information about the Avodah mailing list