Facts and Figures: All Things Roman
Some more miscellaneous and background information about Roman myths and legends that may interested you.
|Below is the list of kings who had ruled Rome, before the time of the Republic (c. 509 BC).
Information and the history or legend about each king can be found in the Tales of Rome page.
Please note that the dates and duration of the reign are not precise, because I had relied on the traditional dates.
Also, during Romulus’ reign, Titus Tatius ruled together with him, for a number of years before he was assassinated. Titus Tatius was a Sabine king. I had not included his name in the list below (because it would disrupt my count of seven kings).
House of Tarquin (Etruscan)
|Below is the list of the famous Seven Hills of Rome.
|Of all the calendars around the ancient world in Europe, the Roman calendar survived to this time. Though, the calendar had undergone several evolutionary changes.
According to Roman legend, the calendar used by the Romans began at the time of establishment of the Roman monarchy. Romulus, the founder of Rome, created the Roman calendar of 304 days with ten months, with the New Year starting with month of March. The months after June were Quintilis (fifth month) and Sextilis (sixth month). December was the tenth month of a year.
Numa Pompilius, Romulus’ successor, added two more months to the end of the calendar: January and February. So Numa’s calendar had 355 days. The first Etruscan king of Rome, Tarquinius Priscus, had wanted to move the New Year to January, but this reform was abolished when the Republic was established; the New Year was reverted back to March. The Roman calendar was based on the lunar calendar system of 355 days. An intercalary month (27 or 28 days) was added to the end of February, to prevent the calendar from being too far out of phase with seasons and the solstices.
This arrangement of the calendar remained unchanged through much of the period of the Roman Republic. The first of March was the day when two consuls were elected. The consuls were official magistrates that had the power of Roman king and could command army, but they only held office for the term of one year.
It wasn’t until the 1st century BC, that the Senate had decided to move the New Year and the election of the consuls to the 1st of January. This was the time before Julius Caesar (died in 44 BC) came into power.
It was Julius Caesar who developed the new calendar system, which would be called the Julian Calendar. Caesar worked with Alexandrian astronomer, named Sosigenes, to calculate the solar calendar year of 365 1/4 days (or 365 days and 6 hours). The names of the months were kept the same. Getting rid of the intercalary month from the lunar calendar, the calendar would still be slightly out of phase with the seasons. To correct this – at the interval of every four year another day would be added to the end of February, so that it would have 29 days instead of 28. This year would be known as the Leap Year.
During or after the reign of the first emperor, Augustus Caesar, the great-nephew of Julius Caesar, the month of Quintilis was changed to July after Julius Caesar, while the month of Sextilis was changed to August, after Augustus.
|Early Roman Calendar (Romulus)||Early Roman Calendar (Numa)||Late Roman Republican Calendar (pre-Julian)||Julian Calendar|
|March (named after Mars)||March||January||January|
|May (named after Maia)||May||March||March|
|June (named after Juno)||June||April||April|
|Quintilis (5th month)||Quintilis||May||May|
|Sextilis (6th month)||Sextilis||June||June|
|September (7th month)||September||Quintilis||July (named after Julius Caesar)|
|October (8th month)||October||Sextilis||August (named after Augustus)|
|November (9th month)||November||September||September|
|December (10th month)||December||October||October|
|January (named after Janus)||November||November|
|February (named after Februus)||December||December|
|However, the Julian Calendar was not perfect, because the true solar year had 365.242199 days, not 365.25 days. So calendar was still out of phase with the seasons (the Equinoxes and Solstices), because the Julian Calendar had a leap year on the year of a new century or centennial year. So the Julian calendar was out by 11 minutes and 14 seconds to the true calendar year.
As a little side note. The solar calendar is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds (all of which is equal to 365.242199 days).
It wasn’t until 1582, that Pope Gregory XIII made amendment to the Julian calendar, to correct the error. Instead of having a leap year on each new century, the leap year happened at every four centennial years. So the centennial year will have no leap year unless it was divisible by 400. So the year 1600 was a leap year, while there were no leap year on the year 1700, 1800 and 1900. The year 2000 was a leap year (but I think I had slept through it).
The new amendment had caused the calendar be known as the Gregorian Calendar. This is calendar system that we are still using today. Though not everyone was happy with the new reform at the time, mostly because the Gregorian calendar made it more complicated to calculate the Easter festivals.
Worse than that, since the old calendar had leap year in every centennial year, the Julian calendar was out of phase by 11 days with the equinox. To amend this, the 11 days was removed from the calendar when the Gregorian Calendar was adopted. But this caused minor peasants’ revolts. The peasants bitterly complained that the authorities stolen their 11 days, and they wanted those missing days back.
The Gregorian calendar was not universally accepted by some of the countries. The traditionally Catholic countries, such as Italy, Spain and the Catholic Germany mostly adopted the new calendar. The Protestant German states didn’t adopted the calendar until 1699, while England (United Kingdom) didn’t accept the new calendar until 1752. Greece made the change to the Gregorian calendar as late as 1923.
Below, I have included a table on the days that was dedicated to the Roman gods, with the modern equivalent.
|Roman Days||Identification with
|Below is a list of some of the holidays and festivals that the Romans celebrated. This was gained from mainly the book, called Fasti, written by the Roman poet, Ovid. Only half of the Fasti survived (January to June). The rest of the dates were gained from other sources.
It should be noted that the Ides of Jupiter was celebrated on every month. In March, May, July and October, the Ides were held on the 15th day. On the other months, the Ides were held on the 13th.
The deities are listed in the brackets, beside the name of the festival.
|There is one noticeable Roman holiday that I would like to say more about.
I am referring to Saturnalia, an annual holiday dedicated to the god Saturn. Saturnalia lasted for several days, beginning on December 17th and ending on the 24th. It was days of merrymaking and exchanging of gifts. Clearly, like the Teutonic winter solstice, known as Yule, the Saturnalia is a pagan form of the Christmas (December 25).
|In the area of west central Italy was a region known as Latium (modern Lazio). The people of Latium were known as the Latins, an ancient tribe that lived in a region on the south side of the River Tiber, with the Etruscans living on the other side of the river, known as Etruria (modern Tuscany). Their southeastern neighbour was the region of Campania, with some cities such as Cumae, was founded and colonised by the Greeks.
Within Latium was the city of Rome. The Latins spoke an Italic language, known as Latin, a language that the Romans had adopted.
The Italic language is a subfamily to the Indo-European language, confined to the regions in Italy. Other Italic languages spoken in ancient Italy were the Faliscan, Oscan, Umbrian and Venetic.
Etruscan language is not an Italic language; in fact, the Etruscan language is a unique, but extinct language, which doesn’t even belong to the Indo-European language family. Some linguistic experts believed that the Etruscan probably has its origin in the Anatolian language family, but so far this can’t be proven.
The Etruscan alphabets had been derived from the Greek, who derived it from the Semitic (Phoenician) alphabets (see the Greek Alphabets). The Etruscan alphabets contained 21 letters.
Why am I talking about the Etruscan language, you may ask? Well, despite the Etruscan being a distinctive language from Latin, the Etruscan alphabets had played a major role to the Roman or Latin writing system.
When Etruscans conquered much of central Italy, including Latium and Campania, a large group of Etruscans had settled in Rome. Under Etruscan kings in Rome, the Romans had learned engineering skills, such as architecture, town planning, road building and aqueduct systems. The Romans had even adopted some of the Etruscan culture and religious customs, as well as the Etruscan writing system.
The Roman alphabets, or more properly the Latin alphabets, became the most widely used alphabets in Europe, but the Latin alphabets were truly indebted to the Etruscan writing system.
The classical Latin has 23 letters, in which the Roman had adopted all 21 of Etruscan characters. Like the Etruscan alphabets, Latin has added on 4 vowels. Phonetics, the Latin alphabets were identical or similar to the English pronunciation.
Centuries of conquests and settlements in the Empire provinces had also allowed the spread of its language and writing system. Though the alphabets had remained unchanged since then, the language spoken in the provinces began to diverge from the classical Latin which was spoken in Rome. This is because the people in the province introduced new vocabulary and accent into Latin. Late Latin (after 3rd century AD) became known as Vulgar Latin.
What emerge from the Vulgar Latin, were the Romance languages. Though Latin was still used widely among the medieval clerics and scholars, the Romance languages were gradually replacing spoken Latin. There are five major Romance languages: French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian. There are also several minor languages found in Spain, France and Switzerland. I won’t go to any more detail about the Romance languages.
In the medieval period, Latin had developed a further three letters in the medieval period (J, U and W).
Many Latin words still persisted in the modern time, and are often used in other European languages, such as in English and German. Often, in the field of science, we attached a Latin name to an object, mainly for scientific purpose of categorising.
In the case of classical mythology, medieval and modern scholars would often use the Latin names in preference to the Greek names, such as Jupiter instead of Zeus, Mars instead of Ares, Hercules instead of Heracles, and the list go on and on.