As we move from July into August, all thoughts turn to sandy beaches, lazy afternoons, and the Roman Empire.
In ancient Rome, the year was originally laid out as ten months stretching from early Spring to the winter solstice. The first four months were named after gods (Mars, Aphrodite, Maia and Juno) and the rest were just numbered (Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, December). After that, there was a nondescript winter period, before starting again with Mars’ month.
In 46 BC, Julius Caesar improved things by defining the winter period as two new months, named for Janus, the god of new beginnings, and for Februa, the Roman festival of purification. He moved the beginning of the year to Janus 1st, the day the Senate took office. He also staggered the number of days within each month, 31 in Martius, 30 in Aprilus, etc. throughout the year, with February taking the remaining 28 days (except for Leap Years) for a total of 365 days. It was a great achievement, but Julius enjoyed the new calendar for only a year before he was assassinated.
He was succeeded by his adopted great-nephew, Augustus Caesar. Augustus declared his great-uncle a god, and renamed the month of Quintilis as Julius, in honor of Julius’ birthday in that month. Augustus Caesar proved to be an excellent leader, so after his death, he too was declared a god and the month of Sextilis was renamed Augustus. In order to give Julius and Augustus equal memorials, both of their months were given 31 days.
From that point on, every Roman leader wanted to be “Emperor of the Month.” Nero renamed April as Neroneus; Domitian renamed October as Domitianus; Caligula renamed September as Germanicus. Emperor Commodus went off the deep end and renamed ALL TWELVE months in honor of himself, but since he was a fool, nobody took him seriously. In the end, none of these changes lasted.
Yep, the ultimate measure of fame is staying power. And for over 2000 years, nobody’s been able to knock Julius and Augustus off their calendar pedestal, or climb up there with them.
So, Hail Caesars! The only two mortals who achieved the ultimate celebrity status: Permanent Pinup.