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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

MISCELLANEOUS/ Reckoning of Time

630. The Roman Year was designated, in earlier times, by the names of the Consuls; but was afterwards reckoned from the building of the City (ab urbe conditā, annō urbis conditae), the date of which was assigned by Varro to a period corresponding with B.C. 753. In order, therefore, to reduce Roman dates to those of the Christian era, the year of the city is to be subtracted from 754: e.g. A.U.C. 691 (the year of Cicero's consulship) corresponds to B.C. 63.

Before Cæsar's reform of the Calendar (B.C. 46), the Roman year consisted of 355 days: March, May, Quīntīlis (July), and October having each 31 days, February having 28, and each of the remainder 29. As this calendar year was too short for the solar year, the Romans, in alternate years, at the discretion of the pontificēs, inserted a month of varying length (mēnsis intercalāris) after February 23, and omitted the rest of February. The “Julian year,” by Cæsar's reformed Calendar, had 365 days, divided into months as at present. Every fourth year the 24th of February (VI. Kal. Mārt.) was counted twice, giving 29 days to that month: hence the year was called bissextīlis. The month Quīntīlis received the name Iūlius (July), in honor of Julius Cæsar; and Sextīlis was called Augustus (August), in honor of his successor. The Julian year (see below) remained unchanged till the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar (A.D. 1582), which omits leap-year three times in every four hundred years.

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