Caesar’s Julian Calendar

March 27, 2014 / Art & Archaeology
Rome, Italy

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Way way back, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Romans celebrated the new year on March 1st. Okay, obviously not that far back in time, but 2059 years ago is pretty close if you ask me.

The Roman calendar was first introduced in the seventh century B.C. The system attempted to follow the lunar cycle, but had to be changed a lot because it fell out of sync with the seasons due to leap years. The people were in charge of running the calendar, and this caused problems as well because some modified the calendar to their benefit as far as elections or “extended” seasons were concerned.


When Caesar came to power, he decided that the calendar system needed a makeover. Astronomer Sosigenes was enlisted to the task, who suggested switching to the solar year, like the Egyptians.

“The Alexandrian astronomer Sosigenes, who wrote Revolving Spheres, was one of Julius Caesar’s key advisers on this matter. Caesar himself, however, provided the intellectual energy behind this much needed change in the way time was recorded.”

– A Walk With the Emperors: A Historic and Literary Tour of Ancient Rome


Due to a mathematical miscalculation however, the calendar that Caesar put into effect is not the calendar that we know today. The church became aware of the inaccuracy in the 1500’s and corrected the error, giving us the Gregorian calendar that we know today.


Today’s note on the Julian calendar covers just one of the many Ancient Roman tidbits found in “A Walk With the Emperors: A Historic and Literary Tour of Ancient Rome,” available on Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes&Nobles.


6 Responses to “Caesar’s Julian Calendar”

  1. The Romans had 10 months of which four still have September, October,
    November and December – literally 7th, 6th, 9th and 10th month. two other are named for Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, and the others for Gods.

    • thanks, which leads me to my comment about July and August and their each having 31 days. No way was Augustus going to be excluded from this scene in changing the way we calculate time !

  2. john thornley

    out if sync due to leap years!
    absolute nonsense. out of sync because it has never been possible to relate the movements of the sun with those of the moon. the length of the lunar month does not divide evenly into 365.25.

  3. and further, “like Julius Caesar . . . Augustus insured that he would be remembered at least once a year for all time . He renamed Sextilius . . . after himself . . . and to ensure his equality with Caesar’s Quintilius (July), borrowed a day from February to give his namesake, August, 31 days.” That’s what i call “real power”, Roman style.

    thanks Maddie for another great review


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