It is hard to believe that, given the unbearably long year 2020, we are only in July. Wait, is it October? I should probably change my underwear. Just imagine, however, that tomorrow it was announced that the year would be extended by three whole months. We would lose our collective mind. And that’s exactly how the Roman people felt 2,066 years ago, when their entire calendar was turned upside down by a guy named Julius Caesar.
The beginning of 46 BC BC Was a stressful time to become a Roman. There wasn’t enough grain, a civil war had just ended and her husband Caesar had almost declared himself king. And if they thought it was a tough start, they had no idea what kind of long haul they were getting into. Until then, the Roman time measurement system worked on an extremely imprecise lunar system. With constant ups and downs, special pontifices had to be assigned Literally holding timeSpread extra days and even weeks throughout the year to even out the temporal books.
But Caesar, always the anti-corruption leader, didn’t like the idea that a small handful of people could decide when it was time for extra time – to rig an election or extend the deadline on an important loan, for example. Fortunately for Caesar, he had just spent some time in Egypt, and what he brought back was not only Egyptian loot and princesses, but the very accurate Egyptian solar calendar as well. Along with his nerdy buddy, the Greek astronomer Sosigenes, Caesar worked to convert it to the Julian calendar (because this man had an ego the size of Jupiter), which was 365 and a quarter days and twelve months of 30 and 31 days , except February, because February screw.
The problem was that the pontiff in charge of the time had completely neglected his duties in recent years and had desynchronized the entire calendar. What was the name of this incompetent breast again? Oh yes, Julius Caesar. While he was busy with veniing, vidiing and vinciing, Caesar had let three months slide through the cracks of the Roman calendar. In order for the new Julian calendar to work, Caesar and Sosigenes decided to only jam another 90 days in the first year. And so began the longest year, 445 days and 15 months.
If there was anyone who could have used all that extra time, it was conveniently Caesar himself. He organized four triumphs (Most generals got only one at a time, and those who nearly bankrupted the republic), completely overhauled the Roman welfare system, selected hundreds of foreign influencers to support it in the Senate, and passed more emergency laws than a president during a cheese crisis from Wisconsin. So it wasn’t just 46 BC. The longest but also one of the busiest years in Roman history. So it’s no wonder it was quickly called that Year of confusionCitizens were amazed when it came to planning religious rites, public events, or just knowing when or how long winter would be. Yet today we should be grateful that we are living according to the Julian calendar and that the time of the reign is in the past. Existential period shenanigans, on the other hand …
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Top picture: Marco Verch, Skitterphoto / Wiki Common