Ancient Rome: Which was the first day of the week? Monday?

NóttShade

Member
Did Ancient Romans begin their calendar week on Monday? I saw someplace it was Monday, but couldn't verify that, and it seems more likely it was Sunday.

Thanks!
 

scrabulista

Consul
Staff member
Matthew 28:1 - but maybe you're looking for an older reference...
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
To my knowledge the Ancients began their week on Sunday. Not just the Romans.
That seems to be right. The seven-day week seems to have originated in Babylon, and the first day seems to have been the day dedicated to the sun (as was continued in Judaeo-Chritian tradition later).

In the times of the Republic, Romans had an 8-day week, though. The 8th day was a market day ... although the term for that day, nundinae, from novem + dies, ("ninth day") sort of tells you that might have considered that day both the first and the last day of a week.
 

Ronolio

New Member
That seems to be right. The seven-day week seems to have originated in Babylon, and the first day seems to have been the day dedicated to the sun (as was continued in Judaeo-Chritian tradition later).

In the times of the Republic, Romans had an 8-day week, though. The 8th day was a market day ... although the term for that day, nundinae, from novem + dies, ("ninth day") sort of tells you that might have considered that day both the first and the last day of a week.
I'm not quite following how you get that the nundinae might have been considered the first and last day of the week. Wouldn't it have been called the "ninth day" because the Romans counted inclusively?
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
I'm not quite following how you get that the nundinae might have been considered the first and last day of the week. Wouldn't it have been called the "ninth day" because the Romans counted inclusively?
Yes. Inclusive counting means that the nundinae from the previous week are included in the counting process as the first day of the new week..
 

Ronolio

New Member
Yes. Inclusive counting means that the nundinae from the previous week are included in the counting process as the first day of the new week..
Okay, now I see your reasoning. Once, when I was teaching about the Roman calendar, and mentioned the Romans inclusive counting, I made the comment that I wasn't sure what you would call the way we count. A student immediately piped up with "the right way."
 

NóttShade

Member
That seems to be right. The seven-day week seems to have originated in Babylon, and the first day seems to have been the day dedicated to the sun (as was continued in Judaeo-Chritian tradition later).

In the times of the Republic, Romans had an 8-day week, though. The 8th day was a market day ... although the term for that day, nundinae, from novem + dies, ("ninth day") sort of tells you that might have considered that day both the first and the last day of a week.
Thank you. That's very interesting.

I watched a great (1hr) YouTube video once about the various calendars over the years, but I don't remember mention of the week lengths or start days.
A Brief History of the Calendar and Time-Keeping, Dr. Donna Carroll, Lecturer of Physics, Maastricht University. I'm going to rewatch it. Among other things, I never understood before why some months had misleading titles, like September (septet/seven) as the ninth month.
 
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Cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
I never understood before why some months had misleading titles, like September (septet/seven) as the ninth month
Because Caesar inserted two new months as part of his calendar reform.
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
I don't think Caesar permanently inserted any new months. He and Augustus just renamed Quintilis and Sextilis to July and August, respectively, but except for the one year where he added a couple months to get the seasons back in line with the calendar, there wasn't any permanent change to the number of months. Rome had had a 12-month year for centuries before Caesar, and the start of the year was shifted to January several centuries before Caesar as well.
 

Ronolio

New Member
I don't think Caesar permanently inserted any new months. He and Augustus just renamed Quintilis and Sextilis to July and August, respectively, but except for the one year where he added a couple months to get the seasons back in line with the calendar, there wasn't any permanent change to the number of months. Rome had had a 12-month year for centuries before Caesar, and the start of the year was shifted to January several centuries before Caesar as well.
I phrased my response poorly, since it implied that Caesar was responsible for that shift. Of course it also wasn't Numa, but Livy suggests that the shift occurred only slightly more than a century before Caesar's reforms.
 
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