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How important is the Roman Calendar

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How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby pmda » Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:11 pm

How important is the Roman calendar? I ask this because Orberg devotes a whole chapter to the precise Latin way to indicate dates and the equinoxes and the Ides and Nones etc...etc.... I don't recall having to know anything about how many days are in each month, or what's the precise date of the equinox etc.... when studying English. Yet he examines the chapter (XIII in LLPSI) and if you don't know how to work out how many days are every month, when the ides and nones are...etc..etc...then you'll get a lot the answers wrong. This has meant actually memorizing all this stuff. I presume it's important and am happy to do it. But can anyone tell me why not knowing it would present a real problem in Latin?
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby adrianus » Tue Aug 03, 2010 6:48 pm

pmda wrote:How important is the Roman calendar?
The calendar was as important to the Romans as it is to us, pmda. More so possibly because of astrology. Some few sentences won't make sense unless you understand calendar reckoning.
Quanti nobis est, tanti Romanis erat calendarium. Plùs eis forsìt ob astrologiam. Nisi calendario putare possum, paucae sententiae in nostram intelligentiam non cadent.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby thesaurus » Tue Aug 03, 2010 6:58 pm

You can learn Latin just fine without knowing cultural background like dates and time. Don't let it bog you down. To be honest, for me a lot of this (specific cultural) information tends to go in one ear and out the other. It probably depends on your reading goals: if you are interested in history and cultural context or the exact sequences of events in particular text, you'll want to know what the authors are talking about; otherwise, if you're more interested in literature and language, specific dates aren't terribly important. This is cultural rather than linguistic information. If you were to read medieval or renaissance Latin literature, the dates would probably be calculated differently based on the writer's cultural context.

When I read a speech by Cicero I'll hear plenty about the ides and nones and specific times and dates when a murder or something took place. As long as I know enough to follow Cicero's argument, I don't worry too much about the details--I'm more interested in his style. When you read poetry you won't encounter these details often, with perhaps the exception of particularly culturally rooted/contextual texts like satires.

For example, I recently wrote an article that happened to involve detailed discussion of Horace's second Epode. In it, someone is praising the country life for a while. However, the whole poem takes on a new meaning with a twist in the final four lines:

haec ubi locutus faenerator Alfius,
iam iam futurus rusticus,
omnem redegit idibus pecuniam,
quaerit kalendis ponere.


"When Alfius the money-lender, meaning to become a rustic, had said these things, he collected all his money [loans] on the Ides, and sought to lend it out on the Kalends."

As the Cambridge edition notes: "Alfius calls in his debts on the Ides, the last settlement day of the month, intending to put the money to better use, but is up to his old trick by the Kalends, the first lending day of the month following." So one has to understand the significance of these days in the poem's cultural context to understand why this poem is a satire aimed at city folk who don't know the realities of farming rather than a simple paean to rustic life (as it has often been read).
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby pmda » Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:24 pm

Many thanks to you all. Very comprehensive.
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby columbula » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:45 am

thesaurus wrote:You can learn Latin just fine without knowing cultural background like dates and time. Don't let it bog you down. To be honest, for me a lot of this (specific cultural) information tends to go in one ear and out the other. If you are interested in history and cultural context or the exact sequences of events in particular text, you'll want to know what the authors are talking about; otherwise, if you're more interested in literature and language, specific dates aren't terribly important.
Are people's goals with really at such a dichotomy as this? For me both the style/grammar and culture take front and center for context into a Roman's daily life and some background on why they're saying what they're saying. I don't know exactly when each ides and whatnot are, but it is important to have a general idea each kalends, nones and ides are for said context. So basically, not knowing cultural background is unfathomable to me. Language is culture and vice versa.
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby Imber Ranae » Wed Aug 04, 2010 4:58 am

It's important to understand how the dating system works, i.e. that it counts backwards from the set dates of the Kalendae, Nonae, and Idus. It's not really crucial that you memorize how many days each month has and whether its Idus are the thirteenth or fifteenth day* (though you'll probably already know that the Ides of March is the 15th) unless you need to figure out the exact date. When I come upon a date in a Latin text I often don't bother calculating the exact date because to me it doesn't really matter as long as I know approximately when it occurred (around the beginning, middle, or end of the month). Then again, I'm not very good with dates even in our modern system.


*There's an old mnemonic for this:

    "March, May, July, October, these are they,
    Make Nones the seventh, Ides the fifteenth day."
Ex mala malo
bono malo uesci
quam ex bona malo
malo malo malo.
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby pmda » Wed Aug 04, 2010 7:52 am

I'm just going to learn it thoroughly....it won't take long. Many thanks for your replies and for your input. I am very grateful for the trouble you have taken.
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby thesaurus » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:47 pm

columbula wrote:Are people's goals with really at such a dichotomy as this? For me both the style/grammar and culture take front and center for context into a Roman's daily life and some background on why they're saying what they're saying. I don't know exactly when each ides and whatnot are, but it is important to have a general idea each kalends, nones and ides are for said context. So basically, not knowing cultural background is unfathomable to me. Language is culture and vice versa.


No, it's not a dichotomy, and I'm sorry if I made it appear so. All I'm trying to say is that you don't need to know a lot of cultural information to understand the language per se. Cultural knowledge certainly strongly effects the development of language, and vice versa, as you say, and knowing culture can only enhance your knowledge of the language.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby pmda » Thu Aug 05, 2010 5:48 pm

OK....but to the practicalities....!!

Is this correct: Dies unus Januarius a.d. XXXII Februarius est. ??
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby pmda » Thu Aug 05, 2010 6:31 pm

er - to answer my own question.. Seems my suggestion is wrong and that I must write it as:

kal. Jan.
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby pmda » Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:12 am

OK..I've been looking over the full calendar and how to write various dates, perhaps one or two of the more learned members (most people apart from me) can take a look at the following attempts:

1) Can the mnemonic: 'In March, July, October May, the Nones are on the 7th day' be translated as follows:

Martio, Julio, Octobri, Maio Nonae diebus septimis sunt. ?

2) Kalendai, Nonae or Idus are expressed in the ablative. So we can write:

Die tertio decimo Aprile idibus Aprilis est. (the first Aprile is Ablative and the 2nd 'Aprilis' is ablative plural feminine adjective to agree with Idibus) with the sentence translating as

On the 13th of April it is the Ides of April.

Does this look OK..?
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby adrianus » Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:40 pm

As I imagine // ut imaginor

"Martio, Julio, Octobri, Maio [mensibus] Nonae septimo die sunt."

"Martio, Julio, Octobri, Maio Nonae septimum in diem incurrant."

"Septimum in diem Marti*, Juli*, Octobris*, Mai [mensum*] nonae incurrant."

"Tertium decimum in diem Aprilis* [mensis*] idus incurrant."

[i]*genetivo casu


"aprilibus" est casu ablativo pluraliter, undè "idibus aprilibus" = "on the Ides of April", "idus apriles" = "the Ides of April" -> "Idus apriles festum est [ubi verbum cum proximi nominis numero congruit]" // The Ides of April is a Feast Day" [/i]
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby pmda » Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:29 am

if I follow you correctly.......I was thinking of this expression in two clauses. The first is:

Die tertio decimo Aprile - On the 13th April.

The second is:

idibus Aprilis est. - it is the ides of April BUT I guess this is a mistake. I should have written for this 2nd clause:

Ides Apriles est (sunt??)
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby adrianus » Sat Aug 07, 2010 7:34 pm

pmda wrote:Die tertio decimo Aprile - On the 13th April.

Die tertio decimo Aprilis [mensis] = On the 13th [of] April ("Die tertio decimo Aprile" = "On the 13th April day", which isn't said, unless I'm mistaken // quod non dicitur, nisi fallor.)
Idus* apriles sunt.
idus -uum (quartae declinationis est et pluralis numeri)
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby pmda » Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:53 am

Thanks adrianus
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby pmda » Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:39 am

Nonas mensis explicare conor: Dies nonae alicuius mensis nonus dies ante idus eiusdem mensis est.
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:54 pm

pmda wrote:Nonas mensis explicare conor: Dies nonae alicuius mensis nonus dies ante idus eiusdem mensis est.


Romana ratione.
mihi iussa capessere fas est
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Re: How important is the Roman Calendar

Postby pmda » Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:22 pm

Gratias tibi ago.
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