Time and Calendar

Denis Feeney

in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211524
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Time and Calendar

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  • Classical History
  • Ancient Roman History



The Romans' work on time remains one of the most distinctive features of their civilisation throughout its duration, and its influence lives on palpably today in the form of the reformed Julian calendar. The centre of the city was from an early period the venue for marking and commemorating both recurrent and elapsed past time, and the festival calendar was a crucial part of the city's religious and political life. As the power of Rome spread, the state needed to interact with the very different time systems of other states. The growth of a historiographical tradition within the city enforced the codification of past Roman time and its correlation with other historical time schemes, while the transformation of the city from a Republic to an autocracy entailed the complete transformation of time's regulation and presentation. Julius Caesar reformed the Republican calendar, while Augustus Caesar reworked not only the calendrical fasti but also the consular fasti.

Keywords: Rome; time; calendar; codification; autocracy; Julius Caesar; Augustus Caesar; fasti

Article.  6442 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical History ; Ancient Roman History

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