The Nundinae were the market days in ancient Rome.
Nundinae, nundinarum (f.) from novem and dies, literally "the ninth day". (Dionys. Ant. Rom. ii. 28, vii. 58; Macrob. Sat. i. ] 6 ; Festus, s. v. Nundinalem Cocum.) The word nundinae is sometimes used to designate a market-place or a time for marketing in general. (Cic. de Leg. Agr. ii. 33, Philip. v. 4.)
Nundinum is the span of time between nundinae and is preceded by a numeral, as in trinundinum, or trinum nundinum. It is also used in the expression internundinum or inter nundinum, that is, the time which elapses between two nundinae. (Varro and Lucil. apud Nonium, iii. 145.)
- Nundinalis, nundinale (adj.) market
- Nundinatio, nundinationis (f.) trading
- Nundinor, nundinari, nundinatus sum (vt.) to buy, (vi) to trade, to hold or attend a market, to gather in large numbers.
All the days of the year, beginning with Kal. Ian. ‡, are divided into periods of eight days which are marked by the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H. One letter is chosen as "Market Day", observing the restrictions that Market Day should not fall on the calends of Januarius or upon the nones of any month (Macrob. Sat. i. 13 ; Dion Cass. xl. 47, xlviii. 33).
In order to effect this, the 355th day of the lunar year (dies intercalaris} was inserted in such a manner as to. avoid the coincidence of the nundinae with the primae calendae or the nones. Macrobius says that it was generally believed that if the nundinae fell upon the primae calendae, the whole year would be signalised by misfortunes; the nones were avoided because the birthday of king Servius Tullius was celebrated on the nones of every month, as it was known that he was born on the nones of some month, though the month itself was not known. Now, as on the nundines, the country-folk assembled in the city, the patricians feared lest the plebeians gathered at Rome on the nones might become excited and endanger the peace of the republic. These reasons are indeed very unsatisfactory, as Gottling (Gesch. der Rom. Staatstv. p. 183) has shown, and it is more probable that the calends of January were ill suited to be nundinae, because this day was generally spent by every father in the bosom of his own family, and that the nones were avoided, because, as Ovid (Fast. i. 58) says, Nonarum tutela deo caret. But at the time when the Julian calendar was introduced, these scruples, whatever they may have been, were neglected, and in several ancient calendaria the nundinae fall on the first of January as well as on the nones. (See Graevius, 7'hesaur. vol. viii. p. 7, and the various ancient Calendaria. Both before and after the time of Caesar it was sometimes thought necessary, for religious reasons, to transfer the nundinae from the day on which they should have fallen to another one. (Dion Cass. Ix. 24.) The nundinae themselves were, according to Plutarch (Quaest. Rom. p. 275, b), sacred to Saturn, and, according to Granius Licinianus (ap. Macrob. Sat. i. 16) the Flammica offered at all nundinae a sacrifice of a ram to Jupiter.
It is uncertain to whom the institution of the nundinae is to be ascribed, for some say that it was Romulus (Dionys. ii. 28 ; Tuditanus, ap. Macrob. Sat. I. c.), and others that it was Servius Tullius (Cassius Hemina, ap.Macrob. I.e.}., who instituted them, while the nature of the things for which they were originally set apart seems to show that their institution was as old as the Romulian year of ten months, or at least that they were instituted at the time when the Roman population extended beyond the precincts of the city itself. For the nundinae were originally market-days for the country-folk, on which they came to Rome to sell the produce of their labour, and on which the king settled the legal disputes among them. When, therefore, we read that the nundinae were feriae, or dies nefasti, and that no comitia were allowed to be held, we have to understand this of the populus, and not of the plebs; and while for the populus the nundinae were feriae, they were real days of business (dies fasti or comitiaies) for the plebeians, who on these occasions pleaded their causes with members of their own order, and held their public meetings (the ancient comitia of the plebeians) and debates on such matters as concerned their own order, or to discuss which they were invited by the senate. (Dionvs. vii. 58 ; Macrob. 1. c.; Plin. II. N. xviii. 3 ; Festus, s. v. Nundinas; compare Niebuhr, Hist, of Rome, vol. ii. p. 213.) How long this distinction existed that the nundinae were nefasti for the patricians and fasti for the plebeians, is not quite clear. In the law of the Twelve Tables they appear to have been regarded as fasti for both orders (Gellius, xx. 1. § 4.9), though, according to Granius Licinianus ap. Macrob. I. c.), this change was introduced at a later time by the Lex Hortensia, 286 b.c. This innovation, whenever it was introduced, facilitated the attendance of the plebeians at the comitia centuriata. In the ancient calendaria, therefore, the nundinae and dies fasti coincide. The subjects to be laid before the comitia, whether they were proposals for new laws or the appointment of officers, were announced to the people three nundinae beforehand (trinundino die proponere, Macrob. 1. c. ; Cic. ad Fain. xvi. 12, Philip, v. 3, pro Domo, 16 ; Liv. iii. 35.)
The nundinae being thus at all times days of business for the plebeians (at first exclusively for them, and afterwards for the patricians also), the proceedings of the tribunes of the people were confined to these days, and it was necessary that they should be terminated in one day, that is, if a proposition did not come to a decision in one day it was lost, and if it was to be brought again before the people, the tribunes were obliged to announce it three nundines beforehand, as if it were quite a new subject.
- Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities: "Nundinae"