Roman calendar

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Roman calendar

Roman dates
Kalends - Nones - Ides
Nundinae - Feriae

·Nova Roma·
Fasti Novi Romani
Calendar for the current year
Dies atri - Market days

Annals of Nova Roma
Current events


The calendar used by Romans. Years are counted ab urbe condita (AUC), that is "from the founding of the city".

Originally, the Roman calendar was what is now considered a lunisolar calendar[1] . It was intended to align with both the lunar calendar and the solar calendar, through the means of intercalation[2] .

The Kalends, the Nones, and the Ides

The Roman calendar operated through the use of three main days (the Kalends, the Nones, and the Ides), in reference to which all dates were given.

The Kalends

The Kalends (Kalendae), which was always the first day of the month, was sacred to Iuno. The first of the month, following the lunar part of the calendar's operation, was the day following the appearance of the New Moon. On this day, the Rex Sacrorum, together with a pontifex minor, offered a sacrifice to Iuno, and announced the date of the coming Nones, which fell on the day after the First Quarter.

The Nones

The Nones (Nonae), falling on either the fifth or seventh day of the month, came the day after the First Quarter of the lunar cycle. On this day, the Regina Sacrorum offered to Iuno at the Regia either a lamb or a pig [3] , after which the feriae for the entire month were announced. Before the Nones of any given month (with the exception of the Poplifugium), no feriae publicae were held.

The Ides

Lastly, the Ides (Idus) came, either on the thirteenth or fifteenth day of the month, on the day after the full moon. On this day, a sacrifice was given to Iuppiter, for which reason it is commonly noted as Feriae Iovi in the ancient Fasti. From here, the Pontifices determined the number of days remaining until the next New Moon, which would restart the cycle.

The Ides, also, were always dies Nefasti Publici, given their permanent status as Feriae Iovi, without exception.

Character of Days in the Calendar

These are the rules which are pronounced by the pontifices, and breaking them is nefas (though it may sometimes be expiated).

Dies fasti [F]

  • ordinary citizens may do anything;
  • the comitia tributa, concilium plebis, and comitia centuriata may not be convened;
  • curule magistrates may exercise their judicial functions.

Dies comitiales [C]

  • similar to dies fasti, except that the comitia tributa and centuriata, and the concilium plebis may be convened.

Dies nefasti [N]

  • ordinary citizens may do anything;
  • proceedings of the comitia tributa, concilium plebis, and comitia centuriata are prohibited;
  • exercise of their judicial functions by curule magistrates is prohibited[4]

Dies nefasti publici [NP]

  • similar to dies nefasti with the following modifications:
    • acts of physical violence and beginning of lawsuits are nefas;
    • quarrels should be avoided (but robust and lively debate was acceptable);
    • slaves are allowed the day off work;
    • ordinary citizens should avoid any physical labour except what is urgently necessary and ca not be postponed;
    • the flamines and the rex sacrorum may not see anyone doing any physical labour, and may fine anyone they see doing physical labour.

Dies endotercisi [EN]

(also called dies intercisi)

  • same as dies nefasti in the morning;
  • same as dies fasti in the afternoon;
  • same as dies nefasti in the evening.

Dies fasti publici or principio [FP]

There are two interpretations of this designation presented by scholars. They are:

  • as dies fasti principio:
    • same as dies fasti in the morning;
    • same as dies nefasti in the afternoon and evening.
  • as dies fasti publici:
    • same as dies nefasti publici.

Quando Rex Comitiavit fas [QRCF]

  • same as dies nefasti until the rex sacrorum appears in the comitia;
  • same as dies fasti after that.

Quando Stercus Delatum fas [QSDF]

  • same as dies nefasti until the Temple of Vesta has been cleaned;
  • same as dies fasti after that.

Dies atri and dies religiosi (or vitiosi)

Dies atri and dies religiosi are less formal but widely observed.

Dies atri: unlucky days;

  • one should try to avoid making journeys, starting new projects, or doing anything risky;
  • certain deities, including Iuppiter and Ianus, should not be named.
  • these days are ill-omened to begin any new project, and any new project would necessarily begin by performing a rite calling for the assistance of the gods. Such religious rites, beginning something new, are not to be performed.
  • normal work would still be performed on dies atri, and as part of performing any work one performs rites for the patron deities, geni locii, and other appropriate deities. Naturally enough, the daily routine is also performed before the lararium.

Dies religiosi (vitiosi): similar to dies atri:

  • no private religious rites should be performed, but public rites may, subject to the same exclusions as for dies atri;
  • try to avoid making journeys, starting new projects, or doing anything risky.

Nundinae and nundinal letters

Nundinae were originally market-days, held every eighth day, on which Romans came into the city to trade and do business. On Roman calendars the days were given nundinal letters (A to H) to help people see when the next market-day would be. The markets were held on a different day each year.

Additional reading

Roman dates



  1. Wikipedia (English): Lunisolar Calendar
  2. Scheid, J., (2003) An Introduction to Roman Religion. (J. Lloyd trans.) Indiana University Press: Bloomington & Indianapolis. ISBN 0253216605
  3. Lesley and Roy Adkins. "Nones", Dictionary of Roman Religion. ISBN 0195142330
  4. Michels, Agnes Kirsopp. The Calendar of the Roman Republic. Princeton UP, 1967.

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