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The Roman Calendar from Numa to Constantine: Time, History, and the Fasti

ISBN: 978-0-470-65508-5
240 pages
August 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
The Roman Calendar from Numa to Constantine: Time, History, and the Fasti (0470655089) cover image


This book provides a definitive account of the history of the Roman calendar, offering new reconstructions of its development that demand serious revisions to previous accounts.
  • Examines the critical stages of the technical, political, and religious history of the Roman calendar
  • Provides a comprehensive historical and social contextualization of ancient calendars and chronicles
  • Highlights the unique characteristics which are still visible in the most dominant modern global calendar
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Table of Contents


Map 1 Distribution of preserved calendars (or calendar fragments) of the fasti type from the first century BCE to the fifth century CE.

Table 1 List of known copies of fasti.

1 Time’s social dimension.

2 Observations on the Roman fasti.

2.1 A Republican version.

2.2 Forms and functions.

2.3 The fasti and the birth of Augustan epigraphy.

2.4 The question of the archetype.

3 Towards an early history of the Roman calendar.

3.1 Notions of a prehistoric calendar.

3.2 The structure of the month.

3.3 Market cycles.

3.4 Modes of dating.

4 The introduction of the Republican calendar.

4.1 Timing and motivation.

4.2 The character and significance of the reform.

5 The written calendar.

5.1 Gnaeus Flavius.

5.2 NP days and feast-names.

5.3 Cultic and linguistic details.

5.4 The purpose of the fasti.

5.5 The law of Hortensius.

5.6 Implications for the historiography of Roman religion.

5.7 Variants on stone and paper.

6 The Acilian law and the problem of pontifical intercalation.

6.1 The nature of the measures.

6.2 How to intercalate in a ritually correct manner?

6.3 Problems of intercalation.

6.4 Regulating intercalation by means of laws.

7 Reinterpretation of the fasti in the temple of the Muses.

7.1 Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, triumphator.

7.2 Temple dedications in the fasti.

7.3 Ennius.

7.4 All fasti are Fulvian fasti.

8 From Republic to Empire.

8.1 Caesar's reform of the calendar.

8.2 The calendar as collective memory.

8.3 Augustus and the power of dates.

8.4 The calendar as Roman breviary.

9 The disappearance of marble calendars.

10 Calendar monopoly and competition between calendars.

10.1 One calendar.

10.2 Coexisting and competing developments.

10.3 Eras.

10.4 The calculation of Easter.

10.5 Weekly cycles.

10.6 Fasti christiani? 

11 The calendar in the public realm.



Sources Index.

General Index.

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Author Information

Jörg Rüpke is Fellow in Religious Studies at the Max Weber Centre of the University of Erfurt. His publications include Fasti sacerdotum: A Prosopography of Pagan, Jewish, and Christian Religious Officials in the City of Rome, 300 BC to AD 499 (trans. David Richardson, 2008), Religion of the Romans (2007), A Companion to Roman Religion (2007), and Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (co-edited with C. Ando, 2006)

David M B Richardson has previously translated Fasti sacerdotum: A Prosopography of Pagan, Jewish, and Christian Religious Officials in the City of Rome, 300 BC to AD 499 (Jörg Rüpke, 2008), and contributed to the English translation of Brill’s New Pauly Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World (2002 onwards).
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“This book is a very welcome addition to the study of Roman time. R. has long stood in the top tier of scholars working on the Roman calendar. This book is destined to become an indispensable resource for scholars and students wishing to understand the origins and development of the Roman calendar as a mechanism for marking time, but more particularly as a social construct at the mercy of the political powers of the time.”  (Journal of Roman Studies, 1 August 2013)


“It is excellent to see an updated and revised translation of Jörg Rüpke's fundamentally important study of the Roman calendar, one which keeps alive its profound learning and provocative originality.” – Denis Feeney, Princeton University

"At last, thanks to Jörg Rüpke and David Richardson, we have a proper modern, historical account of the Roman calendar.  A thoroughly revised and updated translation of Rüpke's earlier work, this work affects our understanding of virtually every activity at Rome mediated by time." – Clifford Ando, University of Chicago

“Rüpke's Roman Calendar offers a rich critique of received ideas about republican attitudes to time and the evolution of the calendar; it will surely provoke much radical re-thinking on major problems.” – John North, London University College

“This is an excellent abridgment of Rüpke’s standard work Kalender und Öffentlichkeit.  In this historical survey, Rüpke discusses not only the technical details of the evolving Roman calendar but also its significance in the political and historical setting.  The book is an essential resource for anyone interested in Roman civilization.” – Karl Galinsky, University of Texas

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