Daily Archives: June 30, 2014

Alpha Men Through the Ages

Talk about the notorious alpha men in history….

This weekend, the family watched the history channel and we all learned something new. Something old, and something new. Do you know the origins of the names of our current day calendar months?

I didn’t. My daughter knew a few, thanks to a great, Montessori-based education, but me? I knew nada. Maybe I learned it once but with no recall to speak of, I was swimming through fresh rain water.

Fine. I live in the twenty-first century where a world of information is literally at my fingertips.

Originally, there were ten months. Makes sense when you consider the names were logically based on the numerical system and rooted in Latin. Sept = seven, Oct = eight, Nov = nine, Dec = ten. Basically, December was the tenth month, November the ninth month, October the eight and so on. It wasn’t until circa 700 BC that Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome decided to add two more months, January and February. (Just because they were the dead months of agriculture doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have names, right? I mean, gee whiz, gardeners need a break, too. When else am I going to make snow angels with the family?!?!?!)

Tiberius Portrait - Bust of 2nd Roman Emperor

However, what you might not know, is that July was originally called Quintilis and August, Sextilis. Remember, in a ten month calendar, these used to be five and six, not seven and eight, ie. Quin = five and Sex = six. (sex as in the Latin root, not the romantic alternative, though I like the way you think!)

Enter alpha men. Julius Caesar decided he wanted a month named after him and voila–Quintilis became Julius or July. Not to be undone, Julius’ successor Augustus wanted the same—“a month, in my honor, I command you!”

Hence, August was born. Men. Can’t live with ’em, can’t get a month in edgewise.

Disclaimer: April, May, and June were named for goddesses…as they should be. 😉

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