« A.U.C. 576 = 178 B.C. »

An ambiguous seasonal synchronism exists for the end of this year. Livy 41.6 notes an embassy of the Lycians to the Senate, which occurred before the triumphs of Ti. Sempronius Gracchus and L. Postumius Albinus (Livy 41.7), which are dated by the Fasti Triumphales to a.d. III Non. Feb. and prid. Non. Feb., which in turn occurred before the election of the consuls of the following year, Ti. Sempronius Gracchus and C. Claudius Pulcher (Livy 41.8). However, Polybius 25.4 dates the embassy towards the end of the summer, after the consuls of the following year Ti. Sempronius Gracchus and C. Claudius Pulcher had left to campaign (according to the standard interpretation of the passage) against the Istrii and the Agrii (who are otherwise unknown). Since both accounts state that the Lycians complained about their treatment by the Rhodians, and that the Senate resolved the matter by notifying the Rhodians that the Lycians were to be treated as allies, it is evidently the same embassy.

P. Derow, Phoenix 27 (1973) 345 at 350f., advances the following arguments for placing this embassy towards the end of this civil year rather than at the start of the next:

Noting that this fragment of Polybius is only known from a 10th century quotation, Derow proposes that the reference to the consuls "Tiberius and Claudius" is a later gloss that crept into Polybius' text. If this is correct, then the synchronism only indicates that the number of intercalations between A.U.C. 564 = 190 and the end of this year was reasonably balanced, i.e. about 6 or 7.

P. Marchetti, BCH 100 (1976) 401 at 403 proposes to reconcile the contradiction differently:

On this basis, Marchetti argues that Id. Mart. A.U.C. 577 occurred at or before the end of October 178. No emendations are required to either source. For this to be true there must be no more than 5 intercalations between A.U.C. 564 = 190 and this year, dating Id. Mart. A.U.C. 577 to approximately 29 October 178; Marchetti would prefer 4, dating Id. Mart. A.U.C. 577 to approximately 6 October 178.

F. W. Walbank, Commentary on Polybius III 278, sides with Derow. P. Brind'Amour, Le calendrier romain 150, regards the choice as undecidable, although he is inclined to favour Derow. N. Prack, Der römische Kalendar (264-168 v. Chr.) 162, favours Derow's solution without giving explicit reasons for rejecting Marchetti's. I think Derow's is more likely, because it fits the reconstruction proposed here for A.U.C. 577 = 177. Further, Marchetti's analysis is part of a larger argument that the standard synchronism for A.U.C. 586 = 168 is wrong, the rest of which is extremely weak.

An indirect nundinal datum exists for this year.

Livy 40.59.4 records that elections for this year were held very late. He dates praetorian elections to a.d. V and IV Id. Mart. A.U.C. 575 = 179, days with nundinal letters D and E, i.e. only three days before the start of the consular term and the last two comitial days of the year. A. K. Michels, The Calendar of the Roman Republic 58, infers that the consular elections were held on a.d. VI Id. Mart. A.U.C. 575 = 179. This is a reasonable inference, but not a necessary one. Livy does not state the date, and a.d. VII Id. Mart. is also a comitial day.

The following table shows the nundinal letter of the market day in this month for all possible combinations of 22 day intercalations (vertically) and 23 day intercalations (horizontally) between A.U.C. 564 = 190 and A.U.C 576 = 178, subject to the following conditions:

To which we can add certain other, slightly less certain, constraints:

Options violating these secondary constraints are marked in bolded orange.

378-day years 190-178

377 day years

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

0

F

G

H

A

B

1

F

G

H

A

B

 C

2

G

H

A

B

C

3

A

B

C

F

Under the proposed Lex Acilia, it is likely that the Julian dates of A.U.C. 577 = 177 can be established. Since that year was a 378-day year, it follows that this year was either 355 or 377 days long, implying a nundinal letter of A or C in Martius, as shown in bolded blue in the above table.

The following consideration argues in favour of this year being a regular year. As noted above, praetorian elections were held on a.d. V and IV Id. Mart., and were evidently scheduled for a.d. V Id. Mart. These were the last two comitial days of the consular year. The preceding two days were both comitial days; before that there were two dies fasti. The consular elections were almost certainly held on one of those two comitial days. Since the elections were so late, one would expect them to be scheduled on a.d. VII and VI Id. Mart. If this year was regular, however, a.d. VI Id. Mart. was a market day, on which elections could not be held under the Lex Hortensia. Hence it is supposed here that this year was a regular year.

If this argument is accepted, it follows that the previous year, A.U.C. 575 = 179, was 378 days long.

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