« A.U.C. 566 = 188 B.C. »

I have found two analyses in the literature for the Roman chronology of this year, neither of which is convincing.

First, Livy 38.36.4 records that the departure of the magistrates for their provinces was delayed due to a darkening of the sky, and in Livy 38.36.10 that the consuls left several days later, after the closure of the lustrum. Brind'Amour, Le calendrier romain, 148, identifies the first event with the solar eclipse of 17 July 188, even though he acknowledges the calculated time of this eclipse does not match well with Livy's description of the hours of darkness. He further identifies the closure of the lustrum with the festival of the Armilustrum, held on a.d. XIV Kal. Nov. Hence he dates the departure of the consuls around a.d. XIV Kal. Nov., which must therefore be at least three days after 17 July. However, this argument cannot be right. If there was only one intercalation after 14 March 190, then a.d. XIV Kal. Nov. is 20 or 21 June; if there were two it would be 12-14 July. It follows that either the proposal to identify the darkness as a solar eclipse is wrong or the Armilustrum does not mark the closure of the lustrum. In either case, the passage indicates nothing about the seasonal alignment of the year.

Second, Livy 38.42 records that the elections for A.U.C. 567 = 187 were held in a.d. XII Kal. Mart. and a.d. XI Kal. Mart. at the end of this year. V. M. Warrior, Latomus 50 (1991) 80 at 86, argues that the antedating of an election in this year with reference to Martius, i.e. on a.d. XII Kal. Mart., indicates that the year is intercalary. This proposal is open to serious doubt.

A more useful observation is that these are days with nundinal letters of G and H respectively, regardless of whether this year was intercalary. We have determined that A.U.C. 564 = 190 was regular, and A.U.C. 565 = 189 was intercalary, but its length is not known. Further, Kal. Mart. AUC 564 = 4 November 191. Since Kal. Ian. A.U.C. 702 = 19 November 53 was a market day, we can calculate that the nundinal letter for the market days for Ian. and Feb. that year was C.

There are two possibilities for the nundinal letter at the time of the elections for A.U.C. 567 = 187:

Under the proposed reconstruction of the proposed Lex Acilia, only the second choice is possible. Since the Julian dates of A.U.C. 564 = 190 are known, this fixes the Julian dates of A.U.C. 565 = 189, A.U.C. 566 = 188 and A.U.C. 567 = 187.

This result disproves the proposal of V. M. Warrior, Latomus 50 (1991) 80 at 86, that the antedating of an election in this year with reference to Martius, i.e. on a.d. XII Kal. Mart., indicates that the year is intercalary. It also argues against the proposal of V. M. Warrior, in C. Deroux (ed.) Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History VI 119, that the Lex Acilia of A.U.C. 563 = 191 compensated for the large mismatch that had accumulated between the Republican year and the solar year by mandating a sequence of consecutive intercalations. In any case this proposal does not accord well with two related proposals she makes: that the very next year, A.U.C. 564 = 190, was not intercalary (which is accepted here); and that the law required that intercalation be decided in sufficient time for the decision to be communicated to Roman leaders outside Rome. This second proposition seems very reasonable, but it inherently implies that there was no set sequence of intercalation.

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