« A.U.C. 522 = 232 B.C. »

Polybius 2.21.7 notes that Picenum was colonised by the consul M. (Aemilius) Lepidus and Polybius 2.23.1 notes that the Gallic invasion defeated by L. Aemilius and C. Atilius at the battle of Telamon began 8 years later.

L. Pedech, La méthode historique de Polybe 481 notes that M. Aemilius Lepidus was consul in A.U.C. 522 = 232, seven Roman years before the consulate of L. Aemilius and C. Atilius in A.U.C. 529 = 225. He argues that Polybius' chronology is based on the Olympic year, which nominally ended with the second full moon after the summer solstice. Hence the 8 years between the colonisation of Picenum and the battle of Telamon indicates that the start of the consulate of Lepidus was before the end of Ol. 136.4, c. 8 August 232.

The following table gives the possible date ranges for Kal. Mai. A.U.C. 522 assuming 7-10 intercalations after this date and before A.U.C. 564 = 190.

Number of Intercalations   Number of intercalated days     Kal. Mai. A.U.C. 522
    A.U.C. 522-564

             7                              154-161                       29 Sep. - 6 Oct. 232
             8                              176-184                       6 - 14 Sep. 232
             9                              198-207                       14 - 23 Aug. 232
            10                             220-230                        22 Jul. - 1 Aug. 232

If one accepts Pedech's argument, it would follow that there were at least 10 intercalations between this year and A.U.C. 564 = 190. The difficulty is that Olympic years were in practice very imprecisely defined, and that we usually only regard them as running from summer to summer.

R. M. Errington, JRS 57 (1967) 96, has further attacked the basis of Pedech's analysis, arguing that there is no justification for Pedech's view that Polybius' chronology in books 1 and 2 is based on Olympic years. He notes that Polybius 39.8.6 explicitly states that he began to organise his work by Olympiads after Ol. 139.1 = 224/3, that he makes virtually no mention of Olympiads in books 1 and 2, and that there is nothing in his internal chronology in these years which requires the use of Olympic dating. As to the discrepancy between Polybius' 8 years and the 7 years of the fasti, he argues that this is simply due to the use of inclusive reckoning, noting that Polybius 3.1, which accounts Polybius 1 as the third book counting backwards from book 3, conclusively shows that Polybius counted this way, at least at times.

This critique seems to me to be well-founded. Accordingly, we have no basis for aligning the foundation of Picenum with the Julian year.

19 June 2006: Note Errington's critique of Pedech

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