« A.U.C. 550 = 204 B.C. »

Livy 29.14 describes the arrival and reception of the idol of the Mater Idaea (Cybele) at Ostia on prid. Id. Apr. of this year, and notes that this date was celebrated as the Megalesian festival. This festival was later celebrated regularly, once her temple was completed (Livy 36.36) or shortly before (Livy 34.54.). P. S. Derow, Historia 30 (1976) 265 at 273, notes that the festival was later celebrated for seven days starting prid. Non. Apr., eight days earlier, and hence that some would correct Livy's date to prid. Non. Apr., although he himself disagrees.

Pliny, Nat. Hist. 18.4, notes that the year she was brought to Rome saw the best harvest in 10 years. Derow suggests therefore that this festival was originally associated with the vernal equinox. P. Brind'Amour, Le calendrier romain 166, correctly notes that the cited passage says no such thing, and the most that it implies is that she arrived before the harvest had yet grown, which doesn't really tell us anything chronologically useful.

It seems to me, however, that there is another relevant fact to be considered: she arrived at Ostia after a sea voyage, having been brought from Pessinus in Phrygia (Livy 29.11). In order to guarantee her safety for the journey, the voyage (or its last stage to Ostia, since we do not know her route) should not have taken place in the winter.

There were 2 intercalations between A.U.C. 551 = 203 and A.U.C. 564 = 190, and hence at most 3 between this year and A.U.C. 564 = 190. The following table gives the possible date ranges for prid. Id. Apr. A.U.C. 550 assuming 2-3 intercalations between this year and A.U.C. 564 = 190.

Number of Intercalations   Number of intercalated days      Julian date of prid. Id. Apr. A.U.C. 550
     A.U.C. 550-564                                                           

              2                               44-46                                 23-25 March 204
              3                               66-69                             28 Feb - 3 March 204

Clearly, two intercalations are to be preferred -- even more so if the date should be corrected to prid. Non. Apr. from prid. Id. Apr.

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