Roman Dates

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This page provides a brief overview of the major sources used to prepare the Fasti Consulares.

The most easily available authoritative listing is in A.E. Samuel, Greek and Roman Chronology. Much extra detail is given in the three volumes of T. R. S. Broughton, Magistrates of the Roman Republic. However, the definitive modern study for the consuls down to the death of Augustus is without doubt A. Degrassi, Fasti Consulares et Triumphales. Degrassi also developed a much briefer study of later consuls in I Fasti Consolari dell'Imperio Romano; so far as I know there is as yet nothing remotely comparable to Fasti Consulares et Triumphales for the period after the death of Augustus.

The primary sources may be classified into three groups: literary fasti, epigraphic fasti, and annalistic histories. The reconstructed listing is created by a process of comparing and combining these sources, and of fleshing them out with additional data, mostly literary in origin, which gives missing details in a non-annalistic framework.

Degrassi's first volume contains an important comparative listing of the primary source data. This listing is the principal basis for the comparison developed in these pages.

Literary Fasti

These are fasti preserved in late Imperial and Byzantine chronicles. The major ones are:

Epigraphic Fasti

Fasti were also inscribed or painted in public inscriptions, and quite a large number of these are known. They are collected in Degrassi's book. A few additional fragaments have been published since then, but are of no importance for this study. The earliest surviving Fasti is the Fasti Antiates Maiores, which dates from about the 60s B.C. Fasti are known from as late as the third century A.D.

Far and away the most important of these is the Fasti Capitolini Consulares, the remains of which were discovered in the 16th century. This originally contained the complete canonical list, as determined by Augustan scholarship, down to the year before the death of Augustus, in A.D. 13. It gave complete names (with filiations) of ordinary and suffect consuls, and of consuls-designate who were not, for one reason or another, able to take up office. Every tenth year was explicitly dated according to a non-Varronian A.U.C. system in which A.U.C. 1 = 752 B.C., and many of these dates survive. Additionally, the Fasti recorded other offices, notably dictatorships and censorships, and noted years in which a census was completed, assigning each lustrum a number.

Unfortunately, the Fasti Capitolini Consulares do not survive in their entirety, and in any case they terminate in A.U.C. 766 = A.D. 13. They must be supplemented by other fasti for the early imperial period, such as the Fasti Ostienses, the Fasti Antiates Minores and the Fasti Magistrorum Vici. For the republic, the most important supplemental Fasti are the Fasti Capitolini Triumphales, which are also important for locating intercalary years. They originally gave a complete dated list of triumphs down to A.U.C. 735 = 19, and explicitly distinguished consular triumphs from proconsular triumphs.

Annalistic Histories

The other major source of eponyms, of course, are the classical historians, particularly those who were organised annalistically. The three major ones are:

Additionally, incidental references in many other classical sources allow us to supply many of the details missing from the surviving fasti or annalistic historians. A complete listing (as of 1947) may be found in Degrassi.

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