Pontifical Policy

Intercalations were determined by the pontifex maximus and the college of pontiffs. It is very clear that the activities and policies of individual pontiffs were reflected in the calendar. While the Julian reform is the best known example of this, the triennial leap year cycle that marred Lepidus' pontificate and the Augustan reform of 8 B.C. are other well-known examples. The reconstruction given here indicates some other pontifical policies:

So far as I know, no-one has tried to trace the careers of any of Caesar's predecessors as pontifex maximus with an eye to detecting their policy on the distribution of intercalations. One case in particular, P. Licinius Crassus Dives, might bear some examination. Crassus took office at the height of the Second Punic War, and appears to have presided over a period of intercalary chaos until the reforms of the Lex Acilia of A.U.C. 563 = 191. After this law was passed, intercalation seems to have resumed on a much more regular schedule, still presided over by Crassus for a decade.

It is unlikely that such a study would allow us to recover the lengths of any individual year. But it may help address an important methodological issue. For the middle and end years of the second century and the first two decades of the first, the model developed here shows a loose correlation between intercalations and pontificates. Caesar held intercalations as rarely as possible; his two predecessors seem to have preferred intercalations every other year, or nearly so, while their two predecessors allowed rather more pairs of regular years between intercalations. A study of pontifical careers may suggest some other bias factors that we could take into account when modelling the distribution of intercalations.

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