We have an extensive list of the dates of Roman triumphs in the Fasti triumphales. It is remarkable what little use can be made of these for chronological purposes. I have found three arguments made based on this list:
- That triumphs dated by reference to the Quirinalia or the Terminalia indicate an intercalary year.
- Conversely, that triumphs which are antedated to Martius (before a.d. VI Kal. Mart.) indicate an intercalary year.
I have accepted the first and rejected both the other two as, respectively, overstated and provably wrong.
The only investigation I have found into whether any calendrical restrictions may have existed on the dates of triumphs is by P. Brind'Amour, Le calendrier romain 84-85. He surveyed the 22 triumphs with known Roman civil dates between 45 and 17, and found no obvious correlation between triumphal dates and lunar or nundinal phases, or (which is not to be expected) with the day of the sabbatical week.
One might be inclined to think that there was a correlation between triumphal dates and the nundinal cycle. While no linkage is discussed in any source, it seems reasonable to suppose that a triumphator would not want to lose his adoring fans to the purchase of pigs and cabbages. The only example in Brind'Amour's list of a triumph that was certainly held on a market day is that of Q. Pedius on Id. Dec. A.U.C. 709 = 10 December 45. Dio Cassius 43.42 notes that this particular triumph was regarded as inauthentic in all sorts of ways, which might be argued as reason not to pay it much attention. However, on the reconstruction proposed here the triumph of L. Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus over Antiochus III celebrated on prid. Kal. Mart. A.U.C. 565 = 5 November 189, which was one of the more important triumphs of Roman history, was held on a market day. Accordingly triumphs cannot be used as a negative indicator for market days.
If you have or know of any other ideas of the calendrical significance of triumphal dates, and can back them up, please email me.
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