by Bob Curtis, Local Secretary
July is the seventh month of the year (between June and August) in the Julian and
Gregorian Calendars and one of seven months with the length of 31 days. It was named
by the Roman Senate in 44 BC in honor of the Roman general, Julius Caesar, it being the
month of his birth. Prior to that, it was called Quintilis. It is on average the warmest
month in most of the Northern hemisphere (where it is the second month of summer) and
the coldest month in much of the Southern hemisphere (where it is the second month of
winter). The second half of the year commences in July. In the Southern hemisphere, July
is the seasonal equivalent of January in the Northern hemisphere.
In the ancient Roman calendar, Quintilis or Quinctilis was the month following Junius
(June) and preceding Sextilis (August). Quintilis is Latin for "fifth": it was the fifth
month (quintilis mensis) in the earliest calendar attributed to Romulus, which began with
Martius ("Mars' month," March) and had 10 months. After the calendar reform that
produced a 12-month year, Quintilis became the seventh month, but retained its name. In
45 BC, Julius Caesar instituted a new calendar (the Julian calendar) that corrected
astronomical discrepancies in the old. After his death in 44 BC, the month of Quintilis,
his birth month, was renamed Julius in his honor, hence July.
Sextilis ("sixth") or mensis Sextilis was the Latin name for what was originally the sixth
month in the Roman calendar, when March (Martius, "Mars' month") was the first of ten
months in the year. After the calendar reform that produced a twelve-month year, Sextilis
became the eighth month, but retained its name. It was renamed Augustus (August) in 8
BC in honor of the first Roman emperor, Augustus. Sextilis followed Quinctilis, which
was renamed Julius (July) after Julius Caesar, and preceded September (from septem,
"seven"), which was originally the seventh month.
Julius (July) was renamed from Quintilis ("fifth" month) in honor of Julius Caesar, who
had adopted his grand-nephew Octavian, the future Augustus, and made him his heir. It
has sometimes been thought that the month has 31 days because Augustus wanted as
many days in his month as in his predecessor's, but Sextilis in fact had 31 days since the
reform during Caesar's dictatorship that created the Julian calendar.
The decree of the Senate (senatus consultum) renaming Sextilis reads in part:
Whereas the emperor Augustus Caesar, in the month of Sextilis, was first admitted to the
consulate, and thrice entered the city in triumph, and in the same month the legions, from
the Janiculum, placed themselves under his auspices, and in the same month Egypt was
brought under the authority of the Roman people, and in the same month an end was put
to the civil wars; and whereas for these reasons the said month is, and has been, most
fortunate to this empire, it is hereby decreed by the senate that the said month shall be
Wikipedia gets credit for all the facts above! This calendar stuff really facinates me.
Pleas be sure to come to the NNJ Mensa picnic on August 9, 2015, at noon in Van Saun Park.