Sunday, September 27, 2009

KNOW THYSELF

"Know Thyself" - Inscription at the temple of Apollo at Delphi, an ideal in Latin and Christian philosophy.



Socrates' guiding rule was "Know Thyself." These words are of eternal significance. No better advice has ever been given to man or woman.



"Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look there." - Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and Emperor of Rome

It is as important for us to "know ourselves" as a society as it is for us to know ourselves as individuals, for if we lose knowledge of who we are, where we came from and why we are the way we are, then we will lose our culture. If we lose our culture, then all the good things and greatness our ancestors achieved along the way - the freedoms of thought and expression unique to Western Civilization that have brought forth the benefits of creativity and production - will all become meaningless, forgotten to history and our culture will leave as much impression on the future of the human race as does a hand when it is pulled from a bucket of water.


The Apotheosis of Washington, beneath the top of the dome of the US Capitol; Washington is depicted with many Greek and Roman gods and goddesses.

STORMBRINGER is doing our part to save Western Civilization, by bringing awareness of the ancient Greek and Roman roots of our culture. Today's contribution to the collective awareness of our society is a History of the Months.

The names of the months all have meanings - have you ever wondered why, if there are twelve months, the last four months of the year are named for the Roman numbers seven (septum), eight (octo), nine (novem) and ten (decem)?

The original Roman year had 10 named months: Martius (March), Aprilis (April), Maius (May), Junius (June), Quintilis (July), Sextilis (August), September (September), October (October), November (November), December (December), and probably two unnamed months in the dead of winter when not much happened in agriculture.

The year began with Martius. Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome (circa 700 BC) added the two months Januarius (January) and Februarius (February).


Numa Pompilius, King of Rome

He also moved the beginning of the year from Marius to Januarius and changed the number of days in several months to be odd, a lucky number. After Februarius there was occasionally an additional month of Intercalaris (Intercalendar); this was the origin of the leap-year day being in February.

Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar in 46 BC (hence the Julian calendar) changing the number of days in many months and removing Intercalaris.


January: Janus's month, from the Latin Januarius "of Janus". Janus was the Roman god of gates and doorways, and of beginnings and ends.




Janus depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions. His festival month is January.







February: From the Latin Februarius "of Februa", Februa was the Roman festival of purification, held on February fifteenth, possibly of Sabine origin.


Modern festivals such as Mardi Gras, Latin American Carnival, and the German Fasching trace their origins to this ancient world tradition.

Februarius had 28 days, until Julius when it had 29 days on every fourth year and 28 days otherwise.


Intercalaris: Intercalaris "inter-calendar" was the old Roman inter-calendar month. Intercalaris had 27 days until the month was abolished by Julius.


March: Latin Martius "of Mars".








Mars was the Roman god of war; he was identified with the Greek god Aries.






March was the original beginning of the year, and the time for the resumption of war - a tradition that continues today in modern warfare (i.e. the "Spring offensive"). Martius has always had 31 days.


April: Latin Aprilis, Etruscan Apru, Greek Aphro, short for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Aprilis had 30 days, until Numa when it had 29 days, until Julius when it became 30 days long.

Aphrodite was identified with the Roman goddess Venus.



May: Latin Maius "of Maya". Maius has always had 31 days.

Maya was the Italic goddess of spring, the daughter of Faunus, and wife of Vulcan.


June: Latin Junius "of Juno". Junius originally had 30 days, until Numa changed it to 29 days. Julius reverted it to 30 days long.




Juno was the principle goddess of the Roman Pantheon, goddess of marriage and the well-being of women. She was the wife and sister of Jupiter; identified with the Greek goddess Hera.






July: Latin Julius "Julius", Julius Caesar's month. Originally the fifth month of the old Roman calendar (quintilis mensis is Latin for "fifth month"), Julius has always had 31 days. When Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar in 46 BC, he renamed this month after himself.









When you are the Big Guy, you get to name a month after yourself.










August: Latin Augustus - Caesar Augustus' month. Originally the sixth month of the old Roman ten-month calendar, (sextilis mensis means "sixth month" in Latin), Sextilis had 30 days, until Numa changed it to 29 days. Under Julius' calendar reform it became 31 days long.







First Emperor of Rome following the assassination of his uncle Julius Caesar, Augustus clarified and completed the Julian calendar reform. In the process, he renamed this month after himself.






When the Julian Calendar Reform was finished, they failed to rename September, October, November and December, and so these months retained their old Roman names as the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth months of the old ten-month calendar year.




September: The seventh month of the old Roman calendar, (in Latin septem means "seven").

September originally had 30 days, until Numa changed it to 29 days. After the Julian calendar reform it became 30 days long.


October: The eighth month, of the old Roman calendar, (octo is the Latin number "eight" - e.g. 'octopus').


October has always had 31 days.



November: The ninth month of the old Roman calendar, (Latin Novembris).

November originally had 30 days; Numa changed it to 29 days, after Julius it reverted to 30 days long.



December: The tenth month of the old Roman calendar, (Latin decem "ten"). December had 30 days until Numa changed it to 29 days.


Under the Julian calendar reform it became 31 days long.







Some may sense a certain irony at Viking (i.e. 'barbarian) -inspired phenomena STORMBRINGER promoting the cause of the Roman Empire; there is no irony here. The Vikings converted to Christianity - a Roman religion - and later served as bodyguards to the Byzantine emperors - in this role they symbolically assumed the lineage of the Roman Praetorian Guard.

Varangian Guardsmen, an illumination from the 11th century chronicle of John Skylitzes.

- Sean Linnane, September 2009

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