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Challenge Answer
October 2009
The modern calendar is a result of a lot of tinkering over the course of millenia. The Romans
were fond of messing with dates; their original calendar had to be reset every year to bring it back in line
with the seasons. They were also fond of renaming the months. Several months were named in honor of
various emperors; the emperor Commodus renamed all 12 after himself. Most of these names dropped
out of use with time, but two months are still named after famous Romans today. The question is:
Which two months still bear the names of Roman leaders?
July is named after Julius Caesar, who toppled the Roman Republic in the mid-40s BC and also
heavily reformed the calendar. (The “Julian Calendar” was still in use in some places into the 20th
century.) August is named after Caesar’s nephew, the emperor Augustus. The other months are named
after gods or, in the case of the months after August, simply numbered (September is “the seventh
month,” October is “the eighth month,” and so on.) The beginning of the year has shifted since Roman
times; New Year’s Day was formerly in March, making December the tenth month.
Crowl, Lawrence A. A History of the Months and the Meaning of Their Names. Oregon State University,
27 Sept. 1995. Web. 4 Sept. 2009. <>.