July and How Its Name Is Narcissistic

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July: the seventh month of the year. We use its name at least 31 days a year, but do we ever stop to think about its origins? Have you ever wondered why SEPTember, OCTOber, NOVember, and DECember are not the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth months like their prefixes would suggest?

Originally, September through December were numbered the way you would expect, but then Julius Caesar and his nephew Augustus had the calendar rearranged to create new months so that they could have the summer (the best months, in their opinion) as their own. This was done to create an association between them and the most pleasant part of the year and. Thus these months are named July after Julius, and August after Augustus.

In the readings assigned for homework, Julius Caesar is characterized as haughty and obsessed with displays of power, as seen below:

…most men suspected him of being inflated with pride and hated him for his haughtiness (Cassius Dio, Book 44.9)

Augustus followed with a very small escort, along roads held by the enemy, after a shipwreck, too, and in a state of semi-convalescence from a serious illness. This energetic action delighted Caesar, who soon formed a high estimate of Augustus’s character (Suetonius, Life of Augustus, 8)

Julius Caesar is shown to be the kind of person to give off the impression that he is overly proud, and to be fond of someone for displaying similar traits like brash military actions. This characterization is exactly in line with the profile of someone who would fit the entire calendar to his own personal desires. He would probably love to know that we still use this system today.

-Chaya, team Venus

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