Octavians Calendar Changes

Julian Calendar, the prior page in this series, told how Julius Caesar revised the Roman calendar so it would keep more closely in phase with seasons. Soon after the first Caesar’s assassination, his nephew and adopted son Octavian, shown to the right, became the emperor that we refer to as “Augustus.”

For the first four decades after Julius Caesar’s death, leap years had been incorrectly observed every third year instead of every fourth. It is believed that Octavian corrected this error by eliminating intercalation for 12 years. The claim is that leap years were discontinued from about 9 B.C. until sometime in the first decade of this era.
Some also claim that the month of Sextilis was lengthened and renamed for Augustus by the consuls Gaius Asinius Gallus and Gaius Marcius Censorinus who served as Ordinary Consuls of the Roman Republic in 8 B.C.E.
Except for varying lengths of months and quarters, the revised Julian calendar served its users well for a long time. However, adding an extra day every four years resulted in extending the calendar over eleven minutes beyond the seasons every year. This was not perceived as a problem for hundreds of years, but by the middle of the sixteenth century of this era, these added minutes had accumulated to point that Christian festivals were not being observed during their original seasons.
This problem had been known and discussed for several centuries, but the Julian Calendar was not revised further until the time of Pope Gregory, near the end of this era’s sixteenth century. You can read about changes made then that resulted in our present Gregorian Calendar.