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Calendars in Antiquity and the Middle Ages


ERC Research Project



The late antique Hemerologia

January table of the Florence 'hemerologion' © Firenze, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Ms. Plut, 28.26

January table of the Florence ‘hemerologion’
© Firenze, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana,
Ms. Plut, 28.26

The name ‘Hemerologia’ has been given to sets of tables preserved in early medieval Greek manuscripts, which list in parallel columns the days of the month according to many different calendars. These are all local calendars of the provinces and cities of the eastern half of the Roman Empire; the Julian calendar, along which they are laid out, serves as their common reference point. The Hemerologia, which clearly go back to late Antiquity, not only provide abundant information on the diversity of calendars of the provinces and cities of the Roman East, but also, on their assimilation in the Roman period to a fixed and stable common denominator, the 365-day year of the Julian calendar.

Different Hemerologia tables are known to this date in four manuscripts: ms. Leiden Graec. 78, ms. Vatican Graec. 1291, and mss. Florence cod. Mediceus Laurentianus plut. XXVIII 26 and XXVIII 12. These manuscripts were edited in 1915 by W. Kubitschek, who also compared the data of their Hemerologia to the evidence of literary and epigraphic sources.

As part of this project, we will conduct a fresh assessment of the already known Hemerologia, and search for further Hemerologia manuscripts that may have been overlooked by Kubitschek or may have been inaccessible to him. Our aim is to produce an entirely revised, critical edition of the Hemerologia, with a study that will take account of newly discovered epigraphic evidence since Kubitschek’s work in 1915.

Our main researcher in this area is Dr Ilaria Bultrighini.

Our research questions are:

1. To what extent are the Hemerologia manuscripts consistent amongst themselves and with the epigraphic and literary evidence from the Roman Empire? How should inconsistencies be interpreted or accounted for?

2. When were the Hemerologia composed and in what form, and how were they subsequently transmitted?

3. What was the function and purpose of the Hemerologia? Did the Hemerologia serve the needs of imperial administrative or of local government, or again, of commercial and other private uses? Were they produced, alternatively, purely out of intellectual interest, or for the sake of making some sort of political, ideological statement?

4. To what extent were the Hemerologia a “celebration of diversity” or, on the contrary, an instrument for the fixation of provincial calendars, the imposition of conformity to the 365-day year of the Julian calendar, and thus the standardization of calendars in the late Roman East?