Tuesday, April 23

Rome Wasn't Built On Just Any Day

Image= MHarrsch Photostream

By Art Cashin

On this day (-1) in 753 B.C., the Ancient and Eternal City of Rome was founded. For the first quarter millennium of its existence it was ruled by kings - starting with Romulus (part of a notable brother act with a doggy home life) and ending with Tarquinius Superbus. (If your king sounded like an oversize van, wouldn't you give up the monarchy?)

Next came the Republic: lots of success, gladiators, scholars, arch-ways, public baths, Spartacus and Caesar (but no salads). During this period, Rome dominated, educated and even enumerated virtually all of the known world. (Doubters may look up "Census - Tiberius et. al.)

So - okay - you're sitting there saying "I learned all that in sixth grade." And you're also saying "does that dope expect me to believe he knows the precise date when Ancient Rome was founded." Well...the answer is - Yes! You see it's the "A.U.C." thing.

If you were living in Ancient Rome and wanted to count time, it was tough. You couldn't do "B.C." since you couldn't anticipate the date of the birth you were counting before. (Huh?) So, without the birth of Christ as a date of demarcation, the Romans had a problem. If you were opening a toga shop, would you put on the
letterhead....er....parchment head....e.g. "Founded - ???"

At first they tried the obvious: "In the third year of Romulus..." But that got to be a problem as new kings were envious of the names of old kings still having their names around on walls, letterhead, etc. Even worse, it could get confusing, "Was he born in the second year of Pliny the III or the third year of Pliny the II"

So, the Romans opted for something a bit more permanent like the city itself. So, they began dating everything from the time the city was founded which you will recall from Latin class would be Ab (from) Urbe (the city) Condite (founding). Thus, they made cornerstones and time clocks possible. "Annus 2768 A.U.C."

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

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