Monday, March 15, 2010

Lucia Anno Domini

Today's Latin lesson included learning that Anno Domini means In the Year of Our Lord.

I told the kids that our whole way of measuring the years is inextricably linked with when God came to earth. So, we have the years A.D. measured from when God was born as a man (though we know now it a few years earlier), and then we count backward from that point using B.C. (Before Christ).

And even though there has been an attempt to replace A.D. with C.E. (Common Era) and B.C with B.C.E (Before Common Era), that fact that years are counted from the most significant event in history cannot be erased.

20 comment(s):

Andrei said...

CE and BCE really get up my nose.

The Anno Domini system has a pedigree going back 1500 years in the West and the only reason to make what is a semantic change is to try and airbrush Christianity and its cultural importance out of existence.

Pol Pot of course tried the same trick starting with year zero when he took power - that didn't turn out at all well as you will recall.

In the east the system used was Anno Mundi or Έτος Κόσμου (Etos Kosmou) until comparatively recently, still is on parish registers and graves sometimes - I blogged on that here.

And if a dating system derived from the Birth of our Lord drives the secular crazy just imagine how the Dawkinists would react to a dating system based upon the Biblical Creation - 'twould be very funny to behold the mental gyrations they would have to undertake to accommodate it.

David said...

The yearly calender we use came from the Romans. Three months are named after Roman gods, February after a Roman festival, August and July after Roman leaders. The rest are numbers. All very interesting, but these facts don't really impact modern life anymore than the facts you've presented here.

David said...

Oh, and April may have been a fourth month named after a Greek/Roman god, (Aphrodite), though that one's not certain.

ZenTiger said...

David, sure these facts impact modern life. In the sense that history is how we got here. Whitewashing over it, discarding it and re-writing it impacts on our lives more than we realise.

The move from AD to Christian Era to Common Era is a good example of common error in the treatment of history.

Other trivia on the months: Sept for the 7th month, Oct for the eighth month, and Dec for the tenth month (for example) has a story behind it, since the meaning of the months are now two months out. Is it pointless to remember these word roots?

Lucia Maria said...


The CE, BCE attempt to replace the Christ focus of our numbering system doesn't bother me so much, as it just seems petty.

Pol Pot's example of trying to move the counting of the years back to 0 shows just how impossible it is to wipe from history the birth of God as man.

Hi David,

And our days of the week are named after Norse gods. However, without the counting of years, each week is isolated in time - we'd have no idea when one week occurred in relation to another week. So, while one could attempt to say that the months of the year named after various gods and numbers share a similar significance, the reality is that the months, like weeks, need to be anchored in time. And that anchored is birth of God made man.

All very interesting, but these facts don't really impact modern life anymore than the facts you've presented here.

Except as a reminder that God came to earth approx 2010 years ago.

David said...

"Is it pointless to remember these word roots?"

Who said it was pointless? I just said that it doesn't impact modern life any more than roots of our calender.

"Except as a reminder that God came to earth approx 2010 years ago."

You mean, except as a reminder that some people still believe that fairytale. Just as people once believed in Juno, or Maia. The roots of BC/AD is no more significant.

You'll notice that I haven't actually supported the change to Common era (thought TBH I wouldn't care if it were changed). It can serve as a reminder of how society was once ruled by mysticism.

Lucia Maria said...


interesting that you call Christianity a fairytale. Fairytale implies something too good to be true that can't possibly happen in real life. Is that how you feel about God actually coming into His creation? The idea doesn't bother, but you don't think it happened?

David said...

Actually, I was using the term as a euphemism.

ZenTiger said...

David, people have advanced scientific theories that have proven to be wrong. Does that make all science wrong?

People have written stories that are deemed "non-fiction". But others have written books that are "fiction". By your logic, are all books fiction? Even science books?

You have your reasons for making such leaps of logic, but they aren't on the face of it, great leaps of logic.

Lucia Maria said...


Ok, if you say so.

Sean said...

Zen (8:06 AM, March 16) - any reason why you left out the "9th" month? Actually I hadn't known of this inconsistency before but having learnt a little Spanish (or any Latin-based language for that matter) it is indeed quite obvious:

7th = séptimo, septiembre (September)
8th = octavo, octubre (October)
9th = noveno, noviembre (November)
10th = décimo, deciembre (December)

I´ll have to find out the story behind the inconsistency. I guess it will be on Wikipedia somewhere...?

Andrei said...

Sean, the short answer is the Year didn't begin in January but started in March.

The long answer is very interesting but way beyond a blog comment

Lucia Maria said...


He probably just forgot. The Roman calendar originally had 10 months, and then later July (for Julius Ceaser) and August (for Augustus Ceasar) were inserted to make the year 12 months long. Julius Ceasar changed the calendar, but August must have been renamed after his time. I'll have to look it up.

David said...

Not quite Lucia, August and July already existed, they were renamed to honour those leaders. January and Febuary were added after the original ten months were created, originally the winter period wasn't labeled.

Zen - your post made almost no sense, I have no idea how to reply to it. Try talking about specifics instead of grand generalisations.

David said...

Are you asking me how I determine what is fact and what is fiction?

Lucia Maria said...


Thanks, hadn't really studied it, just knew a little in passing during our history & Latin studies.

Andrei said...

By the time of Julius Caesar the Roman Calendar had 12 months of 29 or 31 days and the year worked out at 255 days long which doesn't align with the sun.

So an extra month of semi-arbitrary length was slipped in the length of which was determined by the Pontifex Maximus.

It was a system open to abuse because various public officials took office for one year at the beginning of the year - so lengthening it or shortening it held political advantage.

Julius Caesar fixed that by alternating months of 30 and 31 days with the 28 day February and the leap year system to take up the slack.

Thereby nearly aligning the year with the sun.

Pope Gregory got a better approximation of the year with his reforms which is what we use now.

Its still not perfect but nobody will have to worry about the slippage for 25000 years or so.

ZenTiger said...

Sean, no reason for leaving out November, other than I chose three root "words" people might be familiar with (aside from anyone speaking a romance language).

@David: Are you asking me how I determine what is fact and what is fiction?

I thought you had already told us? No problem though, I'm seeing another David tomorrow and I can ask him what you think, him being a part of the collection of Davids.

David said...

"I thought you had already told us?" Err, no, not in this thread at least. Really Zen, you're making no sense at all.

Sean said...

Thanks for the info Andrei, LM, David and Zen.

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