Weights and Measures





Ligula Hemina


5 feet
1000 paces

125 paces (nautical)

the area a yoke of two oxen could plow in a day
the area taken up by a century of legionaries

1 peck

1/2 pint
12 heminae
8 congii



Di Omnes! 

Di Immortales! 

Dis vos aufert or Dis te aufort! 

Pro Iuppiter 


Ita me di juvent! 

Hercle! (or Ercle!) 



Fortuna te favet! 

By Pollux! 

All the Gods! 

Immortal Gods! 

May the Gods Take You Off! 

By Jupiter! 

By Castor! 

So help me Gods! 

By Hercules! 



Luck favors you! 

Mild expletive usually used by men 

Used when startled 

Used when startled 


Used in anger or solemnly 

Mild expletive usually used by women 








Quadrans (copper)

As (copper) = 4 quadrans

Sestertius (brass) = 4 asses

Denarius (silver) = 4 sestertii

Aureus (gold) = 25 denarii



Entrance to the baths = 1 quadrans

Soldier's wages = 225 denarii per year

Apartment rent = 500-5,000 denarii per year

Skilled slave labourer = 2,000 denarii

Pretty house slave = 25,000-50,000 denarii per year

Fine townhouse = 500,000-1,000,000 denarii

(1 denarius = 10 dollars seems a good mental conversion)


Daylight and night are divided into 12 hours each, measured from sunrise to sunset.

The calendar day is counted as the number of days prior to one of three markers days each month:

Kalends - the 1st of the month
Nones - the 7th of the month in March, May, July, October, otherwise the 5th
Ides - the 15th of the month in March, May, July, October, otherwise the 13th

For example, July 4th would be "four before nones," August 8th would be "six before ides," and Februaury 24th would be "six before March kalends."

As determined by the augers and pontiffs, days were divided among those on which public business could be conducted, and those on which it could not. On some days, business was allowed only in the afternoon. Black days, on which is was unlucky to do anything important, were the anniversaries of past disasters, generally military. Every ninth day was market day.

Recent Festivals

March (named for Mars, the father of Romulus and Remus)

April (named for Aphrodite or Venus)

May (named for Maia from Mayday)

June (named for Juno)

July (named for Caius Julius Caesar)

 August (named for Caius Octavianus Cæsar Augustus)


Other Important Festivals



The typical well-to-do Roman citizen had three names. For example, Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Cognomen: Their last name was, as it is with us, their family name (called the cognomen). Sometimes when someone's name was written or spoken the last name would be given first, and their middle name second. Very often the family name derives from some notable feature of a renowned family ancestor. For example, the cognomen "Scaevola" means "Lefty" (from scaevus, "left"), the name taken from a legendary ancestor who volunteered to burn his own right hand off just to scare invaders into lifting a siege on Rome (after all, who wants to fight a race of people who are that patriotic?).

Nomen: A Roman's middle name was his clan name (called the nomen). A Roman clan was called a gens and one gens consisted of numerous familia. All clan names end with -ius in Latin, and famous examples are Julius (Julius Caesar's first name was actually Gaius), Tullius ("Tully"), Plinius ("Pliny"), and Flavius.

Praenomen: The first name was called the praenomen and was a personal name much like our first names today. Although we also employ a limited number of first names (how many people do you know named Mike or John?), among the Roman upper classes there were only some twenty or so names in use, so they were usually abbreviated.

Adoption: Usually, when someone was adopted into a new family they took the name of their adoptive father, while sometimes retaining their old family name, now modified to be an adjective (that is, the ending -ianus was added in Latin). For example, when Caesar adopted Gaius Octavius he became Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, hence "Octavian" (later hailed as Augustus). Freed slaves, too, often adopted their previous master's name, and kept their original, single name as their last name.

Honorary Names: Often someone will be given or will take an honorary name, usually from a notable military victory. This name was called an agnomen and was often passed from father to sons, one of the many ways Roman society tried to egg its young men into living up to the reputations of their ancestors. Famous examples are Germanicus (for victories in Germany) and Africanus (for victories in Africa), but also Augustus ("Magesty" or "Reverend") and Empiricus (for being a renowned member of that particular school of medical theory).

Women: Women usually took no first name. They simply acquired the clan-name of their father, or sometimes of others (a maternal grandfather, for example), suitably feminized (e.g. Julia from Julius). If there was more than one in a family they would be noted by the appellation "the elder" (maior) or "the younger" (minor), or they would be numbered (Secunda, Tertia, Quartia, etc.). Sometimes women also took a family name, usually from their father. However, when they married they did not change their names. The only indication of their marriage might be the occasional inclusion of the possessive form of their husband's clan-name.

(From http://www.columbia.edu/~rcc20/romans/nomina.html)