As far as I know, Julius Caesar and Augustus named the fifth and the sixth months, respectively, after themselves, but why didn't Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero do the same while there were enough unnamed months left?

Was there a change in thinking or were Caesar and Augustus just really more "self-aware"?

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    Too bad all 95 (or so) Roman Empire/Western Roman Empire didn't each name a month. The average month would be 3-4 days long. It would be highly entertaining, and we would really need to rethink calendar design... (written 4 Maxentius 2016).
    – AlaskaRon
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 2:14
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    Tiberius: "And what will you do if there be thirteen Caesars?" Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 8:18

3 Answers 3


Suetonius has this to report about Tiberius, the second emperor and the third Caesar:

[H]e at first played a most unassuming part, almost humbler than that of a private citizen. Of many high honours he accepted only a few of the more modest. He barely consented to allow his birthday, which came at the time of the Plebeian games in the Circus, to be recognized by the addition of a single two-horse chariot. He forbade the voting of temples, flamens, and priests in his honour, and even the setting up of statues and busts without his permission; and this he gave only with the understanding that they were not to be placed among the likenesses of the gods, but among the adornments of the temples. (2) He would not allow an oath to be taken ratifying his acts, nor the name Tiberius to be given to the month of September, or that of Livia to October.

Chapter 26

This seems to have stopped the renaming of months fad.


Actually several did:

  • Caligula renamed September to Germanicus (Suetonius, Caligula, 15) in memory of his father.

  • Nero renamed April to Neronium (Suetonius, Nero, 55).

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    Here is a page with photo evidence of this penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/Europe/Italy/…
    – sksamuel
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 1:03
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    which begs the question of why these changes didn't stick. Perhaps due to the relative unpopularity of their progenitors?
    – Bob Tway
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 11:25
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    @MattThrower It's funny, but calendar reforms in Rome seem like "a test for the Emperor": those who dare to rename months were damned after death (Caligula, Nero, Domitianus, Commodus), and those who refused to accept such "honour" from Senate were particularly praised after death (Antonius Pius).
    – Matt
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 13:03
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    @MattThrower *muttermutter* It raises that question. To beg the question is to presuppose the answer to it (e.g., asking why no months were named after the pet gerbils of Roman emperors begs the question of whether any Roman emperor actually had a pet gerbil). Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 19:25
  • @Matt Nice catch, I did not remember those. Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 7:39

Despite Lives of the Twelve Caesars there were far more emperors than months to name after them.

it is not certain to me that Gaius Julius Caesar and Augustus ordered months named after themselves. It is possible that those honors ere decreed posthumously by the senate (allegedly without being prodded by the heir) - you should look it up. The senate was only likely to name a month after an emperor they liked, usually when posthumously decreeing him a god. If an emperor just arbitrarily named a month after himself without going though the senate the next reign might have that action reversed to gain favor with the senate.

A lot of unpopular emperors were posthumously punished with Damnato Memoria when their decrees were nullified and all inscriptions and monuments honoring them were erased and destroyed. If that was done, nothing, especially part of the calendar, would be left named after that emperor.

Curiously, the ins and out of imperial politics meant that the list of Emperors decreed to be gods, likely to have months named after them, and the list of emperors punished with Damnato Memoria and having everything named after them renamed, largely overlapped and did include some of the same emperors.

And the renaming of months seems more like a custom of the early empire and Commodus was probably the last emperor to rename a month after himself.

And after the Emperors became Christians in the 4th century AD they stopped being decreed gods after death and that probably made it very unlikely that months would be renamed after them.

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