Italian Language/I mesi

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Question
Ciao Maria,

I am an Italian beginner. When I learn about months in Italian, I see those months (Settembre - Ottobre - Novembre - Decembre)start with numbers (Sette - Otto - Nove - Dieci). Could you explain that for me and why it does not appear in other months.

Thank you so much!

Phan

Answer
Salve!

the Italian names of the months Settembre, Ottobre,Novembre, Dicembre - as well as the English names “September, October, November, December” - start with numbers Sette - Otto - Nove – Dieci  simply because they derive from the Latin names SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER, NOVEMBER, DECEMBER that were the  seventh month, the eighth  month, the ninth month  and the tenth month of the Roman year, reckoning from March (“Martius mensis “ in Latin), formerly the first month of the year, just named after  Mars, the primogenitor of the Roman people, the god of war, of husbandry, of shepherds and seers (see Ovid, Fasti,  book 3, line 73ff).

So, the 10 months of the early Roman calendar were named: 1)Martius, 2)Aprilis, 3)Maius, 4)Junius, 5)Quintilis , 6)Sextilis, 7)September, 8)October, 9)November,10)December.

The last six names Quintilis, Sextilis, September,October, November,December were taken from the words for five (quinque, in Latin), six (sex, in Latin), seven (septem, in Latin), eight (octo, in Latin), nine (novem, in Latin), and ten (decem, in Latin).

Romulus, the legendary first king of Rome, is supposed to have introduced this calendar seven or eight centuries before the Christian Era, while according to tradition, the second king  of Rome Numa Pompilius ((715?-673? B.C.) added January and February to the calendar and then the first month of the Roman year became IANUARIUS MENSIS (literally, “il mese di Gennaio” in Italian, English “January “), named after IANUS, an old Italian deity who was represented with a face on the front and another on the back of his head, and  the second month was later FEBRUARIUS MENSIS (literally, “il mese di Febbraio”, English, February), named after FEBRUUS , a surname of the god Lupercus (protector against wolves), who presided over  the Roman festival of purification and expiation, celebrated on the 15th of the month hence called February.

Only a long time after the names of the months QUINTILIS and SEXTILIS became IULIUS MENSIS (Italian, “mese di Luglio”; English, “July”) and AUGUSTUS MENSIS  (Italian, “Agosto”; English, “August”) in honor of the great general Caius Iulius Caesar and the first Roman emperor Augustus respectively.

Spero sia tutto chiaro.

Cordiali saluti.
Maria

Italian Language

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Maria

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D.in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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