The Dura-Europos military calendar (“feriale duranum”)

I wonder how many of us were aware that the excavations at Dura-Europos also included a papyrus with a  military calendar on it?  I certainly never was.  Its shelfmark is PDura 54, and it is held at the Beinecke library in the USA.  As with all papyri there are gaps, of course.  But the item indicates what sort of events were officially marked by a garrison in the third century, in the reign of Alexander Severus (“our lord Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander”).  As such, it gives a glimpse into garrison life.

A transcription of the Latin text is here.  Details and photographs are here.  A translation is online in Google Books preview here.[1]  Since these previews can be a bit transitory, and a lot of people will not click through anyway, I thought that I would reproduce it here.

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Column I

The Kalends of January:…

3 days before the Nones of January: because vows are discharged and announced, and for the safety of our lord Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander Augustus and for the everlasting empire of the Roman people, to Jupiter Optimus Maximus a male ox, to Juno a female ox, to Minerva a female ox, to Jupiter Victor a male ox, … to Father Mars a bull, to Mars Victor a bull, to Victory a female ox …

7 days before the Ides of January: because honourable discharge is granted to those who have served out their time along, with the right of privileges; also because salaries are paid out to the soldiers, to Jupiter Optimus Maximus a male ox, to Juno a female ox, to Minerva a female ox, to Safety a female ox, to Father Mars a bull…

6 days before the Ides of January: for the birthday of the divine empress …, to the divine … public prayer.

… days before the Ides of January: for the birthday of Lucius Seius Caesar, father-in-law of the Augustus, a male ox to the genius of Lucius Seius Caesar, father in-law of the Augustus.

9 days before the Kalends of February: for the birthday of the divine Hadrian, to the divine Hadrian a male ox.

5 days before the Kalends of February: for the Arabian and Adiabenine and most great Parthian victories of the divine Severus and for the start of the reign of the divine Trajan, to Parthian Victory a female ox, to the divine Trajan a male ox.

1 day before the Nones of February: for the start of the reign of the divine Antoninus Magnus …, to the divine Antoninus Magnus a male ox.

The Kalends of March: for the rites of the birthday of Father Mars Victor, a bull to Father Mars Victor.

1 day before the Nones of March: for the start of the reign of the divine Marcus Antoninus and of the divine Lucius Verus, to the divine Marcus a male ox, to the divine Lucius a male ox.

3 days before the Ides of March: because emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander was acclaimed emperor, to Jupiter a male ox, to Juno a female ox, to Minerva a female ox,… to Mars a male ox; and because emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander Augustus was first acclaimed emperor by the soldiers …, public prayer.

1 day before the Ides of March: because Alexander, our Augustus, was acclaimed Augustus, pater patriae and pontifex maximus, public prayer; to the genius of our lord Alexander Augustus a bull.

Column II

14 days before the Kalends of April: for the day of the festival of the Quinquatria, public prayer; through to 10 days before the Kalends, the same public prayers.

I day before the Nones of April: for the birthday of the divine Antoninus Magnus, to the divine Antoninus a male ox.

5 days before the Ides of April: for the start of the reign of the divine Pius Severus, to the divine Pius Severus a male ox.

3 days before the Ides of April: for the birthday of the divine Pius Severus, to the divine Pius Severus a male ox.

II days before the Kalends of May: for the birthday of the eternal city of Rome, to the eternal city of Rome a female ox.

6 days before the Kalends of May: for the birthday of the divine Marcus Antoninus, to the divine Marcus Antoninus a male ox.

The Nones of May: for the birthday of the divine Julia Maesa, to the divine Julia Maesa public prayer.

6 days before the Ides of May: for the Rose festival of the standards, public prayer.

4 days before the Ides of May: for the games of Mars, to Father Mars the Avenger a bull.

12 days before the Kalends of June: because the divine Pius Severus was acclaimed emperor by to the divine Pius Severus.

9 days before the Kalends of June: for the birthday of Germanicus Caesar, public prayer to the memory of Germanicus Caesar.

1 day before the Kalends of June: for the Rose festival of the standards, public prayer.

5 days before the Ides of June: for the festival of Vesta, to Mother Vesta public prayer.

6 days before the Kalends of July: because our lord Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander was acclaimed Caesar and donned the toga of manhood, to the genius of Alexander Augustus a bull.

The Kalends of July: because Alexander, our Augustus, was first elected consul, public prayer.

4 days before the Nones of July: for the birthday of the divine Matidia, to the divine Matidia public prayer.

6 days before the Ides of July: for the start of the reign of the divine Antoninus Pius, to the divine Antoninus Pius a male ox.

4 days before the Ides of July: for the birthday of the divine Julius, to the divine Julius a male ox.

10 days before the Kalends of August: for the day of the festival of Neptune, immolatory public prayer.

The Kalends of August: for the birthday of the divine Claudius and the divine Pertinax, to the divine Claudius a male ox, to the divine Pertinax a male ox.

The Nones of August: for the games of Safety, to Safety a female ox. … before the Kalends of September: for the birthday of Mamaea Augusta, mother of our Augustus, to the Juno of Mamaea Augusta … … for…

… before the Kalends of September: for the birthday of the divine Marciana, to the divine Marciana public prayer.

Column III

1 day before the Kalends of September: for the birthday of the divine Commodus, to the divine Commodus a male ox.

7 days before the Ides of September …

14 days before the Kalends of October: for the birthday of the divine Trajan and for the start of the reign of the divine Nerva, to the divine Trajan a male ox, to the divine Nerva a male ox.

13 days before the Kalends of October: for the birthday of the divine Antoninus Pius, to the divine Antoninus Pius a male ox.

… before the Kalends of October: for the birthday of the divine Faustina, to the divine Faustina public prayer.

9 days before the Kalends of October: for the birthday of the divine Augustus, to the divine Augustus a male ox.
[…] of November […]
[…] the Kalends […]

Column IV

16 days before the Kalends of January ……. public prayer; through to

10 days before the Kalends the same …

  1. [1] Olivier Hekster, Rome and Its Empire: A.D. 193-284, p.127-9.

7 Responses to “The Dura-Europos military calendar (“feriale duranum”)”


  1. stephan

    fascinating stuff! BTW who is “Marciana”?

  2. Roger Pearse

    Not sure. There is a Marciana who was Trajan’s sister and was created Augusta by him. She appears on coinage. The person concerned is clearly dead — “divine”.

  3. Suburbanbanshee

    Ancient army barbeque calendar.

  4. Roger Pearse

    Yes, basically! Interesting to see which past emperors were ‘in’ and which were not.

  5. Andrew Smith

    Thanks Roger. Considering how interesting this document is, it’s surprisingly difficult to find a summary of it. And as far as I’m aware, the Latin isn’t available online.

  6. Andrew Smith

    Just found your link to the Latin. Oh well!

  7. Roger Pearse

    I think a lot of these kinds of documentary texts are very interesting, and very little known. I’d never heard of this one, I have to say, and if I haven’t, who would?

    The link to the Latin came from the Wikipedia article. :-(



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