A Brill Calendar: December 31
The Last Day of the Year?
Few cultural conventions equal in public power the calendar, backbone of everybody’s ‘agenda’.
The word as it is used today is translated almost literally taken from the Latin: ‘what should be done’, a plural gerund, future-oriented. Recurrence of separate events, obviously in some synchrony with motions of our sun, moon and planets, with seasonal changes and biological life, observed and remembered, admittedly in the past yet not completely absent in the present, resulted in a formidable capability of Homo sapiens: that of foretelling and forecasting realities, without enjoying somatic control over them.
Given the geographical diversity on the planet it stands to reason that civilizations on each separate continent devised a commensurate diversity of calendars; December 31 is neither universal, nor ageless as the last day of the last month of a solar year. In its current form it was applied only partially in Classical Antiquity.
It is seldom that our system is not taken for granted routinely in Anno Domini 2008. However this may be (or may have been): future and past are Siamese twins, connected to one another. Who doesn’t know the past can’t elucidate the present or foresee (a) future(s). The very word ‘history’ meant initially nothing more or less than ‘investigation’. Without a dependable sequencing of events in linear time and a reasoned chronology, such activity is much less rewarding than it might be.
At the end of a year - in just one specific calendar convention - it is germane to commemorate here Joseph Justus Scaliger (Agen, Aquitaine,1540 – Leyden, Holland, 1609), historian and philologist, whose major work, ‘Opus de emendatione tempore’ (1583) became the inception for methodical study of chronology; ‘emendatio’ being scholarly parlance for ‘improvement’. It made him famous in all Europe. When a juvenile Leyden University contrived to attract this eminent scholar and successful author as Professor in 1593, the Academy increased its trans-national prestige as advanced centre of learning and study spectacularly.
2013, May 17
2013, April 11
2013, April 11