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Kaboom! June, named for Juno, a famously jealous Roman Goddess, was fun, but July has arrived like fireworks. The new month is named for a mortal, albeit one who devised and ruled an empire.

Julius Caesar (as in kaiser and many other modern words) was a political and military genius who conquered Gaul (what is now part of Italy, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands), changed the structure of the gargantuan Roman government into a dictatorship, was assassinated in legendary fashion, and most importantly for our purposes, helped make the calendar what it is today.

Without delving into the minutiae of calendar history, Caesar is responsible for the year as we know it having 365 days, and for the existence of a leap year every four years. How did this Julian Calendar help things? To give you an idea, the old calendar had something called an intercalary month that was 27 days long, added between February and March, that occurred in haphazard intervals. And our contemporary calendar is still pretty much the same system that Caesar instituted more than 2000 years ago.

You’ve probably figured out by now that July was named in honor of Julius, and it seems like a worthy tribute. This is especially true when you consider the drab name of the month under the older calendar system: Quintilis, which just means “fifth” in Latin. (Sort of like naming a fluffy dog Fluffy.) When Julius Caesar died, Quintilis (which was his birth month) was replaced with July.

(If you think the story behind July is odd, check out  why Tuesday is “Tiw’s Day,” an obscure one-handed Norse God. Here’s the story.)

One of Julius Caesar’s most bizarre legacies is the C section. The Caesarian section is a now-ubiquitous birth procedure that involves “the delivery of a fetus by surgical incision through the abdominal wall and uterus.”  The link between the procedure and Caesar is murky, with some stories claiming that an ancestor of Caesar’s had been delivered in this manner, some saying it was Julius Caesar himself born this way, and some saying that the procedure bore the name before Caesar existed and that he may in fact have been named for it.

Finally, in response to the comments that express concern the blog is celebrating a man who was a misogynist, a conqueror, and a tyrant, all of those charges are at least partially true. The aim here is not to celebrate but to elucidate. If we happen to use a happy tone in reference to Caesar’s calendar reforms, it’s because the idea of a 27-day month is horrible. Many of his actions were horrible, too.

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