Early Christians adopted a numeric week from Judaism, but wherever their communities spread they encountered the planetary week invented by Hellenistic astrologers. Greek Christians replaced that week with their own in the fourth century C.E., but Latin Christians were only partly successful in doing the same. A timeline for the Christianization of the planetary week between the third and seventh centuries is provided by a database of Greek and Latin documents dated by both an annual calendar and one of the two weeks. The documentary evidence is supplemented by analyses of literary and legal references to the two weeks from the same period. These show that Greek authors were accommodating toward the planetary week while Latin authors were often hostile. Latin hostility was engendered by the presence of non-Christian social practices tied to the planetary week that threatened Christian religious identity. These practices included worship of the planetary deities, rest on the Day of Jupiter rather than on the Lord's Day, and the reservation of activities like marriage, travel, and personal grooming to certain planetary weekdays. A brief survey of the spread of the two weeks throughout much of Afro-Eurasia contextualizes the changes occurring in the Mediterranean and shows that the Latin conflict was unique. That conflict was likely a product of the relatively slow pace of Christianization in some parts of Western Europe and the integration of the planetary week into the Roman calendar to produce a coherent cycle of pagan time which was difficult to replace.

There was no week in classical antiquity. That was the conclusion of Cassius Dio (c.155–235 C.E.), the first historian of the week: while most ancient calendars divided their years into months and festival days, they measured no continuous weekly cycles.1 Yet, over the course of Late Antiquity not one but two seven-day weeks, the Judeo-Christian and the planetary, began to organize time across the Mediterranean and beyond.2 Though the Judeo-Christian week was older, the planetary week spread more rapidly, so that new Christian communities encountered it already in place wherever they formed. The eventual fusion of these cycles into a single seven-day period created “the oldest known human institution still functioning without a break,”3 and the subsequent spread of the seven-day cycle across Afro-Eurasia demonstrated the global influence of this late ancient cultural development.

This article will trace the origins of these two weeks, analyze the linguistic division in Christian responses to the planetary week, and conclude with a preliminary account of the establishment of the seven-day week across large portions of Europe, Africa, and Asia during Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. Some Christian leaders devoted considerable energy to partially-successful attempts to replace what they regarded as a pagan religious institution with their own. Vocal opposition to the planetary week, however, was shaped not only by faith but also by language. The leaders of eastern Christian communities accommodated the planetary week in the brief period before it was replaced by the Judeo-Christian in Greek. By contrast, certain western leaders, who were largely unable to effect such a replacement in Latin, stridently opposed the planetary week because, in their cultural and linguistic contexts, it was tied to a set of non-Christian religious and social practices that threatened both the unity of the community they were trying to build and the salvation of its members.4 

THE ORIGINS OF THE TWO SEVEN-DAY WEEKS

The ancient Jews, who were exceptional among their contemporaries in many ways, had numbered the days of their week from one to six followed by the Sabbath, a day of rest and worship, for many centuries before the Common Era.5 Early Christians continued to use the Jewish cycle but soon replaced the First Day of that week with the Lord's Day to commemorate Christ's resurrection. In addition, both communities often called the Sixth Day the Preparation Day in reference to the coming Sabbath, and some sources also recorded the Sabbath as the Seventh Day.6 Both Jews and Christians in antiquity explained the origin of their week through the Jewish narrative of God's creation of the world in six days followed by rest on the seventh as recorded in Genesis.7 This week spread gradually along with the adherents of these two faiths.

The days of the planetary week, by contrast, were named in Greek for the seven wandering planētes of the heavens, powerful deities who influenced the lives of mortals according to the changing positions of their planets in the sky. These were traditionally arranged in order of decreasing orbital periods as follows: Kronos, Zeus, Ares, Helios, Aphrodite, Hermes, and Selene.8 The planetary week, however, arose in the context of Hellenistic astrology, likely in Egypt in the third or second century B.C.E.9 It was constructed by professional astrologers for the purpose of refining horoscopes and was primarily a cycle of 168 hours and only secondarily a cycle of seven days.10 Popular use, however, emphasized the seven-day cycle, and the unwieldy cycle of planetary hours was gradually forgotten.11 The divergent structures and purposes of the two cycles, along with the centuries separating the earliest sources for them, indicate that they did not have a common origin, despite their common length of seven days.12 

Since the order of the planets in their seven-day cycle, shown below in Table 1, is distinct from the astronomical order listed above, it is a useful tool for tracing the spread of the planetary week: wherever and whenever we find the seven planets arranged in the unique astrological order, we very likely have a planetary week. The Greek planetary week was translated into Latin by the time of the poet Tibullus in the late first century B.C.E., and Latin speakers adopted it eagerly.13 It had spread in both languages across the Mediterranean by the middle of the third century C.E., doing so more quickly than the Judeo-Christian week.14 Then, in 321 C.E., the Emperor Constantine made the planetary week a part of Roman law when he proclaimed the “venerable Day of Sol” a weekly holiday throughout the Empire.15 

TABLE 1.

The Two Seven-Day Weeks of Late Antiquity

Judeo-Christian WeekPlanetary Week
First Day/Lord's Day Day of Helios/Sol 
Second Day Day of Selene/Luna 
Third Day Day of Ares/Mars 
Fourth Day Day of Hermes/Mercury 
Fifth Day Day of Zeus/Jove 
Sixth Day/Preparation Day Day of Aphrodite/Venus 
Sabbath/Seventh Day Day of Kronos/Saturn 
Judeo-Christian WeekPlanetary Week
First Day/Lord's Day Day of Helios/Sol 
Second Day Day of Selene/Luna 
Third Day Day of Ares/Mars 
Fourth Day Day of Hermes/Mercury 
Fifth Day Day of Zeus/Jove 
Sixth Day/Preparation Day Day of Aphrodite/Venus 
Sabbath/Seventh Day Day of Kronos/Saturn 

The planetary week entered Christian writing through Justin Martyr's First Apology in the mid-second century, and by the time of Bede in the early eighth, the fusion of the two cycles in the west was largely complete and the distinctive medieval Christian view of their relationship established.16 This process of fusion, however, was not uniform. Instead, the interaction of the two weeks was differentiated linguistically and geographically between the Greek east and the Latin west. Three patterns comprise this differentiation. First, the planetary week was completely replaced by the Judeo-Christian in Greek, while in Latin the two cycles were combined. Second, the process of replacement was not only left incomplete in the west, but its inception was also delayed by nearly a century. Third, Christian hostility toward the planetary week was confined to Latin writers, with Greek writers remaining neutral or even positive toward that week. We will examine each of these patterns in turn.

The different results of the late antique interactions of the two weeks are preserved in the weekday names of Modern Greek and those of most Romance languages.17 The first day of the week in all four of the languages in Table 2 is a translation of Lord's Day, and the seventh of Sabbath. Days two through five, however, are numbered according to the Judeo-Christian custom in Modern Greek, and day six in that language is the Day of Preparation. This means that no trace of the planetary week remains in contemporary Greek. All of the Modern Greek weekday names, with the exception of the Christian kyriakē, or Lord's Day, are derived from Hebrew and found in the Septuagint and the Greek New Testament. By contrast, days two through six in each of these Romance languages are named for planets in the astrological order, indicating that the two cycles were combined in Late Latin in a ratio of five days to two in favor of the planetary week.

TABLE 2.

Weekdays in Modern Greek, Italian, French, and Spanish

GreekItalianFrenchSpanish
Κυριακή Domenica Dimanche Domingo 
Δευτέρα Lunedì Lundi Lunes 
Τρίτη Martedì Mardi Martes 
Τετάρτη Mercoledì Mercredi Miercoles 
Πέμπτη Giovedì Jeudi Jueves 
Παρασκευή Venerdì Vendredi Viernes 
Σάββατο Sabado Samedi Sábado 
GreekItalianFrenchSpanish
Κυριακή Domenica Dimanche Domingo 
Δευτέρα Lunedì Lundi Lunes 
Τρίτη Martedì Mardi Martes 
Τετάρτη Mercoledì Mercredi Miercoles 
Πέμπτη Giovedì Jeudi Jueves 
Παρασκευή Venerdì Vendredi Viernes 
Σάββατο Sabado Samedi Sábado 

DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE FOR THE REPLACEMENT OF THE PLANETARY WEEK IN GREEK

Thanks to recent work in late antique papyrology and epigraphy, it is possible to examine the processes leading to these different results as they occurred. In order to construct a timeline for the Christianization of the planetary week, I have repurposed a collection of papyri, inscriptions, and graffiti originally selected by Klaas Worp to examine the utility of weekdays for dating late antique documents.18 As a control sample against which to evaluate documents with partial dating formulas, Worp collected 25 Greek and 43 Latin documents dated precisely to both an ancient calendar and a weekday between the third and seventh centuries C.E. For example, the earliest document in this collection is a horoscope found in the “House of Nebuchelus” in Dura, Syria. According to this graffito, one Alexander Macedonius was born in the “Year 530, month Aydnaios 9, according to the moon 5, Day of Kronos, about the third hour of the day.”19 That translates from the Macedonian calendar to modern reckoning as 9 a.m. on Saturday, 9 January 219 C.E. These documents were written in all parts of the Mediterranean basin and selected without regard for their use of either Judeo-Christian or planetary weekday names. Therefore, they form a representative sample of preferences for one week to the other across the Empire that helps balance the elite perspectives of the Christian leaders who wrote about the week. Just as important, changes in these preferences can be dated exactly over the course of five centuries. Such a sample allows us to trace the evolving use of planetary and Judeo-Christian weekday names in Greek and Latin through Late Antiquity. Table 3 shows a distinct pattern: the planetary week held sway through the third century among Greek speakers, was replaced by the Judeo-Christian week over the course of the fourth and fifth centuries, and effectively disappeared thereafter.

TABLE 3.

Dated Greek Weekday Documentsi

Bold = Planetary Weekdays

Italic = Judeo-Christian Weekdays

NumberYearWeekdayLocationReference
1. 219 Day of Kronos Syria O. Neugebauer, H.-B. van Hoesen, Greek Horoscopes, p. 54, nr. 219 I(b) 
2. 243 Day of Hermes Egypt P.oxy.44.3174v 
3. 288 Day of Aphrodite Asia Minor IGRR IV 1647 
4. 325 Lord's Day Egypt P.oxy.54.3759 
5. 327 Day of Helios Egypt Pack 2731 (cf. BASP 17 [1980] 17) 
6. 402 Day of Ares Sicily Atti III (1932) Congr. Int. Archeol. Christ. 151 + pl. 21 
7. 409 Lord's Day Gaul IG XIV 2559 
8. 409 Day of Selene Sicily IG XIV 444 
9. 441 Preparation Day Gaul IG XIV 2492 
10. 444 Fourth Day Italy IG XIV 2293 
11. 479 Day of Kronos Egypt Neugebauer, van Hoesen, Gr. Horosc. nr. L 479 
12. 486 Day of Selene Egypt Neugebauer, van Hoesen, Gr. Horosc, nr. L 486 
13. 487 Day of Kronos Egypt Neugebauer, van Hoesen, Gr. Horosc, nr. L 487 
14. 531 Fourth Day Greece L. Heuzey, Miss. Arch. Macèd., Paris 1876, 177 
15. 535 Fourth Day Greece RIChrM 135 = SEG XXIX 644 
16. 551 Sixth Day Asia Minor RecIGChrAsMin. 25 = Ch. Roueché, Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity 208f., nr. 164 
17. 557 Seventh Day Moesia SGLIBulg 97 
18. 558 Sixth Day Syria IGLSyr 4 1681 
19. 573 Seventh Day Asia Minor IK Apameia (Bith.) u. Pylai 59 
20. 576 Lord's Day Palestine I.Negev 19 
21. 581 Lord's Day Palestine I.Negev 18 = A. Alt, GIPT 149 
22. 588 Sixth Day Palestine A. Alt, GIPT 25 = Greco-Arabica 3 (Athens 1984) 179 nr. 5 = DACL V 1, 368 + fn. 7 
23. 609 Fourth Day Phoenicia I.Tyr. I 200 
24. 662 Second Day Palestine SEG 30:1687 
25. 693 First Day Greece A. K. Orlandos, L. Vranoussis, Charagmata Parthenon 34 (Athens) 
NumberYearWeekdayLocationReference
1. 219 Day of Kronos Syria O. Neugebauer, H.-B. van Hoesen, Greek Horoscopes, p. 54, nr. 219 I(b) 
2. 243 Day of Hermes Egypt P.oxy.44.3174v 
3. 288 Day of Aphrodite Asia Minor IGRR IV 1647 
4. 325 Lord's Day Egypt P.oxy.54.3759 
5. 327 Day of Helios Egypt Pack 2731 (cf. BASP 17 [1980] 17) 
6. 402 Day of Ares Sicily Atti III (1932) Congr. Int. Archeol. Christ. 151 + pl. 21 
7. 409 Lord's Day Gaul IG XIV 2559 
8. 409 Day of Selene Sicily IG XIV 444 
9. 441 Preparation Day Gaul IG XIV 2492 
10. 444 Fourth Day Italy IG XIV 2293 
11. 479 Day of Kronos Egypt Neugebauer, van Hoesen, Gr. Horosc. nr. L 479 
12. 486 Day of Selene Egypt Neugebauer, van Hoesen, Gr. Horosc, nr. L 486 
13. 487 Day of Kronos Egypt Neugebauer, van Hoesen, Gr. Horosc, nr. L 487 
14. 531 Fourth Day Greece L. Heuzey, Miss. Arch. Macèd., Paris 1876, 177 
15. 535 Fourth Day Greece RIChrM 135 = SEG XXIX 644 
16. 551 Sixth Day Asia Minor RecIGChrAsMin. 25 = Ch. Roueché, Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity 208f., nr. 164 
17. 557 Seventh Day Moesia SGLIBulg 97 
18. 558 Sixth Day Syria IGLSyr 4 1681 
19. 573 Seventh Day Asia Minor IK Apameia (Bith.) u. Pylai 59 
20. 576 Lord's Day Palestine I.Negev 19 
21. 581 Lord's Day Palestine I.Negev 18 = A. Alt, GIPT 149 
22. 588 Sixth Day Palestine A. Alt, GIPT 25 = Greco-Arabica 3 (Athens 1984) 179 nr. 5 = DACL V 1, 368 + fn. 7 
23. 609 Fourth Day Phoenicia I.Tyr. I 200 
24. 662 Second Day Palestine SEG 30:1687 
25. 693 First Day Greece A. K. Orlandos, L. Vranoussis, Charagmata Parthenon 34 (Athens) 
i.

Table adapted from Worp (1991): 222–23.

This sample is limited, and a few Greek documents from centuries later than the fifth may still have made use of planetary weekdays.20 However, Worp reminds us that such documents are rare, and, because they cannot be dated precisely, they do not form a part of this collection.21 In any case, the pattern above complements that which emerges from the literary sources, so the near-complete replacement of the planetary week with the Judeo-Christian in Greek over the course of the fourth and fifth centuries is highly likely.

The planetary week also failed to appear at all in those languages of the eastern Mediterranean that were most heavily influenced both by Greek and by Christianity during the Roman period. Coptic, which attained its literary form in the third and fourth centuries C.E. and owed its alphabet and much of its vocabulary to Greek, maintained a uniquely Christian set of weekday names and used no planetary names.22 Neither did the planetary week appear in Syriac, which took its weekday names from Hebrew and substituted the Christian yawmeh dmāryāʾ, the Day of the Lord, for the first day of the week.23 Likewise Armenian, which obtained an alphabet in the early fifth century, borrowed its Christian weekday names from Syriac and Greek.24 Finally, the planetary weekdays—and even the planetary hours—were the subjects of learned rabbinic speculation in the Talmud, but the rabbis and other Aramaic speakers continued to use numbered weekday names derived from Hebrew.25 The lack of planetary weekday names in the non-Greek languages of the eastern Mediterranean further indicates that the planetary week was falling out of mainstream usage in the eastern Mediterranean during the fourth and fifth centuries.

GREEK CHRISTIAN LITERARY RESPONSES TO THE PLANETARY WEEK

Greek Christian authors who interacted with the planetary week augment our understanding of the shift in usage evident in the documentary sources. Justin Martyr, who composed his First Apology in the 150s, was the first Christian to use the planetary weekdays in writing. He mentioned the Days of Kronos and Helios in order to describe weekly Christian rituals because the Judeo-Christian weekdays would have been unintelligible to his non-Christian audience.26 Justin did not criticize the use of planetary weekday names or the deities they referenced, though the tentativeness of his language indicates that he and his community did not use the planetary weekday names regularly. For example, he wrote “the day called the Day of Helios” instead of simply stating the name.27 He also omitted the Day of Aphrodite, using instead the circumlocution “the day before Kronos' Day.”28 

Justin even forged positive connections between the Day of Helios and Christian practice: Christians worshipped on the Day of Helios because it was the first day of God's creation, Christ rose from the dead on it, and he taught his disciples the substance of the Christian faith, all on that same day.29 While Justin did not make a direct connection between the Day of Helios and God's creation of light in this passage, later Christian authors would do so.

Two generations after Justin, at the end of the second century, Clement of Alexandria discussed the planetary weekdays in direct relation to Christian faith and practice. In his Stromata, Clement called it an enigma that the two standard weekly Christian fast days, the Fourth Day and the Preparation Day, also took their names from the pagan gods Hermes and Aphrodite, respectively.30 He solved this enigma by enjoining dedicated and knowledgeable Christians to fast not only from food on those days, but also to fast “from the love of money and of pleasure, from which all sins grow.”31 Since the love of money and the love of pleasure were the vices especially associated with those two gods, Clement was attempting to turn meditation on planetary weekday names, which providentially called to mind the sins that Christians should avoid, into an exercise to further Christian piety.

Finally, in response to Constantine's law of 321, which made the Day of Sol an empire-wide holiday, Eusebius of Caesarea wrote effusive praise of legislation that, in his mind at least, encouraged worship of the true God on the Christian Lord's Day. One has to read the text of his Life of Constantine, likely written near the end of Constantine's life in the mid-330s, carefully to detect Eusebius' acknowledgment that Constantine did not make the Lord's Day a weekly holiday but instead sanctified the Day of Sol—translated as the Day of Helios—even though Sol was the only name that Constantine himself used in his legislation.32 It is unlikely that Eusebius was attempting to misrepresent Constantine's language, however, because for Eusebius these names were interchangeable. In the same passage, he told his readers that Constantine “decreed that the truly appointed and First Day, the Lord's and Savior's Day, should be considered a regular day of prayer,”33 and that Constantine “taught all the military to honor zealously the Savior's Day, which is also called the Day of Light and the Day of Helios.”34 Eusebius' multiplication of the names for the first day of the week from Lord's Day and Day of Helios to include Savior's Day and Day of Light is unique to this piece of writing, and it indicates his desire to appropriate all of the symbolism associated with that day, both Christian and planetary, for the praise of the Christian God.35 

Though Greek authors continued to oppose what they interpreted as anti-Christian “Hellenism” in the later fourth and fifth centuries, the Greek Christian literary conversation about the planetary weekdays ceased after the death of Eusebius. John Chrysostom, for example, exhorted his congregation in late fourth-century Antioch to eschew many of the same practices that his Latin contemporaries opposed, including the observance of special days. While it is certainly possible that these special days included planetary weekdays, John did not mention them by name.36 Then, by the 440s, when the historian Sozomen reworked Eusebius' discussion of Constantine's laws of 321 in his own church history, he edited out the Day of Sol/Helios completely. According to Sozomen, Constantine legislated Christian observance of the Lord's Day.37 

This cessation parallels that shown in the documentary evidence in Table 3. Following the 330s, no more documents in the fourth and only two more documents in the early fifth century were dated by planetary weekdays. Three documents from the late fifth century did reference planetary weekdays, but all three were horoscopes produced by professionals, who by definition incorporated planetary influences into their art.38 Overall, the popular use of the planetary weekdays in the eastern Mediterranean appears to have declined so sharply over the course of the fourth century that Greek writers after Eusebius no longer found it a worthwhile topic of discussion.

While the conversation lasted, however, Greek Christian authors were conciliatory toward the use of planetary weekday names and even positive in tone. If we choose not to read distaste for the Day of Aphrodite into Justin's omission of that name—and Clement's use of it for Christian purposes only a few decades later makes such a reading unlikely—there is no direct evidence that Greek Christian authors felt anxiety about their congregants' use of the planetary days or that such usage was interpreted by them as pagan resistance to Christianity. Rather than writing from a place of religious insecurity, they wrote with the confidence that the planetary week was not a threat to their faith. Instead, on those rare occasions when they concerned themselves with it at all, they thought of the planetary week as a tool to translate their faith culturally.

DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE FOR THE PARTIAL REPLACEMENT OF THE PLANETARY WEEK IN LATIN

The precisely dated Latin weekday documents collected in Table 4 yield a far different picture of the interaction of the two weeks from that of their Greek counterparts in Table 3.

TABLE 4.

Dated Latin Weekday Documentsi

Bold = Planetary Weekdays

Italic = Sabbaths and Lord's Days

NumberYearWeekdayLocationReference
1. 202 Day of Saturn Rome HD005436 
2. 205 Day of Jove Dacia HD038246 
3. 269 Day of Venus Rome ILCV 3391 
4. 338 Day of Mercury Rome ILCV 1539 
5. 340 Day of Venus Rome ILCV 4399 
6. 350 Day of Saturn Rome ILCV 3650 
7. 364 Day of Saturn Rome ILCV 4377 
8. 368 Day of Mars Rome ILCV 4393A 
9. 368 Day of Saturn Rome ILCV 3650 
10. 373 Day of Luna Rome ILCV 4392 
11. 378 Day of Jove Rome ILCV 4378 
12. 382 Day of Venus Italy ILCV 4214 
13. 383 Day of Venus Sicily AE 1984, 439 
14. 385 Day of Luna Rome ILCV 4460 
15. 387 Day of Venus Rome ILCV 4987 
16. 388 Day of Jove Italy ILCV 4389b 
17. 391 Day of Venus Rome ILCV 4380 
18. 393 Day of Luna Italy ILCV 582 
19. 395 Day of Saturn Rome ILCV 2146a 
20. 395 Day of Luna Rome ILCV 2146b 
21. 397 Day of Mercury Rome ILCV 2777 
22. 397 Day of Venus Rome ILCV 4400A 
23. 399 Day of Mercury Rome ILCV 4394 
24. 400 Day of Mercury Rome ILCV 4394A 
25. 404 Day of the Lord Rome ILCV 659 adn. 
26. 405 Day of Sol Rome ILCV 4387 
27. 405 Day of Venus Rome ILCV 693 
28. 415 Day of the Lord Rome ILCV 3532 
29. 415 Day of Mercury Italy ILCV 1358 
30. 425 Day of Mercury Rome ILCV 4394B 
31. 449 Sabbath Day Rome ILCV 1706 
32. 452 Day of Jove Rome ILCV 701 
33. 452 Day of the Lord Africa ILCV 2104 
34. 457 Day of Sol Rome ILCV 4388 
35. 457 Day of Jove Rome ILCV 1541 
36. 459 Day of Venus Italy ILCV 4403 
37. 463 Sabbath Day Italy ILCV 4216 
38. 470 Day of Luna Rome ILCV 1927 
39. 480 Day of Mars Mauretania ILCV 4385 
40. 560 Sabbath Day Rome ILCV 1646 
41. 565 Sabbath Day Rome ILCV 1312 
42. 573 Day of the Lord Italy ILCV 261 
43. 586 Day of the Lord Gaul ILCV 1689 
NumberYearWeekdayLocationReference
1. 202 Day of Saturn Rome HD005436 
2. 205 Day of Jove Dacia HD038246 
3. 269 Day of Venus Rome ILCV 3391 
4. 338 Day of Mercury Rome ILCV 1539 
5. 340 Day of Venus Rome ILCV 4399 
6. 350 Day of Saturn Rome ILCV 3650 
7. 364 Day of Saturn Rome ILCV 4377 
8. 368 Day of Mars Rome ILCV 4393A 
9. 368 Day of Saturn Rome ILCV 3650 
10. 373 Day of Luna Rome ILCV 4392 
11. 378 Day of Jove Rome ILCV 4378 
12. 382 Day of Venus Italy ILCV 4214 
13. 383 Day of Venus Sicily AE 1984, 439 
14. 385 Day of Luna Rome ILCV 4460 
15. 387 Day of Venus Rome ILCV 4987 
16. 388 Day of Jove Italy ILCV 4389b 
17. 391 Day of Venus Rome ILCV 4380 
18. 393 Day of Luna Italy ILCV 582 
19. 395 Day of Saturn Rome ILCV 2146a 
20. 395 Day of Luna Rome ILCV 2146b 
21. 397 Day of Mercury Rome ILCV 2777 
22. 397 Day of Venus Rome ILCV 4400A 
23. 399 Day of Mercury Rome ILCV 4394 
24. 400 Day of Mercury Rome ILCV 4394A 
25. 404 Day of the Lord Rome ILCV 659 adn. 
26. 405 Day of Sol Rome ILCV 4387 
27. 405 Day of Venus Rome ILCV 693 
28. 415 Day of the Lord Rome ILCV 3532 
29. 415 Day of Mercury Italy ILCV 1358 
30. 425 Day of Mercury Rome ILCV 4394B 
31. 449 Sabbath Day Rome ILCV 1706 
32. 452 Day of Jove Rome ILCV 701 
33. 452 Day of the Lord Africa ILCV 2104 
34. 457 Day of Sol Rome ILCV 4388 
35. 457 Day of Jove Rome ILCV 1541 
36. 459 Day of Venus Italy ILCV 4403 
37. 463 Sabbath Day Italy ILCV 4216 
38. 470 Day of Luna Rome ILCV 1927 
39. 480 Day of Mars Mauretania ILCV 4385 
40. 560 Sabbath Day Rome ILCV 1646 
41. 565 Sabbath Day Rome ILCV 1312 
42. 573 Day of the Lord Italy ILCV 261 
43. 586 Day of the Lord Gaul ILCV 1689 
i.

Table adapted from Worp (1991): 224–25.

The first Latin Judeo-Christian weekday, a Lord's Day recorded in Rome, did not appear until 404 in this collection, nearly eighty years later than its counterpart in the Greek collection (see Table 3 number 4). This delay indicates that Latin speakers were considerably slower to adopt even portions of the Judeo-Christian week than their Greek-speaking counterparts. Indeed, the only Judeo-Christian weekdays to appear at all in this set of Latin documents were Sabbaths and Lord's Days. These began to replace Days of Saturn and Days of Sol in the early fifth century, but they did not do so completely until 463. All other weekdays in this collection were uniformly planetary, and there were even six Days of Saturn and of Sol (numbers 6, 7, 9, 19, 26, 34) recorded in explicitly Christian inscriptions from the years 350 through 457. While all seven planetary weekdays were replaced with Judeo-Christian ones in Greek documents during the fourth and fifth centuries, only Days of Saturn and of Sol were replaced in Latin documents, but not until well into the fifth century.

LATIN CHRISTIAN LITERARY AND LEGAL RESPONSES TO THE PLANETARY WEEK

Latin Christian authors interacted more extensively with the planetary week than their Greek-speaking counterparts. They also did so for a much longer period, throughout late antiquity and beyond, and their attitudes toward it changed over time. Latin Christians through the late fourth century were generally willing to accommodate the planetary week or even regard it positively, like their Greek contemporaries. Tertullian (c.155–c.240), who wrote his Apologeticum and Ad nationes for ostensibly non-Christian audiences near the end of the second century, was the first Latin Christian to write about the planetary week. His reason for doing so was to counter the charge that Christians worshipped Sol on the Day of Sol. He rejected the pagan worship associated with that day without, however, rejecting the use of its planetary name.

In the Apologeticum, Tertullian clarified the Christian position by arguing that, while both Christians and devotees of the planetary week prayed facing east at dawn on the Day of Sol, Christians did so in celebration of Christ's resurrection, a far different reason from Sol worship. Thus the Christian situation was similar to that of those who mixed some aspects of Sabbath observance into their devotions on the Day of Saturn: if members of his audience could adopt weekly customs that derived from Judaism without becoming Jewish, Tertullian reasoned, then Christians could adopt weekly customs that appeared to derive from Sol-worship without becoming practitioners of Roman religion.39 In Ad nationes he made the same points in greater detail, though the text of his description of Roman religious practices on the Days of Saturn and Sol is, sadly, defective.40 However, like Justin in his Apology a few decades earlier, Tertullian used the planetary weekday names in both texts to describe Christian practices because the Judeo-Christian names for those same days were not readily intelligible to contemporary non-Christians. Also like Justin, Tertullian remained neutral regarding the use of those names while making a sharp distinction between Christian and non-Christian practices that took place on the days in question: whether one called it the Lord's Day or the Day of Sol, a Christian worshipped the God of the bible on that day and not the sun god Sol.

While Justin did not discuss the exact nature of the Roman gods in his Apologia, Tertullian provided a general theory of their origin. He explained that the worship of the Roman gods came about through the related processes of euhemerism41 and demonization.42 Euhemerism, named for the Greek mythographer Euhemerus (fl. c.300 B.C.E.), was the process by which honor paid to extraordinary humans during their lifetimes was transformed by degrees after their deaths into the worship of gods.43 Demonization, for Tertullian and several later Latin authors, was the process by which wicked spirits impersonated these deceased humans and encouraged the redirection of that worship toward themselves by occasionally providing supernatural signs of its efficacy. Tertullian did not connect these two processes directly to the names of the planetary weekdays, but later Latin authors would develop both themes and make their connection to the planetary week explicit.

No Latin authors on record from the third century discussed the planetary week, but in the fourth century some still maintained positive attitudes toward that week similar to those we found among Greek speakers. However, such an embrace of the pagan week was extended only to one planetary day: the Day of Sol. Constantine so elevated the status of that day among Christians as well as devotees of Sol when he declared it a weekly holiday in 321 that, a few decades later, even such a stern a moralist as Jerome (c.347–420) found no fault with the Christian use of the name Day of Sol, so long as Christians interpreted that name in a manner consistent with biblical teaching.44 He taught his congregation to do just that in his sermon In die dominica paschae: the Lord's Day could appropriately be called the Day of Sol because on it Christ, who was the light of the world and the Sol of justice, had arisen.45 Jerome was comfortable applying Sol-imagery to Christ since he found it already in the book of Malachi.46 If Christ was the true personality behind the life-giving characteristics of the planet named for the Roman god Sol, then Jerome could use the planetary weekday name as a sign pointing to something still greater.

Maximus of Turin (d. c.423) was the bishop of that northern Italian city for several decades in the late fourth and early fifth centuries, and he wrote about the planetary week perhaps only a few years after Jerome.47 In his own sermon De Pentecosten, Maximus echoed Jerome's sentiments and made the connection between Sol and Christ even more explicit, likening Christ to the “rising Sol dispelling the darkness of hell” and even using the title derived from Malachi, Sol iustitiae, “Sol of righteousness.”48 By using these titles, Maximus granted his approval of the name Day of Sol as an appropriate addition to, though not a replacement for, the Lord's Day.49 

Not all voices in the late fourth century were as positive in regard to the planetary week as those of Jerome and Maximus, however. A nobleman from Gaul named Ausonius opened his Eclogae, a series of poetic meditations on folk wisdom written about 390, with a list of the virtues of the tutelary weekday deities.50 Yet later in the same work he ridiculed the planetary weekday superstitions that directed people to clip their nails on the Day of Mercury, trim their beards on the Day of Jove, and cut their hair on the Day of Venus.51 He refuted each imperative in turn by showing how accomplishing such a chore on his or her day would displease each of those divinities, and in the process he recorded some decidedly non-virtuous divine attributes, such as Mercury's encouragement of thieves to keep their nails long and sharp for cutting.52 By the end of his work, Ausonius made it clear that sophisticated people, whether nominally Christian like himself or not, should not take the planetary gods seriously because the information about them, as exemplified by weekday lore, was contradictory.

Ausonius' northern Italian contemporary, Bishop Philaster of Brescia, was more vehement in his opposition to the planetary week. Philaster capped his long career of arguing against heretics with the publication of his Diversarum hereseon liber, a catalogue and refutation of 156 separate heresies, in about the year 384.53 In it he, perhaps unsurprisingly, went so far as to label the mere use of the planetary weekday names a heresy. Yet the force of Philaster's accusation was undercut in antiquity by his broad view of the concept of heresy and his limited skills as a researcher. It was for those reasons that Augustine, who used Philaster's work as a source for his own book on heresies, declined to copy many of them.54 Philaster complained that the “heresy that says the names of the days [are planetary]” is “empty and worthless” and part of “a most ugly nomenclature” that should be renounced in favor of the numeric designations God gave to the weekdays.55 Interestingly, he omitted both the Sabbath and Lord's Day in his list of true weekday names, referring to them only by their numeric designations as Seventh and First Day. Though the text is defective, it appears that Philaster called the planetary weekday names inventions of the Greeks, involving Hellenistic kings and Hermes Trismegistus, which dated only from the relatively recent past. If so, this would place him at the head of the tradition of those Christians who explained the planetary week euhemeristically.

From the late fourth through the sixth centuries, Latin Christian support for the name Day of Sol as an adjunct to Lord's Day disappeared from the legal and literary records as well as from the documentary. As we have seen, when Constantine first issued legislation concerning a weekday in 321, he mentioned only the Day of Sol.56 Later Christian emperors, such as Valentinian and Valens, followed suit through at least 368, stating that the Day of Sol “has for some time been held fortunate.”57 Then, in 386, the Emperors Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius began to distance themselves from that name. In May of that year they referred to a former law of theirs, which is not extant, forbidding spectacles on the Day of Sol since such games might disturb Christian worship.58 Yet in November of that same year they indicated their preference for the Lord's Day by decreeing that the courts should be closed on “the day of Sol, which our ancestors rightly called the Lord's Day.”59 In 399 Arcadius and Honorius outlawed plays, horse races, and spectacles on the Lord's Day, “to which the name was given out of just reverence for it,” and they did not use the name Day of Sol—though they did make an exception for games that fell on an imperial birthday, even if that happened to be a Lord's Day.60 In 409, the Emperors Honorius and Theodosius II outlawed all spectacles and showed an even stronger preference for the name Lord's Day, stating that the Christian name was the proper one for the first day of the week and that only “the vulgar” called it the Day of Sol.61 

The year 409 also marked the last use of the name Day of Sol in imperial legislation. In 425, when the Emperor Theodosius II again ordered that no games take place on the first day of the week or on other Christian holidays, he used only the name Lord's Day in a law filled with religious language.62 The Day of Sol had legally ceased to exist a century after Constantine had introduced it into Roman law, and contemporary literature followed the same pattern. Gregory of Tours reinforced the idea that, by the time he wrote his Libri historiarum X in about 593, the Day of Sol was an inferior name maintained only by people who did not comprise his intended audience. While narrating a harrowing escape scene, Gregory recorded a Frank referring to the Day of Sol, and commented in his own voice that only “the barbarian” used that name.63 Like the Emperors Honorius and Theodosius II, Gregory made a preferential social distinction between those who used the Christian nomenclature and those who used the planetary.

The dismissal of the use of planetary weekday names as characteristic of less sophisticated, or less Christian, people was accompanied by more sustained historical and theological opposition. The first author to make the connection between euhemerism and the planetary week explicit was Augustine of Hippo (354–430).64 He, like Tertullian, provided a relatively positive account of the human origins of the planetary gods in his Ennarationes in Psalmos 93, likely written somewhere between 392 and 417. In it, he wrote that ordinary humans who performed extraordinary services to their fellows in the past were awarded divine honors by their contemporaries. In later generations, those who were “deceived and wishing to deceive” associated those famous people with specific planets to create the planetary week.65 Augustine argued that the Judeo-Christian week was superior to the planetary because, stemming from the creation of the world by God himself, it was free from such human deception. He wished that all Christians would use the Judeo-Christian names but knew that many in his congregation did not.

In his treatise against the Manichean teacher Faustus, written at the end of the fourth century, Augustine argued, like Tertullian, that the use of a god's name to mark a unit of time did not necessarily entail worship of that god. Neither Christians nor Manicheans worshipped Mars during the month of March, for example, so why should Faustus say that Sabbath rest on the day sometimes called the Day of Saturn constituted worship of Saturn?66 His correction of his congregants was therefore much milder than Philaster's condemnation of heresy or later pastors' warnings of hellfire. Augustine merely admonished the Christian user of planetary weekday names to remember their humane origins and reject the divine status of the planetary personalities.67 

For Augustine, Christian use of the planetary weekdays was a minor fault. Isidore of Seville (c.560–636), the great encyclopedist of ancient knowledge in early seventh-century Spain, followed him in this opinion.68 In fact, Isidore likely used Augustine as one of his sources on this point, since he made the same distinction between speaking the planetary weekday names by force of habit and worshipping the pagan deities that stood behind them.69 Like Augustine also, Isidore highlighted the gifts that made the people who stood behind this week famous in their time rather than the great cruelties that made them infamous. However, neither Augustine nor Isidore reported his congregants engaging in any planetary weekday activities. A planetary week that regularized non-Christian practices presented a much more serious problem than a mere lapse of memory, and such practices brought forth the most forceful condemnations of the planetary week by Christians in any period.

Caesarius of Arles (c.470–542) was an influential bishop in early sixth century Gaul.70 He left behind over 250 sermons that were adapted to the language and practices of his mixed urban and rural post-Roman congregation, and he devoted portions of several of those sermons to explaining why Christians should not use planetary weekday names. He was not just concerned, like Augustine and Isidore, that the force of habit would cause good Christians to continue to use the planetary weekday names when there were more pious alternatives available. The reason for his opposition to the planetary week was clear: members of his congregation were allowing the planetary gods to shape their weekly activities. In particular, they were using the planetary week to determine the days on which they would travel and those on which they would rest from work. According to Caesarius, some members of his congregation used the planetary week to choose the days on which to begin and end long journeys, and he was afraid that even some of those under holy orders had adopted this custom.71 He also lamented that members of his flock were refusing to work on the Fifth Feria, and he singled out women in the city of Arles who were refusing to spin or weave on that day in honor of Jupiter.72 Since they were transferring their Lord's Day rest to the Day of Jupiter out of reverence for the king of the gods, the true God might well judge them to be pagans.73 This was all the more disturbing to Caesarius because the people who gave their names to the planets were not benefactors of humanity, as Augustine and Isidore indicated, but evildoers who were no better than the demons that accepted the worship directed to them after their deaths.74 In this way Caesarius brought together Tertullian's twin concepts of euhemerism and demonization to apply them directly and with force to the planetary week. Arranging one's life according to the planetary week, even in minor ways, was idolatry, and it both violated Christian baptism and insulted the sacraments of Christ.75 The consequence of obdurate reliance on the planetary gods was nothing less than damnation.76 

Caesarius' solution was not just for individual Christians to discard the planetary names in favor of the ecclesiastical ones, but for them to actively oppose the continued use of the planetary names in their community. They were to begin by warning their family and friends about the planetary weekday names. Then, they were to socially ostracize those who would not change their ways. Finally, they should whip those who still refused to obey. They should do this according to the logic that such contumacious sinners might fear for their bodies even if they were careless of their souls.77 

Caesarius' sermons were copied and circulated widely in Gaul and the surrounding regions, and they remained influential for generations following his death.78 They also directly influenced another opponent of the planetary week to the west.79 Bishop Martin of Braga (c.520–580), a city in what is today northwestern Portugal, offered the most sustained critique of the planetary week in late antiquity. Following the Second Council of Braga in 572, Martin was approached by a colleague for advice on ridding his congregation of non-Christian practices. Martin's response was a sermon in the form of a letter entitled De correctione rusticorum.80 This sermon contains a wealth of information on social practices that Martin considered to be in conflict with the Christian faith. It is organized around Martin's idea of the proper measurement of time, which he traces forward from the week of creation in Genesis. For this reason, conflict between the planetary and Judeo-Christian weeks became central to his attempt to correct the ostensibly pagan practices of the Christian Sueves of western Hispania.

For Martin, as for Caesarius, it was the practices associated with the planetary weekdays that provoked the most vigorous response. According to his sermon, the planetary gods began life not as admirable human beings but as despicable criminals guilty of the worst crimes classical mythology had attributed to them: they were thieves, prostitutes, murderers, and violators of their own families.81 Naturally, the influence of such people should have no place in the lives of Martin's fellow Christians. The situation was all the more serious because, as terrible as those humans were, their places had long since been usurped by demons, who were much worse.82 It was under demonic influence, then, that his congregants celebrated weddings on the Day of Venus and refrained from work on the Day of Jove. In maintaining these customs they were allowing demons a measure of control over their daily lives.83 

Yet this vehemence did not survive the sixth century. In early eighth-century England, Bede maintained the current of opposition to the planetary week in his book De temporum ratione.84 However, his measured critique was more in line with those of Augustine and Isidore than with the forceful opposition of Caesarius and Martin. In keeping with the pattern we have observed so far, this is likely because he recorded no non-Christian practices associated with the planetary weekdays among the English. Bede followed earlier Latin writers in tracing the true origin of the week to the biblical creation account, but he also provided a fuller description of the origin of the planetary week than any author since Cassius Dio. In doing so he omitted the now-standard euhemerist argument, however, and developed a theme that first appeared in Isidore's Etymologiae. Isidore recorded that the “gentiles” believed “they were affected by these stars [of the week] in some matters.”85 That idea was in accordance with the ancient astrological thought of Vettius Valens and Cassius Dio regarding the week, but the nature of the influence asserted by Isidore was quite different. He wrote, “[they believed] that they received their spirit from Sol, their body from Luna, their intelligence and language from Mercury, their pleasure from Venus, their blood from Mars, their self-control from Jove, and their humors from Saturn.”86 This went well beyond planetary influence as it was understood by classical astrologers and approached the full constitution of the human person. Bede recorded a similar list of attributes provided by the planetary gods and placed it within a discussion of the two weeks, a discussion which he structured as two parallel creation accounts.87 Even though the gentiles had received the true seven-day cycle from the Jews first, they later turned away from their creator and dedicated each day of his week to one of their gods.

Bede was also the first author since Cassius Dio to note the divergence of the planetary weekday order from the order of descending orbital periods, but he knew nothing of the planetary hours described by Dio and the ancient astrologers. Instead Bede offered an explanation for the order of the planetary weekdays based on the sizes of Sol and Luna and the positions of the other planets relative to them.88 He adduced support for his theory, which appears to be his own invention, from a labored interpretation of Eccles 1.6, and in this way he made the planetary week dependent on the Judeo-Christian for both its length and its order. According to Bede, the origin of the planetary week could not be properly understood except in reference to the Judeo-Christian and as an act of theological rebellion.

Bede also recorded his opinion concerning the origin of feriae, the uniquely Latin ecclesiastical word that had replaced “days” in the names of the numbered weekdays. While Isidore provided a fanciful etymology for feriae that related the names of the days to the act of speaking,89 Bede correctly recognized the classical meaning of feria as a holiday free from business. According to him it was Sylvester (r. 314–335), the pope contemporary with Constantine who was in later years made responsible for the establishment of so many traditions, who instituted the Second through the Sixth Feria on his own authority in the early fourth century.90 This attribution is unlikely since the late fourth-century authors Philaster and Ausonius still referred to the Judeo-Christian days numbered two through six as “dies.”91 However, Augustine took feriae for granted as proper nomenclature in the early fifth century, so the changeover seems to have occurred around the end of the fourth century without fanfare.92 The Eastern Church, by contrast, continued to use the word hēmera, the Greek equivalent of dies, to designate the middle five days of its week. Perhaps the Latin ecclesiastical week derived originally from the names of the days of Holy Week, which were all feriae in the classical sense, and those names were gradually generalized to cover all the weeks of the year.93 The two ecclesiastical weeks are shown in Table 5.

TABLE 5.

The Latin and Greek Ecclesiastical Weeks

Latin Ecclesiastical WeekGreek Ecclesiastical Week
Dominica Κυριακή 
Secunda Feria Ήμέρα Δευτέρα 
Tertia Feria Ήμέρα Τρίτη 
Quarta Feria Ήμέρα Τετάρτη 
Quinta Feria Ήμέρα Πέμπτη 
Sexta Feria Παρασκευή 
Sabbatum Σάββατο 
Latin Ecclesiastical WeekGreek Ecclesiastical Week
Dominica Κυριακή 
Secunda Feria Ήμέρα Δευτέρα 
Tertia Feria Ήμέρα Τρίτη 
Quarta Feria Ήμέρα Τετάρτη 
Quinta Feria Ήμέρα Πέμπτη 
Sexta Feria Παρασκευή 
Sabbatum Σάββατο 

By adding his unique understanding of its origins to the conversation, Bede completed a unified Christian history of the week. This history allowed him to dismiss the persistent planetary weekday names as recent deviations from a much older norm. His vision was as follows: God instituted the true week at creation, the Jews gave the days their correct names, the early Christians appropriately replaced one of those names with the Lord's Day, and Pope Sylvester completed the ecclesiastical nomenclature by designating the majority of the weekdays as feriae.94 In Bede's view, which dominated medieval Christian thinking on the subject, the planetary names were merely an afterthought of idolaters who could only pervert the true week with their “foolishness” and “false reasoning.” This narrative was quite successful in succeeding centuries, even if the campaign to implement the entire Latin ecclesiastical week generally was not.

PLANETARY WEEKDAY PRACTICES IN THE LATIN WEST

This survey of the Latin documents and legal and literary sources shows us that some Latin Christian leaders expended considerable energy opposing the planetary week. However, their success in doing so was usually confined to replacing the Day of Saturn with the Sabbath and the Day of Sol with the Lord's Day, though they were also able to rewrite the history of the planetary week. Since the Sabbath had such historical and theological significance for Christians, and the Lord's Day had increasing influence over the rhythm of their lives, it was natural for those two names to take hold in Christian communities, whether they spoke Greek or Latin. It follows that regular weekly practices are important for understanding not only the eventual acceptance of those two Judeo-Christian days but also the persistence of five remaining planetary days in most Latin-speaking societies.

When examined for references to what actually took place on the days of the planetary week, the sources reveal striking patterns. First, there is almost no mention of planetary weekday activities in the Greek sources. It is possible that the Day of Zeus/Jupiter was adopted as a weekly holiday in some parts of Egypt in the third century.95 However, the earliest evidence we have of Constantine's edict concerning the Day of Sol taking effect is an Egyptian papyrus. In that document, dated only four years after the edict was issued, a court case was rescheduled due to the approaching weekly holiday—the Lord's Day rather than the Day of Zeus/Jupiter.96 While the Day of Zeus/Jupiter may have been institutionalized as a holiday in a Greek-speaking area prior to the legalization of Christianity, it apparently had a light hold there and disappeared quickly. Second, the astrological system of hourly influences is almost completely absent from the Latin sources. As the centuries went by, attempts by Latin authors to account for the origin of the planetary week diverged further and further from the explanation provided by Vettius Valens and Cassius Dio, culminating in Bede's reconstruction of the planetary week as derived from the Judeo-Christian rather than as a separate institution. Third, Latin opposition to the planetary week was recurrent and came from all major regions of the west. The most forceful opponents of the planetary week, Caesarius of Arles and Martin of Braga, were also those whose congregations engaged in the most habitual planetary weekday practices. These practices are summarized in Table 6.

TABLE 6.

Planetary Weekday Activities Recorded among Latin Speakers

Day of Sol Pray to Sol at Sunrise (Tertullian, Augustine); Observe the Day of Sol as a Holiday and Day of Rest (Constantine and Later Emperors) 
Day of Luna  
Day of Mars  
Day of Mercury Clip Fingernails (Ausonius) 
Day of Jove Trim Beard (Ausonius); Refuse to Weave or Spin (Caesarius of Arles); Refrain from Work Generally (Caesarius of Arles, Martin of Braga) 
Day of Venus Cut Hair (Ausonius); Perform Marriages (Martin of Braga) 
Day of Saturn Refrain from Travel (Tibullus); Feast and Refrain from Work (Tertullian) 
The Week Honor the Planet of the Day at the Beginning of a Journey (Caesarius of Arles); Honor the Gods of the Planetary Days Generally (Martin of Braga) 
Day of Sol Pray to Sol at Sunrise (Tertullian, Augustine); Observe the Day of Sol as a Holiday and Day of Rest (Constantine and Later Emperors) 
Day of Luna  
Day of Mars  
Day of Mercury Clip Fingernails (Ausonius) 
Day of Jove Trim Beard (Ausonius); Refuse to Weave or Spin (Caesarius of Arles); Refrain from Work Generally (Caesarius of Arles, Martin of Braga) 
Day of Venus Cut Hair (Ausonius); Perform Marriages (Martin of Braga) 
Day of Saturn Refrain from Travel (Tibullus); Feast and Refrain from Work (Tertullian) 
The Week Honor the Planet of the Day at the Beginning of a Journey (Caesarius of Arles); Honor the Gods of the Planetary Days Generally (Martin of Braga) 

It is important to note that this list of practices, which spans seven centuries and half a continent, does not outline a coherent regimen of activities for each day of the planetary week, let alone a single social rhythm for that week as a whole. These activities likely changed over time and space, with some more widely practiced and taken more seriously than others. This list does, however, demonstrate that people in many parts of the Latin west, over the course of several centuries of Christianization, continued to pattern some aspects of their daily lives according to their varied interpretations of the planetary week. These activities were what Latin Christian leaders found most objectionable about the planetary week because they formed a subset of practices held over from the pre-Christian period—practices that those leaders considered incompatible with Christian spirituality. Some of them, like Caesarius and Martin, even considered those practices threats to salvation.

COMPARING EAST AND WEST

In the Greek east, the planetary week faded from popular use at the same time that the region was becoming majority Christian, and most people appear to have transitioned easily to the Judeo-Christian week. Demographic trends there likely facilitated this transition. Jewish communities with their weekly Sabbath observances were larger and more numerous in the eastern Mediterranean than in the western, and they laid the groundwork for acceptance of the seven-day cycle even before the planetary week was introduced by the astrologers. Likewise Christian communities grew faster in that region than in the west, and they adopted the Jewish week into their language naturally from their regular use of the Septuagint and Greek New Testament. Perhaps because the Judeo-Christian week was already widely accepted by the fourth century in Greek-speaking regions and it was becoming more widely accepted every year following the legalization of Christianity, Greek Christian leaders did not feel threatened by the planetary week and even used it as a bridge to communicate Christian values to a population in the process of embracing that faith.

In the Latin west, by contrast, there were far fewer Jews present to normalize the Jewish week, and the planetary week did not fade easily as the population slowly embraced Christianity. Also, as Augustine reminded his readers, the deities of the Roman calendar overlapped with those of the planetary week. This meant, for example, that Mars patronized both a month and a weekday and Saturn both the festival of the Saturnalia and his weekday.97 The connection between week and calendar was attenuated for Greek-speaking communities because they used several different calendars. For example, the Latin documentary sources in Table 4 are uniformly coordinated with the Roman calendar, while the Greek documents in Table 3 are almost evenly divided among the Macedonian, Egyptian, and Roman calendars. While Augustine averred that neither Christians nor Manicheans worshipped Mars during his month, Caesarius and Martin opposed a variety of celebrations tied to the Roman calendar and lamented that the stark contrast between “pagan time” and “Christian time” was much less clear to Latin Christians who were not trained in the scriptures as they were.98 These are likely the major reasons why the planetary week maintained influence over the daily lives of Latin speakers to the degree that generation after generation of Christian leaders felt compelled to denounce that week in harsh terms.

Despite those centuries of opposition throughout the west, however, only Martin's campaign to completely replace the planetary with the Latin ecclesiastical week was successful. The epitaph of a Suevian woman named Remisuera, dated 1 May, 618, just a few decades after Martin's death, was found in his home city of Braga.99 This date was recorded as the Second Feria rather than the Day of Luna, a first for the region.100 Perhaps because Martin provided a popularly intelligible program for the replacement of pagan time with Christian time and copies of his sermon continued to circulate in the area, the weekday names in Old Portuguese, which were planetary in the same ratio of five to two as those in other romance languages, gave way to the Judeo-Christian week of Modern Portuguese over the course of the next few centuries.101 Portuguese is the only Romance language that derives its weekday names directly from the Latin ecclesiastical week, as shown in Table 7.

TABLE 7.

Evolution of the Portuguese Week

Latin Ecclesiastical WeekOld PortugueseModern Portuguese
Dominica Domingo Domingo 
Secunda Feria Lues Segunda-feira 
Tertia Feria Martes Terça-feira 
Quarta Feria Mércores Quarta-feira 
Quinta Feria Joves Quinta-feira 
Sexta Feria Vernes Sexta-feira 
Sabbatum Sábado Sábado 
Latin Ecclesiastical WeekOld PortugueseModern Portuguese
Dominica Domingo Domingo 
Secunda Feria Lues Segunda-feira 
Tertia Feria Martes Terça-feira 
Quarta Feria Mércores Quarta-feira 
Quinta Feria Joves Quinta-feira 
Sexta Feria Vernes Sexta-feira 
Sabbatum Sábado Sábado 

GLOBALIZING THE SEVEN-DAY CYCLE

From here we will leave the confines of the post-Roman world to trace, in broad outlines, the pre-modern globalization of the week. While Latin Christians of Late Antiquity for the most part retained the planetary week, and Greek speakers chose the Judeo-Christian, both cycles continued to spread far beyond the Mediterranean world. Despite the symbolic differences between the two weeks, these cycles united the societies that embraced them in the continuous seven-day rhythm that shapes the temporal world to this day. The week in either of its two forms, or in some combination of them, had the power to unify time keeping among the myriad of local calendars in use across late ancient Afro-Eurasia. The fact that the week spread rapidly during the same centuries when all parts of the eastern hemisphere were becoming more interconnected than ever before is not likely to be a coincidence. Indeed, the popularity of the seven-day rhythm was so great that, well before the end of the Middle Ages, much of Africa, Europe, and Asia had adopted and adapted one or the other of its two versions, and these regions appear to have done so without the conflict recorded in Latin sources.102 

At the end of antiquity, the Judeo-Christian week continued to hold sway among Syriac speakers in Southwest Asia, and that week spread along with the Christian communities of the Church of the East into Central Asia prior to the year 1000.103 More importantly for western Asia as a whole, a numeric seven-day cycle was also adopted by Arabic-speaking Muslims from the seventh century forward. As the greatest proponents of a Semitic language in history, Muslims soon extended the use of Arabic and the Islamic calendar, including its seven-day week adapted from the Judeo-Christian cycle, from the Indus to the Atlantic.104 Likewise Greek-speaking missionaries from the Byzantine Empire brought the Judeo-Christian week, along with Christianity and writing, to the peoples of Eastern Europe in the central Middle Ages.105 Finally, this version of the seven-day week arrived in medieval sub-Saharan Africa. The week in various dialects of Ethiopic is a mixture of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic elements.106 Local elements, such as place names and the names of weekly market days also played a part in its formation, but references to astrology were notably absent.107 

The planetary week, however, spread even further than the Judeo-Christian. Germanic peoples adopted the planetary week from the Romans, perhaps as early as the first century C.E., and they named their days for a combination of Latin planetary divinities and the Germanic divinities whom they considered to be rough equivalents to their Latin counterparts.108 Efforts by medieval clergy to Christianize the Germanic names for the weekdays were even less successful than those of their counterparts in Latinate countries.109 For example, modern German has only one Judeo-Christian weekday (Samstag = Sabbath Day), and, throughout its history, the English language has retained planetary names for all seven days of the week.110 

The planetary week spread even further east, however, despite the entrenchment of the Judeo-Christian week in the lands immediately to the east of the Mediterranean. Planetary deities had been worshipped in India since Vedic times, though they were not associated with temporal cycles.111 Then, when Hellenistic culture traveled beyond the scope of Semitic language influence and into northwestern India following the campaigns of Alexander the Great in the fourth century B.C.E., this began to change. However, Hellenistic astrology did not have a significant influence on India as a whole until the Guptas conquered the partially Hellenized successor states of Alexander's empire in the fourth century C.E. At that time many Greek astrological texts were translated into Sanskrit, and direct trade between India and Rome also revived following crises of the Roman Empire in the third century. In that century the Indian planetary deities began to take on characteristics of their Greek counterparts, and, more importantly, they were arranged in the unique weekday order derived from the planetary hours, despite the fact that Indians did not use a twenty-four-hour system. The first Indian inscription to mention a weekday was written in the late fifth century: it was found in central India and dated to the “day of Suraguru.” Suraguru was one name for the ancient Indian divinity corresponding to Zeus and the planet Jupiter, and this weekday name is part of a dating formula that translates to Thursday, 21 June, 484 CE.112 Therefore, at the same time the planetary week had nearly disappeared from the language of Greek speakers around the Mediterranean, it was gaining new adherents on the Indian subcontinent. It was not until the ninth century, however, that inscriptions dated to weekdays became common in India. Even so, the seven-day week never supplanted the traditional Indian lunar cycle as it did the Roman, and the two cycles continued to exist side by side.

The planetary week reached not only India in antiquity, but China as well, where it received yet another cultural transformation.113 In China the seven planets of ancient western astrology had their equivalents in the “seven luminaries” or “seven stars” of heaven. Moreover, each of the five luminaries, apart from the sun and the moon, was associated in Chinese thought with one of the five elements of the universe. Those elements and their corresponding planets were traditionally arranged in the order of Jupiter = Wood, Mars = Fire, Saturn = Earth, Venus = Gold/Metal, and Mercury = Water. The rearrangement of those luminaries into the weekday order indicates the presence of the planetary week, an arrangement which first appeared in the writings of the Confucian scholar Fan Ning (339–401 CE). Fully developed calendars employing the week, however, are not attested in China until the eighth century, and they appear to have developed gradually from the translation of Buddhist texts from India and Manichean texts travelling east along the Silk Road.114 From the eighth century forward, the planetary week spread from India and China, often through the translation of Buddhist astronomical texts, to the rest of Central, Southeast, and East Asia.

CONCLUSION

Over the course of the Middle Ages, the seven-day week was adopted by ever more cultures and languages until it became the first global (or at least hemispheric) timekeeping institution. Merchants, ambassadors, and missionaries from Spain to China and from Ethiopia to Norway who wished to coordinate meeting times in a foreign land could now do so after memorizing only seven weekday names instead of an entire, often idiosyncratic, calendar. The globalization of the seven-day cycle is thus at once evidence of the manifold interconnections of the world of Late Antiquity and a development that stimulated the even greater cross-cultural exchanges of the medieval period. However, the choice of the Judeo-Christian week over the planetary involved substantial conflict only among speakers of Latin. This analysis of literary sources for the reception of the week has shown that the use of the planetary weekday names only gave rise to religious practices perceived as contrary to monotheistic faith in a Latin-language context. Yet, while the process of Christianizing the names of the weekdays stalled after the sixth century in all Romance languages apart from Portuguese, the establishment of the weekly Lord's Day as the primary temporal marker in medieval Europe, accompanied by the gradual waning of “pagan” weekday practices, completed the Christianization of the planetary week almost as effectively as the Greek adoption of the numeric cycle.

APPENDIX A: GREEK LITERARY SOURCES

  • 1)

    Justin Martyr, Apologia maior 67.3, 8. Iustini Martyris Apologiae pro Christianis, ed. Miroslav Marcovich (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 1994), 129–130. [c.155–157 C.E.]

3. Καὶ τῇ τοῦ Ἡλίου λεγομένῃ ἡμέρᾳ πάντων <τῶν> κατὰ πόλεις ἢ ἀγροὺς μενόντων ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ συνέλευσις γίνεται, καὶ τὰ Ἀπομνημονεύματα τῶν ἀποστόλων ἢ τὰ συγγράμματα τῶν προφητῶν ἀναγινώσκεται, μέχρις ἐγχωρεῖ…

8. Τὴν δὲ τοῦ Ἡλίου ἡμέραν κοινῇ πάντες τὴν συνέλευσιν ποιούμεθα, ἐπειδὴ πρώτη ἐστὶν ἡμέρα, ἐν ᾗ ὁ θεὸς τὸ σκότος καὶ τὴν ὕλην τρέψας κὸσμον ἐποίησε, καὶ Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς ὁ ἡμέτερος σωτὴρ τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀνέστη· τῇ γὰρ πρὸ τῆς Κρονικῆς ἐστάυρωσαν αὑτόν, καὶ τῇ μετὰ τὴν Κρονικήν, ἥτις ἐστὶν Ἡλίου ἡμέρα, φανεὶς τοῖς ἀποστόλοις αὐτοῦ καὶ μαθηταῖς ἐδίδαξε ταῦτα, ἅπερ εἰς ἐπίσκεψιν καὶ ὑμῖν ἀνεδώκαμεν.

3. And on the day called the Day of Helios, all those living in the cities or the countryside come together in one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time allows…

8. But the Day of Helios is the day on which we all hold our common meeting, because it is the first day, the day on which God, having changed darkness and matter, made the world, and Jesus Christ our savior rose from the dead on that same day. For they crucified him on the day before Kronos' Day, and on the day after Kronos' Day, which is the Day of Helios, having appeared to his apostles, he also taught them these things which we have submitted to you for your consideration.

  • 2)

    Vettius Valens, Anthologiae 1.10. Vettii Valentis Antiocheni Anthologiarum libri novem, ed. David Edwin Pingree (Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1986), 25. [c.160 C.E.]

Περὶ δὲ τῆς ἑβδομάδος [καὶ σαββατικῆς ἡμέρας] οὔτως. τὰ ἀπὸ Αὐγούστου ἔτη πλήρη καὶ τὰς ἐμβολίμους ἀναλαβών, πρόσθες καὶ τὰς ἀπὸ Θὼθ ἕως τῆς γενεθλιακῆς ἡμέρας, καὶ ἐκ τούτων ἀφαίρει ὁσάκις δὐνῃ ἑπτά, τὰς δὲ λοιπὰς ἀπὸ Ἡλίου· εἰς οἷον δ' ἂν καταλήξῃ ἀστέρα, ἐκείνου ἔσται ἡ ἡμέρα. ἡ δὲ τάξις τῶν ἀστέρων πρὸς τὰς ἡμέρας οὕτως ἔχει· Ἥλιος, Σελήνη, Ἄρης, Ἕρμῆς, Ζεύς, Ἀφροδίτη, Κρόνος. ἡ δὲ τῶν ζωνῶν διάθεσις οὔτως· Κρόνος, Ζεύς, Ἄρης, Ἣλιος, Ἀφροδίτη, Ἑρμῆς, Σελήνη. ἐκ ταύτης δὲ τῆς διαθέσεως αἱ ὧραι σημαίνονται, ἐκ δὲ τῶν ὡρῶν ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ ἑξῆς ἀστέρος.

For the week [and the sabbatical day] do as follows: take the full years for the Augustan era and the leap years, add to that the sum of the days from Thoth 1 to the birth date, subtract as many sevens as possible, count the result off from the Day of Helios, and the day will belong to the star at which the count stops. Now the order of the stars with respect to the days is Helios, Selene, Ares, Hermes, Zeus, Aphrodite, and Kronos, but the order of the spheres is Kronos, Zeus, Ares, Helios, Aphrodite, Hermes, and Selene. It is from the latter order that the hours are named, and from the hours, the day of the next star.

  • 3)

    Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 7.12. Clemens Alexandrinus. Dritter Band. Stromata VII und VIII, ed. Otto Stälin (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichsche Buchhandlung, 1909), 54. [c.182–202 C.E.]

οἶδεν αὐτὸς καὶ τῆς νηστείας τὰ αἰνίγματα τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων, τῆς τετράδος καὶ τῆς παρασκευῆς λέγω. ἐπιφημίζονται γὰρ ἣ μὲν Ἑρμοῦ, ἣ δὲ Ἀφροδίτης. αὐτίκα νηστεύει κατὰ τὸν βίον φιλαργυρίας τε ὁμοῦ καὶ φιληδονίας, ἐξ ὧν αἱ πᾶσαι ἐκφύονται κακίαι· πορνείας γὰρ ἤδη πολλάκις τρεῖς τὰς ἀνωτάτω διαφορὰς παρεστήσαμεν κατὰ τὸν ἀπόστολον, φιληδονίαν, φιλαργυρίαν, εἰδωλολατρείαν.

Νηστεύει τοίνυν καὶ κατὰ τὸν νόμον ἀπὸ τῶν πράξεων τῶν φαύλων καὶ κατὰ τὴν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τελειότητα ἀπὸ τῶν ἐννοιῶν τῶν πονηρῶν. τούτῳ καὶ οἱ πειρασμοὶ προσάγονται οὐκ εἰς τὴν ὰποκάθαρσιν. ἀλλ' εἰς τὴν τῶν πέλας, ὡς ἔφαμεν, ὠφέλειαν, εἰ πεῖραν λαβὼν πόνων καὶ ἀλγηδόνων κατεφρόνησεν καὶ παρεπέμψατο.

He [i.e. the Gnostic Christian] also knows the enigmas of fasting on those days, that is the Fourth and the Preparation. For the first takes its name from Hermes, and the second from Aphrodite. He fasts now in this life from the love of money and of pleasure, from which all sins grow. For we have already often shown above the three kinds of fornication according to the apostle: love of pleasure, love of money, and idolatry.

He fasts, then, according to the law, from bad deeds, and, according to the perfection of the gospel, from evil thoughts. He undergoes temptations, not for his purification, but, as we have said, for the good of his neighbors, if, receiving labors and pains as a trial, he has thought little of them and dismissed them.

  • 4)

    Cassius Dio, Historia Romana 37.18–19. Cassii Dionis Cocceiani Historiarum Romanarum, ed. Ursul Philip Boissevain. Vol 1. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1895), 405–406. [c.200–222 C.E.]

18. τὸ δὲ δὴ ἐς τοὺς ἀστέρας τοὺς ἑπτὰ τοὺς πλάνητας ὠνομασμένους τὰς ἡμέρας ἀνακεῖσθαι κατέστη μὲν ὑπ' Αἰγυπτίων, πάρεστι δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ πάντας ἀνθρώπους, οὐ πάλαι ποτὲ ὡς λόγῳ εἰπεῖν ἀρξάμενον· οἱ γοῦν ἀρχαῖοι Ἕλληνες οὐδαμῇ αὐτό, ὅσα γε ἐμὲ εἰδέναι, ἠπίσταντο. ἀλλ' ἐπειδὴ καὶ πάνυ νῦν τοῖς τε ἄλλοις ἅπασι καὶ αὐτοῖς τοῖς Ῥωμαίοις ἐπιχωριάζει, καὶ ἢδη καὶ τοῦτό σφισι πάτριον τρόπον τινά ἐστι, βραχύ τι περὶ αὐτοῦ διαλεχθῆναι βούλομαι, πῶς τε καὶ τίνα τρόπον οὕτω τέτακται. ἤκουσα δὲ δύο λόγους, ἄλλως μὲν οὐ χαλεποὺς γνωσθῆναι, θεωρίας <δέ> τινος ἐχομένους. εἰ γάρ τις τὴν ἁρμονίαν τὴν διὰ τεσσάρων καλουμένην, ἥπερ που καὶ τὸ κῦρος τῆς μουσικῆς συνέχειν πεπίστευται, καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς ἀστέρας τούτους, ὑφ' ὧν ὁ πᾶς τοῦ οὐρανοῦ κόσμος διείληπται, κατὰ τὴν τάξιν καθ' ἣν ἕκαστος αὐτῶν περιπορεύεται ἐπαγάγοι, καὶ ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ τῆς ἔξω περιφορᾶς τῆς τῷ Κρόνῳ δεδομένης, ἔπειτα διαλιπὼν δύο τὰς ἐχομένας τὸν τῆς τετάρτης δεσπότην ὀνομάσειε, καὶ μετ' αὐτὸν δύο αὖ ἑτέρας ὑπερβάς ἐπὶ τὴν ἑβδόμην ἀφίκοιτο, κἀν τῷ αὐτῷ τούτῳ τρόπῳ αὐτάς τε ἐπιὼν καὶ τοὺς ἐφόρους σφῶν θεοὺς ἀνακυκλῶν ἐπιλέγοι ταῖς ἡμέραις, εὑρήσει πάσας αὐτὰς μουσικῶς πως τῇ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ διακοσμήσει προσηκούσας.

19. εἷς μὲν δὴ οὗτος λέγεται λόγος, ἕτερος δὲ ὅδε. τὰς ὥρας τῆς ἡμέρας καὶ τῆς νυκτὸς ἀπὸ τῆς πρώτης ἀρξάμενος ἀριθμεῖν, καὶ ἐκείνην μὲν τῷ Κρόνῳ διδούς, τὴν δὲ ἔπειτα τῷ Διὶ καὶ τρίτην Ἄρει, τετάρτην ἡλίῳ, πέμπτην Ἀφροδίτῃ, ἕκτην Ἑρμῇ καὶ ἑβδόμην σελήνῃ, κατὰ τὴν τάξιν τῶν κύκλων καθ' ἢν οἱ Αἰγύπτιοι αὐτὴν νομίζουσι, καὶ τοῦτο καὶ αὖθις ποιήσας, πάσας τε οὕτω τὰς τέσσαρας καὶ εἴκοσιν ὥρας περιελθών, εὑρήσεις τὴν πρώτην τῆς ἐπιούσης ἡμέρας ὥραν ἐς τὸν ἥλιον ἀφικνουμένην. καὶ τοῦτο καὶ ἐπ' ἐκείνων τῶν τεσσάρων καὶ εἴκοσιν ὡρῶν κατὰ τὸν αὐτὸν τοῖς πρόσθε λόγον πράξας, τῇ σελήνῃ τὴν πρώτην τῆς τρίτης ἡμέρας ὥραν ἀναθήσεις, κἂν οὓτω καὶ διὰ τῶν λοιπῶν πορεύῃ, τὸν προσήκοντα ἑαυτῇ θεὸν ἑκάστη ἡμέρα λήψεται. ταῦτα μὲν οὕτω παραδέδοται·

18. The custom, however, of dedicating the days to the seven stars called planets was laid down by the Egyptians, but now it is common among all humanity, though it did not come about especially long ago; at any rate the ancient Greeks never knew it, so far as I can tell. But since it is now common everywhere and even among the Romans, and as it is to them already a kind of ancestral tradition, I want to discuss briefly how and in what way it was put together. I have heard two explanations, not difficult to understand, but involving certain theories. For if you apply what is called the “harmony through four,” which is believed to be the foundation of music, to these stars by which the whole universe of heaven is marked at intervals according to the order in which each of them revolves, and, beginning at the outer orbit assigned to Kronos, then omitting the next two, you name the lord of the fourth, and after this passing over two others you reach the seventh, and then going back and repeating this same process with the other orbits and their ruling gods you call the days by their names, you will find all the days belonging to a kind of musical arrangement of heaven.

19. This is one explanation; the other is as follows. Start counting the hours of the day and of the night from the first hour, assigning that hour to Kronos, the next to Zeus, and the third to Ares, the fourth to Helios, the fifth to Aphrodite, the sixth to Hermes, and the seventh to Selene, according to the order of the orbits the Egyptians use, and repeat this process for the whole twenty-four-hour cycle: you will find that the first hour of the next day comes to Helios. Work out the process just described through the next twenty-four hours and you will dedicate the first hour of the third day to Selene, and if you proceed similarly through the rest, each day will receive its appropriate god. This, then, is the tradition.

  • 5)

    Eusebius of Caesarea, Vita Constantini 4.18–20. Über das Leben des Kaisers Konstantins, ed. F. Winkelmann (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1975, rev. 1992), 126–127. [c.324–337 C.E.]

18. (1) Καὶ ἡμέραν δ' εὐχῶν ἡγεῖσθαι κατάλληλον τὴν κυρίαν ἀληθῶς καὶ πρώτην ὄντως κυριακήν τε καὶ σωτήριον διετύπου. διάκονοι δ' αὐτῷ καὶ ὑπηρέται θεῷ καθιερωμένοι βίου τε σεμνότητι καὶ ἀρετῇ πάσῇ κόσμιοι ἄνδρες φύλακες τοῦ παντὸς οἴκου καθίσταντο, δορυφόροι τε πιστοί, σωματοφύλακες, τρόποις εὐνοίας πιστῆς καθωπλισμένοι, βασιλέα διδάσκαλον εὐσεβῶν ἐπεγράφοντο τρόπων, τιμῶντες οὐκ ἧττον καὶ αὐτοὶ τὴν σωτήριον καὶ κυριακὴν ἡμέραν εὐχάς τε ἐν αὐτῇ συντελοῦντες τὰς βασιλεῖ φίλας. (2) ταὐτὸν δὲ πράττειν καὶ πάντας ἐνῆγεν ἀνθρώπους ὁ μακάριος, ὥσπερ εὐχὴν ταύτην πεποιημένος ἡμέρα σύμπαντας ἀνθρώπους θεοσεβεῖς ἀπεργάσασθαι. διὸ τοῖς ὑπὸ τῇ Ῥωμαίων ἀρχῇ πολιτευομένοις ἅπασι σχολὴν ἄγειν ταῖς ἐπωνύμοις τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμέραις ἐνομοθέτει, ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ τὰς <πρὸ> τοῦ σαββάτου τιμᾶν, μνήμης ἕνεκά μοι δοκεῖν τῶν ἐν ταύταις τῷ κοινῷ σωτῆρι πεπρᾶχθαι μνημονευομένων. (3) τὴν δέ γε σωτήριον ἡμέραν, ἣν καὶ φωτὸς εἶναι ἡλίου ἐπώνυμον συμβαίνει, τὰ στρατιωτικὰ πάντα διὰ σπουδῆς τιμᾶν διδάσκων, τοῖς μὲν τῆς ἐνθέου μετέχουσι πίστεως ἀκωλύτως τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ προσκαρτερεῖν μετεδίδου σχολῆς, ἐφ' ᾧ τὰς εὐχὰς μηδενὸς αὐτοῖς ἐμποδὼν γινομένου συντελεῖν,

19. τοῖς δὲ μήπω τοῦ θείου λόγου μετασχοῦσιν ἐν δευτέρῳ νόμῳ διεκελεύετο <κατὰ> τὰς κυριακὰς ἡμέρας ἐν προαστείοις ἐπὶ καθαροῦ προιέναι πεδίου κἀνταῦθα μεμελετημένην εὐχὴν ἐξ ἑνὸς συνθήματος ὁμοῦ τοὺς πάντας ἀναπέμπειν θεῷ. μὴ γὰρ δόρασι χρῆναι, μηδὲ παντευχίαις, μηδ' ἀλκῇ σωμάτων τὰς ἑαυτῶν ἐξάπτειν ἐλπίδας, τὸν δ' ὲπὶ πάντων εἰδέναι θεόν, παντὸς ἀγαθοῦ καὶ δὴ καὶ αὐτῆς νίκης δοτῆρα, ᾧ καὶ τὰς ἐνθέσμους προσήκειν ἀποδιδόναι εὐχάς, ἄνω μὲν αἴροντας εἰς οὐρανὸν μετεώρους τὰς χεῖρας, ἀνωτάτω δ' ἐπὶ τὸν οὐράνιον βασιλέα τοὺς τῆς διανοίας παραπέμποντας ὀφθαλμούς, κἀκεῖνον ταῖς εὐχαις νίκης δοτῆρα καὶ σωτῆρα φύλακά τε καὶ βοηθὸν ἐπιβοωμένους. καὶ τῆς εὐχῆς δὲ τοῖς στρατιωτικοῖς ἅπασι διδάσκαλος ἦν αὐτός, Ῥωμαίᾳ γλώττῃ τοὺς πάντας ὦδε λέγειν ἐγκελευσάμενος·

20. (1) »σὲ μόνον οἴδαμεν θεόν, σὲ βασιλέα γνωρίζομεν, σὲ βοηθὸν ἀνακαλούμεθα, παρὰ σοῦ τὰς νίκας ἠράμεθα, διὰ σοῦ κρείττους τῶν ἐχθρῶν κατέστημεν, σοὶ τὴν τῶν προϋπαρξάντων ἀγαθῶν χάριν γνωρίζομεν, σὲ καὶ τῶν μελλόντων <δοτῆρα> ἐλπίζομεν, σοῦ πάντες ἱκέται γιγνόμεθα, τὸν ἡμέτερον βασιλέα Κωνσταντῖνον παῖδάς τε αὐτοῦ θεοφιλεῖς ἐπὶ μήκιστον ἡμῖν βίου σῶον καὶ νικητὴν φθλάττεσθαι ποτνιώμεθα.« (2) τοιαῦτα κατὰ τὴν τοῦ φωτὸς ἡμέραν ἐνομοθέτει πράττειν τὰ στρατιωτικὰ τάγματα, καὶ τοιαύτας ἐδίδασκεν ἐν ταῖς πρὸς θεὸν εὐχαῖς ἀφιέναι φωνάς.

18. (1) He [Constantine] also decreed that the truly appointed and First Day, the Lord's and Savior's Day, should be considered a regular day of prayer. Deacons and servants consecrated to God, honest men leading lives of dignity and virtue, were put in charge of the whole household, and faithful praetorians, bodyguards armed with the character of faithful goodwill, claimed the Emperor as their teacher in religious conduct, themselves honoring not less than he the Lord's and Savior's Day and on it completing the prayers the Emperor loved. (2) The blessed one urged all people to do the same, as if by instituting this prayer he might gently make all people pious. He therefore decreed that all those under Roman rule should rest on the days named for the Savior, and similarly that they should honor the days named for the Sabbath, in memory, as it seems to me, of the things recorded as done by our common Savior on those days. (3) He taught all the military to honor zealously the Savior's Day, which is also called the Day of Light and the Day of Helios. To those sharing in the God-given faith he allowed free time to diligently attend the church of God, that they might complete the prayers without impediment.

19. In a second decree he ordered those not yet sharing in the word of God to march to an open field in front of the city every Lord's Day, and that there at a signal they should all as one offer up to God a memorized prayer. They should not place their hopes in spears or armor or physical strength, but know the God of all, to whom it is right to offer the lawful prayers, the giver of every good and indeed of victory itself, lifting their hands up high in the air toward heaven, sending the eyes of their understanding up higher to the heavenly king, and calling upon him in their prayers as the giver of victory and savior, as their guardian and helper. He himself was the teacher of this prayer to the whole military, commanding them all to say these words in the Roman language:

20. (1) “You alone we know as God, you are the king we acknowledge, and you are the help for which we call. By you we have won our victories, through you we have become stronger than our enemies. By your grace we know the good things of the past, and we hope in you as the giver of those to come. We have become your suppliants, and we cry out that our Emperor Constantine and his God-beloved sons be kept safe and victorious for us in long life.” (2) Such were the things he ordered the military units to do every Day of Light, and such were the words he taught them to recite in their prayers to God.

APPENDIX B: LATIN LITERARY AND LEGAL SOURCES

  • 1)

    Tibullus, Elegae 1.3.15–19. Albii Tibulli aliorumque carmina, ed. Georg Luck. 2nd ed. (Stuttgart and Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1998), 11. [c.18 B.C.E.]

Ipse ego solator, cum iam mandata dedissem,
Quaerebam tardas anxius usque moras.
Aut ego sum causatus aves aut omina dira,
Saturni aut sacrum me tenuisse diem.

When I had given my last orders I, the comforter, anxiously sought reasons to delay. I made birds my excuse, or every bad omen, or there was the holy Day of Saturn to hold me back.

  • 2)

    Tertullian, Apologeticum 16.9–11 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 1:116). [c.197 C.E.]

9. Alii plane humanius et uersimulius solem credunt deum nostrum. Ad Persas, si forte, deputabimur, licet solem non in linteo depictum adoremus, habentes ipsum ubique in suo clypeo. 10. Denique inde suspicio, quod innotuerit, nos ad orientis regionem precari. Sed et plerique uestrum, adfectatione aliquando et caelestia adorandi, ad solis ortum labia uibratis. 11. Aeque si diem solis laetitiae indulgemus, alia longe ratione quam religione solis, secundo loco ab eis sumus, qui diem Saturni otio et uictui decernunt, exorbitantes et ipsi a Iudaico more, quem ignorant.

9. But others kinder and nearer the truth believe that Sol is our god. Perhaps we will be considered Persians, though we do not worship Sol painted on a linen cloth, having himself everywhere in his own disc. 10. The suspicion likely arose because we turn to the east to pray. But many of you also sometimes move your lips in the direction of the sunrise under the pretence of worshipping the heavenly bodies. 11. Likewise if we give the Day of Sol over to rejoicing, from a far different reason than Sol-worship, we are not so different from those of you who devote the Day of Saturn to relaxation and eating, themselves diverging from the Jewish customs, of which they are ignorant.

  • 3)

    Tertullian, Ad nationes 1.13.1–5 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 1:32). [c.197 C.E.]

Alii plane humanius solem Christianam deum aestimant, quod innotuerit ad orientis partem facere nos precationem, uel die solis laetitiam curare. 2. Quid uos minus facitis ? Non plerique affectatione adorandi aliquando etiam caelestia ad solis initium labra uibratis ? 3. Vos certe estis, qui etiam in laterculum septem dierum solem recepistis, et1 ex diebus ipsorum praelegistis, quo die lauacrum subtrahatis aut in uesperam differatis, aut otium et prandium curetis. 4. Quod quidem facitis exorbitantes et ipsi a uestris ad alienas religiones : Iudaei enim festi sabbata et cena pura et Iudaici ritus lucernarum et ieiunia cum azymis et orationes litorales, quae utique aliena sunt a diis uestris. 5. Quare, ut ab excessu reuertar, qui solem et diem eius nobis exprobratis, agnoscite uicinitatem : non longe a Saturno et sabbatis uestris sumus!

But others who are kinder think that Sol is the Christian God because they have noticed that we pray facing east and rejoice on the Day of Sol. 2. Do you do anything less? Do you not sometimes move your lips toward Sol at his rising to satisfy your desire to adore the heavenly bodies? 3. You are certainly the ones who singled out the Day of Sol, the seventh in the list, and preferred it to the other days as the one on which to refrain from the bath, at least until evening, or to take care for leisure and dining. 4. By doing this you are turning aside from your own religious practices to foreign ones: for the Sabbath and the Cena Pura are Jewish festivals, and the rites of lamps and of fasting with unleavened bread and of prayers at the sea-shore are alien to your gods. 5. Now to return to our subject, you who reproach us on account of Sol and his day, learn how close we are: we are not far from your Saturn and and your Sabbath!

  • 4)

    Constantine, Codex Justinianus 3.12.2. Corpus iuris civilis, ed. Krueger et al. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1895), 2:127. [7 March 321 C.E.]

Omnes iudices urbanaeque plebes et artium officia cunctarum venerabili die solis quiescant. Ruri tamen positi agrorum culturae libere licenterque inserviant, quoniam frequenter evenit, ut non alio aptius die frumenta sulcis aut vineae scrobibus commendentur, ne occasione momenti pereat commoditas caelesti provisione concessa.

Let all judges, the people of the cities, and those employed in all trades, rest on the venerable Day of Sol. Persons residing in the country, however, can freely and lawfully serve in the cultivation of the fields, as it frequently happens that the sowing of grain or the planting of vines cannot be put off to a more suitable day, lest by making concessions to heaven the right moment may be lost.

  • 5)

    Constantine, Codex Theodosianus 2.8.1. Theodosiani libri XVI, ed. Theodor Mommsen and Paul M. Meyer (Berlin: Weidmann, 1905), 1:87. [3 July 321 C.E.]

Sicut indignissimum videbatur diem solis veneratione sui celebrem altercantibus iurgiis et noxiis partium contentionibus occupari, ita gratum ac iucundum est eo die quae sunt maxime votiva conpleri. Atque ideo emancipandi et manumittendi die festo cuncti licentiam habeant et super his rebus acta non prohibeantur.

As it seems most unworthy that the Day of Sol, which should be celebrated on account of its own venerable character, is occupied with legal disputes and harmful controversies of the litigation of opposing parties, so it is pleasing and agreeable that those acts which are most longed-for shall be accomplished on that day. Therefore all shall have the right to emancipate and manumit on this holiday, and the legal formalities associatiated with these acts are not prohibited.

  • 6)

    Valentinian and Valens, Codex Theodosianus 8.8.1. Theodosiani libri XVI, ed. Theodor Mommsen and Paul M. Meyer (Berlin: Weimann, 1905), 1:401. [21 April 368, 370, or 373 C.E.]

Die solis, qui dudum faustus habetur, neminem Christianum ab exactoribus volumus conveniri, contra eos, qui id facere ausi sint, hoc nostri statuti interdicto periculum sancientes.

On the Day of Sol, which has for some time been held fortunate, no Christian is to be taken to court by tax collectors, and by this interdict of our statute we sanction judicial peril against anyone who should dare to do this.

  • 7)

    Philaster of Brescia, Diversarum hereseon liber 113 (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 38:78–79). [c.384 C.E.]

Alia est heresis quae dicit nomina dierum, Solis, Lunae, Martis, Mercurii, Iouis, Veneris, Saturni, a deo haec ita posita ab origine mundi, non hominum uana praesumptione nuncupata, cum a prima origine, usque ad Grecos reges et Hermen fallacissimum illum, qui haec nomina uanissima et friuola mentiendo ausus est nuncupare, si quaerere uolueris, inuenies multum fluxisse temporis, et sic paganos, id est Grecos haec nomina posuisse, cum haec nomina *** etiam secundum septem stellas dixerunt hominum generationem consistere, ut ille ipse delirans hoc definit. Dierum enim numerus primus, secundus, tertius, quartus, quintus, sextus, septimus, a deo est appelatus, non in hac uanitate nuncupationis turpissimae initio nuntiatus aut traditus.

There is another heresy that says the names of the days, of Sol, of Luna, of Mars, of Mercury, of Jove, of Venus, of Saturn, were put in place by God from the beginning of the world, not named according to empty human presumption, when from the very beginning all the way to the Greek kings and that most deceitful Hermes [Trismegistus], who, lying, dared to call them by these most empty and worthless names. If you want to investigate further, you will find that much time had passed and so the pagans, that is the Greeks, gave the days these names, when these names *** yet they had said that the generation of humanity subsisted according to the seven planets, as that same man [Hermes?] affirmed in his ravings. In fact, the number of the days was named by God the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh, not announced or handed down from the beginning in that falsity of a most ugly nomenclature.

  • 8)

    Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius, Codex Theodosianus 15.5.2. Theodosiani libri XVI, ed. Theodor Mommsen and Paul M. Meyer (Berlin: Weimann, 1905), 1:819. [20 May 386, 392–395 C.E.]

Illud etiam praemonemus, ne quis in legem nostrum, quam dudum tulimus, committat, nullum solis die populo spectaculum praebeat, nec divinam venerationem confecta sollemnitate confundat.

Furthermore, we warn that no person shall transgress our law, which we issued formerly, that no one shall hold a spectacle for the people on the Day of Sol, lest it disturb divine worship or celebration.

  • 9)

    Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius, Codex Theodosianus 2.8.18. Theodosiani libri XVI, ed. Theodor Mommsen and Paul M. Meyer (Berlin: Weimann, 1905), 1:87. [3 November 386 C.E.]

Solis die, quem dominicum rite dixere maiores, omnium omnino litum, negotiorum, conventionum quiescat intentio; debitum publicum privatumque nullus efflagitet; (nec apud ipsos quidem arbitros) vel iudiciis flagitatos vel sponte deletos ulla sit agnitio iurgiorum. (Et) non modo notabilis, verum etiam sacrilegus iudicetur, qui a sanctae religionis instinctu rituve deflexerit.

On the Day of Sol, which our ancestors rightly called the Lord's Day, everyone shall cease from the application of all litigation, business, and suits; no one shall demand the payment of a public or private debt; nor shall there be any recognition of such disputes before arbitrators, whether thay have been requested in court or chosen voluntarily. And that person shall be judged not only notorious but sacrilegious who turns away from the inspiration and ritual of sacred religion.

  • 10)

    Ausonius, Eclogae 1, 18 The Works of Ausonius, ed. R. P. H. Green (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 96–97, 103–104. [c.390 C.E.]

1. De nominibus septem dierum
Nomina, quae septem vertentibus apta diebus
annus habet, totidem errantes fecere planetae,
quos indefessa volvens vertigine mundus
signorum obliqua iubet in statione vagari.
primum supremumque diem radiatus habet sol.
proxima fraternae succedit luna coronae.
tertius assequitur Titania lumina Mavors.
Mercurius quarti sibi vindicat astra diei.
illustrant quintam Iovis aurea sidera zonam,
sexta salutigerum sequitur Venus alma parentem.
cuncta supergrediens Saturni septima lux est.
octavum instaurat revolubilis orbita solem.

18. Hic versus sine auctore est. quo die quid demi de corpore oporteat Ungues Mercurio, barbam Iove, Cypride crines.

Hoc sic refellendum
Mercurius furtis probat ungues semper acutos
articulisque aciem non sinit imminui.
barba Iovi, crines Veneri decor; ergo necesse est,
ut nolint demi, quo sibi uterque placent.
Mavors imberbos et calvos, Luna, adamasti:
non prohibent comi tum caput atque genas.
sol et Saturnus nil obstant unguibus: ergo
non placitum divis tolle monostichium.

1. On the names of the seven days. The names of the planets that the year has joined to the seven recurring days are made up of as many wanderers, which the universe commands to roam at angles in position about the constellations, rolling on in untiring revolutions. Radiant Sol holds the first day and the best. Luna next succeeds to her brother's crown. Mars, the third, follows these Titan lights. Mercury claims the stars of the fourth day for himself. The golden star of Jove enlightens the fifth zone, and fruitful Venus, the sixth, follows her health-bringing father. The seventh light is Saturn's, passing all together. The circling orbit restores Sol on the eighth day.

18. This line is anonymous. It shows what should be removed from the body on certain days. Nails on [the Day of] Mercury, the beard on [the Day of] Jove, hair on [the Day of] the Cypriot [i.e. Venus].

It can be refuted as follows: Mercury always approves sharp nails for robberies, and he does not let the fingers lose their cutting edge. His beard is Jove's, and her hair is Venus' adornment: so it is that they must not like that which pleases each of them to be diminished. You, Mars, love the beardless, and, Luna, the bald: they do not forbid the head and cheeks to be trimmed. Sol and Saturn aren't opposed to nails: therefore remove the line that does not please the gods.

  • 11)

    Jerome, In die dominica paschae 49–57 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 78:550). [c.389–420 C.E.]

Haec est uere dies quam fecit Dominus : exultemus et laetemur in ea. Omnes quidem dies fecit Dominus : sed ceteri dies possunt et Iudaeorum esse, possunt et haereticorum esse, possunt esse gentilium. Dies dominica, dies resurrectionis, dies Xristianorum, dies nostra est. Vnde et dominica dicitur : quia Dominus in ea uictor ascendit ad Patrem. Quod si a gentilibus dies solis uocatur, et nos hoc libentissime confitemur : hodie enim lux mundi orta est, hodie sol iustitiae ortus est, in cuius pennis est sanitas.

This is truly the day that the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it. Certainly he has made all days, but other days can be for the Jews, or for heretics, or for gentiles. The Day of the Lord, the day of the resurrection, the day of the Christians, is our day. It is called the Lord's for this reason: because in it the Lord ascends as a victor to the Father. But if it is called the Day of Sol by the gentiles, we grant this also most agreeably: for today the light of the world has arisen, today the Sol of justice has arisen, under whose wings is health.

  • 12)

    Maximus of Turin, De Pentecosten (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 23:178). [c.390–408 C.E.]

Dominica enim nobis ideo uenerabilis est atque sollemnis, quia in ea saluator, uelut sol oriens discussis infernorum tenebris luce resurrectionis emicuit ; ac propterea ipsa die ab hominibus saeculi dies solis uocatur, quod ortus eam sol iustitiae Christus inluminet.

Indeed the Lord's Day is reverenced and established by us because on it the savior, like the rising Sol dispelling the darkness of hell, shone with the light of resurrection, and for that reason the same day is called by the people of the world the Day of Sol, because Christ, the risen Sol of righteousness, illumines it.

  • 13)

    Augustine of Hippo, Ennarationes in Psalmos 93.3 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 39:1302–1304). [c.392–417 C.E.]

Psalmus hunc titulum habet, id est hanc inscriptionem : Psalmus ipsi David, quarta sabbatorum. Docturus est psalmus iste patientiam in laboribus iustorum ; contra iniquorum felicitates patientiam docet, patientiam aedificat. Hoc habet totus a capite usque in finem. Quare ergo talem habet titulum : in quarta sabbati ? Vna sabbati, dies dominicus est ; secunda sabbati, secunda feria, quem saeculares diem Lunae uocant; tertia sabbati, tertia feria, quem diem illi Martis uocant. Quarta ergo sabbatorum, quarta feria, qui Mercurii dies dicitur a paganis, et a multis christianis ; sed nollemus ; atque utinam corrigant, et non dicant sic. Habent enim linguam suam qua utantur. Non enim et in omnibus gentibus ista dicuntur ; multae gentes aliae atque aliae aliter atque aliter uocant. Melius ergo de ore christiano ritus loquendi ecclesiasticus procedit. Tamen si quem forte consuetudo traxerit, ut illud exeat ex ore quod improbat corde, intellegat illos omnes, de quorum nominibus appellata sunt sidera, homines fuisse, nec ex eo esse coepisse ista sidera in caelo, ex quo illi coeperunt ; et ante ibi fuerunt ; sed per beneficia quaedam mortalium mortalia, illi homines pro tempore suo, quia plurimum potuerunt et eminuerunt in hoc saeculo, cum cari essent hominibus, non propter uitam aeternam, sed propter commodum temporale, deferebantur eis diuini honores. Veteres enim saeculi decepti, et decipere uolentes, in eorum adulationem qui sibi aliquid secundum amorem saeculi praestitissent, sidera ostendebant in caelo, dicentes quod illius esset illud sidus, et illud illius ; homines autem qui antea non aspexerant, ut uiderent quia ibi erant et illa sidera antequam nascerentur, decepti crediderunt ; et concepta est opinio uanitatis. Hanc opinionem erroris diabolus confirmauit, Christus euertit. Nos ergo secundum quod loquimur, quarta sabbatorum quartus dies intellegitur a die dominico…Recolamus ergo scripturam sanctam in Genesi, primo die quid sit factum : inuenimus lucem ; secundo die quid sit factum : inuenimus firmamentum, quod appellavit Deus caelum ; tertio die quid sit factum : inuenimus speciem terrae et maris, et segregationem, ut omnis congregatio aquarum uocaretur mare, te arida uocaretur terra. Quarto die, luminaria fecit Deus in caelo : solem in potestatem diei, lunam et stellas in potestatem noctis : hoc quarto die fecit. Quid sibi ergo uult quod de quarto die accepit psalmus titulum, in quo psalmo docetur patientia aduersus felicitates malorum, et labores bonorum ? Habes Paulum apostolum dicentem sanctis fidelibus roboratis in Christo : Omnia facite sine murmuratione et disceptatione ; ut sitis irreprehensibiles, et sinceres, immaculati filii Dei in medio nationis tortuosae et peruersae, in quibus apparetis sicut luminaria in mundo, uerbum uitae habentes. Similitudo de luminaribus data est ad sanctos, ut sine murmuratione sint in natione tortuosa et peruersa.

The Psalm has this title, that is, this inscription: a Psalm of David himself, on the Fourth of the Sabbath. This Psalm will teach patience in the sufferings of the righteous; it teaches patience in the face of the prosperity of evildoers, and it builds up patience. This is the whole sense of it, from beginning to end. Why, therefore, does it have such a title as, “on the Fourth of the Sabbath”? The First of the Sabbath is the Lord's Day; the second is the Second Feria, which worldly people call the Day of Luna; the third is the Third Feria, which they call the Day of Mars. Therefore the Fourth of the Sabbath is the Fourth Feria, which is called the Day of Mercury by pagans, and also by many Christians. But let us not do so, and I wish those Christians would correct themselves and not speak so because they have their own idiom which they may use. For those planetary terms are not used by all peoples, and many different nations call them by different names so that the Church's way of speaking proceeds better from the mouth of a Christian. Nevertheless, if the force of habit drags from his mouth what his heart rejects, let him remember that all those for whom the stars were named were humans, that the stars did not begin their existence at the same time as those people, and that the stars were there long before. But because of mortal service to mortals, those humans in their own times, since they had great power and were famous in this life and loved by people, not on account of eternal life but on account of the convenience of the time, were granted divine honors. For then the people of the ancient past, deceived and wishing to deceive, pointed to the stars in heaven, in flattery of those who had done them any service in their love for this life, saying that that was the star of that person and this the star of this one. But those who had not seen them before so as to know that the stars were there before those people were born were deceived into a belief, and this empty idea was conceived. The devil strengthened this false opinion, but Christ overthrew it. Therefore, according to the way we speak, the Fourth Day of the Sabbath is understood as the fourth day from the Lord's Day…Therefore let us recall from the holy scripture in Genesis what was created on the First Day: we find light; what was created on the Second Day: we find the firmament, which God called heaven; what was created on the Third Day: we find the appearance of land and sea and their separation, that the collection of the waters was called the sea and the collection of the dry places land. On the Fourth Day God made the lights in heaven: Sol to rule the day and Luna and the stars to rule the night; this is what he made on the Fourth Day. Why then did this psalm, in which patience in the face of the prosperity of the wicked and the sufferings of the righteous is taught, take its title from the Fourth Day? You have the apostle Paul telling you to strengthen the saints in their faith in Christ: “Do all things without complaints and disputes, that you may be blameless and innocent, spotless sons of God in the middle of a twisted and perverse nation, in which you shine as lights in the world, having the word of life.” The likeness of lights is given to the saints so that they may live without complaints in a twisted and perverse nation.

  • 14)

    Augustine of Hippo, Contra Faustum 18.2, 5 (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 25.1:491, 493–494). [c.397 C.E.]

2. Sed esto. licuerit in praeteritum errasse. quid nunc tandem? placetne ire sub legem. si eam Christus non tam soluit sed adinpleuit? placet circumcidi. id est pudendis insignire pudenda et deum credere sacramentis talibus delectari? placet suscipere sabbatorum otium et Saturniacis manus insertare catenis?

5. Nec nos terret insultatio tua. quod sabbatorum otium catenas Saturniacas appellas. uana est enim et inepta; nec tibi hoc dicere uenisset in mentem, nisi quia uos in die, quem dicunt Solis, solem colitis. sicut autem nos eundem diem dominicum dicimus, in eoque non istum solem, sed resurrectionem domini ueneramur. sic otium sabbatorum sine Saturni ueneratione a patribus obseruatum est, cum sic illud obseruari oportebat; erat enim umbra futurorum, sicut apostolus testis est. diebus quippe istis, quorum septenarius numerus in orbem redit. deorum suorum nomina gentes inposuerunt; de quibus ait apostolus, quod coluerunt et seruierunt creaturae potius quam creatori. quos in hac parte etiam uos imitamini, nisi quod cum eis lucidiora duo lumina, cetera uero sidera non cum eis adoratis. sed et mensibus inposuerunt nomina deorum suorum. propter honorem quippe Romuli, quia eum Martis filium crediderunt. primum mensem Marti dicantes Martium uocauerunt. et inde Aprilem nullo dei sui nomine. sed a re ipsa quasi aperilem, quod tunc plurimum germinis aperiatur in florem. inde tertium mensem Maium, quod Maiam, Mercurii matrem, deam colant. inde quartum Iunium a Iunone, inde ceteros usque ad Decembrem a numeris nominarunt. sed ex eis Quintilis atque Sextilis nominibus hominum, quibus diuinos honores decreuerant, appellati sunt Iulius et Augustus. nam septimus September et ceteri. ut dixi, usque de Decembrem numerorum ex ordine nominibus enuntiantur. porro Ianuarius a Iano appellatus est, Februarius a februis, sacris lupercorum. uultis ergo, ut et uos dicamini in mense Martio Martem colere? illo enim mense bema uestrum cum magna festiuitate celebratis. si autem uobis in mense Martio licere arbitramini aliud considerare, non Martem, cur ex die septimo, quod sabbatum a requie nominatum est, diuinis scripturis Saturnum inportare conamini, quia eum diem Saturni gentes appellauerunt? nempe iam uidetis, cum quanta inpietate deliretis.

2. But let it be so. Grant that we erred in the past. What now? Is it acceptable to come under the law, since Christ has not destroyed, but fulfilled it? Is it acceptable to be circumcised, that is, to mark shame with shame and believe that God is pleased with such sacraments? Is it acceptable to observe Sabbath rest and place our hands in the chains of Saturn?

5. Your insult does not scare us, that you call the Sabbath rest the chains of Saturn. For it is empty and absurd, and it would not have come into your mind except that you worship Sol on what you call the Day of Sol. But we call it the Lord's Day, on which we venerate not Sol but the resurrection of the Lord. Just so the Sabbath rest was observed by the fathers without the veneration of Saturn, at the time when it was proper so to observe; for it was a shadow of things to come, as the apostle has testified. Of course the gentiles, of whom the apostle says that they “worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator,” attached the names of their gods to those days that revolve in a circle of seven. And you imitate them in part, except that you worship the two brightest lights and not the other stars. But they also fix the names of their gods to the months. In honor of Romulus, whom they believed to be the son of Mars, they named the first month for Mars and called it March. And then April is not named for a god but for the word for opening, because many buds open into flowers at that time. Then the third month is May because they worship Maia, the mother of Mercury. Then the fourth is June for Juno, and the others up through December used to be named for numbers. But Quintilis and Sextilis were given the names of men to whom were decreed divine honors, and they were called July and August. As I said, the rest through December are called by their numbers. Next January is named for Janus, and February for the Februae, the rites of the Luperci. Do you therefore want us to say that you worship Mars in March? But that is the month in which you celebrate your Bema with great festivity. But if you think it's all right to observe the month of March without thinking of Mars, why do you try to bring Saturn into the divine scriptures as the Seventh Day when it is called the Sabbath rest, just because the gentiles call it the Day of Saturn? Surely you see how impious your ravings are.

  • 15)

    Arcadius and Honorius, Codex Theodosianus 2.8.23. Theodosiani libri XVI, ed. Theodor Mommsen and Paul M. Meyer (Berlin: Weimann, 1905), 1:89. [27 August 399 C.E.]

Die dominico, cui nomen ex ipsa reverentia inditum est, nec ludi theatrales nec equorum certamina nec quicquam, quod ad molliendos animos repertum est, spectaculorum in civitate aliqua celebretur. Natalis vero imperatorum, etiamsi die dominico inciderit, celebretur.

On the Lord's Day, to which the name was given out of just reverence for it, neither theatrical plays nor horse races nor any spectacles, which were designed to soften the spirit, shall be celebrated in any city. But indeed imperial birthdays shall be celebrated, even if they happen to fall on the Lord's Day.

  • 16)

    Honorius and Theodosius, Codex Theodosianus 2.8.25. Theodosiani libri XVI, ed. Theodor Mommsen and Paul M. Meyer (Berlin: Weimann, 1905), 1:89. [1 April 409 C.E.]

Dominica die, quam vulgo [s]olis appellant, nullas edi penitus patimur voluptates, etsi fortuito [i]n ea aut imperii nostri ortus redeuntibus in semet anni metis obful[s]erit aut natali debita solemnia deferantur.

On the Lord's Day, which the vulgar call the Day of Sol, we permit no shows to be produced, even if it happens as the years go by that this day should be the anniversary of the beginning of our reign or the day to which the solemnities of our birthday are assigned.

  • 17)

    Theodosius II and Valentinian, Codex Theodosianus 15.5.5. Theodosiani libri XVI, ed. Theodor Mommsen and Paul M. Meyer (Berlin: Weimann, 1905), 1:820. [1 February 425 C.E.]

Dominico, qui septimanae totius primus est dies, et natali adque epifaniorum Christi, paschae etiam et quinquagesimae diebus, quamdiu caelestis lumen lavacri imitantia novam sancti baptismatis lucem vestimenta testantur, quo tempore et commemoratio apostolicae passionis totius Christianitatis magistrae a cunctis iure celebratur, omni theatrorum adque circensium voluptate per universas urbes earundem populis denegata totae Christianorum ac fidelium mentes dei cultibus occupentur.

On the Lord's Day, which is the first day of the whole week, on the birthday and epiphany of Christ, and on Easter and Pentecost, as long as the robes that imitate the light of the heavenly font testify to the new light of holy baptism, at the time also when the commemoration of the apostolic passion, the teacher of all Christianity, is justly celebrated by everyone, all spectacles of the theaters and circuses shall be denied to the populations of all cities, and the minds of Christians and of the faithful shall be occupied with divine worship.

  • 18)

    Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 1.12 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 103:8–9). [c.502–542 C.E.]

…nullus paganorum sacrilego more consideret qua die in itinere egrediatur, vel qua die ad domum propriam revertatur, quomodo non solum laicos, sed etiam, quod peius est, nonullos religiosos timeo more sacrilego praeveniri ?

…no one should, according to the impious custom of the pagans, consider on what day he should set out on a journey or on what day he should return to his own home, for I fear that not only the laity, but, what is worse, even some of the religious are taken in by this impious custom?

  • 19)

    Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 13.5 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 103:68). [c.502–542 C.E.]

Et quia audivimus quod aliquose viros vel mulieres ita diabolus circumveniat, ut quinta feria nec viri opera faciant, nec mulieres laneficium, coram deo et angelis eius contestamur, quia quicumque hoc observare voluerint, nisi per prolixam et duram paenitentiam tam grave sacrilegium emendaverint, ubi arsurus est diabolus, ibi et ipsi damnandi sunt. Isti enim infelices et miseri, qui in honore Iovis quinta feria opera non faciunt, non dubito quod ipsa opera die dominico facere nec erubescant nec metuant. Et ideo quoscumque tales esse cognoveritis, durissime castigate ; et si se emendare noluerint, nec ad conloquium nec ad convivium vestrum eos venire permittite : si vero ad vos pertinent, etiam flagellis caedite, ut vel plagam corporis timeant, qui de animae suae salute non cogitant

And because we have heard that the devil so deceives some men and women that on the Fifth Feria the men do not do their work nor the women their weaving, we assert before God and his angels that whoever wishes to observe this custom, unless they correct so grave a sin through long and hard penance, will be condemned to the place where the devil will burn them. I do not doubt that those unhappy and miserable people, who do not work on the Fifth Feria in honor of Jove, are neither ashamed nor afraid to do that same work on the Lord's Day. Therefore rebuke most harshly those whom you know that do this. And if they do not wish to change their ways, do not welcome them to your conversation or your table. But if they are under your authority, even whip them so that they may fear a stripe on the body who do not consider the salvation of the soul.

  • 20)

    Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 19.4 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 103:90). [c.502–542 C.E]

Nullus in honorem Iovis quinta feria observare praesumat ne aliquid operis faciat : contestor, fratres, ne hoc ullus vir aut mulier aliquando observet, ne inter paganos magis quam inter christianos a domino iudicetur, qui, quod observari die dominico debet, in die Iovis hoc sacrilege transferunt.

No one should dare to observe the Fifth Feria in honor of Jove by not doing any work. I appeal to you, brothers, that no man or woman should do this, lest he or she be judged by the Lord to be among the pagans rather than the Christians. For such a person transfers sacrilegiously onto the Day of Jove what should be observed on the Lord's Day.

  • 21)

    Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 52.2 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 103:230–231). [c.502–542 C.E.]

Et in hoc, fratres carissimi, adversarii nec parva temptatio est, quando stulti homines dies et calendas, solem et lunam colenda esse arbitrantur. Nam in tantum, quod peius est, verum est quod ammonemus, ut non solum in aliis locis, sed etiam in hac ipsa civitate dicantur adhuc esse aliquae mulieres infelices, quae in honore Iovis quinta feria nec telam nec fusum facere vellent. In istis talibus baptismum violator, et sacramenta Christi patiuntur iniuriam.

And in this, dearest brothers, the temptation of our adversary is not small when foolish men decide that days and Kalends, Sol and Luna should be worshipped. What is worse, so true is what we are warning you about that not only in other places but in this very city there are said to be some unfortunate women who, in honor of Jove, refuse to spin or weave on the Fifth Feria. In such people baptism is violated and the sacraments of Christ are insulted.

  • 22)

    Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 54.1 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 103:236). [c.502–542 C.E.]

Nullus ex vobis observet, qua die de domo exeat, qua die iterum revertatur : quia omnes dies deus fecit, sicut scriptura dicit : et factus est dies primus, et dies secundus et dies tertius, similiter et quartus, et quintus, et sextus, et sabbatum ; et illud : fecit deus omnia bona valde.

None of you should care about the day on which he leaves home or returns from a journey because God made all the days. As scripture says, “And the first day was made,” and the second day and the third day, similarly also the fourth, and the fifth, and the sixth, and the Sabbath, and that “God made everything very good.”

  • 23)

    Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 193.4 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 104:785–786). [c.502–542 C.E.]

Nonulli enim in haec mala labuntur, ut diligenter observent qua die in itinere exeant, honorem praestantes aut soli aut lunae aut Marti aut Mercurio aut Iovi aut Veneri aut Saturno : nescientes miseri, quia, si se per paenitentiam non emendaverint, cum illis partem habebunt in inferno, quibus vanum honorem inpendere videntur in mundo. Ante omnia, fratres, universa ista sacrilegia fugite, et tamquam diaboli mortifera venena vitate. Et solem enim et lunam deus pro nobis et nobis profutura constituit : non ut ista duo luminaria quasi deos colamus, sed illi, qui ea nobis dedit, quantas possumus gratias referamus. Mercurius enim homo fuit miserabilis, avarus, crudelis, impius et superbus ; Venus autem meretrix fuit inpudicissma. Et ista monstruosa portenta, id est, et Mars et Mercurius et Iovis et Venus et Saturnus eo tempore dicuntur nati, quo filii Israhel erant in Aegypto. Si tunc nati sunt, utique dies isti, qui illorum nominibus appellantur, illo tempore iam erant, et secundum quod deus instituerat, sic nomen habebant, id est, prima et secunda et tertia et quarta et quinta et sexta feria ; sed miseri homines et imperiti, qui istos sordidissimos et impiissimos homines, ut supra diximus, timendo potius quam amando colebant, pro illorum sacrilego cultu, quasi in honore ipsorum, totos septimanae dies singulis eorum nominibus consecrarunt ; ut quorum sacrilegia venerabantur in corde, eorum nomina frequentius habere viderentur in ore. Nos vero, fratres, qui non in hominibus perditis atque sacrilegis, sed in deo vivo et vero spem habere cognoscimur, nullum diem daemonum appellatione dignum esse iudicemus, neque observemus qua die in itinere proficisci debeamus : sed etiam ipsa sordidissima nomina dedignemur et ore proferre, et nunquam dicamus diem Martis, diem Mercurii, diem Iovis ; sed primam et secundam vel tertiam feriam, secundum quod scriptum est, nominemus. De his etiam nominibus et vestras familias admonete : tunc enim in vobis perfecta animae sanitas permanebit, si per vestram admonitionem ad eos qui multis peccatis vulnerati sunt medicamentum spiritale pervenerit. Unde non solum illos qui vestri sunt frequenter cum severitate corripite, sed etiam extraneos cum caritate iugiter admonete ; ut vobis pius et misericors dominus, non solum pro vestra, sed etiam pro aliorum salute aeterna praemia retribuat : cui est honor et gloria in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Some, indeed, fall into this error, that they diligently observe on what day they should set out on a journey, giving honor to Sol or Luna or Mars or Mercury or Jove or Venus or Saturn. These miserable people do not know that if they do not make amends by penitence they will have a piece of hell together with those to whom they are seen to pay empty honor in this world. Above all, brothers, flee from all these impieties, and avoid them as the deadly poisons of the devil. For God created Sol and Luna for us and for our benefit; not so that we might worship those two lights as gods, but so that we might give as much thanks as we can to him who gave them to us. For Mercury was a miserable man, greedy, cruel, impious, and proud; Venus was a most shameless prostitute. And those monstruous signs, that is Mars and Mercury and Jove and Venus and Saturn, are said to have been born at the time when the sons of Israel were in Egypt. If they were born then, then surely those days which are called by their names already existed at that time, and they had the names God gave them, that is, the First and Second and Third and Fourth and Fifth and Sixth Feria. But the miserable and ignorant people who worshipped those most filthy and impious people, as we said above, through fear rather than through love, in their impious worship of them consecrated all the days of the week to their names one by one, as if to honor them; because they venerated their impieties in their hearts, they seemed to have their names frequently in their mouths. Truly, brothers, we who are known to have hope in the living and true God, and not in damned and impious people, let us decide that no day deserves the name of a demon, and let us not care about what day we should set out on a journey. Let us even choose not to say with our mouths those most filthy names, and let us never say the Day of Mars, or the Day of Mercury, or the Day of Jove. Let us rather call them the Second or Third Feria, according to what is written. Furthermore, warn your families about these names, for then the perfect health of the soul will remain in you, if through your warning spiritual medicine comes to those who have been wounded by many sins. Therefore not only reproach those who belong to you frequently and with severity, but also continually and in love warn those who are not of your household, so that the pious and merciful Lord will give you eternal rewards, not only for your own salvation, but also because of the salvation of others: to whom is honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

  • 24)

    Martin of Braga, De correctione rusticorum 6–9, 16, 18. Martini episcopi Bracarensis: Opera omnia, ed. Calude W. Barlow (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950), 186–191, 198, 202–203. [c.574 C.E.]

6. Post diluvium iterum recuperatum est genus humanum per tres filios Noe, reservatos cum uxoribus suis. Et cum coepisset multitudo subcrescens mundum implere, obliviscentes iterum homines creatorem mundi deum, coeperunt, dimisso creatore, colere creaturas. Alii adorabant solem, alii lunam vel stellas, alii ignem, alii aquam profundam vel fontes aquarum, credentes haec omnia non a deo esse facta ad usum hominum, sed ipsa ex se orta deos esse.

7. Tunc diabolus vel ministri ipsius, daemones, qui de caelo deiecti sunt, videntes ignaros homines dimisso Deo creatore suo, per creaturas errare, coeperunt se illis in diversas formas ostendere et loqui cum eis et expetere ab eis, ut in excelsis montibus et in silvis frondosis sacrificia sibi offerrent et ipsos colerent pro deo, imponentes sibi vocabula sceleratorum hominum, qui in omnibus criminibus et sceleribus suam egerant vitam, ut alius Iovem se esse diceret, qui fuerat magus et in tantis adulteriis incestus ut sororem suam haberet uxorem, quae dicta est Iuno, Minervam et Venerem filias suas corruperit, neptes quoque et omnem parentelam suam turpiter incestaverit. Alius autem daemon Martem se nominavit, qui fuit litigiorum et discordiae commissor. Alius deinde daemon Mercurium se appellare voluit, qui fuit omnis furti et fraudis dolosus inventor; cui homines cupidi quasi deo lucri, in quadriviis transeuntes, iactatis lapidibus acervos petrarum pro sacrificio reddunt. Alius quoque daemon Saturni sibi nomen adscripsit, qui, in omni crudelitate vivens, etiam nascentes suos filios devorabat. Alius etiam daemon Venerem se esse confinxit, quae fuit mulier meretrix. Non solum cum innumerabilibus adulteris, sed etiam cum patre suo Iove et cum fratre suo Marte meretricata est.

8. Ecce quales fuerunt illo tempore isti perditi homines, quos ignorantes rustici per adinventiones suas pessime honorabant, quorum vocabula ideo sibi daemones adposuerunt, ut ipsos quasi deos colerent et sacrificia illis offerrent et ipsorum facta imitarentur, quorum nomina invocabant. Suaserunt etiam illis daemones ut templa illis facerent et imagines vel statuas sceleratorum hominum ibi ponerent et aras illis constituerent, in quibus non solum animalium sed etiam hominum sanguinem illis funderent. Praeter haec autem multi daemones ex illis qui de caelo expulsi sunt aut in mare aut in fluminibus aut in fontibus aut in silvis praesident, quos similiter homines ignorantes deum quasi deos colunt et sacrificant illis. Et in mare quidem Neptunum appellant, in fluminibus Lamias, in fontibus Nymphas, in silvis Dianas, quae omnia maligni daemones et spiritus nequam sunt, qui homines infideles, qui signaculo crucis nesciunt se munire, nocent et vexant. Non tamen sine permissione dei nocent, quia deum habent iratum et non ex toto corde in fide Christi credunt, sed sunt dubii in tantum ut nomina ipsa daemoniorum in singulos dies nominent, et appellent diem Martis et Mercurii et Iovis et Veneris et Saturni, qui nullum diem fecerunt, sed fuerunt homines pessimi et scelerati in gente Graecorum.

9. Deus autem omnipotens, quando caelum et terram fecit, ipse tunc creavit lucem, quae per distinctionem operum dei septies revoluta est. Nam primo deus lucem fecit, quae appellata est dies; secundo firmamentum caeli factum est; tertio terra a mare divisa est; quarto sol et luna et stellae factae sunt; quinto quadrupedia et volatilia et natatilia; sexto homo plasmatus est; septimo autem die, completo omni mundo et ornamento ipsius, requiem deus appellavit. Una ergo lux, quae prima in operibus dei facta est, per distinctionem operum dei septies revoluta, septimana est appellata. Qualis ergo amentia est ut homo baptizatus in fide Christi diem dominicum, in quo Christus resurrexit, non colat et dicat se diem Iovis colere et Mercurii et Veneris et Saturni, qui nullum diem habent, sed fuerunt adulteri et magi et iniqui et male mortui in provincia sua! Sed, sicut diximus, sub specie nominum istorum ab hominibus stultis veneratio et honor daemonibus exhibetur

16…Vulcanalia et Kalendas observare, mensas ornare, et lauros ponere, et pedem observare, et fundere in foco super truncum frugem et vinum, et panem in fontem mittere, quid est aliud nisi cultura diaboli? Mulieres in tela sua Minervam nominare et Veneris diem in nuptias observare et quo die in via exeatur adtendere, quid est aliud nisi diaboli?

18 …Diem dominicum, qui propterea dominicus dicitur, quia filius dei, dominus noster Iesus Christus, in ipso resurrexit a mortuis, nolite contemnere, sed cum reverentia colite. Opus servile, id est agrum, pratum, vineam, vel si qua gravia sunt, non faciatis in die dominico, praeter tantum quod ad necessitatem reficiendi corpusculi pro exquoquendo pertinent cibo et necessitate longinqui itineris. Et in locis proximis licet viam die dominico facere, non tamen pro occasionibus malis, sed magis pro bonis, id est aut ad loca sancta ambulare, aut fratrem vel amicum visitare, vel infirmum consolare, aut tribulanti consilium vel adiutorium pro bona causa portare. Sic ergo decet Christianum hominem diem dominicum venerare. Nam satis iniquum et turpe est ut illi qui pagani sunt et ignorant fidem Christianum, idola daemonum colentes, diem Iovis aut cuiuslibet daemonis colant et ab opera se abstineant, cum certe nullum diem daemonia nec creassent nec habeant. Et nos, qui verum deum adoramus et credimus filium dei resurrexisse a mortuis, diem resurrectionis eius, id est dominicum, minime veneramus!

6. After the flood the human race was revived through the three sons of Noah, who were saved along with their wives. And when a growing multitude began to fill the world, men, again forgetting God, the creator of the world, began, forsaking the creator, to worship creatures. Some adored Sol, others Luna or the stars, others fire, others deep water or springs of water, believing that all these things were not made by God for human use, but arose from themselves like gods.

7. Then the devil or his servants, the demons, who had been cast down from heaven, seeing ignorant men forsaking God their creator and mistaking the creatures, began to appear to them in diverse forms and to speak with them and demand from them that they offer sacrifices to them on high mountains and in leafy forests and worship them in place of God, taking for themselves the names of bandit men, who had led their lives in all crimes and profanities, so that one called himself Jove, who was a magician and among so many other adulteries took his sister as his wife, who is called Juno; he corrupted his daughters Minerva and Venus and also his nieces, and he committed foul incest with all his female relatives. Another demon called himself Mars, who caused fights and discord. Another demon then wished to call himself Mercury, who was the crafty inventor of all thefts and frauds; greedy men leave piles of stones for sacrifices to him, as if he were the god of profit, whenever they pass a crossroads. Then another demon took the name Saturn, who, living in all cruelty, even devoured his own sons at birth. Yet another demon passed herself off as Venus, who was a prostitute when a woman. Not only did she commit adultery with innumerable men, but she also practiced her prostitution with her father Jove and her brother Mars.

8. See of what sort were those ruined men at that time, whom the ignorant country people honored by their own evil deeds, whose names were adopted for that reason by demons, so that the people would worship them as gods, offer sacrifices to them, and imitate the actions of those whose names they invoked. The demons even persuaded them to build temples for them and place images or statues of criminal men in them and build altars to them, on which they poured out the blood not only of animals but also of men. In addition to this many demons from among those who were expelled from heaven preside over the sea or rivers or springs or forests, whom men, ignorant of God, worship as if they were gods and sacrifice to them. Indeed in the sea they name them Neptune, in the rivers Lamias, in the springs Nymphs, in the forests Dianas, who are all malignant demons and worthless spirits, who injure and harass unfaithful men who do not know how to defend themselves with the sign of the cross. Nevertheless, they do not injure without God's permission, because those men have angered God, and they have not believed from a whole heart in the faith of Christ, but they are so doubtful that they name each of the days after the demons themselves, and they say the Day of Mars and of Mercury and of Jove and of Venus and of Saturn, who never made any day, but who were terrible and criminal people among the race of the Greeks.

9. Almighty God, however, when he made heaven and earth, himself created light that revolved seven times to distinguish the work of God. For God made light first, which was called a day; on the second the firmament of heaven was made; on the third the land was divided from the sea; on the fourth Sol and Luna and the stars were made; on the fifth the quadrupeds and the flyers and swimmers; on the sixth humanity was formed; on the seventh day, however, having completed all the earth and its furnishings, God called for rest. Therefore one light, which was made first among the works of God and revolved seven times to distinguish the work of God, was called the week. Such is the senselessness that a person baptized into the faith of Christ should not honor the Day of the Lord, on which Christ was resurrected, and should say he honors the Days of Jove and of Mercury and of Venus and of Saturn, who do not have any day, but were adulterers and magicians and unjust and died evilly in their own lands! But, as we have said, under the appearance of those names are veneration and honor given to demons by foolish men

16…To observe the Day of Vulcan and the Kalends, to set out tables, and to place laurels, and to watch your step, and to pour fruit and wine over a log in the hearth, and to throw bread into a spring, what is this except worship of the devil? For women at the loom to call on the name of Minerva and to observe the Day of Venus for weddings and to take care on which day one begins a trip, what is this except worship of the devil?

18 …Do not disregard the Lord's Day, which is called the Lord's because the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, rose from the dead on that day, but devote yourselves to it with reverence. Do not perform servile work on the Lord's Day in the field, meadow, vineyard, or any such important place, except what is necessary for cooking food to refresh the body or for a long trip. You may take trips to nearby places, but not for evil reasons, but instead for good reasons, such as walking to holy places, or visiting a brother or friend, or caring for the sick, or taking advice or help for a good cause to someone in trouble. These are the ways a Christian should honor the Lord's Day. For it is bad enough that those who are pagans and who do not know the Christian faith, worshipping the idols of demons, should honor the Day of Jove or of any other demon and refrain from work, when certainly the demons never created a day nor do they have any. Yet we, who worship the true God and believe that the Son of God rose from the dead, barely honor the day of his resurrection, which is the Lord's Day!

  • 25)

    Gregory of Tours, Libri Historiarum X 3.15 (Monumenta Germaniae Historica 1:113). [c.593 C.E.]

Et ille: ‘Ecce enim dies solis adest’—sic enim barbaries vocitare diem dominecum consueta est—, ‘in hac die vicini atque parentes mei invitabuntur in domo mea.

And he said: “Well, tomorrow is the Day of Sol,”—for so the barbarian is accustomed to call the Lord's Day—“and on that day I will invite my neighbors and family to my house.”

  • 26)

    Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 5.30.5–12. Isidori Hispalensis episcopi Etymologiarum sive Originum libri XX, ed. W. M. Lindsay (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1911), 208–209. [c.600–625 C.E.]

5. Dies dicti a diis, quorum nomina Romani quibusdam sideribus sacraverunt. Primum enim diem a Sole appellaverunt, qui princeps est omniun siderum, sicut et idem dies caput est cunctorum dierum. 6. Secundum a Luna, quae Soli et splendore et magnitudine proxima est, et ex eo mutuat lumen. Tertium ab stella Martis, quae Vesper vocatur. Quartum ab stella Mercurii, quam quidam candidum circulum dicunt. 7. Quintum ab stella Iovis, quam Phaethontem aiunt. Sextum a Veneris stella, quam Luciferum asserunt, quae inter omnia sidera plus lucis habet. Septimus ab stella Saturni, quae sexto caelo locata triginta annis fertur explere cursum suum. 8. Proinde autem ex his septem stellis nomina dierum gentiles dederunt, eo quod per eosdem aliquid sibi effici existimarent, dicentes habere a Sole spiritum, a Luna corpus, a Mercurio ingenium et linguam, a Venere voluptatem, a Marte sanguinem, a Iove temperantiam, a Saturno humorem. Talis quippe extitit gentilium stultitia, qui sibi finxerunt tam ridiculosa figmenta. 9. Apud Hebraeos autem dies prima una sabbati dicitur, qui apud nos dies dominicus est, quem gentiles Soli dicaverunt. Secunda sabbati secunda feria, quem saeculares diem Lunae vocant. Tertia sabbati tertia feria, quem diem illi Martis vocant. Quarta sabbati quarta feria, qui Mercurii dies dicitur a paganis. 10. Quinta sabbati quinta feria est, id est quintus a die dominico, qui apud gentiles Iovis vocatur. Sexta sabbati sexta feria dicitur, qui apud eosdem paganos Veneris nuncupatur. Sabbatum autem septimus a dominico dies est, quem gentiles Saturno dicaverunt et Saturni nominaverunt. Sabbatum autem ex Hebraeo in Latinum requies interpretatur, eo quod Deus in eo requievisset ab omnibus operibus suis. 11. Melius autem in vocabulis dierum de ore Christiano ritus loquendi ecclesiasticus procedit. Tamen si quem forte consuetudo traxerit, ut illud exeat ex ore quod inprobat corde, intellegat illos omnes, de quorum nominibus appellati sunt hi dies, homines fuisse: et propter beneficia quaedam mortalia, quia plurimum potuerunt et eminuerunt in hoc saeculo, delati sunt eis ab amatoribus suis divini honores et in diebus et in sideribus; sed primum a nominibus hominum sidera nuncupata, et a sideribus dies sunt appellati. 12. A fando autem feriae nuncupatae sunt, quod sit in eis nobis tempus dictionis, id est in divino vel humano officio fari. Sed ex his festos dies hominum causa institutos, feriatos divinorum sacrorum.

5. The days are so called from the gods, whose names the Romans consecrated to certain stars. For they named the first day from Sol, who is the prince of all the stars, just as that day is the head of all the days. 6. The second is named from Luna, who is second to Sol in brilliance and size, and she borrows her light from him. The third is named from the star of Mars, who is called Vesper. The fourth is named from the star of Mercury, whom some call the “white circle.” 7. The fifth is named from the star of Jove, whom they call Phaeton. The sixth is named from the star of Venus, whom they call Lucifer, who has the most light of all the stars. The seventh is named from the star of Saturn, who, placed in the sixth heaven, is said to complete his course in thirty years. 8. Hence the gentiles took the names of the days from these seven stars because they thought that they were affected by these stars in some matters, saying that they received their spirit from Sol, their body from Luna, their intelligence and language from Mercury, their pleasure from Venus, their blood from Mars, their self-control from Jove, and their humors from Saturn. Of course the stupidity of the gentiles, who made such ridiculous figments for themselves, extends so far. 9. Among the Hebrews, however, the first day is called One of the Sabbath, which among us is the Lord's Day, and which the gentiles called the Day of Sol. The Second of the Sabbath is our Second Feria, which secular people call the Day of Luna. The Third of the Sabbath is our Third Feria, which they call the Day of Mars. The Fourth of the Sabbath is our Fourth Feria, which is called the Day of Mercury by the pagans. 10. The Fifth of the Sabbath is our Fifth Feria; it is the fifth from the Lord's Day, which is called the Day of Jove among gentiles. The Sixth of the Sabbath is called the Sixth Feria, which among those same pagans is named the Day of Venus. The Sabbath, however, is the seventh from the Lord's Day, which the gentiles dedicated to Saturn and named the Day of Saturn. Yet, “Sabbath,” translated from Hebrew into Latin, means “rest,” because on that day God rested from all his works. 11. Now, the Church's way of saying the names of the weekdays proceeds better from the mouth of a Christian. Nevertheless, if it happens that the force of habit draws from someone's mouth what he deplores in his heart, let him understand that all those whose names have been given to the days of the week were human. On account of certain human gifts and because they were very capable and famous in this world, so divine honors in the form of days and stars were granted to them by their flatterers. But the stars were first named from the names of humans, and the days were named from the stars. 12. Now the Feriae were named from “speaking” (fando), because on those days we have time for speech, that is, to speak in the divine office or about human affairs. Of these there are festival days, instituted on behalf of humans, and Feriae, for divine rites.

  • 27)

    Bede, De temporum ratione 8 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 123A:299–303). [725 C.E.]

Hebdomada graece a septenario numero nomen accepit, humana quidem consuetudine septenis solum acta diebus, sed scripturae sacrae auctoritate multis speciebus insignis quae tamen cunctae, ni fallor, ad unam finem spectant, nos scilicet admonentes post operum bonorum perfectionem in spiritus sancti gratia perpetuam sperare quietem. Prima ergo singularis illa hebdomada, et a qua caeterae formam capessunt, diuina est operatione sublimis, quia dominus, sex diebus mundi ornatum complens, septima requieuit ab operibus suis. Vbi notandum quod non ideo senarius numerus est perfectus, quia dominus in eo mundi opera perfecerit sed, sicut Augustinus ait, ideo dominus, qui omnia simul creare ualebat, in eo dignatus est operari, quia numerus est ille perfectus, ut etiam per hunc opera sua probaret esse perfecta, qui suis partibus primus impletur, id est sexta, tertia, et dimidia, quae sunt unum, duo, et tria, et simul sex fiunt. Ad huius exemplum diuinae hebdomadis secunda hominibus obseruanda mandatur, dicente domino : Sex diebus operaberis et facies omnia opera tua ; septimo autem die sabbati domini Dei tui non facies omne opus. Sex enim diebus fecit dominus caelum et terram, mare et omnia quae in eis sunt, et requieuit in die septimo. Quae a populo Dei hebdomada ita computabatur antiquitus : prima sabbati uel una sabbati siue sabbatorum, secunda sabbati, tertia sabbati, quarta sabbati, quinta sabbati, sexta sabbati, septima sabbati uel sabbatum. Non quod omnes sabbatorum, hos est requietionum, dies esse potuerint sed quod a requietionum die, quae suo nomine et cultu singularis excellebat, prima uel secunda uel tertia uel ceterae suo quaeque censerentur ex ordine. Verum gentiles cum obseruationem a populo Israhel hebdomadis ediscerent, mox hanc in laudem suorum deflexere deorum ; primam uidelicet diem soli, secundam lunae, tertiam Marti, quartam Mercurio, quintam Ioui, sextam Veneri, septimam Saturno dicantes, eisdem utique monstris suos dies quibus et errantia sidera consecrantes, tametsi diuerso ordine putatnes. Existimabant enim se habere a sole spiritum, a luna corpus, a Marte feruorem, a Mercurio sapientiam et uerbum, a Ioue temperantiam, a Venere uoluptatem, a Saturno tarditatem. Credo quia sol in medio planetarum positus totum mundum spiritus instar calefacere et quasi uiuificare uidetur, Ecclesiaste attestante qui de ipso loquens ait : Gyrans grando uadit spiritus, et in ciculos suos reuertitur. Luna per humoris ministerium cunctis incrementum corporibus suggerit. Martis stella, utpote soli proxima, colore simul et natura est feruens. Mercurius perpetuo circa solem discurendo, quasi inexhausta sapientiae luce radiari putabatur. Iuppiter frigore Saturni et ardore Martis hinc inde temperatur. Venus luminis uenustate, quam ex solis uicinitate percipit suo cernentes allicit aspectu. Saturnus eo tardior caeteris planetis quo et superior incedit, nam ·xxx· annis signiferum complet. Inde Iuppiter ·xii· annis, tertius Mars ·ii· annis, quartus sol ·ccclxv· diebus et quadrante ; infra solem Venus, quae et Lucifer et Vesper, ·cccxlviii· diebus, a sole numquam absistens partibus ·xlvi· longius. Proximum illi Mercurii sidus ·viiii· diebus, ociore ambitu modo ante solis exortus modo post occasus splendens, numquam ab eo ·xxii· partibus remotior. Nouissima luna ·xxvii· diebus et ·viii· horis signiferum conficiens. Haec igitur erat stultitia gentilium, falsa ratiocinatione subnixa, qui quasi iure primam diem soli quia maximum est luminare, secundam lunae quia secundum luminare est, se consecrare putabant. Dein ordinata alternatione tertiae diei primam a sole stellam, quartae primam a luna, quintae secundam a sole, sextae secundum a luna, septimae tertiam a sole praeponebant. Ferias uero habere clerum primus papa Siluester edocuit, cui Deo soli uacanti numquam militiam uel negotiationem liceat exercere mundanam, dicente psalmographo : Vacate et uidete, quoniam ego sum Deus ; itemque apostolo : Nemo militans Deo implicat se negotiis secularibus. Et primam quidem diem, qua et lux in principio facta et Christi est resurrectio celebrata, dominicam nuncupauit, quod illi nomen iam primis ecclesiae temporibus fuisse inditum, testatur Iohannes qui dicit in Apocalypsi : Fui in spiritu in die dominico. Deinde secundam feriam, tertiam feriam, quartam, quintam, et sextam de suo adnectens, sabbatum ex ueteri scriptura retinuit, nihil ueritus grammaticorum ferulas, qui sicut kalendas, nonas, et idus, ita etiam ferias plurali tantum numero proferendas esse decernunt.

Hebdomada in Greek takes its name from the number seven. Human custom limits the concept to the seven-day cycle, but according to the authority of sacred scripture there are many notable types of weeks, all of which, if I am not mistaken, look toward a single end, urging us to hope for eternal peace in the grace of the Holy Spirit after the completion of all good works. Therefore that unique first week, from which the others take their form, is elevated by divine action because the Lord, completing the adornment of the world in six days, rested from his works on the seventh. It should be noted here that the number six is not perfect because the Lord perfected the works of the world in six days, but because, as Augustine says, the Lord, who was able to create everything all at once, condescended to work within that number because it is a perfect number, in order that he might demonstrate the perfection of his work through that number, which is the first number to be competed by its factors, that is a sixth, a third, and a half, which are one, two, and three, and together they make six. He commanded humans to observe the second week according to the pattern of this divine week when he said, “For six days you shall labor and do all that you have to do, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath of the Lord your God, you shall not do any work. For the Lord created in six days the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh.” This is why in ancient times the people of God numbered the days of the week in this way: First of the Sabbath or One of the Sabbath or Sabbaths, Second of the Sabbath, Third of the Sabbath, Fourth of the Sabbath, Fifth of the Sabbath, Sixth of the Sabbath, Seventh of the Sabbath or Sabbath. It was not that all days could be Sabbaths or days of rest, but that the first day, the second, the third, and the others should be counted in order from the day of rest, which was superior because of its name and practice. Of course the gentiles, once they learned to observe the week from the people of Israel, soon turned it into praise of their gods, dedicating the first day to Sol, the second to Luna, the third to Mars, the fourth to Mercury, the fifth to Jove, the sixth to Venus, and the seventh to Saturn, consecrating their days to the same monstrostities to whom they had consecrated the stars, though in a different order. For they thought they received spirit from Sol, body from Luna, rage from Mars, wisdom and language from Mercury, moderation from Jove, pleasure from Venus, and slowness from Saturn. I believe this happened because Sol, positioned in the middle of the planets, seems to heat the entire universe and, as it were, give it life as spirit does. Ecclesiastes attests to this saying, “The spirit goes revolving in its revolutions, and it returns in its circle.” Luna produces growth in all bodies by supplying moisture. The star of Mars, because he is close to Sol, is fiery both in color and in nature. By his perpetual circling close to Sol, Mercury was considered to radiate, as it were, the inexhaustible light of wisdom. Jupiter is tempered on the one side by the cold of Saturn and on the other by the heat of Mars. In the beauty of her light, which she gets from her nearness to Sol, Venus attracts with her appearance those who behold her. Saturn proceeds more slowly than the other planets in that place and higher up, for he completes his course through the heavens in 30 years. After him comes Jupiter in 12 years, third comes Mars in 2 years, fourth comes Sol in 365 and one quarter days; beneath Sol is Venus, called Lucifer and Vesper, in 348 days, never departing from Sol by more than 46 degrees. The star of Mercury is close to her, his orbit shorter by 9 days, shining before Sol's rising and after his setting, never further from him than 22 degrees. Finally, Luna completes her course through the heavens in 27 days and 8 hours. This, then, was the foolishness of the gentiles, propped up by false reasoning, who, as it were by right, accounted the first day of the week to Sol because he is the greatest luminary, and the second to Luna because she is the second luminary. Then, according to an alternating sequence, they assigned the first star from Sol to the third day, the first from Luna to the fourth, the second from Sol to the fifth, the second from Luna to the sixth, and the third from Sol to the seventh. Pope Sylvester first instructed the clergy to have Feriae, clergy who, devoted to God alone, are never allowed to involve themselves in worldly service or business: as the psalmist says, “Be still and know that I am God,” and likewise the apostle, “No one who serves God involves himself in worldly business.” And Sylvester called the first day of the week, on which light was made in the beginning and Christ's resurrection is celebrated, the Lord's Day, which name had been introduced already in the earliest history of the church, as is testified by John, who says in Revelation, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day.” Then on his own authority adding the Second Feria, the Third Feria, the Fourth, the Fifth, and the Sixth, Sylvester retained the Sabbath from the ancient scriptures. He did not fear the rods of those grammarians who decree that, like Kalends, Nones, and Ides, so also the Feriae should be rasied strictly to a plural number.

NOTES

NOTES
1.
Cassius Dio, Historia romana 37.18. Cassii Dionis Cocceiani Historiarum romanarum, ed. Ursul Philip Boissevain (Berlin: Weidmann, 1895), 1:405: 4. Note that Greek-language sources used in this article are reproduced in  Appendix A and Latin-language sources in  Appendix B. All English translations are by the author unless otherwise indicated. For confirmation of Dio's opinion in modern research, see F. Boll, “Hebdomas,” in Pauly-Wissowa Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft (Stuttgart: 1912), 7.2: 2568–70. The continuous counting of weekdays distinguishes the weeks under discussion here from “quasi weeks” like the Babylonian, Persian, and Roman lunar weeks, whose cycles were calibrated to the phases of the moon and therefore lengthened or shortened on a monthly basis; F. H. Colson, The Week: An Essay on the Origin and Development of the Seven-Day Cycle (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1926), 2–3. On the sociological importance of continuous weeks that are unconnected to the revolutions of the earth or moon, see Eviatar Zerubavel, The Seven Day Circle: The History and Meaning of the Week (New York: The Free Press, 1985), 9–11.
2.
Italians of the Roman Republic and Empire also measured time with a continuous eight-day market-week, known as the nundinae, from at least the third century B.C.E. to perhaps as late as the fifth century C.E. However, the eight-day nundinae could never be conflated with a seven-day week since the two cycles corresponded only once every fifty-six days. Instead, the nundinae remained a relatively localized phenomenon, and, as a largely non-religious institution, it did not concern the Christian authors who wrote about weekdays; see James Ker, “‘Nundinae’: The Culture of the Roman Week,” Phoenix 64 (2010): 360–385. For a highly informative general history of the Roman calendar, see Jörg Rüpke, The Roman Calendar from Numa to Constantine: Time, History, and the Fasti, trans. David M. B. Richardson (Oxford: Blackwell, 2011), with discussion of the nundinae and the seven-day weeks at 160–169.
3.
Bonnie Blackburn and Leofranc Holford-Strevens, The Oxford Companion to the Year: An Exploration of Calendar Customs and Time-Reckoning (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 566.
4.
The association of Greek with “east” and Latin with “west” is approximate, and the linguistic distinction takes precedence over the geographic. For instance, three pieces of Greek documentary evidence (Table 3, numbers 6, 8, and 10) derive from Sicily and Italy, while one piece of Latin documentary evidence derives from Dacia (Table 4, number 2).
5.
1 Chr 9.25–32 depicts the returned exiles preparing showbread “every seven days” (v.25) for “every Sabbath” (v.32) in the sixth century B.C.E. The Jewish week may be much older, with references to the Sabbath in Amos 8.5 and Hos 2.11 dating from the eighth century, but it is not certain that Sabbaths prior to the sixth century were observed continuously every seven days. See Robert Goldenberg, “The Jewish Sabbath in the Roman World up to the Time of Constantine the Great,” Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt (1979), 2.19.1: 414–447.
6.
The classic account of the early Christian transition from worship on the Sabbath to the First Day of the week, or Lord's Day, is Willy Rordorf's Sunday: The History of the Day of Rest and Worship in the Earliest Centuries of the Christian Church, trans. A. A. K. Graham (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1968 [German ed. 1962]). For an alternative analysis that places greater emphasis on the role of the Roman church in that transition, see Samuele Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath to Sunday: A Historical Investigation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity (Rome: The Pontifical Gregorian University Press, 1977). An older but thoroughly sourced article on this subject is Henri Demain's “Dimanche,” Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie (Paris, 1920), IV.1: 858–994, while for a recent overview of the debate, and an introduction to the early Christian liturgical week in general, see Paul F. Bradshaw and Maxwell E. Johnson, The Origins of Feasts, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity (Collegeville, MN: Pueblo Books, 2011), 3–36.
7.
Not all modern researchers agree that the Sabbath was a strictly Jewish institution. The šap/battu, a day of Babylonian origin in the third millennium B.C.E. that marked the fifteenth of the month and may have been related to the full moon, is perhaps the most popular candidate for an extra-Jewish origin of Sabbath observance; Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, ed. Martha T. Roth (Chicago: The Oriental Institute, 1992), 17: 449–450. For a summary and bibliography of the major positions in this debate, see Harold H. P. Dressler, “The Sabbath in the Old Testament,” in From Sabbath to Lord's Day: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Investigation, ed. D. A. Carson (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 1999), 22–23, nn. 4–25. Whatever position one favors, however, it is clear that no firm link between the formation of the Jewish week and the practice of ancient astrology, a link which might provide a common origin for the two weeks under discussion here, has been established.
8.
As of this writing, the most detailed collection of sources for the formation of the planetary week remains Emil Schürer, “Die siebentägige Woche im Gebrauche der christlichen Kirche der ersten Jahrhunderte,” Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde des Urchristentums (1905): 1–66, though some important discoveries have solidified his claims further in the intervening decades; see also Colson, The Week, 18–61; Franz Joseph Dölger, “Die Planetenwoche der griechisch-römischen Antike und der christliche Sonntag,” Antike und Christentum 6 (1950): 203–238; S. Douglas Waterhouse, “The Planetary Week in the Roman West,” in The Sabbath in Scripture and History (Washington, D. C.: Review and Herald Pub, 1982): 308–322; Zerubavel, Seven Day Circle, 12–20; and Michele Renée Salzman, “Pagan and Christian Notions of the Week in the Fourth-Century CE Western Roman Empire,” in Time and Temporality in the Ancient World, ed. Ralph M. Rosen (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, 2004), 185–211. Currently, a comprehensive database of sources for the formation of the two seven-day weeks is being compiled by Ilaria Bultrighini as part of the European Research Council project “Calendars in Antiquity and the Middle Ages” under the direction of Sacha Stern at University College London: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hebrew-jewish/research/research-pro/calendars-antiquity-middle-ages/seven-day-week (accessed 10 Jan. 2018).
9.
Cassius Dio (Historia romana 37.18) assigned the origin of the planetary week to Egypt without question; 4, and the first astrologer to describe that week, Vettius Valens (120-c.175 C.E.), likely worked in Alexandria; Vettius Valens, Anthologiae 1.10. Vettii Valentis Antiocheni Anthologiarum libri novem, ed. David Edwin Pingree (Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1986), 25; 2; for Valens' life and work, see the introduction to Joëlle-Frédérique Bara, Vettius Valens d'Antioche: Anthologies, livre I (Leiden: Brill, 1989). While no source from the second or third century B.C.E. directly references an Egyptian planetary week, all of the authors listed in note 8 place the origin of that week in that time and location.
10.
Valens describes the planetary week as a cycle of hours (Anthologiae 1.10; 2), and his opinion is confirmed by both the practice of later astrologers and Cassius Dio (Historia romana 37.19; 4). For a visual explanation of this complex system, see Zerubavel, Seven Day Circle, 15–18.
11.
The planetary hours did not entirely disappear from the European Middle Ages, however. See, for example, the “Hour of Venus” in Chaucer's Knight's Tale lines 2217, 2273, and 2367.
12.
Contra Rordorf, Sunday, 34. Jewish influence on an existing planetary week (particularly the adoption of some Sabbatical practices by certain Romans) and a Jewish origin for the planetary week are two different things.
13.
Already in the early third century, Cassius Dio had some difficulty researching the origin of the planetary week because the seven-day cycle had become popular while the hourly cycle remained largely the tool of professional astrologers. He in fact offered two explanations for the origin of that week, but the alternative explanation that Dio had heard, which involved music theory, can safely be dismissed for lack of corroborating evidence; Cassius Dio, Historia romana 37.18; 4. For the earliest record of the planetary week in Latin, see Tibullus, Elegae 1.3.15–19. Albii Tibulli aliorumque carmina, ed. Georg Luck. 2nd ed. (Stuttgart and Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1998), 11; 1. The poet used the holy Day of Saturn as a pretext to delay a journey and spend more time with his lover. On the relationship of time and holiness in the Roman Republic see Jörg Rüpke, “Sakralisierung von Zeit in Rom und Italien. Produktionsstrategien und Aneignung von Heiligkeit,” in Heilige, Heiliges und Heiligkeit in spätantiken Religionskulturen, ed. Peter Gemeinhardt (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012), 231–248.
14.
While Jews and Christians, together with their week, remained minorities in the Roman world through the third century, the planetary week was attested in a variety of documents from across the Empire: at Pompeii in 60 C.E. (Corpus inscriptionum latinarum IV 4182), Rome in 98–117 (A. Degrassi, Inscriptiones Italiae. Vol. XIII Fasti et Elogia fasciculus II, Libreria dello Stato [Rome, 1963]: 309), Romania in 205 (CIL III 1051), Syria in 219 (Neugebauer and van Hoesen, Greek Horoscopes, pg. 54, nr. 219 I [b]), Spain in 224 (L'anneé epigraphique 1983, 0590), Germany in 231 (CIL III 5938), and Egypt in 243 (P.Oxy.44 3174v). On the contemporary material evidence for the spread of the planetary week in reliefs, statues, and vases, see Charles Pietri, “Le temps de la semaine à Rome et dans l'Italie chrétienne (IVe-Vie siècle.),” in Christiana respublica. Éléments d'une enquête sur le christianisme antique (Rome: École française de Rome, 1997), 69, n. 54–57.
15.
Constantine, Codex Justinianus 3.12.2; Corpus iuris civilis, ed. Krueger et al. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1895), 2:127; 4. For an argument that, despite its planetary nomenclature, this legislation was actually a step toward the Christianization of the week, see Klaus Martin Girardet, “Vom Sonnen-Tag zum Sonntag. Der dies solis in Gesetzgebung und Politik Konstantins,” Zeitschrift für antikes Christentum 11 (2006): 279–310.
16.
Justin Martyr, Apologia maior 67.3, 8. Iustini Martyris Apologiae pro Christianis. Ed. Miroslav Marcovich (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 1994), 129–130; 1; Bede, De temporum ratione 8 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 123A:299–303); 27. Unfortunately, no literary voices from proponents of the planetary week have survived to provide a Roman-religious perspective on the increasing acceptance of the Judeo-Christian week.
17.
The Portuguese week, which is entirely Judeo-Christian, is the major exception among Romance languages. The history of the week in that language forms a special case that will be discussed below.
18.
Klaas Worp, “Remarks on Weekdays in Late Antiquity Occurring in Documentary Sources,” Tyche (1991): 221–30.
19.
O. Neugebauer, H.-B. van Hoesen, Greek Horoscopes, p. 54, nr. 219 I(b): “ετους λφ μηνος αυδινεου θ/ κατα σεληνην ε ημερα κρονου περι γ̄/ ημερινης εγενηθη αλεξαν μακεδων/ απολλωνικου” ; cf. Worp, “Weekdays,” 222.
20.
See K. Worp, “The date of O.Crum VC 111 and O.Bawit 56 - 58 & 62.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 138 (2002) 121–122 for the difficulty in deciphering weekday dates in a small group of Greco-Coptic papyri from the sixth and seventh centuries C.E.
21.
Worp, “O.Crum VC 111,” 121 note 1.
22.
In addition to the Hebrew-derived numbering system and the Lord's Day, some Copts in Late Antiquity used a weekday system that numbered its days in reference to regular Christian fasts on Wednesday and Friday; for these two systems see Bentley Layton, A Coptic Grammar 2nd ed. (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag), 101. For a concise and informative history of the Coptic week, see Ambrose Boles, A Study in the Coptic Calendar: the Week. Pisakho Series (2009). This study is available at: http://sites.google.com/site/pisakho/project-emi/calendar (accessed 10 Jan. 2018).
23.
On the first day of the week in Syriac, see J. Payne Smith, A Compendious Syriac Dictionary (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1998), 190.
24.
For the creation of Armenian alphabet and borrowing of weekday names, see Agop J. Hacikyan et al., The Heritage of Armenian Literature (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2000), 1: 83–92.
25.
The classic astrological text from the Babylonian Talmud is bShab 156a-b. See Solomon Gandz, “The Origin of the Planetary Week or The Planetary Week in Hebrew Literature,” Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 18 (1948–49): 213–254, and Reimund Leicht, Astrologumena Judaica: Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der astrologischen Literatur der Juden (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2006), 90–101. Some of the rabbis did accept the power of the planets over the days and hours of the week, but they were careful to assert the greater power of the one true God.
26.
For a recent assessment of Justin in his multi-cultural context, see Justin Martyr and his Worlds, ed. Sara Parvis and Paul Foster (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007).
27.
Justin Martyr, Apologia maior 67.3: 1.
28.
Justin Martyr, Apologia maior 67.8: 1.
29.
Justin Martyr, Apologia maior 67.8; 1.
30.
For an introduction to Clement's Stromata in historical context see John Ferguson, Clement of Alexandria (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1974), 106–163.
31.
Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 7.12. Clemens Alexandrinus. Dritter Band. Stromata VII und VIII, ed. Otto Stälin (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichsche Buchhandlung, 1909), 54; 3.
32.
See Eusebius: Life of Constantine, ed. and trans. Averil Cameron and Stuart G. Hall (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999) for a modern translation of and commentary on this document. For Constantine's dies solis legislation, see Codex Justinianus 3.12.2: 4, and Codex Theodosianus 2.8.1. Theodosiani libri XVI, ed. Theodor Mommsen and Paul M. Meyer (Berlin: Weidmann, 1905), 1:87: 5.
33.
Eusebius of Caesarea, Vita Constantini 4.18.1, Über das Leben des Kaisers Konstantins, ed. F. Winkelmann (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1975, rev. 1992), 126; 5.
34.
Eusebius of Caesarea, Vita Constantini 4.18.3; 5.
35.
On the spread of the Cult of Sol Invictus in the Roman Empire, including a useful sourcebook, see Gaston H. Halsberghe, The Cult of Sol Invictus (Leiden: Brill, 1972); for the pre-Christian origins of that cult in the western Near East, see Jürgen Tubach, Im Schatten des Sonnengottes: Der Sonnenkult in Edessa, Harran und Hatra am Vorabend der christlichen Mission (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1986).
36.
In his Homily 6 on Col 2.8 Chrysostom mentioned no planetary days by name, and in his sermon On the Kalends he forbade feasting on the kalends, the new moons, and even on Lord's Days. The mention of the Lord's Day indicates that he had at least the Judeo-Christian week in mind and increases the significance of his silence regarding the planetary week. These, together with sermons on the same topics by the Cappadocians, would be exactly the places to mention planetary weekdays and their associated practices if they remained live issues at this time, yet they appear by name in none of these writings.
37.
Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History 1.18.11.
38.
On the waxing and waning of professional astrological practice in the east and west during the centuries following Constantine's conversion, see Tamsyn Barton, Ancient Astrology (London: Routledge, 1994), 64–85. See also Franz Cumont's classic Astrology and Religion among the Greeks and Romans (New York: Dover, 1912 reprint 1960) for a poetic, though dated, history of ancient astrology.
39.
Tertullian, Apologeticum 16.9–11 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 1:116); 2. For historical commentary on this portion of the Apologeticum, see Tobias Georges, Tertullian: ‘Apologeticum’ (Freiburg: Herder, 2011), 273–276.
40.
Tertullian, Ad nationes 1.13.1–5 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 1:32); 3. The editor notes a crux in the text that could allow Tertullian's comments regarding bathing, leisure, and dining to refer to either the Day of Saturn or the Day of Sol. See Salzman, “Pagan and Christian Notions,” 196–198 for a more detailed discussion of this issue.
41.
Tertullian, Apologeticum 10.1–11.
42.
Tertullian, Apologeticum 22–23. While Justin blamed demons for twisting Roman religion so as to compete with Christian revelation, he stopped short of declaring that the Roman gods were in fact demons (First Apology 14, 21, 25, 54, and 56).
43.
See John Daniel Cooke, “Euhemerism: A Mediaeval Interpretation of Classical Paganism,” Speculum (Oct., 1927): 396–410.
44.
For Jerome's moralism in its historical context, see J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies (New York: Harper and Row, 1975).
45.
Jerome, In die dominica paschae 49–57 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 78:550): 11.
46.
Mal 4.2. “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.” (English Standard Version)
47.
Very little is known about the life of Maximus. For his historical context, see the introduction to Boniface Ramsey, Sermons of St. Maximus of Turin (New York: Newman Press, 1989).
48.
Maximus of Turin, De Pentecosten (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 23:178): 12.
49.
The phrases “Sol of justice” and “Sol of righteousness” as titles for Christ are striking. My decision to capitalize the Latin word Sol and leave it untranslated in these excerpts highlights the fact that the translation of Sol as “sun,” which is not a personal name in English and is generally not capitalized, obscures the difficulties that Jerome and Maximus had in dissociating the god Sol from his astral body in the minds of their audiences. I write Luna in place of moon for the same reason. The iconography of the planetary week emphasized the divine personalities of all seven of the planetary gods; see for example the “Parapegma urbanum thermarum Traiani” (early second century) in A. Degrassi, Inscriptiones Italiae. Volumen XII: Fasti et elogia fasciculus II (Rome: Libreria dello Stato, 1963), 309. Associating the sun with Christ while avoiding the identification of Christ with Sol was a difficult project so long as the only Latin word available to refer to the sun was also the proper name of the Roman sun-god, and English translation should not obscure that difficulty when the divinity of the planets is the issue at hand.
50.
Ausonius, Eclogae 1, in The Works of Ausonius, ed. R. P. H. Green (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 96–97: 10. For further historical background on Ausonius, see Green's introduction.
51.
Ausonius, Eclogae 18: 10.
52.
Ausonius, Eclogae 18: 10.
53.
Philaster of Brescia, Diversarum hereseon liber (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 38), 7. For historical background on Philaster, see the introduction to Delle varie eresie, trans. Gabriele Banterle (Rome: Città Nuova, 1991).
54.
Augustine of Hippo, Epistle 222 (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 57: 446–449).
55.
Philaster of Brescia, Diversarum hereseon liber 113 (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 38:78–79), 7.
56.
Codex Justinianus 3.12.2; 4, Codex Theodosianus 2.8.1; 5.
57.
Codex Theodosianus 8.8.1: 6.
58.
Codex Theodosianus 15.5.2: 8. On Roman games and Christian holidays generally, see Alexander Puk, Das römosche Spielewesen in der Spätantike (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014), 62–66.
59.
Codex Theodosianus 2.8.18: 9. For a more detailed discussion of this legislation, see Salzman, “Pagan and Christian Notions,” 199–202.
60.
Codex Theodosianus 2.8.23: 15.
61.
Honorius and Theodosius II, Codex Theodosianus 2.8.25, in Theodosiani libri XVI, ed. Theodor Mommsen and Paul M. Meyer (Berlin: Weidmann, 1905), 1: 89: 16.
62.
Codex Theodosianus 15.5.5: 17.
63.
Gregory of Tours, Libri historiarum X 3.15. (Monumenta Germaniae Historica 1:113), 25.
64.
On Augustine's interactions with Roman religion more generally, see Augustin Handbuch, ed. Volker Henning Drecoll (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007), 203–208.
65.
Augustine of Hippo, Ennarationes in Psalmos 93.3. (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 39:1303), 13.
66.
Augustine of Hippo, Contra Faustum 18.2, 5. (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 25.1:491, 493–494), 14.
67.
Augustine of Hippo, Ennarationes in Psalmos 93.3. (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 39:1303), 13.
68.
On Isidore's place in the Visigothic culture of late antique Spain, see J. Fontaine, Isidore de Séville: genèse et originalité de la culture hispanique au temps des Wisigoths (Turnhout, 2000).
69.
Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 5.30.11. Isidori Hispalensis episcopi Etymologiarum sive Originum libri XX, ed. W. M. Lindsay (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1911), 209: 26.
70.
On Caesarius' attempts to shape the faith and practices of his community, see William E. Klingshirn, Caesarius of Arles: The Making of a Christian Community in Late Antique Gaul (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).
71.
Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 1.12 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 103:8–9), 18; cf. Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 54.1: 22, (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 103:236) and Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 193.4 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 104:785–786), 23. This appears to be related to the custom Tibullus recorded six centuries earlier; Tibullus, Elegae 1.3.15–19; 1. However, Caesarius does not mention the Day of Saturn specifically.
72.
Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 52.2 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 103:230–231), 21.
73.
Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 19.4 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 103:90), 20.
74.
Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 193.4 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 104),785–786, 23.
75.
Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 52.2 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 103), 230–231, 21.
76.
Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 193.4 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 104),785, 23.
77.
Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 193.4 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 104:786), 23; Caesarius of Arles, Sermones 13.5 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 104:68), 19.
78.
Klingshirn, Caesarius of Arles, 273–286.
79.
Stephen McKenna, Paganism and Pagan Survivals in Spain up to the Fall of the Visigothic Kingdom (Washington D.C: The Catholic University of America Press, 1938), 75–76.
80.
Scholarship on Martin is limited. For a general introduction to his life and English translations of his works, see Claude W. Barlow, Iberian Fathers (Washington D. C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1969) 1:3–109.
81.
Martin of Braga, De correctione rusticorum 7. Martini episcopi Bracarensis: Opera omnia, ed. Calude W. Barlow (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950), 187: 24.
82.
Martin of Braga, De correctione rusticorum 7. Martini episcopi Bracarensis: Opera omnia, ed. Calude W. Barlow (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950), 187: 24.
83.
Martin of Braga, De correctione rusticorum 16, 18. Martini episcopi Bracarensis: Opera omnia, ed. Calude W. Barlow (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950), 198, 202–203: 24.
84.
Bede, De temporum ratione 8 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 123A:299–303). For historical background on this work and an up-to-date English translation, see Faith Wallis, ed., Bede, The Reckoning of Time (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1999).
85.
Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 5.30.8. Isidori Hispalensis episcopi Etymologiarum sive Originum libri XX, ed. W. M. Lindsay (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1911), 208: 26.
86.
Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 5.30.8. Isidori Hispalensis episcopi Etymologiarum sive Originum libri XX, ed. W. M. Lindsay (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1911), 208: 26.
87.
Bede, De temporum ratione 8 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 123A:301), 27.
88.
Bede, De temporum ratione 8 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 123A:303), 27.
89.
Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 5.30.12. Isidori Hispalensis episcopi Etymologiarum sive Originum libri XX, ed. W. M. Lindsay (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1911), 208: 26.
90.
Bede, De temporum ratione 8 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 123A:303), 27.
91.
Philaster of Brescia, Diversarum hereseon liber 113 (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 38:78–79), 7; Ausonius, Eclogae 1, 18, in The Works of Ausonius, ed. R. P. H. Green (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 96–97, 103–104: 10.
92.
Augustine of Hippo, Ennarationes in Psalmos 93 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 39:1302), 13.
93.
On the origins of Holy Week, see Bradshaw and Johnson, Feasts, Fasts and Seasons, 89–122.
94.
Bede, De temporum ratione 8 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 123A:303), 27.
95.
Ilaria Bultrighini, “Thursday (Dies Iovis) in the Later Roman Empire,” Papers of the British School at Rome 2018: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/papers-of-the-british-school-at-rome/article/thursday-dies-iovis-in-the-later-roman-empire/762662203AE6A5DB8D486D7D8D964BD6 (accessed 8 Aug 2018).
96.
P.Oxy.54.3759 (Table 3 number 4).
97.
Augustine of Hippo, Contra Faustum 18.2, 5 (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 25.1:491, 493–494), 14.
98.
On the varied notions of “pagan time” in the early Latin Middle Ages, see Bernadette Filotas, Pagan Survivals, Superstitions and Popular Cultures in Early Medieval Pastoral Literature (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2005), 153–192. On the difficulty of reconstructing “pagan time” from hostile Christian sermons, however, see Michele Salzman, “Christian Sermons against Pagans: The Evidence from Augustine's Sermons on the New Year and on the Sack of Rome in 410,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila, ed. Michael Maas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 344–357.
99.
José Vives, Inscriptiones cristianas de la España romana y visigoda (Barcelona, 1942, 56): “hic requiescat Remisuera in kal. Maias era DC quinquagis VI, die secunda feria in pace. amen.”
100.
Martini episcopi Bracarensis: Opera omnia, ed. Calude W. Barlow (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950), 165.
101.
Hutton Webster, Rest Days: A Study in Early Law and Morality (New York: Macmillan, 1916), 221, n. 2; Edwin Williams, From Latin to Portuguese: Historical Phonology and Morphology of the Portuguese Language, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1962), 13; Zerubavel, Seven Day Circle, 21.
102.
The following article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_the_days_of_the_week (accessed 8 Aug 2018) lists the names of the weekdays in over 150 languages and dialects from around the world, all coded for day-names derived from numbers, astrology, and other (usually local) sources.
103.
For an overview of the Church of the East and the spread of Asian Christianity in Late Antiquity, see Robert Louis Wilken, The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), 222–245.
104.
Zerubavel, Seven Day Circle, 25–26; S. D. Goitein, “The Origin and Nature of the Muslim Friday Worship,” Muslim World 49 (1959): 183–195.
105.
Wilken, The First Thousand Years, 344–354; Colson, The Week, 118–119; Cecil Brown, “Naming the Days of the Week: A Cross-Language Study of Lexical Acculturation,” Cultural Anthropology 30 (1989): 539 note 8.
106.
Wolf Leslau, “The Names of the Weekdays in Ethiopic,” Journal of Semitic Studies 6 (1961): 62–70.
107.
Leslau, “Weekdays in Ethiopic,” 66–67.
108.
Udo Strutynski, “Germanic Divinities in Weekday Names,” The Journal of Indo-European Studies 3 (1975): 363–384.
109.
In the twelfth century the Danish Historian Saxo Grammaticus attempted to educate his audience about the humane origins of Thor and Odin and their weekdays. His writing on the subject is in the euhemeristic tradition of Tertullian, Augustine, Isidore, and Bede; Saxo Grammaticus, Gesta Danorum 6.
110.
Dorothy Haines, Sunday Observance and the Sunday Letter in Anglo-Saxon England (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2010). In English, Sunday = Day of the Sun, Monday = Day of the Moon, Tuesday = Day of Tiw = Mars, Wednesday = Day of Woden/Odin = Mercury, Thursday = Day of Thor = Jupiter, Friday = Day of Frig = Venus, and Saturday = Day of Saturn.
111.
The information in this paragraph derives primarily from Stephen Markel, “The Genesis of the Indian Planetary Deities,” East and West 41 (1991): 173–188.
112.
J. F. Fleet, Inscriptions of the Early Gupta Kings and their Successors, Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, vol. 3 (Calcutta 1888); 4th rev. ed., Varansi (1980), 88–90.
113.
See Ye Delu, “Qiyao li ru Zhongguo kao” [An examination of the introduction of the seven luminaries calendars into China], Furen xuebao 11 (1942): 137–157.
114.
Alexander Wylie, Chinese Researches (Shanghai, 1897): Historical Section 86–100; E. Chavannes and P. Pelliot, “Un traité manichéen retrouvé en Chine, traduit et annoté,” Journal asiatique (1911) 10e sér., 18, 499; (1913) 11esér., 1, 99, 261; Marc Kalinowski, “The Use of the Twenty-Eight Xiu as a Day-Count in Early China,” Chinese Science 13 (1996): 64.
1.
The editor recognizes a crux before “ex diebus” and considers the alternative reading, “<s>ex diebus.”