Ab urbe condita

Antoninianus of Pacatianus, usurper of Roman emperor Philip in 248. It bears the legend ROMAE AETER[NAE] AN[NO] MIL[LESIMO] ET PRIMO, "To eternal Rome, in its one thousand and first year".

Ab urbe condita or Anno urbis conditae (Latin pronunciation: [ab ˈʊrbɛ ˈkɔndɪtaː], abbreviated: A.U.C. or AUC) is a convention that was used in antiquity and by classical historians to refer to a given year in Ancient Rome. Ab urbe condita literally means "from the founding of the City" and anno urbis conditae means "in the year since the City's founding". Therefore, the traditional date of the foundation of Rome, 753 BC, would be written 1 AUC. 1 AD, or 1 CE, would be 754 AUC. The foundation of the Empire, 27 BC or 27 BCE, would be 726 AUC.

Its use was more common in the Renaissance, when editors sometimes added AUC to Roman manuscripts they published, giving the false impression that the convention was commonly used in antiquity. In reality, the dominant method of identifying Roman years in Roman times was to name the two consuls who held office that year. In late antiquity, regnal years were also in use, the Diocletian era in Roman Egypt after AD 293, and in the Byzantine Empire after AD 537, following a decree by Justinian.

Significance

The traditional date for the founding of Rome, 21 April 753 BC, is due to Marcus Terentius Varro (1st century BC). Varro may have used the consular list with its mistakes and called the year of the first consuls "245 ab urbe condita", accepting the 244-year interval from Dionysius of Halicarnassus for the kings after the foundation of Rome. The correctness of Varro's calculation has not been confirmed, but it is still used worldwide.

From Emperor Claudius (ruled 41–54) onwards, Varro's calculation superseded other contemporary calculations. Celebrating the anniversary of the city became part of imperial propaganda. Claudius was the first to hold magnificent celebrations in honour of the city's anniversary, in 48 AD, 800 years after the founding of the city.[citation needed] Hadrian and Antoninus Pius held similar celebrations, in 121 and 147/148 respectively.

In 248, Philip the Arab celebrated Rome's first millennium, together with Ludi saeculares for Rome's alleged tenth saeculum. Coins from his reign commemorate the celebrations. A coin by a contender for the imperial throne, Pacatianus, explicitly states "Year one thousand and first", which is an indication that the citizens of the Empire had a sense of the beginning of a new era, a Saeculum Novum.

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