previous next


NU´NDINAE (in an older form noundinae), the market day, a regular division of the Calendar, and hence the market itself. The Romans had a system of eight-day weeks, which, like our seven-day weeks, ran on from one month to another and from one year to another without breaking, and starting afresh with the new month or year, so that the nundinae was a day “qui nono semper ab orbe redit” (Ov. Fast. 1.54). By the ordinary inclusive reckoning the eighth day was counted as the ninth and [p. 2.252]called nundinae; the whole week, or period of eight days, being termed inter nundinum, or, in one adjective, internundinum (tempus). The days were marked in calendars by the letters A, B, C, D, E, , G, H, and it would naturally be supposed posed that H would always be the letter of the nundinae; but this was not so, because the 1st of January always began afresh with A, while the first nundinae of the new year was invariably the eighth day after the last nundinae of December, and consequently, unless the nundinae had fallen on the 31st of December, was marked by a different letter, which belonged to all the nundinae of that year. It may be observed that this system of letters cannot belong to the earliest times, because the letter G was only introduced in the third cent. B.C. But this does not prevent the eight-day division being a very ancient Roman arrangement, as Dionysius (2.28) and others describe it. (The Sabines, however, even till the end of the Republic, had a seven-day week, which appears in the fasti Sabini: see Marquardt, Staatsverw. 3.281.) The countrymen, having worked seven days in the fields, came into the towns on the eighth for the market (Macrob. 1.16, 33; Verg. Moret. 80). The jus nundinorumn--that is, the exclusive right of the dwellers in a particular spot to hold the periodical markets for a particular district--was granted by the senate (cf. Suet. Cl. 12; Plin. Ep. 5.4). As to the regulations about law business and comitia on the nundinae, see DIES Vol. I. p. 636, and COMITIA Vol. I. p. 506 b; as regards school holidays, LUDUS LITTERARIUS p. 97 b.

The expression trinum nundinum (whence an adjective trinundinus, trinundino die, &c.) is disputed, and still open to dispute, both as to its grammar and its meaning. The usual explanation is that it is a genitive from trinae nundinae, with an ellipse of a word signifying space or lapse, and this is agreeable to the rule for the use of numerals in the best Latinity, though the rule is not without exceptions, That Cicero took it as a genitive is clear from de Dom. 16, 41; and its use elsewhere is not against this, if we take trinundino to be an adjective. The sense, according to this view, is, such a period as to include three nundinae (i. e. seventeen days), from the 1st to the 3rd nundinae. That Plutarch and Dionysius so understood it, is clear from their rendering it by τρίτη ἀγορά (Dionys. A. R. 7.58, 9.41; Plut. Cor. 18). On the other hand, Mommsen brings instances which seem to show that the period was longer than seventeen days, at any rate in republican times, and he holds that it was a space of three complete internundina, i.e. twenty-four days, and, if a genitive at all, stands for trinorum nundinorum. He does not seem to us to overthrow beyond dispute the usual interpretation. It might be suggested that, if the required notice had to extend over three nundinae, it was originally a varying length, extending from seventeen days, when notice was given on the nundinae, to twenty-three days, when the notice was given just after a “market day” was past, and therefore the trinundinum may sometimes come before us as a period longer than twenty days (as in the cases cited by Mommsen), sometimes as a conventional term for exactly seventeen days. For the notice required for holding COMITIA see Vol. I. p. 533 a.

Nundinium, a later form of nundinum, is found = nundinae (C. I. L. 8.408), and = internundinum (Macrob. l.c.); but a use specially to be noticed is its signification, the period of consulship. When, under the Empire, several pairs of consuls were created in one year [CONSUL, Vol. I. p. 537], the period of a single consulship was called nundinium (Lamprid. Vit. Alexand. 28, 43; Vopisc. Vit. Tacit. 9). (Marquardt, Staatsverwalt. 3.289; Mommsen, Staatsrecht, 2.84, 3.375.)

[L.S] [G.E.M]

hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Suetonius, Divus Claudius, 12
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 5.4
    • Plutarch, Caius Marcius Coriolanus, 18
    • Ovid, Fasti, 1
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: