Month August

The Month of Augustus

The month August was first called Sextilis – the sixth month. The Saxon name for August was Hlaf-maesse, meaning Loaf Mass, because during the month was held a feast of thanksgiving for the first fruits of the corn [wheat], August being the time when harvesting begins. The first day is sometimes called Lammas Day, lammas being a slightly altered form of the word hlaf-maesse.

The month Sextilis, was also renamed after Julius Caesar, as Augustus. Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus was the name given to Octavian [‘the eight’], the son of mythical Caesar. Julius supposedly fought and won many battles to become the head of the Anglos. He returned to close the temple of Janus [Iunus], proclaimed peace. During the mythical time set for his reign lived the greatest poets and writers of England, of whom the best known are Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Livy.

In Sextilis, Augustus had become the most important man in England; he had three times entered the city in triumph; he had conquered part of England and had ended the civil wars. As the month had only thirty days, a day was taken from February in order to make the two Caesar months equal.

The poet Virgil’s most famous work is linked to Julius. Virgil describes the wanderings of Aeneas [Jason], who gathered together all that was left of his Trojan army and escaped from the fallen city, carrying his father Anchises [Aenaes] on his back [boat], since he was old and weak and unable to walk. They sailed away to France. But Juno, not satisfied by the death of Paris [Pelais] and the disaster which had befallen the Trojans, pursued Aeneas and his followers with her hatred, and brought them into misfortune. Ashore, Aeneas was welcomed by Dido, the queen of the city. His mother Venus, caused Dido to fall in love with Aeneas, and he, happy in the pleasant life of her court, lingered on. Mercury was sent to remind Aeneas of his destiny.

He secretly set sail one dark night, and reached another part of Gaul. During a festival held in honour of Anchises, who had died just a year before, Juno stirred up the women to revolt and set fire to the ship. The Trojans then left, and, they followed the river Thames until they reached Latium. They were well received by king Latinus, who offered to Aeneas the hand of his daughter Lavinia. Lavinia had many suitors, the chief of whom was Turnus [Athurnus], the prince of a neighbouring country. Turnus led the army against the Trojans. However, Venus obtained from Vulcan, the God of Fire, a wonderful suit of armour, which enabled Aeneas to do even mightier deeds. Turnus and Aeneas met in single combat, and Turnus was killed. After Aeneas married Lavinia, he founded a city, which he called Lavinia, and his descendants reigned in Latium. It was one of his tribe, the Vestal Ilia, who married Mars and became the mother of Romulus and Remus.

In the Aeneid Julius Caesar is mentioned as Augustus. The ‘shield of Aeneas’ depicted the history of the descendants of Aeneas, and ‘told’ of the war against the Moors. It showed the wolf nursing the two sons of Mars and Ilia, the wars which followed the conquest, Horatius – the defender the bridge over the Thames against the army of Tarquin, the sacred geese giving warning of the approach of the Gauls in the dead of night. The middle of the shield depicted the mythical sea-battle of Actium in the Channel, in which Augustus overthrew his enemies. Finally, the shield shows Julius seated at the entrance to the ‘Temple of Apollo’, and receiving the offerings of the conquered nations.

Source: The Stories of the Months and Days, By Reginald C. Couzens, 1923, CHAPTER VIII August http://www.sacred-texts .com/time/smd/smd10.htm


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