[Sidenote: Ancient division of time.] [Sidenote: Change effected by Caesar.] [Sidenote: The old and new styles.]
One great change which he effected continues in perfect operation throughout Europe to the present day. It related to the division of time. The system of months in use in his day corresponded so imperfectly with the annual circuit of the sun, that the months were moving continually along the year in such a manner that the winter months came at length in the summer, and the summer months in the winter. This led to great practical inconveniences; for whenever, for example, any thing was required by law to be done in certain months, intending to have them done in the summer, and the specified month came at length to be a winter month, the law would require the thing to be done in exactly the wrong season. Caesar remedied all this by adopting a new system of months, which should give three hundred and sixty-five days to the year for three years, and three hundred and sixty-six for the fourth; and so exact was the system which he thus introduced, that it went on unchanged for sixteen centuries. The months were then found to be eleven days out of the way, when a new correction was introduced, and it will now go on three thousand years before the error will amount to a single day. Caesar employed a Greek astronomer to arrange the system that he adopted; and it was in part on account of the improvement which he thus effected that one of the months, as has already been mentioned, was called July. Its name before was Quintilis.
[Footnote 4: By Pope Gregory XIII. at the time of the change from the old style to the new]
[Sidenote: Magnificent schemes.] [Sidenote: Caesar collects the means to carry out his vast schemes.]
Caesar formed a great many other vast and magnificent schemes. He planned public buildings for the city, which were going to exceed in magnitude and splendor all the edifices of the world. He commenced the collection of vast libraries, formed plans for draining the Pontine Marshes, for bringing great supplies of water into the city by an aqueduct, for cutting a new passage for the Tiber from Rome to the sea, and making an enormous artificial harbor at its mouth. He was going to make a road along the Apennines, and cut a canal through the Isthmus of Corinth, and construct other vast works, which were to make Rome the center of the commerce of the world. In a word, his head was filled with the grandest schemes, and he was gathering around him all the means and resources necessary for the execution of them.
Caesar’s greatness and glory came at last to a very sudden and violent end. He was assassinated. All the attendant circumstances of this deed, too, were of the most extraordinary character, and thus the dramatic interest which adorns all parts of the great conqueror’s history marks strikingly its end.