What Were the Months Called in Ancient Greece?

The ancient Greeks had a unique way of naming their months, which was quite different from the modern Gregorian calendar that we use today. In fact, the ancient Greeks had multiple calendars, each with their own set of months. Let’s explore what these months were called and how they were organized.

The Athenian Calendar

One of the most well-known Greek calendars was the Athenian calendar, which was used in Athens during the classical period. This calendar consisted of twelve lunar months and each month began with a new moon. The Athenian calendar is believed to have been introduced by Cleisthenes in 507 BCE.

Here are the names of the twelve months in the Athenian calendar:

  • Hekatombaion (July-August)
  • Metageitnion (August-September)
  • Boedromion (September-October)
  • Pyanepsion (October-November)
  • Maimakterion (November-December)
  • Poseideon (December-January)
  • Gamelion (January-February)
  • Anthestērion (February-March)
  • Elaphebolion (March-April)
  • Mounichion (April-May)
  • Thargelion (May-June)
    (The name Thargelion is uncertain as it has multiple meanings)


  • Skirophorion (June-July)

The Spartan Calendar

The Spartan calendar was also a lunar calendar, but it consisted of only twelve months. Each month began with the first sighting of the crescent moon. The Spartan calendar had some unique names for the months:

  • Xandikos
  • Dios
  • Apellaios
  • Karneios
  • Makarakos
  • Artemisios
    (Month of Artemis)


  • Daidromon
  • Leneon
  • Gyon
    (Month of Youth)


  • Hyakinthios
    (Month of Hyacinth)
    (In honor of Hyacinthus who was killed by Apollo and later transformed into a flower)

  • Karneios eelaphobos: (Extra Month) This month was added every few years to keep the calendar aligned with the seasons.

The Months in Other Greek Calendars:

Apart from these two calendars, there were many other Greek calendars used during different periods in history. The Dorian calendar, for example, had only six months and was used in Sparta before they adopted the twelve-month Athenian calendar. The Corinthian calendar had four seasons, each consisting of three months and was used in Corinth.

Conclusion:

So there you have it – the months as they were called in ancient Greece! While the Athenian calendar is the most well-known, it’s important to remember that there were many other calendars used throughout ancient Greece. It’s fascinating to see how different cultures have created their own systems for measuring time and how they have evolved over time.