No, Caesar didn't add two months to the calendar!
Ides of March special
There's one meme that refuses to die which annoys me more than it should. This March 15th let's finally stab it out for good.
This obviously implies that Caesar added the extra months and his assassination was just rewards for this. But it's wrong for a number of reasons.
The first is the assumption that because July is named after him, he changed it. While Caesar did reform the calendar and the Julian calendar bears his name, the fact that August is named after Augustus, a name he didn't use until long after Caesar's death, is a good indication that Julius didn't make these changes. It was long after his death as a means of propaganda for the Julian dynasty.
But even then, they didn't just ‘insert’ the months - they were simply renamed, from Quintilis (5th) and Sextilis (6th). So the numbering system was already messed up long before this time. The reason for it is a mix of two factors.
Firstly, the original Roman calendar was ten months, not twelve. To cut a long story short, they measured winter as one long month (fair) and only later did they decide to split it evenly into 3, hence the addition of two months. This happened several hundred years before Julius was around. The second factor therefore was where those months were counted in the course of the year. While they might have been added on to the end, we know that by the second century BCE, the new year was set in January.
Clearly the calendar is a complicated issue in Ancient Rome, and Caesar did a great job in sorting out a system that had got out of hand - mainly through adding in a few days and fixing lengths of months. But what we can agree on is that he's definitely not responsible for the annoying difference in the month names and their actual meaning. So if you see this posted, share this explainer and kill the meme!