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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A lustrum (plural lustra) was a term for a five-year period in Ancient Rome.

The lustrum was originally a sacrifice for expiation and purification offered by one of the censors in the name of the Roman people at the close of the taking of the census.

These censuses were taken at five-year intervals, thus a lustrum came to refer to the five-year intercensal period.

This regular five-year interval between censuses was maintained in the early part of the Roman Republic, which lasted from ca. 509 BC–27 BC, but later became more irregular (see Roman censor: Census statistics). The regular interval was restored by Octavianus Augustus in 28 BC after a "41 year gap", as attested by the Res Gestae Divi Augusti (see The Deeds of the Divine Augustus, § 8.). At the time of the census, new senators were also appointed to the Roman Senate.

Other expressions for a period of five years include quinquennium and pentad:

"As, for instance, in the decade itself are involved ten monads, and the decade is composed both of these and of two pentads." (The Metaphysics of Aristotle by Aristotle, 1857).

Lustrum is also the name of a novel by Robert Harris in his trilogy about Cicero.

"Thus I turned over the last ten years in my mind, and then, fixing my anxious gaze on the future, I asked myself, 'If, perchance, thou shoulds't prolong this uncertain life of thine for yet two more lustra ... coulds't thou ... face death ... hopefully...?'" -- Francis Petrarch, "Letter to Dionisio da San Sepolcro [The Ascent of Mount Ventoux]" ca. 1336. Trans. J.H Robinson/H.W. Rolfe.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Lustrum" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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