On the Roman Religion-Part 2-Continued

Roman Religion - Calendar



June is named for Juno, the sister and wife of Jupiter, the Queen of the Gods. Because she had been an inveterate enemy of the Trojans and had persecuted the homeless Æneas, the Romans were punctillious of her feasts and rights. She seemed to have become reconciled to the Romans in time, due in the main to the fact that her parthenogenic son, Mars, was the father of Romulus and Remus. The worship of Juno was brought into Rome by the Sabine King Titus Tatius at the time of the union of the Romulans and the Sabine Curetes. Altars to Juno Curitis were established in each curia. Juno's great Temple was later raised on the Capitoline, on the peak which formed the Citadel (Arx) of the city, and from which Marcus Manlius Capitolinus defended the city during the occupation of Rome by the Gauls. Manlius later built a mansion on that spot, but he, setting himself as a rival against Marcus Furius Camillus, being convicted of sedition, was thrown headlong from the very rock that he had defended, and the house was razed. The people declared that no patrician should thenceforth live on the Capitoline, and Camillus built on the site of Manlius' house the Temple of Juno Moneta .

( Moneta comes from the word moneo, to point out, to remember, to warn. The intention was to warn the Romans of the overarching ambition and pride of Manlius, as well as to recall the warning that had been given through Caedicius of the approach of the Gauls. It had already an unsavory reputation before Manlius, for it had been the place of residence of Titus Tatius, the murdered co-king of Rome. The desire of the goddess to occupy the site, therefore, was likely inferred by the Romans from its unluckiness. The Temple was used also as a mint.

In 389 B.C. Camillus built an altar to Aius, the disembodied Voice that had warned of the approach of the Gauls. It stood at the bottom of the Via Nova.)

Feast of Carna

The Feast of Carna came on the Calends and was celebrated with offerings of fat bacon, beans, and spelt. Garlands of whitethorn were hung on the windows and doors. It was said (rather ironically, no doubt) that if one ate (or could eat) the meal of Carna, one would never suffer indigestion. The goddess Carna was fancifully alleged by Ovid to be Cardea (Hinge), and, therefore, a companion of Janus. He tells then a story of Crane, a nymph of the grove of Helernus, whom by further extrapolation he has limned as Carna. The story is of the magical protection that she offered to infants and children against the terrors of the screech-owl, a kind of Lilith-vampire or Lamia that sucked the blood of children, through the agencies of arbutus, a potion, and the sacrifice. The story purports to date from the time of the Alban Kings, which would make the cult of the goddess very old, indeed.

The story in Ovid describes the child, the Alban King Proca Silvius when only five days old, and the disease that Crane cures with her potion (the drugged water) and her spells, and he ascribes the cause of the illness to the screech-owl, which was said to feed upon the heart and blood of the infant. This is unmistakably a story which either shares a common origin with or is influenced by the story of Lilith, who in the East was called the screech-owl and who afflicted infants with a suffocating or wasting disease. In Greece, there is the story of the Lamia, but she is pictured differently. Ovid's description of the symptoms is vivid: the infant is squalling, his color is "qui frondibus olim esse seris, quas nova laesit hiems", that of a leaf that has been killed by the frost, and he is coughing up blood. There has been some medical speculation that diphtheria was the illness which the screech-owl was said to cause, an infection that causes the mucosa of the throat to become inflamed and for a "false membrane" to form over them, blocking the airway. If that is so, then the potion which Crane used to cure the sick infant was a decoction of the whitethorn (buckthorn) berries, which has the effect of dispersing mucous. Arbutus has a similar effect, being called by the Romans "eat-one", because of it's disagreeably sour or bitter taste.

Basically, the story is a folk medical case history, in which the symptoms are accurately described and the treatment to be followed is prescribed. The "medicine woman" or witch (hag or crone) used herbal medicines to relieve the symptoms, hoping by that means to give the child a chance to recover from the underlying illness. Child mortality has been estimated to have been 30 per cent in normal conditions of this era. The Romans, as a consequence, usually did not name a child until it was nine days old, the uncertainty of its life being such that they wished not to form any hope of its survival until the first days had shown it to be viable.

Who was Carna? The evidence of Ovid is very confused, but, reduced to its elements, he asserts that Carna, Carda (or Cardea), and Crane are all the same deity. The story concerning Crane and Janus appaears to have been invented by Ovid or an earlier mythographer to bridge the gap between Crane and Carna by introducing the intermediate form Carda (or Cardea). Cardea was, says Robert Graves in his The Greek Myths, the Roman calendar goddess, called both Antevorta and Postvorta, because she looked both forward and backward, like Janus. As the goddess of the sixth and pivotal month, she might well look both forward and behind. But there does not seem to be any reason to believe that Carna or Crane had any relationship to Cardea. Could it be that Ovid is merely attempting to point us to the goddess Cardea as being the original deity of the Festival of June 1? Cardea could be read as Car Dea, the Goddess Car. Car was also a title of Artemis in Caria, or Caryatis. Graves says that Cerdo was a title or name of Demeter, when depicted as a weasel or fox. While we ought not place too much emphasis on the resemblance of the Greek to the Latin, the Roman historians acknowledged that there were many Greek words used by the Romans in the earliest eras, and the importation of Greek rituals in Roman religion they attributed to the persons of Evander and Carmenta, the latter whose name was itself a formation from Car Dea. How ought we to add up the clues?

The sacrifice of fat bacon, beans, and spelt, and the use of a suckling pig in the story all suggest that Ceres (Demeter) could have been the goddess. It was the custom to offer the lives of suckling animals as substitutes for the lives of the infants on whose behalf the sacrifice was made, but the offering was more frequently a puppy than a pig, the puppy being the animal of Hecate, the death-goddess and queen of witches. The pig leads one to think that not Hecate but another deity, perhaps a more beneficent one, was the recipient of the sacrificial victim, in order to elicit aid rather than to avert anger. Ceres, or her aboriginal equivalent from Tuscany or Latium, would be a logical selection, the mournful goddess being sympathetic to the cries of mothers whose children were threatened by the hateful Dis, as her own child had been. We are reminded, too, of the story of Ceres and Triptolemus, son of Celeus and Metanira, told earlier by Ovid (c.f., Cerealia, above), in which the goddess cured the infant by blowing her breath into his mouth. And Ceres has in her name the rudimentary core word "cer", whence Carna might be formed. The accumulation of facts points to Ceres as CarDea-Carna-Crane.

One June 1 was also a Feast of Mars, the Patron of Rome, celebrated with sacrifices in his temple along the Appian Way, near the portico outside the Capena Gate. As Mars was the son of Juno, he could legitimately share the day with her.

On this day, the Temple of Tempesta was dedicated in thanks for the delivery of the Roman fleet from a storm near Corsica in 259 B.C.

Feast of Bellona

On May 3 was held the feast of Bellona, the Latin goddess of war, female counterpart of Bellus or Duellus. She was called by the Romans an attendant upon Mars. It was sometimes said that she was the wife of Mars, although traditionally that role was filled in Greek mythology by Aphrodite (Venus) and in Sabine stories by Neria or Nerio. (Properly, nerio in the Sabine language was a quality of Mars himself, "valor" or "courage", which was derived from nervi, meaning "sinews" or "strength". Thus, the Claudian family used the name Nero, meaning "courageous".)

Bellona played a significant role in the rituals that preceded a declaration of war. In the early history of Rome, when the city's enemies were not far to be found, the Fetial or ambassador, who carried the declaration of war to the enemy, would start from the Temple of Bellona and halt at the border of Roman territory where it adjoined that of the adversaries. Thence, declaring what reasons existed for the war and calling upon the gods as witness, he would hurl a spear into the land of the enemies, taking the war into their land. In later years, of course, when the borders of the Roman imperium were far from the city, this became impracticable. Therefore, the spear was cast from the Temple of Bellona (which had no doors) over a column that had been erected in front of the temple and into a tract of land which had been exauguarted and pronounced foreign. It was said that, when the Romans were about to declare war against Pyrrhus of Epirus, it being impossible for their ambassador to go into Greece, Pyrrhus himself being already in Italy, a soldier of the Greeks was captured and made to purchase the parcel of land before the Temple and the column, into which the Fetial could then cast the spear. The land was thereafter used generically for all such declarations.

The formula by which war was formally declared has been recorded by Livy and Aulus Gellius. Livy (AUC, I.32) tells us that the form was adopted from the Aequicolae. The process of beginning a war was of four parts, a demand for reparations or satisfaction upon the points in dispute, and, if the reparations or satisfaction were refused, an announcement that all peaceful means had failed, followed by a vote in the Senate to make war, and, at last, the declaration of hostilities to the enemy. Livy says that Ancus Marcius was the author of this process.

The war herald, having reached the frontier, placed a woolen cap on his head and recited the formula of complaint, thus:

Audi, Juppiter, audite, fines (naming the enemy people), audiat fas. Ego sum publicus nuntius populi Romani; iuste pieque legatus venio, verbisque meis fides sit. (Then, itemizing the injuries for which reparations or restitution are demanded, he proceeds.) Si ego inuste impieque illos homines illasque res dedier mihi exposco, tum patriae compotem me nunquam sitis esse.

The herald then crossed the border and made for the capital city of the nation agianst whom the complaint had been made. He repeated the formula to the first man that he met of that nation, and when he passed through the gates of the city. Lastly, he made public proclamation of the complaint in the town square or forum. The nation had then 33 days in which to reply. If the claims for restitution or reparation were denied, the herald then delivered notice that the Roman people were free to take whatever means they found necessary to obtain satisfaction.

Audi, Juppiter, et tu, Iane Quirine, dique omnes caelestes, vosque terrestres vosque inferni, audite; ego vos testor populum illum (naming the enemy people) iniustum esse neque ius persolvere; sed de istis rebus in patria maiores natu consulemus, quo pacto ius nostrum adipiscamur.

The herald then retreated to Rome, where the question was debated, if need be, and the decision to go to war made.

After the Senate had determined that war was unavoidable, the herald was sent one last time to the frontier, this time with three witnesses, to throw the spear into the territiory of the enemy, declaring:

Quod populi (naming the enemy people) hominesque (naming the enemy people) adversus populum Romanum Quiritium fecerunt deliquerunt, quod populus Romanus Quirtium bellum cum (naming the enemy people) iussit esse senatusque populi Romani Quiritium censuit consensit conscivit ut bellum (naming the enemy people) fieret, ob eam rem ego populusque Romanus populis (naming the enemy people) hominibusque (naming the enemy people) bellum indico facioque.

The Fetial carried with him a flint knife and a bundle of dried herbs for sacrifices, in order that when he demanded them of the magistrate, they could be produced for the ceremonies. The herbs were collected on the Capitoline Hill.

The Temple of Bellona overlooked the Flaminian Circus from a site on the northwestern portion of the Capitoline. It was founded in 296 B.C. by Appius Claudius Caecus after his victory over the Etruscans and Samnites. The Temple was used as a place of meeting for the Senate with commanders who could not enter the city without laying down their commands.

Feast of Semo Sancus

Semo Sancus Dius Fidius was the principal god of the Sabines, the equivalent to Jove. His feast was held on June 5. A college of priests called Bidentals administered his rites. The meaning of the name of the priestly order was unclear even to the Romans, but Aulus Gellius speculates that it was derived from the sacrificial animal of Semo Sancus, bidentes, or sheep of two-years age, an explanation that seems to have satisfied most scholars thereafter. Exactly why the sheep were called bidentes was also unclear, although it is supposed that the word was a corrupt form of the compound meaning two years (bi + annos). Alternatively, it was said that only an adult sheep was a proper sacrificial victim for the god, and that the age of the victim could be determined by examination of its teeth, two of which would be completely developed only when it had reached maturity. The Temple of Semo Sancus was on the Quirinal, south of the Temple of Quirinus and adjacent the Gate of Sancus, in the approximate area later occupied by the Serapeum.

Semo Sancus was known by numerous names, including Sabinus, by which he was the eponymous founder of the Sabine people. Semo Sancus was first worshipped in Rome after the union of the Sabine Curetes and the Romulans, either at the time of Titus Tatius or in the reign of Numa Pompilius. As Sabinus, he was to the Sabines as Romulus, in his transfigured state of Quirinus, was to the Romans, explaining the placement of his temple on the Quirinal. This might suggest that Semo Sancus, before being raised to the position as chief of the gods by the Sabines, was really an hero to whom divine honors were paid. This supposition is supported by Varro, who cites Aelius, when he says that Semo Sancus was equated with one or both of the sons of Jove, Hercules and Castor. In time the name of the son became the name of god, even as Jove (Diovis) became god after Saturn.

Aelius Dium Fidium dicebat Diovis filium, ut Graeci Dioskoron Castorem, et putabant hunc esse Sanctum ab sabina lingua et Herculem a graeca

While it seems unlikely that Semo Sancus was actually Hercules or Castor, it is likely that he stood in the same relation to the supreme god as those two heroes, (and Romulus himself) that of son.

The worship of Faith, one of the titles of Semos Sancus, was begun by Numa, and oaths sworn by Faith alone were the most sacred in Roman tradition. The Temple of Faith was on the Capitoline before the Temple of Jupiter, an indication of its importance. (Faith was the female aspect of Semo Sancus.) We have discussed at length the possible relationship of Semo Sancus to the deity, named Soranus or Feronia, worshipped at Feronia, the Samnite-Sabine shrine (see above), which had existed from time immemroial on Mt. Soracte, not far from Cures. If we are correct, the worship of Semo Sancus involved the very safety and continuance of the Roman state, in that the female counterpart of Semo Sancus was the patron goddess of Rome, whose name might not be spoken, but who was called Angerona or Tacita.

It is not suprprising that a Sabine deity should become the protector of the city, for the Romans were a people of many "nations", as nations were accounted in Antiquity, when a town of some thousands of persons could be called a state, and dozens of states could be strewn across an area no larger than that of a small modern European country which we might cross in two or three hours by automobile. Differences were then magnified, and the genius of Rome was in its acceptance and conversion of "foreign" ideas and people to itself. The union of the Sabine Curetes and the Romulans, themselves a mongrel mixture of Albans, stateless vagabonds, outlaws, and slaves, was a significant event, and the adoption of the Sabine deity as, or more probably the identification with, the Roman tutelary deity is an emblem of that union.

Feast of Tiber

One June 7th, the Romans held the games of Tiber on the Campus Martius. As noted elsewhere, the River had received its Roman name from the Alban King Tiberinus, who had drowned in its waters, it having been previously known as Albula. Both names make clear the connection to the settlement at Mt. Alba. The color white being an attribute of the goddess Ceres and of divinity in general, the White Mountain and the White River are obviously sacred, and they reinforce the Roman idea that they themselves had a divine source. The sacrifice of the Argei, a name from another "white" word, which was made to the River three weeks earlier, could be viewed as a preliminary of this feast.

The festival was especially dear to fishermen.

Vows to Mens

On June 8, 217 B.C., the Senate ordered that prayers be made to Mens, in order that the panic, which had spread throughout the city following the smashing victory of Hannibal at Lake Trasimene, would be dissipated. Calm having been restored, the date was commemorated with sacrifices to Mens thereafter.

Pliny, ever the Roman Dissenter, noted for special ridicule the fractional deities which human folly had made to receive its worship, Pudica, Clementia, Fides, Spes, Concordia, and Mens among them. (It was an human tendency that survived into the Middle Ages, when Christian theologians invented saints out of characteristics of divinity.) One of the most repugnant of these deities to Pliny has lasted into modernity, Fortune, which he deemed that humanity had elevated to the highest godhood.

Minor Vestalia

Traditionally, the Temple of Vesta was dedicated on this day, June 9, 40 AUC (713 B.C.) by King Numa Pompilius. Ovid uses this date as an excuse for mentioning a variety of incidents relating to Vesta, the most notable being the rescue of the holy articles that were stored in the temple before the occupation of the city by the Gauls in June, 390 B.C

It was the custum to build into the foundations of the temples vaults or treasuries into which broken masonry and fallen architectural ornaments from the temples were placed: the fabric of the building itself being sacred, pieces that had been replaced during repairs must be preserved or disposed of within the precincts of the temple. (Repairing a temple required the permission of the augurs or pontiffs. It occurred more than once that trees were allowed to grow on a temple roof or pediment, despite the damage that would result, because the tree was considered a prodigy, having been sent by the god to grow on the sacred building. This process of dilapidation would explain why so many temples were in a state of disrepair when Augustus entered into his general plan of reconstruction of Rome.)

During the occupation of the city, those sacred artifacts that could not be transported to safety in Caere or moved to the Capitol were placed in the underground vaults or buried in other hallowed ground to be recovered after the liberation.


On June 11th the festival of Mater Matuta was observed. The goddess was of Sabine origin. She figures in the story of the fall of Veii (397 B.C.) after a ten year long seige, for the Roman Dictator M. Furius Camillus vowed a new temple to her before the sappers had entered that city. He also pledged to Juno (Uni), the tutelary deity of Veii, that she would be better treated in Rome than in the Etruscan city.

Mater Matuta could be translated as "Mother of the Morning", perhaps referring to the morning star, Venus, which precedes or gives birth to Dawn (Eos or Aurora). If Mater Matuta were the Sabine Venus, then the vows of Furius to her would have been entirely appropriate, Venus being the mother of Æneas. Camillus , being a man of high religiosity, would have known that Venus and Mater Matuta were but different names of Aphrodite. The enmity between Rome and Veii would also enter into the question in support of this theory, for the Fall of Veii is an obvious parallel to the Fall of Troy, which followed a seige of equal duration. In conquering the City of Juno, Veii, by stratagem, Rome, the City of Venus, was avenging the Fall of Troy at the instigation of Juno. The pairing of Mater Matuta and Juno in the vows of Camillus is thereby explained. The subsequent occupation of Rome by the Gauls, which, according to the tradition followed by Livy, was the fatal recompense for the conquest of Veii, would have been Juno's last ounce of retribution for the slight done her by Alexander Paris and for the loss of Veii. Juno, however, it was said, had assented to the transfer of her cult to Rome from Veii, and even had assisted by alleviating the burden of her statue. Camillus, who relieved the siege of the Capitoline and defeated the Gauls, was the most vehement opponent of the plan to abandon the ruins of Rome and to occupy Veii. His religious principles were the motivating factor in his opposition, and the dependence of the religion of Rome upon the city itself was his strongest argument. The fact that the gods, and Juno especially, had chosen Rome in which to reside, rather than Veii, was proof that Rome, whatever its sufferings, was destined to rise, renewed, to even greater glory.

Ovid tells a story in which Ino, sister of Semele, called Leucothea, is the Mater Matuta. Leucothea (White Goddess) was a sea-goddess, and Venus was born of the white Ocean foam. Here, again, Ovid appears to be allowing his poetic invention to imply the religious secret that he could not reveal directly.

The Temple of Mater Matuta was located in the Boarium, near the Sublician Bridge. It was said to have been founded by Servius Tullius. The Temple which was vowed by Camillus might have replaced that built by the king. It is doubtful that much remained of the oldest temples after the fires of the Gallic occupation. A temple now used as a Roman Catholic church has been tentatively identified as being the Temple of Mater Matuta.

On this day was also celebrated the Feast of Fortuna, whose temple stood next to that of the Mater Matuta, the which was said to have been founded by Servius Tullius at the same time. The temple contained a statue, the features of which were concealed by a shroud. The subject of the statue was not public knowledge, although popular tradition said that it was Servius Tullius himself. Modern scholars have suggested that the statue was of Fortuna , the veil being either to indicate her blind distribution of benefactions and travails, or, and what is more likely, to prevent the vulgar from beholding her divine countenance.

Both the Temple of Mater Matuta and that of Fortune, as well as the Temple of Hope, outside the Gate of Carmenta, were destroyed by the conflagration of 213 B.C.

This day Livia Augusta dedicated a shrine to Concord.

Minor Quinquatrus

The Lesser Feast of Minerva began on the Ides, June 13. During it the Guild of Pipers paraded the city in masks and long gowns. The Flute players recognized Minerva (Athena) as their tutelary goddess, she having invented the flute. Each year the Guild of Pipers held a banquet in the Temple of Jupiter Capitoline, at the shrine of Minerva. (There were three shrines in the Temple of Jupiter, the third being to Juno.) According to Livy (AUC, 9.30), the censors, Appius Claudius and Caius Plautius, had denied to the Flutists, who played at every sacrifice and at funerals, the right to hold their annual banquet in the Temple, and, thoroughly insulted by this denial of their rights, they went on strike, the entire membership retiring to Tibur. Consequently, it became impossible to conduct any religious ceremony in Rome according the requirements of the sacred formulae. The Senate dispatched a commission to Tibur to resolve the dispute. Negotiations and the appeals of the Tiburtine Senate failing to move the resolution of the Pipers, the commissioners and the local senators entered into a plot by which they hoped to effect the return of the players will-they-or-nil-they. The players were invited to the several homes of the senators where they were hired to play. During the course of the evening they were freely plied with wine, until all were overcome by drunkeness and were carried unconscious in a wagon to Rome. Awakening in the Forum the next morning, while still hung over, they were induced to remain by the kind solicitations of the public, and the rights of those who had been used to play in the Temple of Jupiter were restored. Additionally, all were permitted to parade annually through the city for three days in their masks and gowns, presumably obtaining donations from passers-by or from the rate-payers whose homes they visited, as would any street-musician. Ovid gives a slightly different version of the story, but with the same result. Such was the reputed origin of the Lesser Feast of Minerva.

Minor Vestalia

On June 15, the Temple of Vesta was ritually swept, and the refuse was thrown into the Tiber. It would seem plausible that this day was the one on which the ashes which had accumulated from the Eternal Flame were ceremoniously removed from the shrine. The ashes would have been sanctified by the sacred fire and could not be disposed of in the normal way; thus, a special ritual had to be devised by which they could be given a proper disposition.

Conclusion of Feast of Minerva

On the 19th, the Minor Feast of Minerva was concluded with sacrifices in the Temple of Minerva on the Aventine.

Feast of Summanus

On June 20, 278 B.C., during the war with Pyrrhus, was dedicated a Temple to Summanus. Summanus was the only Etruscan deity admitted to the Roman Pantheon who retained the use of the thunderbolt, which was otherwise an attribute of Jove. The Etruscans had differentiated eleven types of lightning, and had distributed them variously to nine different deities (Pliny, N.H. II.LII.138), allocating three types to Jupiter. Jupiter, the sky god, was the originator of the thunderbolt hurled by day, while Summanus was the god who hurled the "night thunderbolt". From this, we would probably be correct in assuming that Summanus was the "dark Jove" or Dis, Pluto, the god of the underworld, and was, therefore, the same as Vedjovis, who possessed the same attributes (see above, March 7).

It is interesting that the Etruscans had made the correct scientific observation that lightning originates from the earth rather than from the sky on at least some occasions. A leader bolt can often be observed to be emitted from the ground before the discharge from the cloud strikes the place of emanation. The audible crackling in the air preceding a strike is one index, and warning, of this leader bolt arising in the proximity of the observer. One might postulate that it was these "low bolts" (infera) that the Etruscans assigned to the god Summanus, the phenomenon being the more noticeable in the night.

Science has also confirmed the observations of the inconsistent behavior and almost whimsical effects of lightning, as well as noting that there are "types" of lightning, or varieties of aerial phenomena that are associated with lightning, among them the "sprites", huge discharges that surge miles from the thunder clouds into the upper atmosphere, and that only lately have been photographed from space.

By the ancients, meteors and meteorites were classed among the types of thunderbolts, because of the sonic boom (thunderclap) which sometimes accompanies the supersonic passage through the atmosphere of those flaming visitors to earth. Such "lightnings" provided the material from which arose the notion that thunderbolts were substantial, the fragments being later recovered from the earth. Superstition ascribed to weapons forged from meteoric iron great, even irresistible powers. Iron, or other black, meteorites were worshipped as deities. The stone which was transferred to Rome from Pergamum, where it was worshipped as Cybele, and installed in the Temple of the Magna Mater was probably an aerolite or non-ferrous mineral meteorite. The lightning bolts of Jove were forged in Mt. Etna in Sicily by the Cyclopes Brontes, Steropes, andAcmonides.

Lightning on the right was considered an ill omen, while that on the left a good one in the Etruscan augury. Lightning striking a temple was ominous, although Pliny notes that it portended nothing when the Temple of Juno was struck in 115 B.C. The Romans during the Second Punic War provided Jupiter Highest and Greatest with a Golden Thunderbolt weighing forty pounds in expiation. Jupiter Elicius, as has been mentioned, was the name of the god used by Numa when he called the lightning according the formula that had been given him by Jupiter himself, who had been brought down to the Aventine by the invocations of Faunus and Picus.

Feast of Fors Fortuna

On the 24th of June was the festival of Fors Fortuna. Her temple was along the western banks of the Tiber, opposite the city's granaries. Ovid describes a celebration marked by much inebriation in the revellers who were ferried to and from the temple in boats that had been draped with garlands of flowers. (One wonders how many drownings that occurred on this day were blamed on Fortune.) The Power of Fate was supposedly established as a deity by Servius Tullius, who had been reared in the household of Tarquinius Priscus. Servius Tullius was born to a waiting woman of the Queen, his father having been either the king of Corniculum or one of its leading citizens before its conquest by the Romans. His mother, because of her former status and pregnancy at the time of the sack of Corniculum, had been spared being sold into slavery and was given an honorable position in the Queen's retinue. Later, when Servius was a child, an halo or crown of fire was seen to encircle his head as he wa sleeping, which vanished without harm when he awoke, portending his kingship. Thus, he had gone from son of a conquered king, to slave, and then to the king of the conquering nation. In the end, he was murdered by his son-in-law and daughter, certainly qualifying him as an example of the power of fortune over the lives of men.

There were besides the Temple of Fors Fortuna, temples to the deity of Today's Fortune, the Three Fortunes, Primigenia, and even one to Misfortune that was on the Esquiline. The Temple of Today's Fortune (Huisce Diei) was splendidly adorned with famous statues that had been taken as spoils. There was a group of seven nudes that had been cast by Pythagoras the Samian of Reggio, and a statue of Athena by the master Pheidias that had been placed there by L. Aemilius Paulus in 167 B.C.

Founding of Temples of the Lares and Jupiter Stator

June 27. The Temple of Jupiter Stator was vowed by Romulus during the battle with Sabines, in which the Romulans were driven back from the area of the Forum and were in retreat. Romulus begged that Jupiter would rally his men and turn the battle, and the spot, east of the House of the Vestals at the foot of the Palatine, on which the vow was made and where the Romulan forces returned to the attack was that on which the Temple to Jupiter Stayer was erected.

Dedication of Temple of Quirinus

The Temple of Quirinus, along the Alta Semita on the Quirinal Hill, was dedicated on the 29th of June by Lucius Papirius Cursor in 293 B.C. and was later rebuilt by Augustus in 16 B.C. The temple was of the Doric order. The story of the transfiguration of Romulus into Quirinus has been told. The worship of Quirinus was very old, of course, having been instituted by Numa, and the Quirinales, the flamens of the god, were in status only slightly less august than the flamens of Jupiter. One suspects that the god Quirinus was originally worshipped as Jupiter Quirinus, in much the same way that the transfigured Æneas, was worshipped as Jupiter Indiges at Lavinium.

Feast of Hercules Musarum

On June 30th began the Feast of Hercules of the Muses. Hercules, a renowned lyrist, shared a shrine at the Circus with the Muses, who were said to have habituated a grove in Rome, the Grove of the Camenae. Hercules was often portrayed in his leisure hours playing a lyre after or during a meal. The Vale of the Camenae was on the southeastern side of the city, beyond the Capena Gate and the Public Reservoir (Piscina Publica) stretching northeasterly from the Appian Way. The Temple of Hercules Musarum was built in 189 B.C. by Fulvius Nobilior in response to a Sibylline command and rebuilt by Lucius Marcius Philippus, the step-father (or uncle) of Octavius Augustus. A famous, or infamous, street of wig makers was outside the temple (Ovid, Artis Amatoriae, III.168).



July was named for the Dictator Caius Julius Cæsar, Pontifex Maximus, reformer of the Roman calendar, grand uncle and adoptive father of Octavian Augustus, and the most celebrated Roman general, who was born in this month formerly known as Quintilis, the fifth month in the original Roman calendar of ten months. The Julian house claimed descent from Iulus, son of Æneas, through the kings of Alba. Another branch of the family also claimed descent from Ancus Marcius, the grandson of Numa Pomilius, and himself the fourth king of Rome after Tullus Hostilius. These royal connections gave credence to the claims of Cæsar's assassins that he had aspired to restore the monarchy with himself as king. Julius Cæsar was deified after his murder. The arae in which he was murdered was walled off, and it was declared that meeting of the Senate would be prohibited on the anniversary of that day, March 15, thereafter. The Temple of the Divine Julius was situated appropriately near the Regia, the residence of the Pontifex Maximus. A representation of a comet, one of which had appeared during funereal games in his honor , was added to the image of Julius, making it the only temple in which a comet was worshipped, according Pliny. The surname Cæsar was given the family because one scion, though not Caius Julius the Dictator, was delivered by surgery after the death of his mother in labor. An equestrian statue of Julius was in the Forum of Julius. (It was said that the hoofs of his favorite horse were cloven in the shape of toes.)

Feast of Juno Felicitata

On the Kalends was celebrated the Feast of Juno Felicitata.

Dedication of Ara Pacis

On the 4th of July the Ara Pacis, Altar of Peace, was dedicated in the Campus Martius by Augustus. The Altar, which survives and has been restored, is enclosed by marble screens on which are beautifully carved bas reliefs representing the Augustan household, among the members of which are Augustus, Livia, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa (the Admiral, friend, and son-in-law of Augustus), Tiberius, and Claudius. On another panel are Roman Senators and other notable citizens and magistrates. Other scenes are from the mythological or legendary history of Rome.


The Poplifugia fell on July 5 (or 7, according Plutarch). "The Flight of the People" was variously said to commemorate secessions of the plebes or their irruption from the gates of the city in terror of the Gauls. Plutarch fixes the Poplifugia on the same day as the Nones Caprotinae (see below), and he combines the rites of both. He records two traditions, one relating it to the confusion that followed upon the disappearance of Romulus, the other, drawn from the rites of the Nones Caprotinae, placing it after the recapture of the city by Camillus. His description of the ritual gives some evidence.

The people rushed from the gate that leads into the Goat's Marsh, there to do sacrifice. They called out men's names, "Marcus, Lucius, Caius", as they went. Plutarch says that these actions commemorate those of the day on which Romulus had gone into the Goat's Marsh to sacrifice, the calling out of names being in imitation of the people as they sought out their friends and relatives in the frightened and disordered crowd when the darkness of the storm had descended on them.

In the alternative story that was given in explanation of the rites, the city was threatened by a new enemy, the Latin confederacy, shortly afer having been recovered from the Gauls. The general of the attacking force, King Livius Postumius, demanded that the daughters of the Romans be given as bride-hostages. The Romans, naturally indignant, were unable to think what to do, having so recently suffered from the destruction of the city, when a young female slave, Philotis, suggested that she and other slaves be dressed as though they were freeborn maidens and sent out to the besiegers. This was done, and at night, when the enemy camp was unguarded, the young woman gave an arranged signal, a torch in a wild-fig tree, by which the Romans were informed that they could advance upon the enemy in safety. The Romans then issued from the gates with a great rush and commotion, startling the sleeping soldiers in the camp and winning the battle.

Plutarch opines that the first explanation is the more likely, as it takes into account the sacrifice made yearly in the Goat's Marsh during the feast.

Varro records that there was a goddess called Populonia, an epithet of Juno, who was likely the tutelary goddess of Populonium, an Etruscan town . It might be that she was the deity to whom the Poplifugia was dedicated.

The servant girl, Philotis, is called Tutela in one source used by Plutarch. This name must be a back formation, but it indicates that the Poplifugia was a festival designed to protect the city from some calamity, the tutelary gods being propitiated. In that regard, one might venture that Lara, the mother of the Lares Compitales, was the goddess Populonia, the protector of the people.

Games of Apollo

The Feast and Games of Apollo on July 5 or 6 was instituted in 212 B.C. in response to the second prophecy of Marcius, and was made annual in perpetuity the following year, although no fixed date was given it until 208 B.C. in the praetorship of Publius Licinius Varus.

The Senate, disturbed by the increase in susperstition, fortune telling, and foreign rites in the city during the Second Punic War, conditions attributed to the unprecedented series of diastrous defeats and to the influx of the rural communities, who were fleeing in terror of Hannibal, bringing their crude beliefs with them, had passed a resolution empowering the Praetor Atilius to take action to suppress "foreign and unfamiliar" sacrificial rites and to put an halt to the spreading of rumor and fear by the fortune tellers. Consequently, Atilius had issued a decree which ordered that all books containing religious rites and those containing prophecies were to be turned over to him. When this had been accomplished, among the books confiscated was one containing two prohecies of a Marcius, the first of which had foretold (albeit in retrospect) the defeat at Canna(e) and the second of which predicted that the Romans would be victorious eventually if they paid due honors to Apollo. Thus, the Games of Apollo were ordered.

The original Shrine of Apollo was in the Flaminian Meadows, near the site on which the Flaiminan Circus was later built. There were several colossi of Apollo in Rome, one 50 feet in height in the Temple of Augustus and another barely 45 feet tall on the Capitoline. The most famous, of course, was that erected by Nero to himself on the site later occupied by the Ampitheater called the Colesseum. After Nero's assassination, in the principate of Hadrian, the face of the statue was altered and the giant was dedicated to the sun god. It was 106 feet tall.


The minor feast of Pales was held on the 7th of July.

Nonae Caprotinae

The Feast of Caprotine Juno, Juno of the Goat-Figs, fell on the nones of July, although Plutarch places it on the same day as the Poplifugia, with which he combines its rituals. This was a date of great significance in Roman history, for it was while sacrificing at this feast that Romulus disappeared. A sudden thunderstorm had blackened the sky, and the wind and rain broke with tremendous violence over the gathered populace; a whirlwind dropping from the clouds scattered the crowd every whither. When the storm had passed, the people assembled, but Romulus was nowhere to be found. A search discovering no trace of him, the people dispersed to their homes, some convinced that the Senators, who were known to have been jealous of the power of the King, had murdered him in the Temple of Vulcan , afterwards cutting his body into pieces which they concealed within their garments and conveyed away severally to be secretly buried. But one senator, Julius Proculus, a close friend and relation of Romulus (also Julian), swore that as he had been walking home through the darkness, he had been accosted by the figure of a man, larger than human, which he recognized as Romulus. When he asked why Romulus had thus abandoned his people and caused them such distress, the apparition told him that he had been taken up into heaven, where he was to dwell with his father , and that his blessing was upon his people. He bade him tell them, also, that he was thereafter to be called by his new name, Quirinus.

During the Nones Caprotinae, slave girls dressed up as matrons. Chased from the Temple of Juno, they gathered to dine under the wild fig trees outside the city. Wands were cut from the trees and were employed by the young women, possibly to whip one another, and they threw stones at one another. The sap from the fig tree was offered to Juno.

These acts were obviously intended to foster the growth of the fruit of the domesticated figs, which require human agency for fertilization, a process called caprification, in which an object such as a feather is twirled about in the fig blossoms to transfer the pollen of the wild fig to the cultivated trees. If the fig wands were used in this manner, pollen would have adhered to the milky white sap, aiding in the transference and fertilization. We know that the Roman writers on agriculture recommended July as the month for caprification. There is an hint that the wands had human sexual significance and were used in some indelicate manner by the slave girls, in imitation of the process of fertilization of the figs, the sap representing the male principle.

Plutarch unites these ceremonies with those of the Poplifugia (above), thereby accounting for the story of the slave girls dressed in the clothes of freeborn women.

Birth of Caius Julius Cæsar, Dictator

C. Julius Cæsar was born on the 14th of July circa 100 B.C. (He might have been born in 101 B.C.) He was named for his father, who had already the cognomen Cæsar.

Battle of Regillus

On July 15, the battle of Regillus, in which Tarquinius Superbus was decisively defeated, was fought, the Romans being aided by Castor and Pollux. The victory was announced in Rome by the Dioscurides before even the Romans in the field had certain knowledge of their success.

Allienis Die

"The 18th of July was marked by a double disaster, for on that day the Fabii were annihilated at the Cremera, and in after years the battle at the Allia which involved the ruin of the City was lost on the same day. From the latter disaster the day was called "the day of the Allia," and was observed by a religious abstinence from all public and private business. The consular tribune Sulpicius had not offered acceptable sacrifices on July 16 (the day after the Ides), and without having secured the good will of the gods the Roman army was exposed to the enemy two days later. Some think that it was for this reason that on the day after the Ides in each month all religious functions were ordered to be suspended, and hence it became the custom to observe the second and the middle days of the month in the same way." Livy AUC 6.1


On the 19th of July began the Lucaria. The feast was probably in honor of the deity of the grove, lucus, that stood on the Capitoline between the Arx and the Capitol, where the Asylum had been delineated by Romulus. The third of the original tribes of Romans, the Luceres, took their name from this grove, where the stateless fugitives, slaves and outlaws, were received into Romulus' protection. The other tribes, the Ramnenes and Tatienses, took their names from Romulus and Tatius, respectively. Thus the Ramnenes would have been the Albans, the Tatienses the Sabines, and the Luceres would have been composed of the Roman equivalent of the modern "Other", the uncategorized, or all the rest. The Lucaria, then, must have been celebrated for the deity of sanctuary, Asylæus, after the grove in which the sanctuary was erected, and who was the collective tutelary deity of the Luceres.

It was the custom that a fugitive who had entered any temple and had clasped the statue of the deity could claim the right of sanctuary, the protection of the god and of the people of that place from his pursuers. Violation of sanctuary was not only grounds for war, it was sacrilege, punishable by the gods themselves. The Temple of Panda Cela near the Pandana Gate (formerly the Gate of Saturn) stood open as sanctuary at all times.

One violator of the rule of Sanctuary was Cæsar Augustus, who, when the son of Mark Antony fled for protection to the statue of Julius Cæsar in the Temple of the Deified Julius, had the suppliant dragged from the Temple and killed.


The Feast of Neptune began on the 23 of July. Pliny says that sowing of turnips should commence at this time. Neptune, being creator of the horse, horse races were the primary feature of this feast, and we know that Neptune had altars in the Circi. In 206 B.C. the altar of Neptune in the Flaminian Circus was said to have poured with sweat.

Horse races were run around an oval track by teams harnessed to chariots. The charioteer was normally a slave. The reins of the team were tied around the charioteer's body, and he carried a knife with which he could cut the reins in the event of an "accident". Accidents were not infrequent, because the charioteers were encourgaed to try upset the cars of their opponents. The horses and charioteers were organized into stables that were designated by colors, the Greens and the Blues, for instance. In the late Empire, the partisans of the Colors became organized and politically powerful, with public riots and murders being common as dominance passed from party to party.


The Feast of Furina was on the 25th of July. The Grove of Furina at Rome was said by Cicero to be consecrated to the Eumenides, deriving the name Furina from Fury (De Natura Deorum, III). Varro, however, gives the name of the deity as Furrina, and says that a flamen tended her cult, which had existed since antiquity. It is tempting to consider that Furrina or Furina could be a corruption or a localized version of Feronia, the deity of Soracte, but, apart from the similarity in sound, there is no evidence to support such a suspicion. There was also a grove of Ferentia in which Romulus purified Rome and Laurentium after the killing of Tatius in retribution for the robbery and murder of citizens of that town by some of the Sabine King's friends, whom he did not prosecute nor extradite. Romulus, in turn, refused to prosecute the assasins, saying that a killing had been balanced by a killing. A rain of blood and stones convinced him that some further expiation was necessary. Quintus Ennius mentions Furina in a list of the indigetes, Volturnalem Palatualem Furinalem Floralemque Falacremque et Pomonalem fecit hic idem, indicating a possible Tuscan origin.

We might also derive Furrina from the name Purrina or Porrina, which was associated in the Feast of Carmenta on January 15 (q.v), Porrina being equivalent to Antevorta, the calendar goddess. Furrina might, thus, be related in some manner to Carna. Ovid notes that the name is never heard otherwise and is part of a very ancient ritual.



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