Roman Festivals and Games


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Please excuse any irregularities. Togodumnus


?1 JanThis was the day when the new consuls, the highest magistrates of the Roman Republic were sworn into office in the Senate. Bulls were sacrificed in the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus to thank him for his protection during the preceeding year.
Parentalia13 - 21 FebDuring this festival the Romans honoured their ancestors at the family shrines within their own homes, thus, all other temples remained closed and weddings were forbidden.
Lupercalia15 FebThis feast celebrated the founding of Rome, and was held in honour of the god Pan. The festival began with the sacrifice of two goats and a dog, then the bloody knife was touched to the foreheads of two youths of illustrious descent who must smile as they are touched, and afterwards, the blood was wiped from their faces with wool dipped in milk. Following this, the victims were skinned and their hides cut into thongs out of which were fashioned a pair of whips. The youths then ran naked around the Palatine Hill and the city, whipping all they came across. The festival derives its name from the Greek name for Pan, Lyceus, from λυκοσ, 'a wolf'. The Lupercal, where the festival was celebrated, lay at the foot of the Aventine Hill, and was where the she-wolf was reputed to have reared Romulus and Remus, the twin founders of Rome.
Terminalia23 FebThis festival marked the end of the ancient Roman year.
Matronalia1 MarA festival held at Rome in honour of Mars, in commemoration of the rape of the Sabine women. Only married women could attend the celebrations, during which they made offerings of flowers in the temples of Juno.
?1 MarThis was the day on which the Vestal Virgins lit a new fire to the Goddess Vesta, in celebration of the beginning of the ancient new year. The Temple of Vesta was situated at the edge of the Forum in the heart of Rome.
Anna Perenna15 MarDuring this festival, Roman families traditionally picknicked along the banks of the Tiber.
Ludi Megalenses4 - 10 AprGames in honour of Cybele, whose sanctuary on the Palatine Hill was dedicated in 191BC.
Ludi Ceriales12 - 19 AprGames held in honour of Ceres since 202BC.
Quinquatria18 - 22 AprThis popular festival was held in honour of the goddess Minerva at Rome. The celebrations lasted for five days, and is the basis for the name of the festival. On the first day, sacrifices and oblations were offered, though no blood was spilled, the next three days were taken up mostly with gladiatorial displays, and on the fifth and final day a solemn procession was held through the streets of the city. The scholars and pedagogues were also given a holiday at this time, and it was customary for them to offer up sacrifices to Minerva, who was their patron goddess. The school-masters would also receive gifts from their pupils when they resumed lessons at the end of the holiday; all of these gifts would be accepted in the name of Minerval (sic). Throughout the festival plays would be enacted and public discussion of the arts openly encouraged. The festival was also associated with the opening of the campaign season; during this time the arms, horses and trumpets of the Army would be ceremoniously purified at Rome. The ancient 'Dance of the Salii' took place during the Quinquatria on 19 Apr, and also during the Armilustrium on 19 Oct.
Robigalia25 AprAn ancient religious festival, on which day foot races were held in Rome.
Florales28 Apr - 3 MayThe festival of Flora, the goddess of flowers, during which the Roman wore fresh garlands of flowers about their necks, and danced through the streets. Instituted after 173BC.
Ludi Martiales¹12 MayGames held in connection with the dedication of the shrine and temple of Mars Ultor; also held on 1 Aug.
Rosaliae Signorum? MayA military festival, during which the standards of all of Rome's military units, including the Auxilia, were decorated with wreaths of roses and paraded though the camp. This ancient religious observance was also accompanied by a civil festival and carnival atmosphere, especially within the Roman capital.
Matronalia? JunA festival held at Rome in honour of Matuta or Ino. Only matrons and free-born women could attend the celebrations, during which they made offerings of flowers and carried their younger relatives in procession.
Vestalia9th JunFestival held at Rome in honour of Vesta. The Vestal Virgins were banqueted, and all the millstones in the city were decked with garlands, the asses used to turn the millstones were likewise festooned with blooms then paraded through the streets, also accompanied by the ladies of the City who walked barefoot in the procession, which terminated at the temple to the goddess.
Ludi Apollinares6 - 13 JulFirst held in 208BC.
Ludi Victoriae Caesaris20 - 30 JulGames held in celebration of Caesar's conquests.
Ludi Martiales²1 AugGames held in connection with the dedication of the shrine and temple of Mars Ultor; also held on 12 May.
?13 AugThis was the feast of Diana the moon goddess, during which slaves were given a holiday.
Consualia¹21 AugThis ancient religious festival featured races on foot and on muleback, and was also held on 15 Dec.
Ludi Romani4 - 19 SepThe 'Games of the Roman People', instituted in 366BC.
Ludi Fortunae Reducis3 - 12 OctGames instituted by Augustus in 11BC.
Armilustrium19 OctThe 'Dance of the Salii' took place on this festival and also during the Quinquatria on 19 Apr.
Ludi Victoriae Sullanae26 Oct - 1 NovGames instituted by the dictator Sulla in celebration of his victories, and dedicated in his honour for up to 200 years after his death in ?BC.
Ludi Plebei4 - 17 NovThe 'Games of the Common People' were instituted sometime between 220 and 216BC.
Saturnalia7 - 14 DecThe most important festival of the year was held in honour of Saturn, the god of agriculture. During the main feast day of this festival, the masters of every household in Rome waited upon their domestic slaves.
Consualia²15 DecThis ancient religious festival featured races on foot and on muleback, and was also held on 21 Aug.
Ludi Palatini?3 day festival instituted by Livia in AD 15?, and consecrated to the memory of Augustus.

RBO Roman Appendix

The primary reference works used in this page's construction were; Daily Life in Ancient Rome by Jerome Carcopino, and The Classical Dictionary by John Lempriere. I have yet to obtain a copy of Ovid's Fasti, which outlines many Roman festivals. As soon as this occurs, the question-marks in the table above will probably be replaced with the correct information. Togodumnus

Bibliographical Links

Fasti by Publius Ovidius Naso, trans. by A.H. Armstrong (Loeb, Harvard, 1931);
Daily Life in Ancient Rome by Jerome Carcopino (Penguin, London, 1970);
The Classical Dictionary by John Lempriere (Senate, 1994);