Mercuralia – Festival of Mercury

Mercuralia – Festival of Mercury

Mercuralia was a Roman celebration that was also known as the ‘Festival of Mercury’. Mercury, was a Roman messenger god whose attributes were mainly borrowed from the Greek god Hermes although there are myths regarding Mercury that are distinctly Roman. He was a god of trade, thieves, and travel. The name is closely related to merx, mercari, and merces which respectively mean merchandise, to trade, and wages. For good luck, on the Ides of May (May 15th) which was considered his birthday, the merchants of Rome would use laurel boughs to sprinkle their merchandise, their ships, and their heads with water from a fountain at Porta Capena known as aqua Mercurii. They also offered prayers to Mercury for forgiveness of past and future perjuries, for profit, and the continued ability to cheat customers! Related Stories: Neptunalia Ludi Apollinares Vestalia Matralia Portunalia Items from the Creating History...
Consualia and the Sabine Women

Consualia and the Sabine Women

The Consualia Festival was held twice a year, on August 21st and December 15th. CONSUALIA [was] a festival, with games, celebrated by the Romans…in honour of Consus, the god of secret deliberations, or…of Neptunus Equestris. Plutarch…say[s] that Neptunus Equestris and Consus were only different names for one and the same deity. It was solemnized every year in the circus, by the symbolical ceremony of uncovering an altar dedicated to the god, which was buried in the earth. For Romulus, who was considered as the founder of the festival, was said to have discovered an altar in the earth on that spot. The solemnity took place on the 21st of August with horse and chariot races, and libations were poured into the flames which consumed the sacrifices. During these festive games, horses and mules were not allowed to do any work, and were adorned with garlands of flowers. It was at their first celebration that, according to the ancient legend, the Sabine maidens were carried off. Virgil, in speaking of the rape of the Sabines, describes it as having occurred during the celebration of the Circensian games, which can only be accounted for by supposing that the great Circensian games, in subsequent times, superseded the ancient Consualia… SOURCE:A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities Livy describes the abduction of the Sabine women as follows: And now the Roman state was become so powerful, that it was a match for any of the neighboring nations in war, but, from the paucity of women, its greatness could only last for one age of man; for they had no hope of issue at...
Faunalia or Faunalia Rustica

Faunalia or Faunalia Rustica

On February 13 and December 5, festivals were held in Rome to honor Faunus. According to legend, Faunus was one of the first kings of Latium and the grandson of Saturnus. He succeeded his father King Picus (who was turned into a woodpecker by Circe after spurning her love), and was succeeded by his son Latinus. He reigned before Aeneas and his Trojans, and even before the foundation of Rome by Romulus. He was considered a rustic god of woods and flocks, fields and shepherds. According to Virgil he was the husband of Marica. Faunus was also considered an oracular and prophetic divinity and was believed to reveal the future to man in dreams or through voices of unknown origins in sacred groves. He was also considered to be the author of spectral appearances and terrifying sounds. He promoted agriculture and the breeding of cattle among his subjects. Faunus lived in the woods and was said to be fond of nymphs. Originally thought to only be a local god, evidence of his cult has be found in England. He was the Roman equivalent of Pan. Legend has it that Numa was able to compel Faunus and his father Picus, through stratagem, to reveal the method for calling lightning down from heaven. Faunus has also been identified as Lupercus (“he who wards off the wolf”) who was originally worshiped at the Lupercalia, celebrated on the anniversary of the founding of his temple, February 15, when his priests (Luperci) wore goat-skins and hit onlookers with goat-skin belts. The wolfskin, wreath, and a goblet are his attributes. On Mount Caelius in Rome...
Portunalia – Festival Honoring Portunus

Portunalia – Festival Honoring Portunus

Portunus, an ancient Roman god, was the god of keys, gates or doors (porta), and livestock. He protected grain warehouses and barns. Eventually he also became associated with ports, and harbors (portus – gateway to the sea) as well. Specifically, Portunus protected the portus Tiberinus, a river harbor within Rome, and the wharves at Ostia. The portus Tiberinus was located near the Forum Boarium, also known as the ‘Cattle Market’. The Temple of Portunus was consecrated on August 17 in the first century BC, and still stands to this day. Portunalia, the festival celebrated in honor of Portunus, was held annually on August 17. It was celebrated at Rome by the Pons Aemilius and also at Ostia. The Romans threw keys (the symbol of Portunus) in a solemn manner into a fire during Portunalia for good luck. During the Roman Republic, Portunus was one of the fifteen deities with an official cult. A priest (flamen) was assigned to each of the deities which were divided into three flamen maiores (major priests) and twelve flamen minores. The priest of Portunus was one of the flamen minores. The flamen Portunalis performed a ritual of oiling a spear (hasta) on the statue of the god Quirinus with an ointment especially prepared for this purpose and stored in a small vase (persillum). Related Stories: Neptunalia Ludi Apollinares Vestalia Mercuralia...