History for the Rest of Us

Consualia and the Sabine Women

Consualia and the Sabine Women

Dec 15, 2012

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Circensian games, which can only be accounted for by supposing that the great Circensian games, in subsequent times, superseded the ancient Consualia… SOURCE:A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities Livy describes the abduction of the Sabine women as follows: And now the Roman state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 home, nor had they any intermarriages with their neighbors. Therefore, by the advice of the Fathers, Romulus sent ambassadors to the neighboring states to solicit an alliance and the privilege of intermarriage for his new subjects…No where did the embassy obtain a favorable hearing…The Roman youth resented this conduct bitterly, and the matter unquestionably began to point towards violence. Romulus, in order that he might afford a favorable time and place for this, dissembling his resentment, purposely prepares games in honor of Neptunus Equestris; he calls them Consualia. He then orders the spectacle to be...