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You might need to enable the Telnet Client feature first, but open a command line and run " telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl ".

Enjoy and may the force be with you!

In Ancient Roman religious tradition, the hilaria (Greek: ἱλάρια; Latin: hilaris, "hilarious") were festivals celebrated on the vernal equinox to honor Cybele.

The Romans took this feast originally from the Greeks, who called it ΑΝΑΒΑΣΙΣ, q.d. Ascensus: the eve of that day they spent in tears and lamentations, and denominated it ΚΑΤΑΒΑΣΙΣ, Descensus. Afterwards, the Greeks took the name ΙΛΑΡΙΑ, from the Romans, as appears from Photius's Bibliotheca, in his codex of the life of the philosopher Isidore of Alexandria.

The term seems originally to have been a name which was given to any day or season of rejoicing. The hilaria were, therefore, according to Maximus Monachus[1] either private or public. Among the former, he thinks it the day on which a person married, and on which a son was born; among the latter, those days of public rejoicings appointed by a new emperor. Such days were devoted to general rejoicings and public sacrifices, and no one was allowed to show any symptoms of grief or sorrow.

But the Romans also celebrated hilaria, as a feria stativa, on March 25, the eighth day before the Kalends of April, in honor of Cybele, the mother of the gods; and it is probably to distinguish these hilaria from those mentioned above, that the Augustan History [2] calls them Hilaria Matris Deûm. The day of its celebration was the first after the vernal equinox, or the first day of the year which was longer than the night. The winter with its gloom had died, and the first day of a better season was spent in rejoicings. The manner of its celebration during the time of the republic is unknown, except that Valerius Maximus[3] mentions games in honour of the mother of the gods. Respecting its celebration at the time of the empire, we learn from Herodian that, among other things, there was a solemn procession, in which the statue of the goddess was carried, and before this statue were carried the most costly specimens of template and works of art belonging either to wealthy Romans or to the emperors themselves. All kinds of games and amusements were allowed on this day; masquerades were the most prominent among them, and everyone might, in his disguise, imitate whomsoever he liked, and even magistrates.

The full festival can be tentatively reconstructed (with the days of the festival literally translated) as follows:[4]

15 March. "The Reed Entered". Its exact significance is uncertain (the reeds may refer to the river bank where Attis was exposed as a child and rescued by Cybele). A nine-day period of abstinence from bread, pomegranates, quinces, pork, fish, and probably wine began. Only milk was permitted as a drink.[5]
22 March. "The Tree Entered" (Arbor intrat). A pine tree from a wood sacred to Cybele is felled following the sacrifice of a ram at its roots. The tree was carried in procession through the city as if in a funeral to the Temple of Cybele on the Palatine Hill.
23 March. A day of mourning.
24 March. "The Day of Blood" (Sanguis). Frenzied rites including scourging and whipping. Castration rituals would take place on this day. The tree is symbolically buried.
25 March. "The Day of Joy" (Hilaria) celebrating the resurrection of Attis. This was the hilaria proper (as opposed to the mournful tone of the previous days).
26 March. A day of rest.
27 March. "The Washing" (Lavatio). Added by Marcus Aurelius.
28 March. Possible ceremony at the Vatican sanctuary. Appears in the Calendar of Philocalus.

1 ^ Schol. ad Dionys. Areopag. Epist. 8
2 ^ "The Life of Severus Alexander", c37.6
3 ^ Factorum et Dictorum Memorabilium ii.4 §3
4 ^ R Turcan. 1996. The Cults of the Roman Empire. p44-47
5 ^ R Turcan. 1996. The Cults of the Roman Empire. p44.


In Ancient Roman religious tradition, the Quinquatria or Quinquatrus was a festival sacred to Minerva, celebrated on the 19 March. It was so called according to Varro,[1] because it was held on the fifth day after the Ides, in the same way as the Tusculans called a festival on the sixth day after the Ides Sexatrus or one on the seventh Septimatrus. Festus (s.v.) also states that the Faliscans too called a festival on the tenth day after the Ides Decimatrus. Both Varro and Festus state that the Quinquatrus was celebrated for only one day, but Ovid[2] says that it was celebrated for five days, and was for this reason called by this name: that on the first day no blood was shed, but that on the last four there were contests of gladiators. It would appear however that the first day was only the festival properly so called, and that the last four were merely an addition made perhaps in the time of Caesar to gratify the people, who became so passionately fond of gladiatorial combats.

The ancient Calendars also assign only one day to the festival. Ovid says that this festival was celebrated in commemoration of the birthday of Minerva; but according to Festus it was sacred to Minerva because her temple on the Aventine was consecrated on that day. On the fifth day of the festival, according to Ovid,[3] the trumpets used in sacred rites were purified; but this seems to have been originally a separate festival called Tubilustrium, which was celebrated as we know from the ancient Calendars on the 23 March, and would of course, when the Quinquatrus was extended to five days, fall on the last day of that festival.

As this festival was sacred to Minerva, it seems that women were accustomed to consult fortune-tellers and diviners upon this day. Domitian caused it to be celebrated every year in his Alban villa, situated at the foot of the Alban hills, and instituted a collegium to superintend the celebration, which consisted of the hunting of wild beasts, of the exhibition of plays, and of contests of orators and poets[4]. At the Quinquatria in 59, Nero invited his mother, Agrippina the Younger, to his villa near Baiae, in an attempt to assassinate her. His old tutor, Anicetus, whom he had raised to be captain of the fleet of Misenum, had undertaken to construct a vessel which could be sunk, without exciting suspicion. Agrippina landed at Bauli, between Baiae and Cape Misenum, and completed her journey in a litter. After the banquet, when night had fallen, she was induced to return to Bauli in the vessel which had been prepared for her destruction. But the mechanism did not work as planned, and Agrippina succeeded in swimming to shore, from which she proceeded to her villa on the Lucrine lake. Nero soon after succeeded in his goal, however, with further help from Anicetus.[5] There was also another festival of this name called Quinquatrus Minusculae or Quinquatrus Minores, celebrated on the Ides of June, on which the tibicines went through the city in procession to the temple of Minerva.

1 ^ de Ling. Lat. vi.14
2 ^ In similar fashion, Festus states that the Faliscans called a festival on the tenth day after the Ides Decimatrus.
3 ^ Fasti iii.809, &c.
4 ^ Fasti iii.849
5 ^ Suetonius, The Life of Domitian, 4

The Liberalia (17 March) is the festival of Liber Pater and his consort Libera. The Romans celebrated Liberalia with sacrifices, processions, ribald and gauche songs, and masks which were hung on trees.

This feast celebrates the maturation of young boys to manhood. Roman boys, usually at age 14, would remove the bulla praetexta, a hollow charm of gold or leather, which parents placed about the necks of children to ward off evil spirits. At the Liberalia ceremony the young men might place the bulla on an altar (with a lock of hair or the stubble of his first shave placed inside) and dedicate it to the Lares, who were gods of the household and family. Mothers often retrieved the discarded bulla praetexta and kept it out of superstition. If the son ever achieved a public triumph, the mother could display the bulla to ward off any evil that might be wished upon the son by envious people. The young men discarded the toga praetexta, which was probably derived from Etruscan dress and was decorated with a broad purple border and worn with the bulla, by boys and girls. The boys donned the clothing of adulthood, the pure white toga virilis, or "man's gown". The garment identified him as a citizen of Rome, making him an eligible voter.

The celebration on March 17 was meant to honor Liber Pater, an ancient god of fertility and wine (like Bacchus, the Roman version of the Greek god, Dionysus). Liber Pater is also a vegetation god, responsible for protecting seed. Liber, again like Dionysius, had female priests although Liber's priests were older women. Wearing wreaths of ivy, the priestesses made special cakes, or libia, of oil and honey which passing devotees would have them sacrifice on their behalf. Over time this feast evolved and included the goddess Libera, Liber Pater's consort, and the feast divided so that Liber governed the male seed and Libera the female. This ancient Italian ceremony was a "country" or rustic ceremony. The processional featured a large phallus which the devotees carried throughout the countryside to bring the blessing of fertility to the land and the people. The procession and the phallus were meant also to protect the crops from evil. At the end of the procession, a virtuous and respected matron placed a wreath upon the phallus.

Related to the celebration of the Liberalia is the Procession of the Argei, celebrated on March 16 and 17. The Argei were 27 sacred shrines created by the Numina (very powerful ancient gods who are divine beings without form or face) and found throughout the regions of Rome. However, modern scholars have not discovered their meaning or use. In the argei celebration, 30 figures also called Argei were fashioned from rushes into shapes resembling men; later in the year they were tossed into the river(s). The origin of this celebration is not certain, but many scholars feel that it may have been a ritualistic offering meant to appease and praise the Numa and that the 30 argei probably represented the thirty elder Roman curiae, or possibly represented the 30 Latin townships. Other ancient scholars wrote that the use of the bull-rush icons was meant to deter celebrants from human sacrifice, which was done to honor Saturn. Some historical documents indicate that the argei (the sacred places) took their names from the chieftains who came with Hercules, the Argive, to Rome and then occupied the Capitoline (Saturnian) Hill. There is no way at present to verify this information, but it does coincide with the belief that Rome was founded by the Pelasgians and the name Argos is linked to that group.

While Liberalia is a relatively unknown event in the modern time, references to Liberalia and the Roman goddess Libera are still found today online and in astrology.

T.P. Wiseman, Remus: a Roman myth, Cambridge University Press, 1995, p.133.


A festival called Agonia or Agonium Martiale, in honor of Mars, was celebrated March 17, the same day as the Liberalia, during a prolonged "war festival" that marked the beginning of the season for military campaigning and agriculture.

Hendrik Wagenvoort, "On the Magical Significance of the Tail," in Pietas: Selected Studies in Roman Religion (Brill, 1980), p. 148; John Scheid, An Introduction to Roman Religion (Indiana University Press, 2003), p. 51.

The Bacchanalia were Roman festivals of Bacchus, the Greco-Roman god of wine, freedom, intoxication and ecstasy. They were based on the Greek Dionysia and the Dionysian mysteries, and probably arrived in Rome c. 200 BC via the Greek colonies in southern Italy, and from Etruria, Rome's northern neighbour. Like all mystery cults, the Bacchanalia were held in strict privacy, and initiates were bound to secrecy; what little is known of the cult and its rites derives from Greek and Roman literature, plays, statuary and paintings.[1]

Livy, the principal Roman literary source on the early Bacchanalia, names Paculla Annia, a Campanian priestess of Bacchus, as the founder of a private, unofficial Bacchanalia cult in Rome, based at the grove of Stimula, where the western slope of the Aventine Hill descends to the Tiber. The Aventine was an ethnically mixed district, strongly identified with Rome's plebeian class and the ingress of new and foreign cults.[2] The wine and fertility god Liber Pater ("The Free Father"), divine patron of plebeian rights, freedoms and augury, had a long-established official cult in the nearby temple he shared with Ceres and Libera.[3] Most Roman sources describe him as Rome's equivalent to Dionysus and Bacchus, both of whom were sometimes titled eleutherios (liberator).[4]

Livy claims the earliest version as open to women only, and held on three days of the year, in daylight; while in nearby Etruria, north of Rome, a "Greek of humble origin, versed in sacrifices and soothsaying" had established a nocturnal version, added wine and feasting to the mix, and thus acquired an enthusiastic following of women and men;[5] Livy says that Paculla Annia corrupted Rome's unofficial but morally acceptable Bacchic cult by introducing the Etruscan version, with five, always nocturnal cult meetings a month, open to all social classes, ages and sexes—starting with her own sons; the new celebrations and initiations featured wine-fueled violence and violent sexual promiscuity, in which the screams of the abused were drowned out by the din of drums and cymbals. Those who resisted or betrayed the cult were disposed of. Under cover of religion, priests and acolytes broke civil, moral and religious laws with impunity. Livy also claims that while the cult held particular appeal to those of uneducated and fickle mind (levitas animi), such as the young, plebeians, women and "men most like women", most of the city's population was involved, and even Rome's highest class was not immune. An ex-initiate and prostitute named Hispala Faecenia, fearing the cult's vengeance for her betrayal but more fearful for her young, upper class client and protegé, told all to the consul Postumius, who presented it to a shocked Roman senate as a dire national emergency. Once investigations were complete, the senate rewarded and protected informants, and suppressed the cult "throughout Italy"—or rather, forced its reformation, in the course of which seven thousand persons were arrested, most of whom were executed.[6][7]

1 ^ One of the earliest sources is Greek playwright Euripides's The Bacchae, which won the Athenian Dionysia competition in 405 BC.
2 ^ "No other location approaches [its] concentration of foreign cults": see Eric M. Orlin, "Foreign Cults in Republican Rome: Rethinking the Pomerial Rule", Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, Vol. 47 (2002), pp. 4-5.
3 ^ Only official introductions, controlled by Rome's ruling elite, conferred legitimacy on foreign cults in Rome; see Sarolta A. Takács, "Politics and Religion in the Bacchanalian Affair of 186 B.C.E" in Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Vol. 100, (2000), p. 302.
4 ^ Robert Rouselle, Liber-Dionysus in Early Roman Drama, The Classical Journal, 82, 3 (1987), p. 193.
5 ^ Sarolta A. Takács, Politics and Religion in the Bacchanalian Affair of 186 B.C.E., Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Vol. 100, (2000), p.305: the "Greek of humble origin" (Graecus ignobilis, in Livy, 39.8.3) may be understood as an ethnically Greek, itinerant priest of Dionysus.
6 ^ Overview in Erich S. Gruen, "The Bacchanalia affair", in Studies in Greek Culture and Roman Policy, University of California Press, 1996, p. 34 ff.[1]
7 ^ For Livy's account, see Livy, The History of Rome, Vol 5, Book 39, IX. Modern scholarly sources offer various estimates on the number executed.

The Equirria (Festival of Mars - held on February 27, First Equirria and March 14, Second Equirria) were holy days with religious and military significance at either end of the new year celebrations for Mars.

The March 14 Equirria occurs the day before the Ides, when the Roman people celebrated the feast of Anna Perenna, whose name expresses her role as a goddess of the year (Latin annus; cf. English "perennial"). The March 14 Equirria and the Regifugium ("King's Flight") are the only such festivals to fall on an even-numbered date. Despite scholarly efforts, no explanation for this displacement has found wide acceptance. Georg Wissowa thought the March Equirria had originally occurred on the Ides, and was moved up a day because of conflicts among religious events concentrated around this ritually fraught time; an alternate view is that it was placed "at some convenient day" between the Nones and the Ides. At any rate, the horse races framed the ritual turn of the year, and the difficulties of the placement of the two Equirria arise from changes made to the calendar, when January became the first month.[1]

The Equirria were said to have been founded by Romulus, the son of Mars.[2] Both appear on the oldest Roman calendars inscribed on stone.[3] The Equirria are part of what Michael Lipka calls "temporal focalization" in the Roman conception of deity. The festivals of Mars—the February 27 Equirria, a feria on the Kalends of March (a day sacred also to his mother Juno), Agonalia March 17, Tubilustrium March 23, the ritual of the October Horse October 15, and Armilustrium October 19—cluster at his namesake month (Latin Martius), except for festivals of Mars in October to close the military campaigning season.[4]


1 ^ Wagenvoort, "The Origin of the Ludi Saeculares," pp. 224–227; Frank Bernstein, "Complex Rituals: Games and Processions in Republican Rome", in A Companion to Roman Religion (Blackwell, 2007), p. 223; C. Bennett Pascal, "October Horse", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 85 (1981), p. 6; Robert Turcan, The Gods of Ancient Rome (Routledge, 2001), p. 65; Lipka, Roman Gods, p. 39; William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1908), p. 44ff. Fowler, The Religious Experience of the Roman People (London, 1922), p. 99, notes that about the peculiar even-date placement of the Regifugium and March Equirria "we know so little that it is almost useless to speculate as to the reason for their exception from the rule." See also Bernstein, "Die römischen Ecurria / Equirria — kriegerische Feste?" Nikephoros 12 (1999) 149–169. See discussion throughout Rüpke, The Roman Calendar.
2 ^ Geoffrey S. Sumi, Ceremony and Power: Performing Politics in Rome between Republic and Empire (University of Michigan Press, 2005), p. 288, with additional sources.
3 ^ Wagenvoort, "The Origin of the Ludi Saeculares," p. 225.
4 ^ Michael Lipka, Roman Gods: A Conceptual Approach (Brill, 2009), p. 37. The views of Georg Wissowa on the festivals of Mars framing the military campaigning season are summarized by C. Bennett Pascal, "October Horse," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 85 (1981), p. 264, with bibliography.


Regifugium or Fugalia was an annual Roman observance that took place every February 24. In Latin, the name of the observance transparently means "flight of the king." What exactly this observance was occasioned by is a matter of some controversy. According to Varro and Ovid, this was a festival commemorating the flight of the last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, in 510 BC. Ovid's Fasti contains the longest surviving account of the observance; he begins:

Nunc mihi dicenda est regis fuga. Traxit ab illa sextus ab extremo nomina mense dies. Ultima Tarquinius Romanæ gentis habebat regna, vir iniustus, fortis ad arma tamen.
(Now I must tell of the flight of the King, six days(1) from the end of the month. The last of the Tarquins possessed the Roman nation, an unjust man, but nevertheless strong in war.(2) )

Plutarch disagrees; he holds that since the Rex Sacrorum, substitute for the former king of Rome in various religious rituals, held no civic or military role, but nevertheless was bound to offer a public sacrifice in the Comitia on this date, the "flight of the king" was the swift exit the proxy king was required to make from that place of public business.

1 ^ By Roman inclusive counting. See also nundinae.
2 ^ Nunc mihi dicenda est regis fuga. Traxit ab illa sextus ab extremo nomina mense dies. Ultima Tarquinius Romanæ gentis habebat regna, vir iniustus, fortis ad arma tamen.

In ancient Rome, the Caristia, also known as the Cara Cognatio, was an official but privately observed holiday on February 22 that celebrated love of family with banqueting and gifts.[1] Families gathered to dine together and offer food and incense to the Lares as their household gods.[2] It was a day of reconciliation when disagreements were to be set aside, but the poet Ovid observes satirically that this could be achieved only by excluding family members who caused trouble.[3]

The Caristia was one of several days in February that honored family or ancestors. It followed the Parentalia, nine days of remembrance which began on February 13 and concluded with the Feralia on February 21, or in the view of some, the Caristia on the next day. For the Parentalia, families visited the tombs of their ancestors and shared cake and wine both in the form of offerings and as a meal among themselves. The Feralia was a more somber occasion, a public festival of sacrifices and offerings to the Manes, the spirits of the dead who required propitiation.[4] The Caristia was a recognition of the family line as it continued into the present and among the living.[5]

There were distributions of bread, wine, and sportulae (bonuses, tips, tokens of appreciation).[6] The poet Martial has a pair of poems on gift-giving for the holiday; in one, he offers a sort of "non-apology apology" to his relatives Stella and Flaccus, explaining that he's sent them nothing because he didn't want to offend others who ought to receive a gift from him and wouldn't.[7]

1 ^ The 1988 Teubner edition of the Ovid's Fasti (2.616) gives Karistia.
2 ^ Michele Renee Salzman, "Religious Koine and Religious Dissent in the Fourth Century," A Companion to Roman Religion (Blackwell, 2007), p. 115; Ittai Gradel, Emperor Worship and Roman Religion (Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 208.
3 ^ Ovid, Fasti 2.623–626, 631–632; William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1908), p. 418.
4 ^ Salzman, "Religious Koine," p. 115.
5 ^ Fowler, Religious Experience p. 418.
6 ^ John F. Donahue, "Towards a Typology of Roman Public Feasting," in Roman Dining: A Special Issue of American Journal of Philology (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), p. 105.
7 ^ Martial, Epigrams 9.54 and 55; Ruurd R. Nauta, Poetry for Patrons: Literary Communication in the Age of Domitian (Brill, 2002), p. 79.

In Ancient Roman religious tradition, February 17 was the festival of Quirinalia in honour of Quirinus. Quirinus was a major Roman deity ranking close to Jupiter and Mars; the flamines (see flamen) of these gods constituted the three major priests at Rome. Quirinus’ name is in adjectival form and would seem to mean “he of the quirium,” a word generally taken to signify the very ancient Sabine settlement that united with the Palatine community to form the original Rome. It has also been derived, however, from covirium, meaning “assembly of men.” That the Quirinal, traditional site of Sabine settlement, was the seat of his cult there is no doubt, and the Sabine origin of the god is reflected in Ovid.[1]

In spite of his importance, little is known about Quirinus. He bears a similarity to Mars, and some believe that he is only another form of that deity. By the late republic he is identified completely with Romulus. His was the name under which the immortalized Romulus was worshipped, and his festival fell on the same date that Romulus was said to have ascended to the gods, perhaps to assume the identity of Quirinus. His temple on the Quirinal was one of the oldest in Rome. A cult partner, Hora, is spoken of, as are minor deities, the Virites Quirini, of whom nothing else is known. Janus appears with the epithet Quirinus, but the relationship between the two is a matter of conjecture.[2]

1 ^ Ovid. Fasti II, 475
2 ^ Encyclopedia Britannica, Quirinus.
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