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Lupercalia was a
pastoral A pastoral lifestyle is that of shepherds herd A herd is a social group of certain animals of the same species, either wildness, wild or Domestication, domestic. The form of collective animal behavior associated with this is called ''he ...

pastoral
festival of
Ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who stud ...
observed annually on February 15 to purify the city, promoting health and fertility. Lupercalia was also known as ''dies Februatus'', after the purification instruments called ''februa'', the basis for the month named ''
Februarius ''Februarius'', fully ''Mensis Februarius'' ("month of Februa"), was the shortest month of the Roman calendar from which the Julian calendar, Julian and Gregorian calendar, Gregorian month of February derived. It was eventually placed second in o ...
''.


Name

The festival was originally known as Februa ("Purifications" or "Purgings") after the ' which was used on the day.. It was also known as ' and gave its name variously, as epithet to
Juno Juno commonly refers to: *Juno (mythology), the Roman goddess of marriage and queen of the gods *Juno (film), ''Juno'' (film), 2007 Juno may also refer to: Arts, entertainment and media Fictional characters *Juno, in the film ''Jenny, Juno'' *Jun ...
Februalis, Februlis, or Februata in her role as patron deity of that month; to a supposed purification deity called
Februus In ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion or Belief#Religion, belief associated with a particular ethnic group. Ethnic religions are ofte ...
; and to
February February is the second month of the year in the Julian calendar, Julian and Gregorian calendars. The month has 28 days in common years or 29 in leap years, with the 29th day being called the ''leap day''. It is the first of five months not to ...
('), the month during which the festival occurred.
Ovid Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō (; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known in English as Ovid ( ), was a Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom ...

Ovid
connects ' to an
Etruscan__NOTOC__ Etruscan may refer to: Ancient civilisation *The Etruscan language, an extinct language in ancient Italy *Something derived from or related to the Etruscan civilization **Etruscan architecture **Etruscan art **Etruscan cities **Etruscan ...
word for "purging". Some sources connect the Latin word for fever (') with the same idea of purification or purging, due to the "sweating out" commonly associated with fevers. The name ''Lupercalia'' was believed in antiquity to evince some connection with the
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
festival of the
Lykaia In Ancient Greece, the Lykaia ( el, Λυκαία) was an archaic festival with a secret ritual on the slopes of Mount Lykaion ("Wolf Mountain"), the tallest peak in rustic Arcadia (ancient region), Arcadia. The rituals and myths of this primitive ri ...
, a wolf festival ( grc-gre, λύκος, ''lýkos''; la, lupus), and the worship of ''Lycaean
Pan Pan may refer to: Prefix *''Pan-'', a prefix A prefix is an affix which is placed before the stem of a word. Adding it to the beginning of one word changes it into another word. For example, when the prefix ''un-'' is added to the word ''happy ...
'', assumed to be a Greek equivalent to
Faunus In Religion in ancient Rome, ancient Roman religion and Roman mythology, myth, Faunus was the horned deity, horned god of the forest, plains and fields; when he made cattle fertile he was called Inuus. He came to be equated in literature with ...
, as instituted by Evander.
Justin Justin may refer to: People * Justin (name), including a list of persons with the given name Justin * Justin (historian), a Latin historian who lived under the Roman Empire * Justin I (c. 450–527), or ''Flavius Iustinius Augustus'', Eastern Roma ...
describes a cult image of "the Lycaean god, whom the Greeks call Pan and the Romans
LupercusLupercus may refer to: * Lupercus (mythology), a god in Roman mythology * Lupercus of Berytus, a Greek grammarian {{disambiguation ...
", as nude, save for a goatskin girdle. The statue stood in the
Lupercal The Lupercal (from Latin ''wikt:lupa, lupa'' "female wolf") was a cave at the southwest foot of the Palatine Hill in Rome, located somewhere between the temple of Temple of Cybele (Palatine), Magna Mater and the Sant'Anastasia al Palatino. In ...
, the cave where tradition held that
Romulus and Remus In Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of myths of ancient Rome as represented in the Latin literature, literature and Roman art, visual arts of the Romans. One of a wide variety of genres of Roman folklore, ''Roman mythology'' m ...

Romulus and Remus
were suckled by the she-wolf (
Lupa Lupa may refer to: Places * Lupa Gold Field, Tanzania * Lupa Island (Hungary) * Lupa Zoo, Ludlow, Massachusetts, United States * Mount Lupa, Antarctica Other * Auguste Lupa, a fictional character in two pastiche novels by author John Lescroart * ...
). The cave lay at the foot of the
Palatine Hill The Palatine Hill, (; la, Collis Palatium or Mons Palatinus; it, Palatino ) which is the centremost of the seven hills of Rome The seven hills of Rome ( la, Septem colles/montes Romae, it, Sette colli di Roma ) east of the river Tiber ...

Palatine Hill
, on which
Romulus Romulus () was the legendary founder Founder or Founders may refer to: Places *Founders Park, a stadium in South Carolina, formerly known as Carolina Stadium * Founders Park, a waterside park in Islamorada, Florida#In popular culture, Islamora ...
was thought to have founded Rome. The name of the festival most likely derives from ''lupus'', "wolf", though both the etymology and its significance are obscure. Despite Justin's assertion, no deity named "Lupercus" has been identified. H.H. Scullard, ''Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic'' (Cornell University Press, 1981), p. 77–78.


Rites


Locations

The rites were confined to the Lupercal cave, the
Palatine Hill The Palatine Hill, (; la, Collis Palatium or Mons Palatinus; it, Palatino ) which is the centremost of the seven hills of Rome The seven hills of Rome ( la, Septem colles/montes Romae, it, Sette colli di Roma ) east of the river Tiber ...

Palatine Hill
, and the Forum, all of which were central locations in Rome's
foundation myth Foundation may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Games * ''Foundation'', an Amiga video game * ''Foundation'', a 2019 simulation video game by Polymorph Games Literature * Foundation (b-boy book), ''Foundation'' (b-boy book), by Joseph ...
. Near the cave stood a sanctuary of
Rumina In ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ethnic religion of Ancient Rome that the ancient Romans, Romans used to define themselves as a people, as well as the religious practices of peoples brought under Roman rule, in ...
, goddess of breastfeeding; and the wild fig-tree (''
Ficus Ruminalis The ''Ficus Ruminalis'' was a wild ficus, fig tree that had Religion in ancient Rome, religious and Roman mythology, mythological significance in ancient Rome. It stood near the small cave known as the Lupercal at the foot of the Palatine Hill an ...
'') to which Romulus and Remus were brought by the divine intervention of the river-god Tiberinus; some Roman sources name the wild fig tree ''caprificus'', literally "goat fig". Like the cultivated fig, its fruit is pendulous, and the tree exudes a milky sap if cut, which makes it a good candidate for a cult of breastfeeding.


Priesthoods

The Lupercalia had its own priesthood, the ''Luperci'' ("brothers of the wolf"), whose institution and rites were attributed either to the Arcadian culture-hero Evander, or to Romulus and Remus, erstwhile shepherds who had each established a group of followers. The ''Luperci'' were young men (''iuvenes''), usually between the ages of 20 and 40. They formed two religious ''
collegia A (plural ), or college, was any association in ancient Rome with a legal personality. Such associations could be civil or religious. The word literally means "society", from (‘colleague’). They functioned as social clubs or religious ...
'' (associations) based on ancestry; the ''Quinctiliani'' (named after the ''
gens In ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian i ...
'' Quinctia) and the ''Fabiani'' (named after the ''gens'' Fabia). Each college was headed by a ''magister''. In 44 BC, a third college, the ''Juliani'', was instituted in honor of
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
; its first ''magister'' was
Mark Antony Marcus Antonius (14 January 1 August 30 BC), commonly known in English as Mark Antony, was a Ancient Rome, Roman politician and general who played a critical role in the Crisis of the Roman Republic, transformation of the Roman Republic f ...
. The college of ''Juliani'' disbanded or lapsed following Caesar's assassination, and was not re-established in the reforms of his successor,
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
. In the Imperial era, membership of the two traditional ''collegia'' was opened to ''iuvenes'' of
equestrian The word equestrian is a reference to Equestrianism, horseback riding, derived from Latin ' and ', "horse". Horseback riding (or Riding in British English) Notable examples of this are: *List of equestrian sports, Equestrian sports *Equestrianism, ...
status.


Sacrifice

At the Lupercal altar, a male goat (or goats) and a dog were sacrificed by one or another of the ''Luperci'', under the supervision of the
Flamen dialis In ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ethnic religion of Ancient Rome that the ancient Romans, Romans used to define themselves as a people, as well as the religious practices of peoples brought under Roman rule, in ...
,
Jupiter Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the List of Solar System objects by size, largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant with a mass more than two and a half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined, but ...
's chief priest. An offering was also made of salted mealcakes, prepared by the
Vestal Virgin In ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian ...
s. After the blood sacrifice, two ''Luperci'' approached the altar. Their foreheads were anointed with blood from the sacrificial knife, then wiped clean with
wool Wool is the textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, suitable for use in the production of textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitt ...
soaked in
milk Milk is a nutrient A nutrient is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition * Matter, any ...

milk
, after which they were expected to laugh. The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs (known as ') from the flayed skin of the animal, and ran with these, naked or near-naked, along the old Palatine boundary, in an anticlockwise direction around the hill. In
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46 – after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC&nbs ...

Plutarch
's description of the Lupercalia, written during the early
Empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries". Narrowly defined, an empire is a sovereign state called an empire and ...

Empire
,
...many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the
pregnant Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring In biology, offspring are the young creation of living organisms, produced either by a Asexual reproduction, single organism or, in the case of sexual repr ...

pregnant
will thus be helped in
delivery Delivery may refer to: *Delivery (commerce), of goods, e.g.: **Pizza delivery **Milk delivery Film and television *Delivering (film), ''Delivering'' (film), a 1993 short film by Todd Field *Delivery (film), ''Delivery'' (film), a 2005 animated sho ...

delivery
, and the barren to pregnancy.
The ''Luperci'' completed their circuit of the Palatine, then returned to the ''Lupercal'' cave.


History

The Februa was of ancient and possibly
Sabine The Sabines (; lat, Sabini; it, Sabini, all exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Sou ...
origin. After
February February is the second month of the year in the Julian calendar, Julian and Gregorian calendars. The month has 28 days in common years or 29 in leap years, with the 29th day being called the ''leap day''. It is the first of five months not to ...
was added to the
Roman calendar The Roman calendar was the calendar A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, months and years. A calendar date, date is the designation of a single, specific ...
, Februa occurred on its fifteenth day ('). Of its various rituals, the most important came to be those of the Lupercalia. The Romans themselves attributed the instigation of the Lupercalia to Evander, a culture hero from
Arcadia Arcadia may refer to: Places Australia * Arcadia, New South Wales, a suburb of Sydney * Arcadia, Queensland * Arcadia, Victoria Greece * Arcadia (region) Arcadia ( el, Ἀρκαδία) is a region in the central Peloponnese. It takes its name ...
who was credited with bringing the Olympic pantheon, Greek laws and alphabet to Italy, where he founded the city of
Pallantium Pallantium ( grc, Παλλάντιον) was an ancient city near the Tiber File:Rome flood marker.jpg, Rome Historical marker, flood marker, 1598, set into a pillar of the Ospedale di Santo Spirito in Sassia, Santo Spirito Hospital near Basilic ...
on the future site of Rome, 60 years before the
Trojan War In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Homer), Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris (mythology), Paris of Troy took Helen of Troy, Helen from her husband Menelaus, king of Sparta. The war is one of the ...
. Lupercalia was celebrated in parts of Italy and Gaul; ''Luperci'' are attested by inscriptions at
Velitrae Velletri (; la, Velitrae; xvo, Velester) is an Italian ''comune The (; plural: ) is a of , roughly equivalent to a or . Importance and function The provides essential public services: of births and deaths, , and maintenance of loca ...

Velitrae
,
Praeneste Palestrina (ancient ''Praeneste''; grc, Πραίνεστος, ''Prainestos'') is a modern Italian city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or mun ...
, (modern Nîmes) and elsewhere. The ancient cult of the Hirpi Sorani ("wolves of Soranus", from Sabine ''hirpus'' "wolf"), who practiced at Mt. Soracte, north of Rome, had elements in common with the Roman Lupercalia. Descriptions of the Lupercalia festival of 44 BC attest to its continuity;
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
used it as the backdrop for his public refusal of a golden
crown '' A crown is a traditional form of head adornment, or hat, worn by monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the cont ...

crown
offered to him by
Mark Antony Marcus Antonius (14 January 1 August 30 BC), commonly known in English as Mark Antony, was a Ancient Rome, Roman politician and general who played a critical role in the Crisis of the Roman Republic, transformation of the Roman Republic f ...
. The Lupercal cave was restored or rebuilt by
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
, and has been speculated to be identical with a grotto discovered in 2007, below the remains of Augustus' residence; according to scholarly consensus, the grotto is a
nymphaeum A ''nymphaeum'' or ''nymphaion'' ( grc, νυμφαῖον), in ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th ...

nymphaeum
, not the Lupercal. The Lupercalia festival is marked on a calendar of 354 alongside traditional and Christian festivals. Despite the banning in 391 of all non-Christian cults and festivals, the Lupercalia was celebrated by the nominally Christian populace on a regular basis into the reign of the emperor Anastasius.
Pope Gelasius I Pope Gelasius I was the bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern ...

Pope Gelasius I
(494–96) claimed that only the "vile rabble" were involved in the festival and sought its forceful abolition; the Senate protested that the Lupercalia was essential to Rome's safety and well-being. This prompted Gelasius' scornful suggestion that "If you assert that this rite has salutary force, celebrate it yourselves in the ancestral fashion; run nude yourselves that you may properly carry out the mockery". There is no contemporary evidence to support the popular notions that Gelasius abolished the Lupercalia, or that he, or any other prelate, replaced it with the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A literary association between the Lupercalia and the romantic elements of
Saint Valentine's Day Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine and, throug ...
dates back to
Chaucer Geoffrey Chaucer (; – 25 October 1400) was an English poet and author. Widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th ...

Chaucer
and poetic traditions of
courtly love Courtly love ( oc, fin'amor ; french: amour courtois ) was a medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpret ...
.Henry Ansgar Kelly (1986), in "Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine" (Leiden: Brill), pp. 58-63Jack B. Oruch, "St. Valentine, Chaucer, and Spring in February" ''Speculum'' 56.3 (July 1981:534–565)


Legacy

Horace Quintus Horatius Flaccus (; 8 December 65 – 27 November 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace (), was the leading Roman Empire, Roman Lyric poetry, lyric poet during the time of Augustus (also known as Octavian). The rhetoricia ...

Horace
's Ode III, 18 alludes to the Lupercalia. The festival or its associated rituals gave its name to the Roman month of
February February is the second month of the year in the Julian calendar, Julian and Gregorian calendars. The month has 28 days in common years or 29 in leap years, with the 29th day being called the ''leap day''. It is the first of five months not to ...
(') and thence to the modern month. The
Roman god Roman mythology is the body of myths Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include o ...

Roman god
Februus In ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion or Belief#Religion, belief associated with a particular ethnic group. Ethnic religions are ofte ...
personified both the month and purification, but seems to postdate both.
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national p ...

William Shakespeare
's play ''Julius Caesar'' begins during the Lupercalia.
Mark Antony Marcus Antonius (14 January 1 August 30 BC), commonly known in English as Mark Antony, was a Ancient Rome, Roman politician and general who played a critical role in the Crisis of the Roman Republic, transformation of the Roman Republic f ...
is instructed by Caesar to strike his wife Calpurnia, in the hope that she will be able to conceive. Research published in 2019 suggests that the word
Leprechaun A leprechaun ( ga, leipreachán/luchorpán) is a diminutive supernatural being in Irish folklore, classed by some as a type of solitary fairy. They are usually depicted as little bearded men, wearing a coat and hat, who partake in mischief. ...
derives from ''Lupercus''.
lupracán, luchorpán
' on the Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language (accessed 6 September 2019)
In the second season of the
Netflix Netflix, Inc. is an American subscription The subscription business model is a business model in which a customer In sales Sales are activities related to selling or the number of goods sold in a given targeted time period. Th ...

Netflix
series '' Chilling Adventures of Sabrina'' the witches celebrate Lupercalia. Today, the Satanic Temple celebrates Lupercalia among its official holidays.


References


Citations


Bibliography


A. M. Franklin, ''The Lupercalia''
(doctoral dissertation, 1921, 102pp.) * * Liebler, Naomi Conn (1988). ''The Ritual Ground of Julius Caesar''.


Further reading

* Beard, Mary; North, John; Price, Simon. ''Religions of Rome: A History.'' Cambridge University Press, 1998, vol. 1, limited previe
online
search "Lupercalia". * Lincoln, Bruce. ''Authority: Construction and Corrosion.'' University of Chicago Press, 1994, pp. 43–4
online
on Julius Caesar and the politicizing of the Lupercalia; valuabl
list of sources
pp. 182–183. *North, John. ''Roman Religion''. The Classical Association, 2000, pp. 4
online
and 50 on the problems of interpreting evidence for the Lupercalia. *Markus, R.A. ''The End of Ancient Christianity.'' Cambridge University Press, 1990, pp. 131–13
online
on the continued celebration of the Lupercalia among "uninhibited Christians" into the 5th century, and the reasons for the "brutal intervention" by Pope Gelasius. *Rissanen, Mika
Hirpi Sorani and the Wolf Cults of Central Italy.''
Arctos 46 (2012), pp. 115–135, on the common elements between the Lupercalia and other wolf cults of Central Italy. *Vuković, Krešimi
"Roman Myth and Ritual: the Groups of Luperci and Epigraphic Evidence"
78 (2016): 43-52. *Vuković, Krešimir
The Topography of the Lupercalia
, in ''The Papers of the British School at Rome'' 86 (2018): 1-24. *Wiseman, T.P. "The Lupercalia". In ''Remus: A Roman Myth''. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995, pp. 77–88, limited previe
online
discussion of the Lupercalia in the context of myth and ritual. * Wiseman, T.P. "The God of the Lupercal", in Idem, ''Unwritten Rome''. Exeter, University of Exeter Press, 2008.


External links



Lupercalia {{Authority control Ancient Roman festivals February observances Wolves in folklore, religion and mythology She-wolf (Roman mythology)