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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 is a person who stud ...
, the Parentalia () or ''dies parentales'' (, "ancestral days") was a nine-day
festival A festival is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect of that community and its religion or cultures. It is often marked as a local or national holiday, mela, or Muslim holidays, eid. A festiva ...
held in honor of family ancestors, beginning on 13 February. Although the Parentalia was a holiday on the Roman religious calendar, its observances were mainly domestic and familial. The importance of the family to the Roman state, however, was expressed by public ceremonies on the opening day, the
Ides
Ides
of February, when a Vestal conducted a rite for the collective ''di parentes'' of Rome at the tomb of
Tarpeia In Roman mythology 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 o ...

Tarpeia
.


Overview

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
describes sacred offerings (''sacrificia'') of flower-garlands, wheat, salt, wine-soaked bread and violets to the "shades of the dead" (''
Manes In Religion in ancient Rome, ancient Roman religion, the ''Manes'' (, , ) or ''Di Manes'' are chthonic deities sometimes thought to represent souls of deceased loved ones. They were associated with the ''Lares'', ''Lemures,'' ''Genius (mythology), ...

Manes
'' or ''Di manes'') at family tombs, which were located outside Rome's sacred boundary ''(
pomerium The pomerium or pomoerium was a religious boundary around the city of and cities controlled by Rome. In legal terms, Rome existed only within its ''pomerium''; everything beyond it was simply territory (') belonging to Rome. Name The term '' ...

pomerium
)''. These observances were meant to strengthen the mutual obligations and protective ties between the living and the dead, and were a lawful duty of the ''
paterfamilias The ''pater familias'', also written as ''paterfamilias'' (plural ''patres familias''), was the head of a Ancient Rome, Roman family. The ''pater familias'' was the oldest living male in a household, and could legally exercise autocratic authority ...
'' (head of the family). Parentalia concluded on 21 February in the midnight rites of
Feralia Ferālia was an ancient Roman public festival Dumézil, Georges. ''Archaic Roman Religion''. pg 366. celebrating the Manes (Roman spirits of the dead, particularly the souls of deceased individuals) which fell on 21 February as recorded by Ovid ...
, when the ''paterfamilias'' addressed the malevolent, destructive aspects of his Manes. Feralia was a placation and exorcism: Ovid thought it a more rustic, primitive and ancient affair than the Parentalia itself. It appears to have functioned as a cleansing ritual for
Caristia 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. Families gathered to dine together and offer food and incense t ...
on the following day, when the family held an informal banquet to celebrate the amity between themselves and their benevolent ancestral dead (''
Lares Lares ( , ; archaic , singular ''Lar'') were guardian deities 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 ...

Lares
''). The emphasis on collective cult for the Manes and early ''di parentes'' implies their afterlife as vague and lacking individuation. In later cult they are vested with personal qualities, and in
Imperial cult An imperial cult is a form of state religion A state religion (also called an established religion or official religion) is a religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations ...
, they acquire divine ''
numen Numen (plural numina) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...

numen
'' and become '' divi'', divine entities. From Parentalia to Caristia all temples were closed, marriages were forbidden, and "magistrates appeared without their insignia," an indication that no official business was conducted.
William Warde Fowler William Warde Fowler (16 May 1847 – 15 June 1921) was an English 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 studies a ...
describes the Parentalia as "practically a yearly renewal of the rite of burial". Individuals might also be commemorated on their birthday ''( dies natalis)''. Some would be commemorated throughout the year on marked days of the month, such as the
KalendsThe calends or kalends ( la, kalendae) is the first day of every month in the Roman calendar. The English word ''calendar A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, mo ...
, Nones or Ides, when lamps might be lit at the tomb. The Lemuria on 9, 11 and 13 May was aimed at appeasing "kinless and hungry" spirits of the dead.Toynbee, "Death and Burial in the Roman World,'' p. 64.


See also

* Chinese ancestor veneration * ''
Jesa Jesa (, ) is a ceremony commonly practiced in Korea Korea is a region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the in ...
'', ancestral rites of Korea *
Qingming Festival The Qingming festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day in English (sometimes also called Chinese Memorial Day or Ancestors' Day), is a List of observances set by the Chinese calendar, traditional Chinese festival observed by the Han Chinese of ...
*
Roman funerals and burial Roman funerary practices include the Ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWord ...
*
Veneration of the dead The veneration Veneration in Noto St Conrad of Piacenza (San Corrado) Veneration ( la, veneratio; el, τιμάω ), or veneration of saints, is the act of honoring a saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as havi ...


Notes

{{Roman religion (festival) Ancient Roman festivals Death in ancient Rome Observances honoring the dead Religion and death February observances