Floralia
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The Floralia was a
festival A festival is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as norms, religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious b ...
in ancient Roman religious practice in honor of the goddess Flora, held April 27 during the Republican era, or April 28 in the
Julian calendar The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar in , was a reform of the Roman calendar. It took effect on , by edict. It was designed with the aid of Greek mathematics, Greek mathematicians and Ancient Greek astronomy, astronomers such as Sosige ...
. The festival included ''Ludi Florae'', the "Games of Flora" which lasted for six days under the
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 w ...

empire
. The festival had a licentious, pleasure-seeking atmosphere. In contrast to many festivals which had a
patrician Patrician may refer to: * Patrician (ancient Rome), the original aristocratic families of ancient Rome, and a synonym for "aristocratic" in modern English usage * Patrician (post-Roman Europe), the governing elites of cities in parts of medieval a ...
character, the games of Flora were
plebeian In ancient Rome, the plebeians (also called plebs) were the general body of free Roman citizenship, Roman citizens who were not Patrician (ancient Rome), patricians, as determined by the capite censi, census, or in other words "commoners". Both ...
in nature.


Flora

Flora is one of the most ancient goddesses of Roman religion and was one of fifteen deities to have her own state-supported high priest, the ''
flamen A was a priest A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform the Sacred rite, sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deities. They also have the authority or power to administer ...
Florialis''. A goddess of flowers, vegetation, and fertility, she received sacrifices ''( piacula)'' in the sacred grove of the
Arval Brothers 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 often ...
, an archaic priesthood. Her altar at Rome was said to have been established by the
Sabine The Sabines (; lat, Sabini; it, Sabini, all exonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, internal name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class ...
king
Titus Tatius Image:The Intervention of the Sabine Women.jpg, 300px, ''The Intervention of the Sabine Women'', by Jacques-Louis David, depicts Titus Tatius at the left. According to the Foundation of Rome, Roman foundation myth, Titus Tatius was the king of the S ...
during the semi-legendary Regal period. ''Flusalis'' (linguistically equivalent to ''Floralia'') was a month on the Sabine calendar, and
Varro Marcus Terentius Varro (; 116–27 BC) was one of ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empi ...
counted Flora among the Sabine deities.


Temples of Flora

The Temple of Flora was built in Rome upon consultation with the
Sibylline Books The ''Sibylline Books'' ( la, Libri Sibyllini) were a collection of oracular utterances, set out in Greek hexameters, that, according to tradition, were purchased from a sibyl by the last king of Rome , established_title = Founded , es ...
shortly after a drought that occurred around 241–238 BCE. The temple was located near the
Circus Maximus The Circus Maximus (Latin for "largest circus"; Italian language, Italian: ''Circo Massimo'') is an ancient Rome, ancient Roman chariot racing, chariot-racing stadium and mass entertainment venue in Rome, Italy. In the valley between the Aventine ...

Circus Maximus
on the lower slope of the
Aventine Hill The Aventine Hill (; la, Collis Aventinus; it, Aventino ) is one of the Seven Hills on which ancient Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Ma ...
, a site associated with the
plebeians The plebeians, also called plebs, were, in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in ...
of Rome. Games were instituted for the founding day of the temple (April 28), and were held only occasionally until continued crop damage led to their annual celebration beginning in 173. ''Flora Rustica'' ("Rural Flora") had another temple on the
Quirinal Hill The Quirinal Hill (; la, Collis Quirinalis; it, Quirinale ) is one of the Seven Hills of Rome, at the north-east of the city center. It is the location of the official residence of the Italian head of state, who resides in the Quirinal Palace; ...
, the ''Temple of Flora Rustica'', which may have been the location of the altar erected by Tatius.


Games

The games ''(
ludi ''Ludi'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, 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 Repu ...

ludi
)'' of Flora were presented by the plebeian aediles and paid for by fines collected when public lands ''(
ager publicus The ''ager publicus'' (; "public land") is the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
)'' were encroached upon.
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold republican principles during crisis of th ...

Cicero
mentions his role in organizing games for Flora when he was aedile in 69 BCE. The festival opened with theatrical performances ''(
ludi scaenici The architectural form of theatre in Rome has been linked to later, more well-known examples from the 1st century B.C.E. to the 3rd Century C.E. The Theatre of ancient Rome referred to as a period of time in which theatrical practice and performan ...
)'', and concluded with competitive events and spectacles at the Circus and a sacrifice to Flora. In 68 CE, the entertainments at the Floralia presented under the emperor
Galba Galba (; born Servius Sulpicius Galba; 24 December 3 BC – 15 January AD 69) was a 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 ...

Galba
featured a tightrope-walking elephant.


Participation of prostitutes

Prostitution in ancient Rome, Prostitutes participated in the Floralia as well as the wine festival (Vinalia) on April 23. According to the satirist Juvenal, prostitutes danced naked and fought in mock gladiator combat. Many prostitutes in ancient Rome were slavery in ancient Rome, slaves, and even free women who worked as prostitutes lost their legal and social standing as citizens, but their inclusion at religious festivals indicates that sex workers were not completely outcast from society.


Observances

Ovid says that hares and goats—animals considered fertile and salacious—were ceremonially released as part of the festivities. Persius says that the crowd was pelted with vetches, beans, and lupins, also symbols of fertility. In contrast to the Cerealia, when white garments were worn, multi-colored clothing was customary. There may have been nocturnal observances, since sources mention measures taken to light the way after the theatrical performances. A rite called the Florifertum is described by one source as involving the bearing ''(fert-)'' of wheat ears ''(spicae)'' into a shrine ''(sacrarium)''. It is unclear whether the offering was made to Flora or to Ceres (mythology), Ceres, or whether if made to Flora it occurred on April 27 or May 3. Ovid describes a ''florifertum'' in honor of Lucina (goddess), Juno Lucina on March 1, a date also celebrated as the ''Glossary of ancient Roman religion#dies natalis, dies natalis'' ("birthday") of Mars (mythology), MarsF-H.Massa-Pairault, ''Lasa Vecu, Lasa Vecuvia'', ''Dialoghi di Archeologia'', 3,6, 1988. Mars (mythology)#Birth, in whose conception Flora played a role.


See also

* Roman festivals * Carmentalia * Vestalia * Cerealia * Fornacalia * Opiconsivia * Divalia * Furrinalia * Matralia * Lemuria (festival) * Matronalia * Liberalia * Parilia * Rosalia (festival), Rosalia, a festival of roses celebrated throughout the Roman Empire * May Queen


References


External links


Encyclopædia Romana: ''Floralia''
{{Roman religion (festival) Ancient Roman festivals April observances May observances