Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Rome - Ancient Roman style

On my way home this afternoon, as I approached the Temple dedicated to Hercules, often confused as a Temple of Vesta, I saw people getting ready for a Roman re-enactment. I got off the bus and witnessed the ritual of the Palilie. In ancient Rome, on April 21, the anniversary of the founding of Rome, there was a festival to honor the farming dieties who protected the flocks and herds.

The day began with women going to the house of the Vestal Virgins to receive elements to purify their houses and barns. The priestesses prepared fumigations with the ashes of a calf fetus, mixed with the stems of broad beans (considered an important ingredient of purification), and the blood of the horse sacrificed to Mars on the Ides of October.

Above: Patrician women go to the Vestal Virgins.
Below: The women purify their homes.

Above: A commoner goes to the Vestal Virgins
for the necessary ingredients to purify her house and barn.

After performing the required ritual at home,
this woman led her neighbors in a dancing festival.

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