Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Calendrical Notes
I keep daily notes on the Roman calendar -- to-day (January 1st, Julian date) has several coinciding ceremonies attached to it. This post is really intended to see if anyone else would be interested in my calendar notes. The English is from the Loeb Classics whenever I happen to possess the book, other translations are taken from publicly available sources as I lay heavy stress on the fact that I am an amateur classicist and my own renderings are not always perfect. I have corrected Loeb on one point where the translation seems to obscure the sense.

To-day is the Kalends of January (KALENDIS IANVARII). To-day is marked F, FASTVS, i.e. business in court might be heard this day.

Fortunately the Fasti of Praeneste preserves a fairly intact note for to-day:

''[Kalends of January. Business in Court.] To Aesculapius and Vediovis on the island. This day, along with the [other] Kalends, is given the name {calendae} because it is the first of the days which the pontifex minor [calls] on the Capitol in the Calabrian senate-house, in every month up until each Nones. The new year [begins then] because on this day the new magistrates enter office; this custom started in the 601st year after the foundation [of Rome].''

The connexion in Latin is between KALENDAS and the verb CALO, CALAVI, CALATVM, to call or to announce solemnly.

The sacred form, in the MENSES PLENI or full months (of thirty-one days) that predate the Julian reform (i.e. March, July, October, May), SEPTEM DIEM CALO TE IVNO COVELLA (from Varro's Lingua Latina, from the twenty-seventh chapter of the sixth book). In the MENSES CAVI and in the new Julian months of thirty-one days (August, December and January) the formula is DIES TE QVINQVE CALO IVNO COVELLA.

IVNO COVELLA, Juno of the Hollow Moon, is associated with the Nones on account of this incantation,  though Ovid states the Nones have no tutelary deity. The association is perhaps strengthened by the fact that the  Nones are the days of the waxing quarter-moon. It has occurred to me and to at least one other reconstructer of the Roman pagan religion that Juno, as the goddess of motherhood might govern the monthly cyclical renewal of the moon, just as she does the monthly cycle of menstruation and pregnancy, but a reference from the classical  authors would be required. Warde Fowler states that ''[Juno's] connexion with the moon is certain but not easy to explain''.

The temple of Vediovis on the Tiber Island is referred to by Livy, i) in the thirty-first book of his Roman History, in the twenty-first chapter: ''[during the raising of the siege of Cremona, invested by a host of Gauls lead by the Carthaginian Hamilcar in 200 B.C.E., the year of the City 554] the praetor... [L. Furius Purpureo] vowed a temple to Diiovis if he routed the enemy on that day''. ii) In the thirty-fourth book of the Roman History, we find that '' [in the year 194 B.C.E., of the city 560] ''on the Island, Gaius Servilius the duumvir dedicated a temple to Jupiter; it had been vowed six years before in the Gallic war by the praetor Lucius Furius Purpurio, and contracted for by the same man as consul.''

Note that although in the latter reference to Livy we find the phrase ''IOVIS AEDEM'' (a temple [lit. of, but better rendered] to Jupiter) the earlier reference gives the form DIIOVIS. Mommsen is sure that the deity referred to is VEDIOVIS.

Warde Fowler gives VEDIOVIS as ''the opposite of'' or ''separated from'' Jupiter. He refers to Vediovis as an obscure god, but I cannot agree. The source for this etymology is in the twenty-first chapter of the fifth book of ''Attic Nights'' (a learned commonplace-book by the second-century scholar Aulus Gellius), which is an invaluable source upon the god himself:

''In ancient prayers we have observed that these names of deities appear: Diovis and Vediovis; furthermore, there is also a temple of Vediovis at Rome, between the Citadel and the Capitolium. The explanation of these names I have found to be this: the ancient Latins derived Iovis from iuvare (help), and called that same god "father," thus adding a second word. For Iovispater is the full and complete form, which becomes Iupiter by the syncope or change of some of the letters. So also Neptunuspater is used as a compound, and Saturnuspater and Ianuspater and Marspater — for that is the original form of Marspiter — and Jove also was called Diespiter, that is, the father of day and of light. And therefore by a name of similar origin Jove is called Diovis and also Lucetius, because he blesses us and helps us by means of the day and the light, which are equivalent to life itself. And Lucetius is applied to Jove by Gnaeus Naevius in his poem On the Punic War.

Accordingly, when they had given the names Iovis and Diovis from iuvare (help), they applied a name of the contrary meaning to that god who had, not the power to help, but the force to do harm — for some gods they worshipped in order to gain their favour, others they propitiated in order to avert their hostility; and they called him Vediovis, thus taking away and denying his power to give help. 

 For the particle ve which appears in different forms in different words, now being spelled with these two letters and now with an a inserted between the two,a has two meanings which also differ from each other. For ve, like very many other particles, has the effect either of weakening or of strengthening the force of a word; and it therefore happens that some words to which that particle is prefixed are ambiguous and may be used with either force, such as vescus (small), vemens (mighty), and vegrandis (very small),  a point which I have discussed elsewhere in greater detail. But vesanus and vecordes are used with only one of the meanings of ve, namely, the privative or negative force, which the Greeks call κατὰ στέρησιν.

It is for this reason that the statue of the god Vediovis, which is in the temple of which I spoke above, holds arrows, which, as everyone knows, are devised to inflict harm. For that reason it has often been said that that god is Apollo; and a she-goat is sacrificed to him in the customary fashion, and a representation of that animal stands near his statue.

It was for this reason, they say, that Virgil, a man deeply versed in antiquarian lore, but never making a display of his knowledge, prays to the unpropitious gods in the Georgics, thus intimating that in gods of that kind there is a power capable of injuring rather than aiding. The verses of Vergil are these:

A task of narrow span, but no small praise,
If unpropitious powers bar not my way
And favouring Phoebus grant a poet's prayer.

And among those gods which ought to be placated in order to avert evil influences from ourselves or our harvests are reckoned Auruncus and Robigus.''

The phrase of Aulus Gellius rendered by the Loeb Classical Library as ''in the customary fashion'' is HVMANO RITV. This is a far more interesting phrase than the Loeb translation suggests, and may denote a sacrifice by burial (HVMO, HVMARE, HVMATVS, I inter), which strikes the author as appropriate for the opposite of Jupiter, the god of the heavens, or that the goat is a substitute for a human victim.

Vediovis association with Apollo, ''so often a god of pestilence'' (Warde Fowler), whose arrows inflicted plague upon the intractable Achaeans (cf. the first book of the Iliad), is interesting insofar as he shared the Tiber Island with the temple of Aesculapius, the god of medicine and healing.

The temple of Aesculapius is alluded to in the Periochae, a fourth-century ''summary''  of Livy,  but really no more than a table of contents, though valuable as it covers parts of the History otherwise lost:

''[In the year 293 B.C.E., the year of the city 461] When the people suffered from a plague, envoys were sent to bring a statue of Aesculapius from Epidaurus to Rome. They brought with them a snake that had joined them in the ship, and which no doubt was a manifestation of the god; from the ship, it went to the island in the Tiber, to the place where the temple of Aesculapius has been erected.'' 

In his ''Roman Antiquities'' (the thirteenth chapter of the fifth book), Dionysius of Helicarnassus informs us that the Tiber Island is ''of goodly size [and] consecrated to Aesculapius.'' He gives in the same place an account of how the island came into being: after the expulsion of Tarquin, the consuls divided up the property of the tyrant amongst those who had no allotments ''reserving only one field, which lies between the city and the river. This field their ancestors had by a public decree consecrated to Mars as a meadow for horses and the most suitable drill-field for the youth to perform their exercises in arms. The strongest proof, I think, that even before this the field had been consecrated to this god, but that Tarquinius had appropriated it to his own use and sown it, was the action then taken by the consuls in regard to the corn there.  For though they had given leave to the people to drive and carry away everything that belonged to the tyrants, they would not permit anyone to carry away the grain which had grown in this field and was still lying upon the threshing-floors whether in the straw or threshed, but looking upon it as accursed and quite unfit to be carried into their houses, they caused a vote to be passed that it should be thrown into the river. And there is even now a conspicuous monument of what happened on that occasion, in the form of an island of goodly size consecrated to Aesculapius and washed on all sides by the river, an island which was formed, they say, out of the heap of rotten straw and was further enlarged by the silt which the river kept adding.''

It is possible that the presence of Aesculapius, the deity of healing, brought Vediovis to the Tiber Island, Warde Fowler notes that there is a clear connection between Apollo and Aesculapius. It is worth observing that a temple to the god FAVNVS was vowed in the year 196 B.C.E., of the city 558, and built on the Tiber Island in the year 194 B.C.E., of the city 556. In his Fasti, Ovid recounts that it was the god Faunus who appeared to Numa Pompilius in a dream and halted a dearth and pestilence in Rome:

In Numa’s kingship the harvest failed to reward men’s efforts:
The farmers, deceived, offered their prayers in vain.
At one time that year it was dry, with cold northerlies,
The next, the fields were rank with endless rain:
Often the crop failed the farmer in its first sprouting,
And meagre wild oats overran choked soil,
And the cattle dropped their young prematurely,
And the ewes often died giving birth to lambs.
There was an ancient wood, long untouched by the axe,
Still sacred to Pan, the god of Maenalus:
He gave answers, to calm minds, in night silence.
Here Numa sacrificed twin ewes.
The first fell to Faunus, the second to gentle Sleep:
Both the fleeces were spread on the hard soil.
Twice the king’s unshorn head was sprinkled with spring water,
Twice he pressed the beech leaves to his forehead.
He abstained from sex: no meat might be served
At table, nor could he wear a ring on any finger.
Dressed in rough clothes he lay down on fresh fleeces,
Having worshipped the god with appropriate words.
Meanwhile Night arrived, her calm brow wreathed
With poppies: bringing with her shadowy dreams.
Faunus appeared, and pressing the fleece with a hard hoof,
From the right side of the bed, he uttered these words:
‘King, you must appease Earth, with the death of two cows:
Let one heifer give two lives, in sacrifice.’
Fear banished sleep: Numa pondered the vision,
And considered the ambiguous and dark command.
His wife, Egeria, most dear to the grove, eased his doubt,
Saying: ‘What’s needed are the innards of a pregnant cow,’
The innards of a pregnant cow were offered: the year proved
More fruitful, and earth and cattle bore their increase.

Thus, the god who possesses the power to inflict the plague, and who is propitiated to prevent it, shares the Tiber Island with two gods of healing or of averting pestilence and unfruitfulness.

After and in the year of the Consulship of Nobilior and Luscus, 153 B.C.E, of the City 601, the new Consuls take up their office to-day, and it is customary to give New Year's presents called STRENAE by way of good omen. 

Ovid alludes to the sentiments of this day in the first book of his Fasti (a poetic commentary on the religious calendar, here rendered into English prose: ''A happy day now dawns : forward the holy aspirations both with tongues and spirits; now, on a blessed day, blessed words are to be uttered. Be our ears relieved from litigation, and let all intemperate altercation be straightway removed : postpone, malignant tongue, your task. See you not, how the heavens blaze with scented flames, and crackles upon kindled hearth Cilician spikenard? The flame with its brightness reverberates on the gold of the temples, and scatters its quivering beam on the sacred ceilings. With pure dresses they go  to the Tarpeian heights, and the very multitude wears the colour harmonizing with the gay occasion. And now precede new fasces, new purple glistens behind, and the ornamented chairs of ivory bear new burthens.''

The STRENAE themselves are much older than the assumption of the Consulship upon this day. The name is derived from the goddess STRENIA or STRENVA of the Sabines. Varro, in the forty-seventh chapter of the fifth book of his Latin Language, alludes to her sacellum at the head of the VIA SACRA, the Sacred Way that ran through the Forum to the Capitol: ''the Sacred Way...extends from the Chapel of Strenia to the Capitol''. 

At the beginning of each year, certain sacred twigs from the grove of STRENIA are carried along the Sacred Way in procession to the Citadel on the Capitoline Hill, but we do not know whether this rite belonged always to the Kalends of January or if it was transferred here in the year alluded to above.

The customs given above are alluded to by the late writer Q. Aurelius Symmachus thus: ''From almost the beginning of Mars' city [i.e. Rome, on account of the fact that Mars was the sire of Romulus by Rhea Silvia, and also the city of the ANCILIA, the sacred shields of Mars, one of which fell from Heaven] the custom of New Year's gifts prevailed on account of the precedent of king Tatius who was the first to reckon the holy branches of a lucky tree in Strenia's grove as the auspicious signs of the new year."

The commentator on my copy of Varro gives us that STRENIA is ''a goddess of health and physical well-being''. The form STRENVA is identical to the feminine form of the adjective STRENVVS, -A, -VM, brisk, nimble, active or vigorous, hence, the vigorous one, or the one who makes others nimble and strong.
Patrick J. Gray

'' Now. Close your eyes. It's but a short step to the boat, a short pull across the river.''
''And then?''
''And then, I promise you, you'll dream a different story altogether''

From ''I, Claudius'', by J. Pulman after R. Graves.

Messages In This Thread
Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-13-2018, 03:26 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-15-2018, 02:32 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Robert Vermaat - 01-16-2018, 01:13 AM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-16-2018, 01:19 AM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-16-2018, 04:02 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Gunthamund Hasding - 01-16-2018, 08:06 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-16-2018, 10:31 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-17-2018, 10:47 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-18-2018, 06:43 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-19-2018, 01:45 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-20-2018, 03:54 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-21-2018, 02:24 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-22-2018, 08:10 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-23-2018, 12:58 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-24-2018, 11:51 AM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-25-2018, 04:01 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-26-2018, 02:35 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-27-2018, 05:31 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-28-2018, 05:25 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-29-2018, 01:13 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-30-2018, 11:01 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 01-31-2018, 11:00 AM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 02-01-2018, 12:42 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 02-03-2018, 01:43 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 02-04-2018, 11:58 AM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Clavdivs - 02-05-2018, 06:52 PM
RE: Calendrical Notes - by Gunthamund Hasding - 02-27-2018, 12:25 PM

Forum Jump: