Ludi Lupercales 2761 AUC (Nova Roma)

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Ludi Lupercalenses, the 1st of 2761 Ludi Decennales

The Ludi Lupercale(nse)s is the first set of games in the tenth anniversary year series of games, designated as Ludi Decennales. The Ludi Lupercales begins on the Lupercalia and ends on the Quirinalia. We invite you to take part in and enjoy each and every contest, and to celebrate each Ludi and Festival in the spirit of the ancient Romans!

Lupercalia and Quirinalia, Ludi Lupercale(nse)s highlights

  • Lupercalia

"Lupercalia is uniquely Roman, but even the Romans of the first century were at a loss to explain exactly which deity or deities were being exalted. It harkens back to the days when Rome was nothing more than a few shepherds living on a hill known as Palantine and was surrounded by wilderness teeming with wolves.

"Lupercus, protector of flocks against wolves, is a likely candidate; the word lupus is Latin for wolf, or perhaps Faunus, the god of agriculture and shepherds. Others suggest it was Rumina, the goddess whose temple stood near the fig tree under which the she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus. There is no question about Lupercalia's importance. Records indicate that Mark Antony was master of the Luperci College of Priests. He chose the Lupercalia festival of the year 44BC as the proper time to offer the crown to Julius Caesar.

"According to legend, the story of Romulus and Remus begins with their grandfather Numitor, king of the ancient Italian city of Alba Longa. He was ousted by his brother Amulius. Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, was made a Vestal Virgin by Amulius and forbidden to marry since her children would be rightful heir to the throne. Mars, the god of war, fell in love with her and she gave birth to twin sons.

"Fearing that the boys would grow up and seek revenge, Amulius had them placed in a basket and thrown into the freezing flooded waters of the River Tiber. When the waters receded, the basket came ashore on Palantine Hill. They were found by a she-wolf who, instead of killing them, nurtured and nourished them with her milk. A woodpecker, also sacred to Mars, brought them food as well.

"The twins were later found by Faustulus, the king's shepherd. He and his wife adopted and named them Romulus and Remus. They grew up to be bold, strong young men, and eventually led a band of shepherds in an uprising against Amulius, killing him and rightfully restoring the kingdom to their grandfather.

"Deciding to found a town of their own, Romulus and Remus chose the sacred place where the she-wolf had nursed them. Romulus began to build walls on Palatine Hill, but Remus laughed because they were so low. Remus mockingly jumped over them, and in a fit of rage, Romulus killed his brother. Romulus continued the building of the new city, naming it Roma after himself.

"February occurred later on the ancient Roman calendar than it does today so Lupercalia was held in the spring and regarded as a festival of purification and fertility. Each year on February 15, the Luperci priests gathered on Palantine Hill at the cave of Lupercal. Vestal virgins brought sacred cakes made from the first ears of last year's grain harvest to the fig tree. Two naked young men, assisted by the Vestals, sacrificed a dog and a goat at the site. The blood was smeared on the foreheads of the young men and then wiped away with wool dipped in milk."(1)

"A pair of young men would be brought before the priest, who would touch the bloody knife to their foreheads, and then wash the blood away with wool soaked in milk. At this act, they were to laugh.

"What is the significance of this, ie. what is the spirit motivating the form? Nobody really knows. Even during the period of the Roman republic, the original significance of much of this material had been lost. But, one can guess.

"Rome, in legend, had been founded by the twins Romulus and Remus, who had been suckled by a she-wolf in the Lupercal, a grotto in which a temple sacred to Faunus was located. Imagine a starving child being advanced on by a wolf. As dogs are prone to do, she gently closes her teeth on him, without breaking his skin. He is terrified. She carries the crying child back into her den, where he is sure he will be eaten. She has hunted, and the blood is dripping from her fangs.

"She then releases him, and feeds him. Her fur, near where he nurses, is wet with milk, which rubs against his face, washing away the blood. He laughs out of relief.

"Off hand, that would be our guess as to the significance of this action. The dagger is the sharp tooth of the she-wolf, dripping with the blood of her prey. The wool is her fur, moist with the milk she is feeding the twins with. Symbolically, the two young men have become Romulus and Remus.

"That is to say, they have become those who gave Rome life, as an entity."(2)


(1) William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

  • Quirinalia

"Quirinalia, a festival sacred to Quirinus, which was celebrated on the 17th of February (a. d. XIII. Cal. Mart.), on which day Romulus (Quirinus) was said to have been carried up to heaven (Ovid. Fast. II.475; Festus, s.v.; Varro, de Ling. Lat. VI.13, ed. Müller). This festival was also called Stultorum Feriae, respecting the meaning of Fornacalia."

"Fornicalia, a festival in honour of Fornax, the goddess of furnaces, in order that the corn might be properly baked (Festus, s.v.). This ancient festival is said to have been instituted by Numa (Plin. H. N. XVIII.2). The time for its celebration was proclaimed every year by the Curio Maximus, who announced in tablets, which were placed in the forum, the different part which each curia had to take in the celebration of the festival. Those persons who did not know to what curia they belonged, performed the sacred rites on the Quirinalia, called from this circumstancea the Stultorum feriae, which fell on the last day of the Fornacalia (Ovid, Fasti, ii.527; Varro, De Ling. Lat. vi.13, p546with Müller's note; Festus, s.v. Quirinalia, Stultor. feriae). The Fornacalia continued to be celebrated in the time of Lactantius (Lactant. i.20)."

~ William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

Our ludi golden rule: one day, one god, one ludus

The golden rule that we have tried to follow at best for this whole year, so for our Lupercale(nse)s Games is to place every day under the patronage of at least one god. We will see that, for other coming games, such as Conditorum, we have the chance being protected, at the same time, by several gods. For example, the 1st of March will offer us at the same time the support of the god who watch on every month begining, the one who cares specially on Kalends of March, added to the one whom the month is dedicated, in addition to the god honored by special dedication. One ludus, last, with the same positive exception : we may have more than one game event, but we will at least have one sport or cultural event every ludus dies. These three elements will thus guarantee at the same time full interesting gaming programs, but also a due relation to Roman gods and goddesses, which had a full place in every Roman's life, up to everyone, naturally to feel close to them or not, to neglect or to praise them, etc., as in every society.

Ludi Lupercale(nse)s schedule: 3 days (Feb. 15, 16, 17)

DAY I ~ a.d. XV Kal. Mar. M. Moravio T. Iulio cos. MMDCCLXI a.u.c. (February 15, 2008 CE)


  • A Fabius and a Quintilius view of the Lupercalia

DAY II ~ a.d. XIV Kal. Mar. M. Moravio T. Iulio cos. MMDCCLXI a.u.c. (February 16, 2008 CE)

  • Honored Diety: ROMA

DAY III ~ a.d. XIII Kal. Mar. M. Moravio T. Iulio cos. MMDCCLXI a.u.c. (February 17, 2008 CE)


  • Results


Ludi Lupercalenses Awards:

  • Crossword Contest Winner: Gaius Marcius Crispus
  • Athletica (sprint race) :
    • Final results
    • Victor: Celera, sponsored by Maxima Valeria Messallina
  • Venationes :
    • Final results
    • Victor: Aghila, sponsored by Gaia Aurelia Falco Silvana
  • Literary Contest I, II and III : No Entries
  • Photo Contest : No Entries

Return to: Aedilitas curulis MMDCCLXI > Curule Ludi Events Schedule for 2761 AUC > Ludi Lupercales 2761 AUC
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