Sunday, February 17, 2013

Today: Once upon a Time - Feast of Fools

Today, February 17, in ancient Rome marked what was known as the Feast of Fools, it was also date of the Quirinalia. Quirinalia celebrated the Sabine god Quirinus, thought to have been divine incarnation of the city's founder, Romulus. Quirinus was originally part of an archaic Roman triad with Jupiter and Mars. One of Rome's 7 Hills is named for Quirinus - The Quirinal.
(Illustration: Quirinal Hill , one of the Seven Hills of Rome and the location of the official residence of the Italian Head of State. Quirinal Palace was the residence of the king of Italy until the monarchy was abolished in 1946.
(Hat-tip BookDrum)

From Ovid we learn that the day of Quirinalia had  a second name.

Learn too why this day is called the Feast of Fools.
The reason for it is trivial but fitting.
The earth of old was farmed by ignorant men:
Fierce wars weakened their powerful bodies . . .

And round the Forum hang many tablets,
On which every ward displays its particular sign.
Foolish people don’t know which is their ward,
So they hold the feast on the last possible day.

Clarification: The City of Rome was divided into wards (curiae). Each ward celebrated a moveable feast dedicated to its local goddess of the baking-oven, Fornax (festival was called The Fornacalia). These celebrations were set for different dates for each ward, between 5 and 17 February, each ward's date being posted on a tablet in The Forum. Any citizens who missed their local celebration could carry out their dedications in The Forum at Quirinalia, the last date available for Fornacalia, when all 30 curiae could be in attendance. So.... Feast of Fools = the feast for those who, through ignorance or carelessness, had missed the date for their own ward's celebration.


mike said...

Is this how the authorities knew how to weed-out the fools by providing a big party, then boarding the celebrants onto the ship of fools?

Twilight said...

mike ~~~ I'd not be a bit surprised - "into the galleys with them!"