Friday, March 2, 2018
The 2018 Roma Lupercalia Weekend
By Bixyl Shuftan
So what did people do around the time of Valentines Day before the holiday came about? In the days of the Romans, they had a yearly festival called the Lupercalia. The rites in the event were believed to deter evil spirits and purify the city. The most familiar of these rituals were young men running naked or nearly naked through the streets and lightly slapping people with thongs of hide made from a sacrificed goat. Women sometimes got in their way in hopes that being struck would help them become pregnant. Sometimes called "Februatus," the modern calendar in the West gets "February" from the name.
Although the holiday was held on February 15 in ancient times, the Roma community in Second Life holds their festivals at the end of the month. So the days of the celebration inworld were the Weekend of Saturday February 24 and Sunday February 25. And at 10AM Saturday, members of the community, and a few friends of theirs, gathered at the Lupercal cave. There, two women, Maali Beck and Melanippe Karas, reenacted the ritual for Faunus Lupercus, the God of Wild Things and Lupa, the female wolf in Roman legend who was believed to have raised the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, until they were found by a shepherd.
Maali Beck: "Salve Ianus Pater - Ianus Inceptio, Ianus Brifons, Ianus Patulcius, Ianus Domesticus, Ianus Quirinus! Te precor uti sis volens mihi propitius. Admitte me coram numina lucentia! Hail, Father Janus - Janus of Beginnings, Two Faced Janus, Janus Door Opener, Janus Home Protector, Janus of the Folk! I pray to You so that You willingly might be well-disposed towards me. May I behold the Shining Gods!"
Melanippe of Themiscyra (Melanippe Karas): "Ave Iuppiter Optime Maxime Pater Omnipotens Rex Deorum hominumque. Sive quo alio nomine appelari voluveris si pietae mereor da mihi Roma nostrae prosperitatem ac felicitatem in opere nostro. Hail, Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Almighty Father, King of Gods and Men. Or by whatever title else that You may have willed to be named. If by obedience I am deserving, then give to me and to our Roma prosperity as well as happiness in our work."
After the pair and several others saying "Ita est," Maali went to the next part of the ritual, "Ave Faunus Lupercus. Te hoc vino ommovendo bonas preces, precor uti sies volens propitious illis Quiritibus te laudatis, quoius re ergo hoc sacrificium offero. Hail, Faunus Lupercus. With good prayers I offer to You this wine. May it be Your will to look with favor upon these folk who have honored You, for which purpose I make this offering."
After several more calls of, "Ita est," Maali went further, "Faunus Lupercus, God of the Wilds, bless us this Lupercalia. Yours is the season of fertility, passion, and lust. Grant us fertility, not only of the body, but of the mind. Let our creative visions come to fruition. Grant us passion, not only of the flesh, but of the heart. Let our spirits be inflamed with the passion of living. Grant us lust, not only of our loins, but the lust for success, in all our endeavors. Let us achieve all our desires." Melanippe spoke, "Ianus Pater Ivppiter Pater et Faunus Lupercus, si quidquam fuit vobis ingratum in stipe a me oblata, accipite hoc piaculum. Father Janus, Father Jupiter, and Faunus Lupercus, if anything was displeasing to You in the offered gift from me, receive Ye this rite of atonement. Ita vultis ita est! So You will, so it is!"
And with that, the crowd rushed out of the cave and down the streets, with the Luperci occasionally snapping their thongs. The people ran around, and ended up at a dance area with a bonfire. There, the folk danced to the music, and sometimes strummed some instruments.
Glittering-throned, undying Aphrodite,
Wile-weaving daughter of high Zeus, I pray thee,
Tame not my soul with heavy woe, dread mistress,
Nay, nor with anguish!
But hither come, if ever erst of old time
Thou didst incline, and listenedst to my crying,
And from thy father's palace down descending,
Camest with golden
Chariot yoked: thee fair swift-flying sparrows
Over dark earth with multitudinous fluttering,
Pinion on pinion, through middle ether
Down from heaven hurried.
Quickly they came like light, and thou, blest lady,
Smiling with clear undying eyes didst ask me
What was the woe that troubled me, and wherefore
I had cried to thee:
What thing I longed for to appease my frantic
Soul: and Whom now must I persuade, thou askedst,
Whom must entangle to thy love, and who now,
Sappho, hath wronged thee?
Yea, for if now he shun, he soon shall chase thee;
Yea, if he take not gifts, he soon shall give them;
Yea, if he love not, soon shall he begin to
Love thee, unwilling.
Come to me now too, and from tyrannous sorrow
Free me, and all things that my soul desires to
Have done, do for me, queen, and let thyself too
Be my great ally!
After introducing three of the usual gladiators, T Iulius went, "After our usual warm up I will continue with a few words about the current festiva Lupercalia. And what can be more relevant than the poem of Horace.Hymon to Faunus, Q. Horatius Flaccus, Odes, Book III, Poem 18."
O wont the flying Nymphs to woo,
Good Faunus, through my sunny farm
Pass gently, gently pass, nor do
My younglings harm.
Each year, thou know'st, a kid must die
For thee; nor lacks the wine's full stream
To Venus' mate, the bowl; and high
The altars steam.
Sure as December's Nones appear,
All o'er the grass the cattle play;
The village, with the lazy steer,
Keeps holy day.
Wolves rove among the fearless sheep;
The woods for thee their foliage strow;
The delver loves on earth to leap,
His ancient foe.
With the fight over, people began heading out, "Thanks to all, see you later, happy Lupercalia!" There would be two events the next day, chariot racing and "Half-naked Harpastum," a Roman version of soccer in which this time, the women would be topless. Unfortunately, the Newser was unable to be there. So there would be no pictures of half-naked female athletes.
The Roman community has events at the end of every month, so be sure and stop by next time.