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!"

After several more spoke "Ita est," Maali went on, "Quod bonum faustum felix fortunatum salutareque sit mihi Maali Beck ac nationi Romae Universae. Ita est! May I, Maali Beck, and the entire nation of Roma have what is goodly, auspicious, fruitful, fortunate, and wholesome. It is so!" Melanippe then spoke, "Ilicet! It is done!" Maali then spoke to the crowd, "The rite is now ended - The Luperci will now lead you from the cave for the Running of the Luperci. This year we race to the Gardens of Maecenas for our post-ritual celebration! Mela and I will lead you, and the other Luperci will follow behind the crowd, snapping their whips to bless you. (And hurry you along, perhaps!) Everyone ready?"

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.

When the hour was close, the people headed to the bathhouse. This was where the second event of the festival took place: "Venus' Truth." In previous years called "Venus' Truth or Dare," this year people were just asked to recite poems. The woman portraying Venus watched from a giant shel while the audience watched from the steps to the baths, or sat in inner-tubes.

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!

Eventually, the event came to a close, and the woman portraying Venus spoke, "My children, I shall ascend to the heavens and gaze upon ROMA lovingly, protecting you from all harm. Remember to love one another and continue the beautiful community that ROMA has become." She blew some kisses to the crowd, then vanished. Then Cupid appeared, watching the people with innertubes bump one another, "So, you have no poetry to share but bumps of affection with your floating things?" When asked, "You make poems Cupid?" He answered, "I mostly seem to make trouble." Talking about what was a particuarly lovely moment, someone suggested when a new puppy is brought into a house. The talk went on for a while, and eventually the time for the next event approached. Cupid went, "I must be about my work anyway. My family's blessings on you, Romans!"

The crowd then moved on to the arena. After a few minutes of waiting for anyone dropping in at the last-minute, T. Iulius Sabinus (titusiuliussabinus Resident) shouted, "Salvete Romani et Peregrinii! Welcome to the Lupercalia Munera. As time as our narrator is missing in action I will take over this part too. As many of you know, and if don't know will know now, the gladiators group perform weekly in Roma starting with 12 pm SLT. The show try to be historical accurate. During festivals we perform another kind, more related to the festival theme. Mythological creatures are included too."

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.

After the applause, T Iulius continued, "Well, let start our show. The first act is reconstruction of a battle, BELLUM MARCOMANNUM, Battle vs Marcomanns. The struggle against the Germans and Sarmatians occupied the major part of the reign of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, and it was during his campaigns against them that he started writing his philosophical work Meditations, whose book one bears the note 'Among the Quadi at the Granua'." The fight had one legionare versus two warriors clad in wolfskin and armed with axes. The fight was furious, but with two against one, the Roman was not the one to be victorious this time. T lulius, not at a loss for words, remarked, "It seems that in the end this was the reconstruction of the Teutoburg Forest battle. For sure Marcus Aurelius would not be happy of it end."

After the fighters from the first act cleared the arena, T Iulius went on, "Our next acts are related to Lupercalia. But for that i want to present you a some information. LEXICON MYTHOLOGIAE. Lycaon - In Greek mythology, Lycaon was a king of Arcadia,, who, in the most popular version of the myth, tested Zeus' omniscience by serving him the roasted flesh of Lycaon's own son Nyctimus, in order to see whether Zeus was truly all-knowing. In return for these gruesome deeds, Zeus transformed Lycaon into a wolf, along with his offspring. Nyctimus was restored to life. Satyr - In mythology, Satyrs are deities of the woods and mountains. A satyr is the member of a troop of ithyphallic male companions of Dionysus; they usually have horse-like ears and tails, as well as permanent, exaggerated erections. However in Roman representations they are portrayed as having the upper body of a man with a goat’s ears, tail, legs and horns but Satyrs can come in other hybrid human/animal forms, as well. And our next event is in conection with satyrs and lycaons. CERTAMEN ARCADIAE (Arcadian struggle): Satyr vs Lycaons,"

The fight put a giant satyr, armed with a spiked (and bloody) club versus two werewolves that were armed only with their claws. The fight went fast and furious, with the wolves leaping a few times, "Flying wolf-people!" "Is not sure whose side she should cheer for." This time, superior numbers did not prevail, and the wolves were knocked out. "We have a winner, ladies and gentlemen! The, er, Satyr!" "Impressive fighting!" The huge humanoid bowed, and left the arena, along with the wolves after they revived.

The next part, T Iulius spoke, "As many you know, during Lupercalia a ritual was held. During it a goat and a dog was sacrificed. Of course now in modern times we don't reconstruct that. We all love animals. But symbolic want to present you, Lupercus vs Goat!" There were a few chuckles from the audience, "And our next event is - a fearsome, a deadly - er, goat?" The match pitted a Luperci with a knife versus someone in a feral goat avatar armed with only his horns. The goat put up a fight, "C'mon GOAT!" But unfortunately for the critter, horns were no match for iron, and it fell. "Awwwww. Brave goat." T. Iulius shouted, "Roma is purified!" One resident commented, "Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have the most ferocious, deadly wild beasts here each week.  and goats, too."

Once the Luperci and the goat were out, T. Iulius announced, "For the last act of festival we present you a scene of wild life." After a moment, the area was filled with rocks and grass, and appeared a lion couple and cubs. The smaller kitties were well received by the audience, "Aww, little cubs." "I want one too." But the idyllic scene didn't last for long as a crocodile entered the arena, getting some gasps from the crowd, "No no, don't hurt the baby!" The big cats went after the reptile, and after a furious fight, the couple stood over the defeated scaly beast, and the audience cheered, "They kept her from the cubs, hooray!"

Melanippe announced, "On behalf of the Consul and the Consul Pro Tem, I'd like to award our brave lion family and dead crocodile a token of appreciation! ... Gratias for a splendid and well-thought-out show!" "A masterpiece!" another complemented.

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.

Bixyl Shuftan

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