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On this page: Fescennina – Festi Dies – Festuca – Fetiales



common sacrifice of an ox to Jupiter Latiaris, in the name and on behalf of all who took part in it. The flesh of the victim was distributed among the several towns whose common sanctuary stood on the Alban mount. (Dionys. Hal. I. c. ; Varro, de Ling. Lot. vi. 25 ; Schol. Bobiens. in Cic. Orat. pro Plane, p. 255, &c. Orelli.) Besides the com­mon sacrifice of an ox, the several towns offered each separately lambs, cheeses, or a certain quan­tity of milk (Cic. de'Div. i. 11), or cakes. Mul­titudes flocked to the Alban mount on the occasion, and the season was one of great rejoicings and feasting. Various kinds of games were not want­ing, among which may be mentioned the oscillatio (swinging, Fest. s. v. Osdlluni). It was a sym­bolic game, and the legend respecting its origin shows that it was derived from the Latins. Pliny (//. N. xxvii. 2) mentions that during the Latin holidays a race of four-horse chariots (quadrigae certant) took place on the Capitol, in which the victor received a draught of absynthium.

Although the Roman consuls were always pre­sent on the Alban mount, and conducted the solemn sacrifice of an ox, yet we read that the superintendence of the Latinae. like that of other festivals, was given by the senate to the Aediles, who, therefore, probably conducted the minor sa­crifices, the various games, and other solemnities (Dionys. Hal. vi. p. 415.) While the consuls were engaged on the Alban mount, their place at Rome was filled by the praefectus urbi. [praefectus urbi.]

The two days following the celebration of the Latin holidays were considered as dies religiosi^ so that no marriages could be contracted. (Cic. ad Quint. Frat. ii. 4.) From Dion Cassius we see that in his times the Feriae Latinae were still strictly observed by the Romans, whereas the Latin towns had, at the time of Cicero, almost en­tirely given up taking any part in them. The Romans seemed to have continued to keep them down to the fourth century of our era. (Lactant. Institut. i. 21.)

Feriae Sementivae, or Sementina dies, was kept in seed-time for the purpose of praying for a good crop ; it lasted only for one day, which was fixed by the pontiffs. (Varro, de Ling. Lett. vi. 26, de Re Rust. i. 2, init. ; Ovid, Fast. i. 658, &c.)

Feria vindemialis lasted from the 22d of August to the 15th of October, and was instituted for the purpose of enabling the country-people to get in the fruits of the field and to hold the vintage. (Codex, 3. tit. 12.)

Feriae aestivae were holidays kept during the hottest season of summer, when many of the weal­thier Romans left the city and went into the country. (Gellius, ix. 15. § 1.) They seem to have been the same as the messis feria (Cod. 3. tit. 12. s. 2, 6), and lasted from the 24th of June till the 1st of August.

Feriae praeddaneae are said to have been pre­ paratory days, or such as preceded the ordinary feriae ; although they did not belong to the feriae, and often even were dies atri, they were on certain occasions inaugurated by the chief pontiff, and thus made feriae. (Gellius, iv. 6.) [L. S.]

FESCENNINA, scil. carmina, one of the earliest kinds of Italian poetry, which consisted of rude and jocose verses, or rather dialogues in ex­tempore verses (Liv. vii. 2), in which the merry country folks assailed and ridiculed one another.


(Horat. Epist. ii. 1. 145.) This amusement seems originally to have been peculiar to country people, but it was also introduced into the towns of Italy and at Rome, where we find it mentioned as one of those in which, young people indulged at wed­ dings. (Serv. ad Aen. vii. 695 ; Seneca, Cordrov. 21 ; Plin. H, N- xv. 22.) The fescennina were one of the popular amusements at various festivals, and on many other occasions, but especially after the harvest was over. After their introduction into the towns they seem to have lost much of their original rustic character, and to have been modified by the influence of Greek refinement (see Virg. Georg. ii. 385, &c. ; Tibull. ii. 1. 5.5; Catull. 61. 27) ; they remained, however, in so far the same, as they were at all times irregular, and mostly extempore doggerel verses. Sometimes, however, versus iescenriini were also written as satires upon persons. (Macrob. Saturn, ii. 4.) That these railleries had no malicious character, and were not intended to hurt or injure, may be in­ ferred from the circumstance that one person often called upon another to answer and retort in a simi­ lar strain. The fescennina are generally believed to have been introduced among the Romans from Etruria, and to have derived their name from Fes- cennia, a town of that country. But, in the first place, Fescennia was not an Etruscan but a Falis- can town (Niebuhr, Hist. ofRome, i. p. 136), and, in the second, this kind of amusement has at all times been, and is still, so popular in Italy, that it can scarcely be considered as peculiar to any par­ ticular place. The derivation of a name of this kind from that of some particular place was for­ merly a favourite custom, as may be seen in the derivation of caerimonia from Caere. Festus (s. v.) endeavours to solve the question by supposing fes­ cennina to be derived from fascinum, either because they were thought to be a protection against sor­ cerers and witches, or because fascinum (phallus}, the symbol of fertility, had in early times, or in rural districts, been connected with the amusements of the fescennina. But whatever may be thought of this etymology, it is of importance not to be misled by the common opinion that the fescennina were of Etruscan origin. [L. S.J

FESTI DIES. [dies.]

FESTUCA. [manumissio.]

FETIALES, a college (Liv. xxxvi. 3) of Ro­man priests who acted as the guardians of the public faith. It was their province, when any dispute arose with a foreign state, to demand satis-iaction, to determine the circumstances under which hostilities might be commenced, to perform the various religious rites attendant on the solemn declaration of war, and to preside at the formal ratification of peace. These functions are briefly but comprehensively defined by Varro (De Ling. Lett. y. 86, ed Muller), " Fetiales... fidei publicae inter populos praeerant: nara per hos fiebat ut justum conciperetur bellum et inde desitum, ut foedere fides pacis constitueretur. Ex his mit-tebantur, antequam conciperetur, qui res repeterent, et per hos etiam mine fit foedus," to which we may add the old law quoted by Cicero (De Leg.


disceptanto." Dionysius (ii. 72) and Livy (i. 32) detail at considerable length the ceremonies observed by the Romans in the earlier ages, when they felt themselves aggrieved by a neighbouring

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