Appendix III: Annual Roman Festivals

These are some of the public festivals that reoccurred on an annual or regularly recurring basis


Compitalia: Held during the winter, this was a crossroads festival originally in honour of the lares compitales (gods of the crossroads). This festival was supressed during the Late Republic due to continuing disturbances, but revived under Augustus, where the lares of the imperial house were worshipped.


Consualia: One of the oldest of ludi publici, public games, it was in honour of Consus, the god of grain storage, and held on August 18th. His altar was buried in the Circus Maximus and was uncovered for sacrifices. There were also horse and chariot races; additionally mules and donkeys were given wreaths and allowed to rest on that day.


Ludi Apollinares: Festival in honour of the god Apollo, it was first celebrated in 212 as votive games; they became annual games in 208 to protect against a plague. They were held in July and included venationes, ludi circenses, and ludi scaenici.


Ludi Capitolini: The Capitoline Games were held in honour of Jupiter of the Capitoline and were founded in 387 BCE after the Gauls sacked Rome, but did not take the Capitol. They took place in October; after they fell into disuse the Emperor Domitian reintroduced them and modelled them (somewhat) on the Olympic Games, planning for them to be held every four years.


Ludi Ceriales: Also known as the Cerealia. In honour of the grain goddess Ceres (Greek Demeter). Held at some point in the middle of April, it lasted seven days; initially only a festival on special occasions, it became an annual festival, except at times of public mourning. One part of the celebration involved tying torches to live foxes and releasing them in the Circus Maximus. After 175 BCE it involved ludi scaenici.


Ludi Florales: Held from April 28-May 3 and also known as the Floralia, it was a festival in honour of the goddess Flora. This became a regular festival in 173; mimes were performed here (naked actresses) and goats and hares were hunted in the Circus Maximus. It was notorious for its indecency.


Ludi Megalenses: Also known as the Megalesia. Held in April (almost at the same time as the Ludi Cereales, first celebrated in 204 BCE with the coming of the Magna Mater, the Great Mother from Pessinus in modern Turkey  (Livy 29.14.14), it became an annual festival in 194 BCE.  It involved ludi scaenici for one of its six days.


Ludi Plebeii: The Plebeian Games; held in November and instituted in 220; Livy 26.30 mentions these games as a regular festival, in his discussion of the year 216 BCE. Plautus’ Stichus was performed at these games in 200.


Ludi Romani: In honor of Juppiter Optimus Maximus. The ludi scaenici were added to this festival in 364 BCE, and by 214 they covered four days (Livy 24.43.7); it was here that Livius Andronicus presented the first recorded play at Rome.


Ludi Taurii: A festival (probably) held every 5 years, it involved horse racing, but we know little about it otherwise.


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