The Fugalia Festival Posted by Brittany Britanniae on Feb 25, 2016 in Latin Language, Roman culture
In ancient Roman religion, Regifugium or Fugalia (“King’s Flight”) was an annual observance that took place every February 24. The Romans themselves offer varying views on the meaning of the day. According to Varro and Ovid, the festival commemorated the flight of the last king of Rome,
,[ Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (died 495 BC) was the legendary seventh and final king of Rome, reigning from 535 BC until the popular uprising in 509 that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic.
He is commonly known as Tarquin the Proud, from his cognomen Superbus (Latin for “proud, arrogant, lofty”) ] in 510 BC. Plutarch, however, explains it as the symbolic departure of the priest with the title rex sacrorum.
In his Fasti, Ovid offers the longest surviving account of the observance:
Now I must tell of the flight of the King, six days from the end of the month. The last of the Tarquins possessed the Roman nation, an unjust man, but nevertheless strong in war.
Nunc mihi dicenda est regis fuga. Traxit ab illa sextus ab extremo nomina mense dies. Ultima Tarquinius Romanæ gentis habebat regna, vir iniustus, fortis ad arma tamen.
Plutarch holds that the rex sacrorum was a substitute for the former king of Rome here as in various religious rituals. The rex held no civic or military role, but nevertheless was bound to offer a public sacrifice in the Comitia on this date. The “flight of the king” was the swift exit the proxy king was required to make from that place of public business. It may be that the two versions are to be reconciled by taking the “flight” of the rex sacrorum as a reenactment of the expulsion of Tarquinius.
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