The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic: An Introduction to the Study of the Religion of the Romans

By W. Warde Fowler | Go to book overview

MENSIS OCTOBER.

IN the Italy of historical times, the one agricultural feature of this month was the vintage. The rustic calendars mark this with the single word vindemiae1. The vintage might begin during the last few days of September, but October was its natural time, though it is now somewhat earlier: this point is clear both from Varro and Pliny2. But the old calendars have preserved hardly a trace of this; and in fact the only feast which we can in any way connect with wine-making (the Meditrinalia on the 11th) is obscure in name and its ritual unknown to us. We may infer that the practice of viticulture was a comparatively late introduction; and this is borne out by such facts as the absence of wine in the ritual of the Latin festival3, and the words of a lex regia (ascribed to Numa) which forbade wine to be sprinkled on a funeral pile4. Pliny also expressed a decided opinion that viticulture was multo serior: and lately Hehn5 has traced it to the Italian Greeks on etymological grounds. It can hardly have become a common occupation in Latium before the seventh or possibly even the eighth century B. C.

Probably if Ovid had continued his Fasti to the end of the year we might have learnt much of interest about this month: as it is, we have only scraps of information about a very few

____________________
1
C. I. L. i2. 281.
2
Varro, R. R. 1. 34. Pliny, N. H. 18. 315: 'Vindemiam antiqui nunquam existimavere maturam ante aequinoctium, iam passim rapi cerno.' Sec. 319 'Iustum vindemiae tempus ab aequinoctio ad Vergiliarum occasum dies xliii.'
3
See above, p. 97.
4
Pliny, N. H. 14. 88 'Vino rogum ne respargito.' Cp. 18. 24.
5
Kulturpflanzen, &c., p. 65.

-236-

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