THERE can hardly be a doubt that this month takes its name, not from a deity, but from the verb aperio; the etymology is as old as Varro and Verrius, and seems perfectly natural1. The year was opening and the young corn and the young cattle were growing. It was therefore a critical time for crops and herds; but there was not much to be done by man to secure their safety. The crops might be hoed and cleaned2, but must for the most part be left to the protection of the gods. The oldest festivals of the month, the Robigalia and Fordicidia, clearly had this object. So also with the cattle; oves lustrantur, say the rustic calendars3; and such a lustratio of the cattle of the ancient Romans survived in the ceremonies of the Parilia.
Thus, if we keep clear of fanciful notions, such as those of Huschke4, about these early months of the year, which he seems to imagine was thought of as growing like an organic creature, we need find no great difficulty in April. We need not conclude too hastily that this was a month of purification preliminary to May, as February was to March. Like February, indeed, it has a large number of dies nefasti5, and its festivals____________________