AUGUST is with us the month when the corn-harvest is begun; in Italy it is usually completed in July, and the final harvest-festivals, when all the operations of housing, &c., have been brought to a close, would naturally have fallen for the primitive Roman farmer in the sixth month. The Kalends of Quinctilis would be too early a date for notice to be given of these; some farmers might be behindhand, and so cut off from participation. The Kalends of Sextilis would do well enough; for by the Nones, before which no festival could be held, there would be a general cessation from labour. No other agricultural operations would then for a time be specially incumbent on the farmer1.
Before the Ides we find no great festival in the old calendar, though the sacrifice on the 12th at the ara maxima was without doubt of great antiquity. The list begins with the Portunalia on the 17th; and then follow, with a day's interval between each, the Vinalia Rustica, Consualia, Volcanalia, Opeconsivia, and Volturnalia. The Vinalia had of course nothing to do with harvest, and the character of the Portunalia and Volturnalia is almost unknown; but all the rest may probably have had some relation to the harvesting and safe-keeping of crops, and the one or two scraps of information we possess about the Portunalia bear in the same direction. Deities of fire and water seem to be propitiated at this time, in order to preserve the harvest from disaster by either element. The rites are____________________
Varro, R. R. 1. 33, has only the following: 'Quinto intervallo, inter caniculam et aequinoctium auctumnale oportet stramenta desecari, et acervos construi, aratro offringi, frondem caedi, prata irrigua iterum secari.'