A Complex of Times: No More Sheep on Romulus’ Birthday<sup>†</sup><sup>1</sup>

Mary Beard

in Roman Religion

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780748615650
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748650989 | DOI:
A Complex of Times: No More Sheep on Romulus’ Birthday†1

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This chapter argues that one of the functions of Rome's calendar of rites – the sequence of religious festivals as they occurred throughout the year – was to define and delineate Roman power, Roman history and Roman identity; and that it did this by evoking events from different chronological periods of the Roman past and arranging them in a meaningful sequence of time; but not a sequence defined by linear, narrative, history. The chapter concerns itself principally with the practice of Roman ritual during the late Republic and early Empire; and its argument depends on taking seriously the discussions of the various festivals preserved in the writings of contemporary Romans and Greeks – men who practised or observed the rituals. All the chosen texts refer to the festival of the Parilia, which took place each year on the twenty-first of April.

Keywords: Rome; calendar; rites; religious festivals; ritual; power; Roman identity; history; Greeks; Parilia

Chapter.  7728 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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