Thursday, February 24, 2011

February 24

February 24 was Regifugium. Regifugium celebrated in honor of expulsion of the last king and founding of the Republic.

In the Roman religionRegifugium or Fugalia was an annual observance that took place every February 24. In Latin, the name of the observance transparently means "flight of the king."
What exactly this observance was occasioned by is a matter of some controversy. According to Varro and Ovid, this was a festival commemorating the flight of the last king of Rome,Tarquinius Superbus, in 510 BC. Ovid's Fasti contains the longest surviving account of the observance; he begins:
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.
(Now I must tell of the flight of the King, six days1 from the end of the month. The last of the Tarquins possessed the Roman nation, an unjust man, but nevertheless strong in war.)
Plutarch disagrees; he holds that since the Rex Sacrorum, substitute for the former king of Rome in various religious rituals, 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.
The two theories can be reconciled if we take the custom of swift exit required of the Rex Sacrorum to be nothing more than a remembrance of the flight of Tarquinius Superbus.

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