The Latin Festival

Some Roman festivals were movable, and set by criteria not known to us. The one about which we have the most information is the very ancient Latin festival (feriae Latinae), which in the third and early second centuries BC was usually celebrated shortly after the appointment of the consuls. At that time a consul could not depart to his province until the Latin Festival was celebrated. Occasionally, a second celebration would be ordered if some fault had been found with the first, typically several months later.

Livy gives several dates for Latin Festivals in the third and early second centuries BC. The Fasti Feriarum Latinarum (FFL), a set of inscriptions on Mons Albanus, originally gave a complete set of dates for this festival. Unfortunately the FFL are highly fragmentary with very few dates that are completely recoverable.

P. Brind'Amour, Le calendrier romain, 84ff., investigated the dates for Imperial-age festivals given by the FFL. These showed no correlation with lunar dates, and in one case that the festival was celebrated exactly one Julian year from its previous occurrence (25 June AD 70 and 71). This shows that, at least in Imperial times, the Latin festival was not governed by any of the cycles known to us.

However, by this time there is also a good chance that the Latin festival was no longer following original practice. It may be than an investigation of known Republican dates could show a correlation with some aspect of the Republican calendar that has not as yet been detected. For anyone who wants to look at this issue, the following is the list of dates I have been able to compile. If you come up with any ideas, please email me:

Date of Latin Festival         Source

ad IV Id Ian AUC 305          FFL (1)
ad III Non Feb AUC 305       FFL (1)
Kal Mai AUC 305                 FFL (1)
Pr Kal Nov AUC 358             FFL
ad V Kal Mai AUC 542          Livy 25.12
ad III Non Mart AUC 577/8   Livy 41.16 (2)
ad III Id Sex AUC 578          Livy 41.16
Kal Iun AUC 583                 Livy 42.35
Pr Id Apr AUC 586               Livy 44.19 (3)
Pr Kal Apr AUC 586              Livy 44.22 (3)
ad IV-Pr Id Nov AUC 586      Livy 45.3 (4)
ad IV Kal Iun AUC 793          FFL
ad VII Kal Iul AUC 794          FFL
ad VII Kal Iul AUC 823          FFL
ad VII Kal Iul AUC 824          FFL
ad III Id Aug AUC 851          FFL
ad IV Kal Iul AUC 852           FFL
Pr Id Iul AUC 859                 FFL
Pr Id Aug AUC 860               FFL
ad X Kal Iul AUC 861             FFL

Notes on the dates:

(1) The sacrifice could be celebrated repeatedly if there was a flaw in an early celebration.
(2) Since the festival was normally one of the first consular responsibilities under the Republic, this date is almost certainly an error, probably for ad III Non Mai AUC 578.
(3) These two dates refer to the same sacrifice so at least one is clearly in error
(4) The festival was usually multiple days. When a single date is given, it is not clear where this stands in the overall festival, but is presumably the first day. This particular festival was a second celebration.

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