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The Lupercalia
Alberta Mildred Franklin

Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, in the
Faculty of Philosophy, Columbia University
New York

The Author and the Work

The author of this little book was a professor of classics who seems to have left no permanent trace other than this, her doctoral thesis. The biographical sketch of her that follows is from the last (unnumbered) page of it, after the index — what would be the jacket flap if there were a jacket:


Alberta Mildred Franklin was born December 10, 1880, at Farmingdale, New Jersey. She was graduated from Wellesley College with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1904. During her course she was made a Durant Scholar. She received the degree of Master of Arts from Columbia University in 1909. In 1904‑5 she was teacher of Latin and Greek in the High School of Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey; in 1905‑6, teacher of Latin and Ancient History in the Girls' Classical School, Pasadena, California; in 1906‑8, teacher of Latin and English in the Collegiate School, Passaic, New Jersey; in 1909‑15, teacher of Latin and Ancient History in the Barnard School for Girls, New York City; in 1915‑19, Professor of Latin and Greek at Lake Erie College, Painesville, Ohio; in 1919‑21, Associate Professor of Latin and Greek in Wilson College, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. During the years 1907‑14 she was studying at Columbia University under the direction of Professors Frank Frost Abbott, George Willis Botsford, John Raymond Crawford, James Chidester Egbert, Henry Rushton Fairclough, Roscoe Guernsey, Charles Knapp, Nelson Glenn McCrea, Harry Thurston Peck, Edward Delavan Perry, LaRue Van Hook, and James Rignall Wheeler. In 1921 she was appointed Professor of Classics in Wilson College, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. She died on September 27, 1970 and is buried in Lake Forest, CA.

The thesis itself seems to me somewhat unfocused, and I also suspect that Franklin's investigations were not as thorough as they appear: considering the difficulty and unusually multi-faceted quality of the subject, though, Franklin's attempt to pin down the Lupercalia is a valiant one; her own Synopsis of Chapters will be useful to you if, pressed for time, you're looking to get your bearings amid all the confusing material.

The dissertation's scholar­ly flaws are far outweighed by its usefulness in counteracting the reams of nonsense found about the Lupercalia both online and in printed books. Noticeable by its absence, for example, is any mention of the Lupercalia as the origin of Valentine's Day, of lotteries to draw boys' names out of urns, of ritual prostitution as a feature of the feast, and the like — all of which are the sheerest of inventions, strewn thru the Internet though they might be. It is regrettable, though, that in the very last paragraph, Franklin did fall into another common falsehood (the purported connection with the Christian feast of the Purification of the Virgin) thru failure to check the conjecture of a 16c writer, but the mistake is easily fixed there by a note. Also noticeable by its absence in Franklin's book is any pretension of certainty, in which she did very well: first‑hand ancient sources on the subject boil down to a very small scattering of texts, most of them incidental; any work on the topic must in essence be a detective tale or a jigsaw puzzle with many parts missing.

As an aside of my own, it is noteworthy also that, as far as I can tell, not a single ancient artistic depiction of the festival has come down to us (or at least, none has been identified as such); so we can also throw out, as products of modern imagination, the lurid images found online, ornament and fodder of blogs and cultist sites.




The Ceremonial of the Lupercalia


The Wolf-Deity in Greece


The Wolf-Deity in Italy


The Sacred Goat in Greece


The Sacred Goat in Italy


The Dog as a Sacred Animal in Greece


The Dog as a Sacred Animal in Italy


The Blood-Ceremony of the Lupercalia




Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition transcribed here was the original unbound printing of the doctoral dissertation; there may be no other. It is in the public domain, having been published in the United States in 1921. (Details here on the copyright law involved.)

The book is nominally online elsewhere, thrown up on GoogleBooks as a photocopy; the present transcription will improve the book's online footprint and make it easier for the student to check the source material so meticulously cited in Franklin's notes: where possible, the citations are linked to the actual texts, something a bald photocopy cannot provide. As it turned out, it also gave me an opportunity to correct a number of citations.

Pagination and Local Links

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

My transcription has been minutely proofread, although not quite minutely enough: my thanks to Vann Turner for his further reading, which caught a dozen typos of my own. At any rate, in the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I (now) believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The printed book was well proofread, except for occasional garbled numbers in the citations, which I marked with a bullet like this;º the few other typographical errors are trivial, and marked therefore merely with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet or the underscored words to read what was actually printed. Similarly, bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

A number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.

[image ALT: A crowd of young women against a background of tall narrow arches; in front of them, two young men, naked except for a loincloth, each waving a large object like the handle of a leash. It is an 18c depiction of the ancient Roman festival Lupercalia. The image serves as the icon on this site for 'The Lupercalia' by A. M. Franklin.]

Since I know of no ancient depiction of the Lupercalia, and modern depictions online are either inaccurate or prurient or usually both, it took a lot of digging to find a reasonable icon for this part of my site. I finally found the more or less acceptable detail you see in the icon above, from the following uncropped and unedited lithograph:

[image ALT: Three young men, standing in a huddle, naked but for aprons or a fold of drapery; they are crowned with what looks like ivy, and are conversing and gesticulating. Behind them, on a pedestal, a stone statue of a seated man, naked and playing a flute. To the viewer's left, in the background, against a further backdrop of tall narrow arches and in the distance a classic temple on a hilltop, a crowd of young women; in front of them, two young men, naked except for a loincloth, each waving a large object like the handle of a leash. It is an 18c depiction of the ancient Roman festival Lupercalia.]

Prêtres Luperques
Chez les Romains

from L'Antique Rome ou description historique et pittoresque de tout ce qui concerne le peuple romain, dans ses costumes civiles,º militaires et religieux, dans ses moeurs publiques et privées, depuis Romulus jusqu'à Augustule by Jacques Grasset [de] Saint-Sauveur (Paris, chez Deroy, 1796/An IV de la République), facing p39.

As you can see from the signatures, Saint-Sauveur was not only the author of the book but drew the illustrations; a certain Labrousse, who appears to be known today only for having worked with him, was the engraver.

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Site updated: 28 Nov 21