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p351 Consualia

Article by Philip Smith, B.A., of the University of London
on pp351‑352 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

CONSUA′LIA, a festival, with games, celebrated by the Romans, according to Festus, Ovid (Fast. III.199), and others, in honour of Consus, the god of secret deliberations, or, according to Livy (I.9), of Neptunus Equestris. Plutarch (Quaest. Rom. 45), Dionysius of Halicarnassus (II.31), and the Pseudo Asconius, however (ad Cic. in Verr. p142, ed. Orelli), say that Neptunus Equestris and Consus were only different names for one and the same deity. It was solemnised every year in the circus, by the symbolical ceremony of uncovering an altar dedicated to the god, which was buried in the earth. For Romulus, who was considered as p352the founder of the festival, was said to have discovered an altar in the earth on that spot (cf. Niebuhr, Hist. Rom. vol. I notes 629 and 630). The solemnity took place on the 21st of Augusta with horse and chariot races, and libations were poured into the flames which consumed the sacrifices. During these festive games, horses and mules were not allowed to do any work, and were adorned with garlands of flowers. It was at their first celebration that, according to the ancient legend, the Sabine maidens were carried off (Varro, De Ling. Lat. VI.20; Dionys. I.33.2;º Cic. De Rep. II.7). Virgil (Aen. VIII.636), in speaking of the rape of the Sabines, describes it as having occurred during the celebration of the Circensian games, which can only be accounted for by supposing that the great Circensian games, in subsequent times, superseded the ancient Consualia; and that thus the poet substituted games of his own time for ancient ones — a favourite practice with Virgil; or that he only meant to say the rape took place at the well-known festival in the circus (the Consualia), without thinking of the ludi Circenses, properly so called.


Thayer's Note:

a the 21st of August: Plutarch says that the Consualia took place on the 18th (Life of Romulus, 15.5).


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Page updated: 19 Dec 07