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p1112 Terminalia

Unsigned article on p1112 of

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

TERMINALIA, a festival in honour of the god Terminus, who presided over boundaries. His statue was merely a stone or post stuck in the ground to distinguish between properties. On the festival the two owners of adjacent property crowned the statue with garlands and raised a rude altar, on which they offered up some corn,º honeycombs, and wine, and sacrificed a lamb (Hor. Epod. II.59) or a sucking pig. They concluded with singing the praises of the god (Ovid. Fast. II.639, &c.). The public festival in honour of this god was celebrated at the sixth milestone on the road towards Laurentum (Id. 682), doubtless because this was originally the extent of the Roman territory in that direction.

The festival of the Terminalia was celebrated a. d. VII. Kal. Mart., or the 23d of February on the day before the Regifugium. The Terminalia was celebrated on the last day of the old Roman year, whence some derive its name. We know that February was the last month of the Roman year, and that when the intercalary month Mercedonius was added, the last five days of February were added to the intercalary month, making the 23d of February the last day of the year (Varro, L. L. VI.13, ed. Müller; Macrob. Sat. I.13). When Cicero in a letter to Atticus (VI.1) says, Accepi tuas litteras a. d. V. Terminalia (i.e. Feb. 19), he uses this strange mode of defining a date, because being then in Cilicia he did not know whether any intercalation had been inserted that year. [Calendarium, pp229b, 230a.]


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