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Bill Thayer

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 p748  Meditrinalia

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh
on p748 of

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

MEDITRINA′LIA was one of the festivals connected with the cultivation of the vineyards. It took place on the eleventh of October, on which day the people of Latium began to taste their new wine (mustum), and to offer libations of it to the gods. In drinking the new wine it was customary to pronounce the words: "vetus novum vinum bibo, novo veteri morbo medeor." (Varro, de Ling. Lat. VI.21; Festus, s.v. Meditrinalia). Varro derives the name of the festival from the healing power of the new wine, but Festus speaks of a goddess Meditrina.​a

Thayer's Note:

a I would far rather trust Varro, a great scholar a couple of centuries closer to the origins of the festival, than an uncritical epitomist. "Meditrina" is not a goddess but an explanation, an aetiological artifact, and Varro's derivation from medeor, while not fully satisfying, is surely on the right track. Some modern archaeologists have halfheartedly jumped on Meditrina's bandwagon, though, identifying any portrayal of a female figure in connection with winemaking as this putative goddess. Not everyone is taken in; see Jona Lendering's page, with the added bonus of a very nice photograph of a Roman relief.

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Page updated: 22 Feb 18