The Lupercalia (Latin: Lupercalia) was a Roman holiday that was celebrated on February 15, in honor of Faunus in his aspect of Lupercio (Latin Lupercus), that is the protector of cattle sheep and goats from the attack of wolves.
The Lupercalia were celebrated in a cave called Lupercale, located on the Palatine hill, where, according to legend, the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf. This is where Rome would grow.
The festivity was held February 15 because this month was the culmination of the winter period in which the hungry wolves, approached the sheepfolds threatening their flocks.
The origins of the festival are shrouded in a legend: according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the Lupercalia had been instituted by Evander, who had recovered a archaic rite. This ritual consisted of a race of the inhabitants of the Palatine Hill , without clothes and with the pudenda covered by skins of animals sacrificed, all in honor of the god Pan.
According to a legend recounted by Ovid, at the time of King Romulus there was a prolonged period of infertility in women. Women and men therefore went in procession to the grove of Juno, at the foot of the Esquiline, and here bowed in an attitude of supplication. Through the rustling of leaves, the goddess said that women should be penetrated by a sacred goat, which terrified the women, but an Etruscan augur, interpreted the oracle in the right direction by sacrificing a goat, and cutting from his skin strips with which to strike the women’s backs, and after ten lunar months, the women would give birth.
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