Bacchus and Pan


On the old Roman calendar, October was the eighth month of the year because March was counted as the first one. Among the festivals observed in October were several related to wine, but one of the religious celebrations was a day of fasting (October 4) in honor of Ceres called the Ieiunium Cereris.

Bacchus, the Roman name for Dionysus, was honored at the Bacchanalia (October 3) with orgies of feasting and drinking. Another wine-related festival was the Meditrinalia (October 11), and it had some unknown connection to Jupiter. The Fontinalia (October 13) honored Fons, the god of fountains and springs. To assure sweet water, garlands were placed around the tops of wells or thrown into springs.

Sweet wine and sweet water ... It sounds like the perfect mix for an oenophile!

During the Feriae Iovi  (October 15), a festival to honor Jupiter, the "October Horse" was sacrificed by the flamen of Mars. (The Ides of October was the time the old campaigning season finished.) Another war-related festival was the Armilustrium (October 19), held in honor of Mars. The Ludi Capitolini began on the Ides of October and lasted for 16 days.

Here is some additional information about the various festivals in October.

  • An entry in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities  details the origin, nature, and supression of the Bacchanalia in Rome.
  • Another entry in Smith's dictionary describes the Meditrinalia and its relation to the new wine vintage.
  • A third entry in Smith's dictionary describes the Armilustrium as a purification festival of military arms and the sacred shields of Mars.
  • Another Roman calendar details the festival of Fides, the ritual of the mundus  pit, and other events in October.
  • A calendar for The Roman Month of October shows various festivals and other notable dates, like the festival of Fides (October 1) and the birth of Domitian (October 24).

    photo courtesy of VRoma

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