April is named for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, whom the Romans came to identify with Venus. Before that association, Venus was one of the least important divinities in the religion of the Romans, although her worship appears to have been established in Rome at an early time. Later her worship became much more extensive and was promoted by various individuals: Scipio Africanus the Younger and Julius Caesar, for example.

The Veneralia (April 1) was a festival to honor Venus Verticordia.

The Cerealia (April 19) was a festival to honor Ceres.

The Palilia (April 21) was a festival to honor Pales, protector of shepherds and flocks.

The Romaea (April 21) was a festival to celebrate the founding of Rome by Romulus.

The Vinalia Urbana (April 23) was a wine festival to honor Jupiter, who shared the day with Venus.

The Floralia (April 28 - May 3) was a festival to honor Flora, goddess of spring, youth, and flowers.

The feriae Latinae (moveable feast) was a festival held by a league of Latin cities to honor Jupiter Latiaris.

Here is additonal information about customs during the Veneralia and other festivals in April. Not all of the holidays were in honor of Venus. William Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities  provides additional information about some of them.

  • The Megalesia (April 4-10) was a festival of games in honor of Cybele that included theatrical performances and spectacles in the Circus Maximus.
  • The Cerealia (April 12-19) was a festival in honor of Ceres that ended with games in the Circus Maximus and foxes being set loose with torches tied to their tails.
  • The Fordicidia (April 15) was in honor of Tellus to promote fertility of cattle and the fields by sacrificing a pregnant cow in each of the 30 wards of the city.
  • The Palilia (April 21) was the festival of Pales; it involved purification of sheep and shepherds by fumigating the sheep, cleaning the pens, and decorating them with greenry.
  • The Vinalia Priora (April 23) honored both Jupiter and Venus; it was the first of two festivals connected with the production of wine.
  • The Robigalia (April 25) appeased Robigus, the deity of wheat rust and grain blight, with the sacrifice of a rust-colored dog.
  • The Floralia (April 28-May 3) was a spring festival in honor of Flora, goddess of flowers, that involved extravagant merriment and lasciviousness.
  • A calendar for The Roman Month of Aprilis shows various festivals and other notable dates, like the festival of Fortuna Publica (April 5) and the birth of Marcus Aurelius (April 26).

    photo courtesy of VRoma

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