oak grove

Lucaria

In rural areas, the Lucaria (July 19 and 21) was a festival that was associated with the clearing of a grove, or lucus, for agricultural purpose. The spirits who lived in the forest had to be propitiated before the trees were felled. Cato (De Re Agricultura, 139-140) records an appropriate prayer to be used, along with the sacrifice of a pig, when a grove is to be thinned. If the ground was to be tilled as well, a second sacrifice was offered in the same way. The festival probably held little meaning in the late Republic.

In Rome, the Lucaria was held in a large grove between the Tiber and the Via Salaria, probably in the area of the Pincian gardens, and it celebrated a legendary event. In 390 BC, Romans fleeing from the Gauls after the battle of Allia (July 18) had hidden in this grove. According to another interpretation, the feast was dedicated generically to every wood and sylvan divinity.


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