Julius Caesar

The month of July was originally named Quintilis. It was the fifth month on the old Roman calendar when March was the first one. Its name was changed to Iulius in 44 BC to honor Julius Caesar, who had initiated calendar reforms of his own.

Three festivals of games took place in July. The ludi Apollinares  (July 6-13) were held in honor of Apollo and were very popular. Caesar's Victory Games (July 20-30) were in honor of Caesar's defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus in 48 BC, Victoria, the Roman personification of victory, and Venus, the goddess often linked with the gens Julia. The ludi Neptunales took place during the Neptunalia (July 23-24) in honor of Neptune and his wife Salacia. There was also the Transvectio Equitum (July 15), a mounted parade of the Equestrians in honor of Castor and Pollux, and the Lucaria (July 19 and 21), a festival focused on wood and sylvan divinities.

For a fascinating account of Caesar's life, Senex recommends Julius Caesar: The Last Dictator.

Here are details about some of the other Roman festivals that are celebrated this month.

  • The festival of Juno (July 1) likely involved an offering and prayers at her temple in Rome, but you may prefer the on-line version of The Temple of Iuno.
  • The Poplifugia (July 5) was an ancient festival that honored Jupiter. Its name, "The Flight of the People", may refer to the sacking of Rome by the Gauls in 390 BC.
  • The Nonae Caprotinae (July 7), a festival in honor of Juno Caprotina, may have been to commemorate the role of serving women in saving Rome from the Latin confederacy.
  • The Transvectio Equitum (July 15), was a parade of the Equites in honor of Castor and Pollux to commemorate the Battle of Lake Regillus (496 BC) in which the Dioscuri aided the Romans against the Latin League.
  • The Neptunalia (July 23), was a festival in honor of Neptunus, creator of the horse, and it was celebrated with chariot races and feasting in shelters made of tree branches.
  • The Furrinalia (July 25), was a festival in honor of Furrina, goddess of springs, and it reinforced the appeal for fresh water and protection from drought.
  • A calendar for The Roman Month of Quintilis shows various festivals and other notable dates, like the birthday of Julius Caesar (July13) and the Furrinalia (July 25).

    photo courtesy of VRoma

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