Roman Saturnalia. Frenzy, Banquets, Slaves and Gifts (2)

Ecco la seconda puntata sui Saturnali (qui trovate la traduzione italiana). Comincia con una scenetta al tempo dell’imperatore Nerone quando il filosofo Seneca, scrivendo all’amico Lucilio, si chiede se sia meglio abbandonarsi alla frenesia generale oppure, come se nulla fosse, continuare con la solita vita composta governata dalla ragione. Enjoy.

The Notebook

Temple of Saturn in Rome. Click for attribution and to enlarge

Saturnalian Days in Nero’s Time

Rome, 62 AD, December. Emperor Nero is ruling. The philosopher Seneca is writing a letter (num 18) to his friend Lucilius:

December est mensis
(It is the month of December)
cum maxime civitas sudat.
(when the city is in great sweat and hectic.)
Ius luxuriae publice datum est;
(The right to looseness has been officially given;)
ingenti apparatu sonant omnia […]
(everything resounds with mightily preparations  […])

The festival most loved by the peoples of the empire, the Saturnalia, has officially started. Excitement is growing everywhere.

The philosopher calmly sitting in his elegant tablinum is reflecting on what he and his friend should do, whether participate or not in the joy of the banquets.

Si te hic haberetur,
(If I had you here with me)
libenter tecum conferrem […]
(I should be glad…

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Survivals of Roman Saturnalia in Christmas, New Year and Carnival? (1)

Visto che siamo quasi al solstizio d’inverno, periodo in cui le giornate sono assai buie e che per noi coincide con le feste natalizie e per gli antichi romani con la festa dei Saturnali, ribloggo un mio testo scritto in inglese su quella festa, la più importante di tutto l’impero romano. Qui trovate la traduzione in italiano. Enjoy.

The Notebook

Dafna asked me to write about the Roman Saturnalia, a festival in honour of Saturn.

“Inspired by Richard’s musing about Christmas – she said – I just discovered the term: ‘Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time ….’ Sounds like fun.”

So here we are Dafna, although my mind is blurred by all this saturnalian revels, starting in Italy on Dec. 24 and ending with the Epiphany, Gen. 6.

Quite a long time isn’t it.

Ma poi ecco l’Epifania
che tutte le feste si porta via.

Saturn & the Golden Age

Saturn, the Roman god of seed and sowing, very ancient according to sources, had his temple built at the foot of the Capitoline hill. It housed a wooden (later ivory) statue of the god filled with oil, holding a scythe and whose feet bound…

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