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As the Carnival is always held on the last three days before the beginning of Lent, its date shifts somewhat from year to year, but it invariably falls either in February or March. Now, if the Saturnalia, like many other seasons of licence, was always observed at the end of the old year or the beginning of the new one, it must, like the Carnival, have been originally held in February or March at the time when March was the first month of the Roman year. So strong and persistent are the conservative instincts of the peasantry in respect to old custom, that it would be no matter for surprise if, in rural districts of Italy, the ancient festival continued to be celebrated at the ancient time long after the change of the calendar had shifted the official celebration of the Saturnalia in the towns from February to December. Latin Christianity, which struck at the root of official or civic paganism, has always been tolerant of its rustic cousins, the popular festivals and ceremonies which, unaffected by political and religious revolutions, by the passing of empires and of gods, have been carried on by the people with but little change from time immemorial, and represent in fact the original stock from which the state religions of classical antiquity were comparatively late offshoots. Thus it may very well have come about that while the new faith stamped out the Saturnalia in the towns, it suffered the original festival, disguised by a difference of date, to linger unmolested in the country; and so the old feast of Saturn, under the modern name of the Carnival, has reconquered the cities, and goes on merrily under the eye and with the sanction of the Catholic Church.

The opinion that the Saturnalia originally fell in February or the beginning of March receives some support from

land,” in Pinkerton's Voyages and Travels, iii. 49; Brand, op. cit. i. 33, compare 28). In Ireland on the same day “they use to set up as high as they can a sieve of oats, and in it a dozen of candles set round, and in the centre one larger, all lighted” (Sir Henry Piers, quoted by Brand, op. cit. i. 25). We shall see presently that at Athens the festival of Cronus-the Greek Saturn-fell on the twelfth day

of the month Hecatombaeon, and that a cake with twelve knobs was offered to him.

In the ritual of ancient India there was a festival or sacred period of twelve days or nights (Dvāılašiha), on which apparently the fortune and the crops of the year were supposed in some measure to depend. See A. Hillebrandt, Vedische Opfer und Zaulir (Strasburg, 1897), p. 5 sq.

the circumstance that the festival of the Matronalia, at which mistresses feasted their slaves just as masters did theirs at the Saturnalia, always continued to be held on the first of March, even when the Roman year began with January. It is further not a little recommended by the consideration that this date would be eminently appropriate for the festival of Saturn, the old Italian god of sowing and planting. It has always been a puzzle to explain why such a festival should have been held at midwinter ; but on the present hypothesis the mystery vanishes. With the Italian farmer February and March were the great season of the spring sowing and planting ; nothing could be more natural than that the husbandman should inaugurate the season with the worship of the deity to whom he ascribed the function of quickening the seed. Further, the orgiastic character of the festival is readily explained by the help of facts which met us in a former part of our investigation. We have seen that between the sower and the seed there is commonly supposed to exist a sympathetic connection of such a nature that his conduct directly affects and can promote or retard the growth of the crops. What wonder then if the simple husbandman imagined that by cramming his belly, by swilling and guzzling just before he proceeded to sow his fields, he thereby imparted additional vigour to the seed ? But while his crude philosophy may thus have painted gluttony and intoxication in the agreeable colours of duties which he owed to himself, to his family, and to the commonwealth, it is possible that the zest with which he acquitted himself of his obligations may have been whetted by a less comfortable reflection. In modern times the indulgence of the Carnival is immediately followed by the abstinence of Lent; and if the Carnival is the direct descendant of the Saturnalia, may not Lent in like manner be merely the con

i Macrobius, Sat. i. 12. 7 ; Solinus, bius, Saturn, i. 12. 6, compared with i. 35, p. 13 ed. Mommsen (first edi. Gioponica, xi. 2. 6, where the note of tion); Joannes Lydus, De mensibus, the commentator Niclas may be con.

On the other hand, we know sulted, This transference is strictly that the ceremony of renewing the analogous to the change which I conlaurels, which originally took place on jecture to have been made in the date the first of March, was long afterwards of celebrating the Saturnalia. transferred to the first of January. See ? See Palladius, De re rustica, books Ovid, Fasti, iii. 135 599., and Macro- üj. and iv. passim.


iii. 15.


tinuation, under a thin disguise, of a period of temperance which was annually observed, from superstitious motives, by Italian farmers long before the Christian era ? Direct evidence of this, so far as I am aware, is not forthcoming ; but we have seen that a practice of abstinence from fleshly lusts has been observed by various peoples as a sympathetic charm to foster the growth of the seed ; and such an observance would be an appropriate sequel to the Saturnalia, if that festival was indeed, as I conjecture it to have been, originally held in spring as a religious or magical preparation for sowing and planting. In Burma a similar fast, which a recent writer calls the Buddhist Lent, is observed for three months every year while the ploughing and sowing of the fields go forward ; and the custom is believed to be far older than Buddhism, which has merely given it a superficial tinge like the veneer of Christianity which, if I am right, has overlaid an old heathen observance in Lent. This Burmese Lent, we are told, covers the rainy season from the full moon of July to the full moon of October. “ This is the time to plough, this is the time to sow ; on the villagers' exertions in these months depends all their maintenance for the rest of the year. Every man, every woman, every child, has hard work of some kind or another. And so, what with the difficulties of travelling, what with the work there is to do, and what with the custom of Lent, every one stays at home. It is the time for prayer, for fasting, for improving the soul. Many men during these months will live even as the monks live, will eat but before midday, will abstain from tobacco. There are no plays during Lent, and there are no marriages. It is the time for preparing the land for the crop; it is the time for preparing the soul for eternity. The congregations on the Sundays will be far greater at this time than at any other ; there will be more thought of the serious things of life." ?

Beyond the limits of Italy festivals of the same general character as the Saturnalia appear to have been held over a considerable area of the ancient world. A characteristic

1 Above, vol. ii. p. 209 599.

2 H. Fielding, The Soul of a People (London, 18 p. 172 sg.

The orthodox explanation of the custom is that during these three months the

Buddha retired to a monastery.

But “the custom was far older even than that--so old that we do not know how it arose.

Its origin is lost in the mists of far-away time.”

feature of the Saturnalia, as we saw, was an inversion of social ranks, masters changing places with their slaves and waiting upon them, while slaves were indulged with a semblance not merely of freedom but even of power and office. In various parts of Greece the same hollow show of granting liberty to slaves was made at certain festivals. Thus at a Cretan festival of Hermes the servants feasted and their masters waited upon them.

The Troezenians observed a certain solemnity lasting many days, on one of which the slaves played at dice with the citizens and were treated to a banquet by their lords. The Thessalians held a great festival called Peloria, which Baton of Sinope identified with the Saturnalia, and of which the antiquity is vouched for by a tradition that it originated with the Pelasgians. At this festival sacrifices were offered to Pelorian Zeus, tables splendidly adorned were set out, all strangers were invited to the feast, all prisoners released, and the slaves sat down to the banquet, enjoyed full freedom of speech, and were served by their masters.

But the Greek festival which appears to have corresponded most closely to the Italian Saturnalia was the Cronia or festival of Cronus, a god whose barbarous myth and cruel ritual clearly belong to a very early stratum of Greek religion, and who was by the unanimous voice of antiquity identified with Saturn. We are told that his festival was celebrated in most parts of Greece, but especially at Athens, where the old god and his wife Rhea had a shrine near the stately, but far more modern, temple of Olympian Zeus A joyous feast, at which masters and slaves sat down together, formed a leading feature of the solemnity. At Athens the festival fell in the height of summer, on the twelfth day of the month Hecatombaeon, which answered nearly to July ; and tradition ran that Cecrops, the first king of Attica, had founded an altar in honour of Cronus and Rhea, and had ordained that master and man should share a common meal when the harvest was got in, Yet there are indications that at Athens the

| Athenacus, xiv. pp. 639 B-640 A. As to the temple of Cronus and Rhea,

· Macrobius, Sat. i. 7. 37 ; ib. i. 10. see Pausanias, i. 18. 7; Bekker's 22; Demosthenes, Or. xxiv. 26,1 708. · Anicdota Graica, i. p. 273, line 20 sq.

Cronia may once have been a spring festival. For a cake with twelve knobs, which perhaps referred to the twelve months of the year, was offered to Cronus by the Athenians on the fifteenth day of the month Elaphebolion, which corresponded roughly to March,' and there are traces of a licence accorded to slaves at the Dionysiac festival of the opening of the wine-jars, which fell on the eleventh day of the preceding month Anthesterion.” At Olympia the festival of Cronus undoubtedly occurred in spring; for here a low but steep hill, now covered with a tangled growth of dark holly-oaks and firs, was sacred to him, and on its top certain men, who bore the title of kings, offered sacrifice to the old god at the vernal equinox in the Elean month Elaphius.s

In this last ceremony, which probably went on year by year long before the upstart Zeus had a temple built for himself at the foot of the hill, there are two points of special interest, first the date of the ceremony, and second the title of the celebrants. First, as to the date, the spring equinox, or the twenty-first of March, must have fallen so near the fifteenth day of the Athenian month Elaphebolion, that we may fairly ask whether the Athenian custom of offering a cake to Cronus on that day may not also have been an equinoctial ceremony. In the second place, the title of kings borne by the sacrificers suggests that they may have personated Cronus himself. For, like his Italian counterpart Saturn, the Greek Cronus was believed to have been a king who reigned in heaven or on earth during the blissful Golden Age, when men passed their days like gods without toil or sorrow, when life was a long round of festivity, and death came like sleep, sudden but gentle, announced by none of his sad forerunners, the ailments and infirmities of

Epicurum, 26). That the original
festival of Cronus sell at Athens in
Anthesterion is the view of Aug.
Mommsen (op. cit. pp. 22, 79; Die
Feste der Stadt Athen, p. 402).

1 Corpus Inscriptionum Atticarum, iii. No. 77.

2 Aug. Mommsen, Hiortologie, p. 349, quoting Schol. on Hesiod, Il'orks and Days, 370.

“When the slaves," says Plutarch, “ feast at the Cronia or

about celebrating the festival of Dionysus in the country, the shouts they raise and the tumult they make in their rude merriment are intolerable” (Non posse suaviter l'iti secundum



3 Pausanias, vi. 20. Compare Dionysius: Halicarnasensis, Antiquit. Rom. i. 34. The title of these men (Basilai) must undoubtedly be equivalent to kings (Baoilcis).

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