Carmentalia


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Carmentalia

January 11 and 15
It was unusual in ancient Rome for a single deity to have two separate festival days only a few days apart, and a number of explanations—none of them conclusive—have been offered for why the second festival in honor of the goddess Carmenta was instituted. The only thing that is certain is that the goddess's most prominent characteristic was her gift of prophecy, and that it was primarily women who frequented her temple near the Porta Carmentalis, a gate at the foot of the southern end of the capitol. Carmenta was also a birth-goddess, and although it might seem unusual to celebrate birth in the middle of winter, January happens to be exactly nine months after April, then the most popular time for marriages.
Carmenta had her own priest, or flamen, whose duties on her festival days were confined to the preparation of offerings of grain or cereal. There was a taboo against animal skins in Carmenta's cult, perhaps because the slaughter of animals was antithetical to a goddess of birth. The women known as Carmentes were similar to midwives—wise old women whose skills and spells assisted women in childbirth, and who had the power to tell their fortunes.
SOURCES:
ClassDict-1984, p. 127
FestRom-1981, p. 62
OxYear-1999, p. 31
RomFest-1925, p. 290
References in periodicals archive ?
The name of the dynasty changes dramatically on 11 January, the feast of the Carmentalia (1.
Ovid's Carmentalia on 11 January is a panegyric to one whom he hoped would help secure his recall.