Festival of Castor and Pollux

Castor and Pollux, Festival of

July 15
In Greco-Roman mythology, Castor and Pollux were twin gods who helped shipwrecked sailors and received sacrifices for favorable winds. Worshipped as the Dioscuri (from the Greek Dioskouroi, or "sons of Zeus"), their cult was a popular one in 484 b.c.e., when, according to legend, the twins fought on the side of the Romans in the Battle of Lake Regillus and brought word of their victory to Rome. A temple was built for them in the Forum, and it was here that the annual festival in their honor was celebrated on July 15.
Castor and Pollux were renowned for their athletic ability and are usually depicted as horsemen. They shared the same mother, Leda, but Castor was the son of Tyndareus and was therefore mortal, while Pollux was the son of Zeus and immortal. When they got into an argument with Idas and Lynceus, another set of twins, Castor was slain. Pollux was heartbroken because, as an immortal, he could not join his brother in death. Zeus finally allowed them to stay together, dividing their time between the heavens and the underworld. Eventually they were transformed into the constellation known as Gemini (The Twins), which, before the invention of the compass, was an important aid to navigation.
NewCentClassHandbk-1962, p. 408
OxClassDict-1970, p. 213
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
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