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Related to Terminalia: Terminalia arjuna, Terminalia chebula


Type of Holiday: Ancient
Date of Observation: February 23
Where Celebrated: Rome, Italy
Symbols and Customs: Boundary Stones


Terminalia was part of ancient Roman religion, which scholars date back to the sixth century B . C . E . Roman religion dominated Rome and influenced territories in its empire until Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity in the third century C . E . Ancient Roman religion was heavily influenced by the older Greek religion. Roman festivals therefore had much in common with those of the ancient Greeks. Not only were their gods and goddesses mostly the same as those in the Greek pantheon (though the Romans renamed them), but their religious festivals were observed with similar activities: ritual sacrifice, theatrical performances, games, and feasts.

Terminalia was a festival to worship Terminus, the god of boundaries. The festival was established by Numa, the second king of Rome. Numa founded a public festival to correspond with farmers' private worship of the spirits that inhabited the BOUNDARY STONES marking their property's borders. Terminalia, as the celebration was called, was probably the basis for a number of later ceremonies that involved marking boundaries, such as Common Ridings Day in Scotland, Beating the Bounds in England (see ASCENSION DAY), and the Boundary Walk Festivals (Grenzumgang) held in many German towns.

The terminus or boundary stones marking the outer limits of ancient Rome stood between the fifth and sixth milestones on the road to Laurentum. During the observance of the Terminalia, property owners would gather there or at the boundary stones marking their private lands. Each landowner decorated his side of the stone and helped to build the altar on which a fire would be kindled and sacrifices made. Someone would throw corn from a basket into the fire three times while the others, dressed in white, looked on in silence. The stone was then sprinkled with blood. Afterward, there would be singing and socializing among family members and servants.

On the Capitoline Hill in Rome, an ancient boundary stone was located in the temple of Jupiter. The stone was placed under an opening in the roof so that it could be worshipped under an open sky as farmers had traditionally done. How Terminus came to be associated with Jupiter is uncertain. But according to legend, when Jupiter was to be introduced into the Capitoline Temple, all of the gods made way for him except Terminus, who insisted on sharing Jupiter's space. Another theory is that the temple was erected on the site of an ancient boundary stone that was so sacred it couldn't be moved.


Boundary Stones

The stones that marked the boundaries of privately owned property in ancient Rome were regarded as the dwelling place of numina, spirits that can be traced back to very primitive times. These spirits helped to promote good relationships among neighbors and to keep strong territorial feelings under control. Their purpose can perhaps best be summarized by a line from the American poet Robert Frost: "Good fences make good neighbors."

Certain rites were carried out every time a boundary stone was put in place. Fruits of the earth, honey, and wine, along with the bones, ashes, and blood of a lamb or a suckling pig, were placed in a hole located where property owned by two or three farmers converged. A stone or a stump of wood was then rammed down on top of these offerings and fixed in place. The fact that sacrificial blood was considered essential to the ritual indicates just how important it was.


Fowler, W. Warde. The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic. New York: Macmillan Co., 1925. Henderson, Helene, ed. Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary. 3rd ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2005. Hole, Christina. English Custom & Usage. 1941. Reprint. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1990. James, E.O. Seasonal Feasts and Festivals. 1961. Reprint. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1993. Lemprière, John. Lemprière's Classical Dictionary. Rev. ed. London: Bracken, 1994. Scullard, H.H. Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981.


February 23
In ancient Rome, February 23 marked the end of the year and was therefore an appropriate time to honor Terminus, the god of boundaries and landmarks. The terminus, or boundary stone marking the outer limits of Rome, stood between the fifth and sixth milestones on the road to Laurentum. During the observance of the Terminalia, property owners would gather there—or at the boundary stones that marked their private lands—to place garlands around the stone and offer sacrifices. Afterward there would be singing and socializing among family members and servants.
Ceremonies that involve marking boundaries are common in England and Scotland as well ( see Ascension Day and Common Ridings Day).
DictFolkMyth-1984, pp. 129, 493, 1106
DictRomRel-1996, p. 221
FestRom-1981, p. 79
OxYear-1999, p. 89
References in periodicals archive ?
09/51 name of work : supply of terminalia arjuna, polyalthia longifolia (ashok) and ficus infecoria (pilkhan) plants for plantation in different parks in ward no.
Terminalia bellerica is a tree native to lower elevations in Southeast Asia, whose fruit has been used for centuries in Indian traditional medicine to treat a variety of diseases, particularly diabetes.
C1 = individuo de Terminalia catappa situado no campus, C2 = individuo de Caesalpinia peltophoroides situado no campus, C3 = individuo de Bauhinia variegata situado no campus, U1 = individuo de Terminalia catappa situado na avenida, U2 = individuo de Caesalpinia peltophoroides situado na avenida, U3 = individuo de Bauhinia variegata situado na avenida
Male terminalia light brown with darker patches, apex of parameres black.
chebula, Terminalia bellirica, and Emblica officinalis.
Ha participado en exposiciones colectivas en el marco de New York Photo Festival, Le Cube (Paris), Cape Town Month of Photography, Bonani Africa Festival of Photography y Ethnographic Terminalia (Nueva Orleans).
Final illustrations of terminalia were prepared from pencil drawings without employing any graphic software for their enhancement or manipulation and do not usually depict setae unless these are considered of possible diagnostic value.
She has already made superparamagnetic materials from some mixed plants materials of Acalypha indica, Cynodon dactylon, Terminalia chebula, Eugenia jambolina and Cassia auriculata named as Santhi Particles.
Estos autores citan la terminologia de Nowakowski (1962) y Griffiths (1972) para la descripcion de la terminalia masculina de los agromicidos, al indicar que se trata de un verdadero organo copulador, dividido en cuatro secciones: basifalo, mesofalo, hipofalo y distifalo; tiene un apodema edeagal largo en forma de barra que articula al edeago flexible.