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JUVENA´LIA or JUVENA´LES LUDI (Ἰουβενάλια ὥσπερ τινὰ νεανισκεύματα), were scenic games instituted by Nero in A.D. 59, in commemoration of his shaving his beard for the first time, thus intimating that he had passed from youth to manhood. He was then in the twenty-second year of his age. These games were not celebrated in the circus, but in a private theatre (Plin. Nat. 37.19) erected in a pleasure-ground (nemus), and consisted of every kind of theatrical performance, Greek and Roman plays, mimetic pieces, and the like. The most distinguished persons in the state, old and young, male and female, were expected to take part in them. The emperor set the example by appearing in person on the stage; and Dio Cassius mentions a distinguished Roman matron, upwards of eighty years of age, who danced in the games. It was one of the offences given by Paetus Thrasea that he had not acquitted himself with credit at this festival (D. C. 61.19; Tac. Ann. 14.15, 15.33, 16.21). Suetonius (Suet. Nero 12) confounds this festival with the Quinquennalia, which was instituted in the following year, A.D. 60. [QUINQUENNALIA] The Juvenalia continued to be celebrated by subsequent emperors, but not on the same occasion. The name was given to those games which were exhibited by the emperors on the 1st of January in each year. They no longer consisted of scenic representations, but of chariotraces and combats of wild beasts. (D. C. 67.14, of Domitian; Sidon. Apoll. Carm. 20.315, 433; Capitol. Gord. 4: cf. Lipsius, ad Tac. Ann. 14.15.

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hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (5):
    • Suetonius, Nero, 12
    • Tacitus, Annales, 14.15
    • Tacitus, Annales, 15.33
    • Tacitus, Annales, 16.21
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 37.19
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