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QUINQUATRUS (fem. plur.) or QUINQUATRIA (neut. plur.), a festival which was celebrated on the 19th of March. The word signified the fifth day after the Ides, just as triatrus, sexatrus, septimatrus, decimatrus signified the third, sixth, seventh, and tenth days. (See Varro, L. L. 6.14; Fest. p. 254; Gel. 2.21; Roby, Lat. Gr. § 902.) A false etymology led to its being afterwards regarded as a five-days' festival (Ov. Fast. 3.809; Trist. 4.10, 13; Liv. 44.20), and as such it was observed under the later Republic and the Empire from March 19-23. Strictly it was (as appears in the Calendars, and as its name really implies) a one-day's festival, celebrated originally as a lustratio of the arma ancilia, when the arms were brought out to be ready for the campaigning season, just as the ARMILUSTRIUM on the 19th of October was the inventory, so to speak, before they were put away again (Charis. 81, 20). A sacrifice was offered, and there was a dance of the Salii in the Comitium, the ceremony being under the direction of the Pontifices and Tribuni Cel. (Cal. Praen.; Varro, L. L. 5.85). [SALII]

The day acquired a fresh significance from being selected for the dedication of the temple of Minerva on the Aventine, and, instead of being purely military, became the festival of various trades (Ov. Fast. 3.809-834; artificum dies, Cal. Praen.) and of arts. Hence it became also a holiday for the schools, extending over the whole five days, which now became included under the name Quinquatrus or Quinquatria (Hor. Ep. ii. [p. 2.536]2, 197; Juv. 10.115; LUDUS LITTERARIUS p. 97): hence also it was a day of receipts for fortunetellers (Plaut. Mil. Glor. 3.1, 98); and for the same reason Domitian, who claimed Minerva as his guide, gave prizes, at his Alban villa, at this time to orators and poets, and established a collegium, the members of which should exhibit venationes and stage-plays (Suet. Dom. 4; D. C. 67.1).

The first and regular day of the festival was marked by the offerings, &c., as above mentioned, and the commemoration of the temple dedicated to Minerva; on the other four days there were shows of gladiators, and a season of general merrymaking (Suet. Aug. 71, Ner. 34; Tac. Ann. 14.4). On the fifth day, March 23, was the tubilustrium (Fest., Varr. s. v.), sacred to Mars and Nerio (Lyd. de Miens. 4.42; Porphyr. ad Hor. Ep. 2.2, 209), for whom Ovid (Ov. Fast. 3.849) substitutes Pallas. On this day the trumpets used in the sacred rites were passed in review, and purified by the Salii Palatini and the tubicines sacrorum populi Romani (Gel. 1.12; C. I. L. 9.3609, 10.5394).

There was a festival called Quinquatrus Minusculae on the 13th of June, when the tibicines went through the city in procession to the temple of Minerva, and observed a sort of carnival for three days (Liv. 9.30; Ov. Fast. 6.651; Varro, L. L. 6.17; V. Max. 2.5, 4); they were masked and gaily dressed (Censorin. 12.2). The “collegium tibicinum et fidicinum, qui sacris publicis praesto sunt,” is mentioned in several inscriptions (C. I. L. 6.3696, 3877; 9.3609; 10.6101). As this festival was on the Ides, it is clear that the name was not given on any etymological principle, but, as Varro says, from a connexion of ideas with the greater Quinquatrus.

It has been observed that the March school festival reappeared in Christian times as the festival of St. Gregory (Gregory the Great, a founder of schools), and was kept in some places on March 12th, in others on March 19th.

(Marquardt, Staatsverw. iii.2 434; Mayor on Juv. 10.115.)

[W.S] [G.E.M]

hide References (12 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (12):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 9, 30
    • Tacitus, Annales, 14.4
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 71
    • Suetonius, Domitianus, 4
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 44, 20
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 1.12
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 2.21
    • Horace, Epistulae, 2.2
    • Ovid, Fasti, 3
    • Ovid, Fasti, 6
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 2.4
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 2.5
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