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REGIFU´GIUM an annual festival at Rome on the 24th of February. On this day the REX SACRORUM offered sacrifice in the Comitium, and [p. 2.541]after the sacrifice hastily fled from the spot (Plut. Q. R. 63;. cf. Cal. Praen. March 24). That this was a symbolical flight is plain enough, but of what it was a symbol is not so certain. The convenient interpretation of some Roman writers, that it commemorates the expulsion of Tarquin (Ov. Fast. 2.685; Fest. s. v.), we should probably reject, as an idea started by the apparent meaning of the word. It is, we think, more correct to assume that the ceremony is an old one belonging to the times of the monarchy, and that the offering by the Rex sacrorum is one which was originally made by the king himself. It is suggested by some, not without probability, that the offering was an atonement and purification for the city; that the victim received, like a scapegoat, the guilt upon itself; and that the officiating minister therefore fled from it, as from something polluted (Hartung, Rel. d. Römer, 2.35; Marquardt, Staatsverw. 3.324). If so, there may be a reason for this sin offering near the end of February, as the month of purification, and perhaps as marking the close of the most ancient year. Mr. Warde Fowler has suggested that we should seek for the origin of this custom in the connexion of Mars with Apollo (see Roscher, Lexicon), and the flight of Apollo as one guilty of bloodshed [see DAPHNEPHORIA; THEOPHANIA]. In two other months, March and May, the 24th was marked by an offering of the Rex in the Comitium. These days are indicated by the letters Q. R. C. F. = quando rex comitiavit fas (Varro, L. L. 6.31; Ovid's first conjecture in Fast. 5.727 is more correct than his second). They were probably, as Marquardt says, the two days for making wills at the Comitia Calata under the authority of the king, the day involving nefas before the offering and fas after it (cf. Gel. 15.27; Mommsen, Staatsrecht, ii.3 38; TESTAMENTUM). It must be observed, however, that the name Regifugium belongs to the 24th of February alone. (Marquardt, Staatsverw. iii.2 323 f.; Mommsen, Staatsrecht, ii.3 4.) L. S.]


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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 15.27
    • Ovid, Fasti, 2
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