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AUGUSTA´LES (sc. ludi, also called Augustalia, sc. certamina, ludicra; and by the Greek writers and in Greek inscriptions, Σεβαστά, Σεβάσμια, Αὐγουστάλια) were games celebrated in honour of Augustus, at Rome and in other parts of the Roman empire. At Rome two festivals were known under this name.

I. On Sept. 23, the birthday of Augustus, which after the battle of Actium was kept as a holiday, it was customary from B.C. 13 onwards for games to be held in the circus (D. C. 54.26, 34). These were at first voluntarily given by the praetor, but from B.C. 8 they were regularly established (id. 55.6). In A.D. 14 the charge was transferred to the consuls, and by these they continued to be celebrated under the empire. (Henzen, Act. Fr. Arval. p. 51.)

During the lifetime of Augustus the equites had been accustomed of their own accord to celebrate his birthday with a festival of two days (biduo, Suet. Aug. 57); and in most of the provinces (the exceptions were apparently in the West) games were held in almost every town at intervals of four years in his honour (quinquennales ludi, ib.). In one passage Dio, or perhaps his epitomator Xiphilinus, has confused the two festivals of the birthday of Augustus and the Augustalia proper (56.29); but elsewhere (54.34, 56.46) he clearly distinguishes them, as do also the calendars (cf. C. I. L., pp. 402, 404, with Mommsen's notes).

II. The Augustalia proper were held for ten days (Oct. 3-12). These were instituted in B.C. 19 when Augustus returned to Rome after settling the provinces (cf. Kal. Amit., Oct. 12, Ara Fortunae) reduci constituta) ), but the duration and character of the festival were settled only in B.C. 11 by a senatus consultum (D. C. 54.34). In A.D. 14 the festival was assigned at their own request to the tribunes of the commons, but shortly afterwards transferred to [p. 1.258]the praetor peregrinus (Tac. Ann. 1.15, 54). In Italy many towns observed as a holiday the anniversary of the day on which he had first visited them (Suet. Aug. 59).

The augustales or augustalia at Neapolis (Naples) were celebrated with great splendour. They were instituted in the lifetime of Augustus (Suet. Aug. 98), and were celebrated every four years. According to Strabo (v. p.246), who speaks of these games without mentioning their name, they rivalled the most magnificent of the Grecian festivals. They consisted of gymnastic and musical contests, and lasted for several days. At these games the Emperor Claudius brought forward a Greek comedy, and received the prize. (Suet. Cl. 11; compare D. C. 60.6.)

Augustalia (Σεβαστὰ) were also celebrated at Alexandria, as appears from an inscription in Gruter (316, 2); and in this city there was a magnificent temple to Augustus (Σεβαστεῖον, Augustale). We find mention of augustalia in numerous other places, as Pergamus, Nicomedia, &c.

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