also called LUDI
COMPITALI´CII, a festival celebrated once a year in
honour of the two Lares compitales, to whom sacrifices were offered at the
places where two or more ways met (compita,
Varro, de Ling. Lat.
6.25, ed. Müller; Festus, s.
v.). Dionysius (4.14
) similarly ascribes
its origin to Servius Tullius, and describes the festival as it was
celebrated in his time. He relates that the sacrifices consisted of
), which were presented
by the inhabitants of each house, and that the persons who assisted as
ministering servants at the festival were not freemen, but slaves, because
the Lares took pleasure in the service of slaves: he further adds that the
Compitalia were celebrated a few days after the Saturnalia with great
splendour, and that the slaves on this occasion had full liberty given them
to do what they pleased. We are told by Macrobius (Saturn.
1.7, 34) that the celebration of the Compitalia was
restored by Tarquinius [p. 1.524]
Superbus, who sacrificed
boys to Mania, the mother of the Lares; but this practice was changed after
the expulsion of the Tarquins, and the heads of garlic and poppies offered
instead of human heads.
The persons who presided over the festival were the Magistri vicorum
; Madvig, Em. Liv.
p. 497), who
were on that occasion allowed to wear the praetexta (Ascon. ad
Cic. in Pis.
p. 7, ed. Orelli).
They were aided by collegia ex servitiorum faece
). Public games
were added at some time during the republican period to this festival, but
they were suppressed by command of the senate in B.C. 64; and it was one of
the charges brought forward by Cicero against L. Piso that he allowed them
to be celebrated by Clodius in his consulship, B.C. 58 (Cic. in Pis. 4
, 8; Ascon. l.c.
). But that the festival itself still continued
to be observed, though the games were abolished, is evident from Cicero
(Cic. Att. 3.3
). When Julius Caesar
dissolved most of the collegia
4.503), the Compitalia necessarily
fell into disuse. Augustus restored the festival on an entirely new basis,
not reviving the collegia,
but assigning the
charge of it to a newly constituted set of magistri
These were four in number, for each of the 265
included in his new division of the
city. The first set entered upon office on Aug. 1, B.C. 7. To the two Lares
compitales was now added the genius Augusti
(Ovid, Ov. Fast. 5.145
; Hor. Carm. 4.5.39
, Laribus tuum miscet numen
), and the festival was observed
twice in the year, on May 1 and Aug. 1. At an earlier time the Compitalia
belonged to the feriae conceptivae;
festivals which were celebrated on days appointed annually by the
magistrates or priests. The day on which this festival was celebrated
appears to have been always in the winter. Dionysius relates (4.14), as we
have already said, that it was celebrated a few days after the Saturnalia,
and Cicero (in Pison.
iv.) that it fell on the
Kalends of January; but in one of his letters to Atticus (7.7) he speaks of
it as falling on the fourth before the nones of January. The exact words
with which the festival was announced are preserved by Macrobius (Saturn.
1.4, 27) and Aulus Gellius (10.24