Festival – Quinquatria

A busy week for gods. Today is the Quinquatria (or the start of it – I’ll explain in a minute), a festival in honour of Minerva, goddess of wisdom, who also has some shared responsibility for art and crafts, including weaving in particular; poetry; magic; music; and a somewhat later interest in war which she borrowed from her Greek sister Athena.

As with most Roman festivals, our knowledge of how Quinquatria was celebrated is scant. Traditionally it was an occasion for women to seek divinatory guidance, though that was a common part of everyday Roman religion so to what extent it actually spiked at Quinquatria is anyone’s guess.

The festival was originally just one day, taking its name – ‘quinque’ – from being the fifth day after the Ides of March, so the 19th. It was said to be either the birthday of Minerva (insofar as gods have birthdays), or at least the date her temple was consecrated in Rome. As Roman festivals tended to do as the plebeians progressively pushed their luck, it eventually expanded out to cover five days.

There’s a corresponding festival called the Minusculae Quinquatria held on the ides of June, which was particularly observed by musicians, especially those who provided music for religious services.

(Featured image by Flickr user Tim Green aka atouch, via Wikimedia Commons. A statue of Minerva as goddess of weaving, Briggate, Leeds.)

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