Friday, December 01, 2017



H.H. Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (London: Thames and Hudson, 1981), pp. 75-76, with note on p. 246:
Very different were the celebrations of the next day, the 22nd [of February], the Caristia or Cara Cognatio (Dear Kindred). After establishing good relations with the dead, it was now the turn of the living members of the family to renew their mutual ties and patch up any quarrels. The day was named from the dear kinsfolk (cari). How old the custom was is uncertain. It seems such a natural development of the Parentalia that its antiquity would be reasonable, though some scholars incline to a somewhat later origin. A family meal was held, to which everyone brought his own contribution, and 'a crowd of relatives come to meet the family gods (socios deos)', all unkind or guilty members being excluded. Worship was paid to the Lares: 'give incense to the family gods (dis generis), ye virtuous ones ... and offer food that the Lares, in their girt-up robes, may feed at the platter presented to them as a pledge of the homage that they love' (Ovid, F. 2.631ff.). In every house stood images of the family or domestic Lares and many representations of them survive. The Lar is usually a youthful male figure, standing or dancing, wearing a short tunic which is girt around his waist: he is shown pouring wine from a drinking-horn into a saucer. Tibullus tells us that in early days the images of the Lares were carved in wood and stood in wooden shrines and that grapes, corn, honeycombs and cakes were offered to them; other offerings included wine, incense, flowers and even pigs. This pleasant family 'love-feast' continued to be celebrated in Christian times and was converted by the Catholic Church into a feast of St Peter (Cathedra Petri) which was still held on 22 February until at least the twelfth century AD.81

81 Caristia: Ovid, F. 2.617ff., Val. Max. 2.1.8. For a late development see Latte, RR, 274 no. 3, 339 n.2. Tibullus: 1.10.17ff.
Ovid, Fasti 2.617-638 (tr. James G. Frazer, rev. G.P. Goold):
The next day received its name of Caristia from dear (cari) kinsfolk. A crowd of near relations comes to meet the family gods. Sweet it is, no doubt, to recall our thoughts to the living soon as they have dwelt upon the grave and on the dear ones dead and gone; sweet, too, after so many lost, to look upon those of our blood who are left, and to count kin with them. Come none but the innocent! Far, far from here be the unnatural brother, and the mother who is harsh to her own offspring, he whose father lives too long, he who reckons up his mother's years, and the unkind mother-in-law who hates and maltreats her daughter-in-law. Here is no place for the brothers, scions of Tantalus, for Jason's wife, for her who gave to husbandmen the toasted seeds, for Procne and her sister, for Tereus, cruel to them both, and for him, whoe'er he be, who amasses wealth by crime. Give incense to the family gods, ye virtuous ones (on that day above all others Concord is said to lend her gentle presence); and offer food, that the Lares, in their girt-up robes, may feed at the platter presented to them as a pledge of the homage that they love. And now, when dank night invites to slumber calm, fill high the wine-cup for the prayer and say, "Hail to you! hail to thee, Father of thy Country, Caesar the Good!" and let good speech attend the pouring of the wine.

proxima cognati dixere Caristia cari,
    et venit ad socios turba propinqua deos.
scilicet a tumulis et, qui periere, propinquis
    protinus ad vivos ora referre iuvat,        620
postque tot amissos, quicquid de sanguine restat,
    aspicere et generis dinumerare gradus.
innocui veniant: procul hinc, procul impius esto
    frater et in partus mater acerba suos,
cui pater est vivax, qui matris digerit annos,        625
    quae premit invisam socrus iniqua nurum.
Tantalidae fratres absint et Iasonis uxor
    et quae ruricolis semina tosta dedit,
et soror et Procne Tereusque duabus iniquus
    et quicumque suas per scelus auget opes.        630
dis generis date tura boni (Concordia fertur
    illa praecipue mitis adesse die)
et libate dapes, ut, grati pignus honoris,
    nutriat incinctos missa patella Lares.
iamque ubi suadebit placidos nox umida somnos,        635
    larga precaturi sumite vina manu,
et "bene vos, bene te, patriae pater, optime Caesar!"
    dicite: suffuso sint bona verba mero.
Valerius Maximus 2.1.8 (tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey):
Our ancestors also instituted a regular feast and called it "love-feast," in which none but kin by blood or marriage could take part, to the end that if any quarrel had arisen between persons so related it might be removed amid the rites of the table and the good cheer of the partakers, with harmony-wishers in attendance.

convivium etiam sollemne maiores instituerunt idque caristia appellaverunt, cui praeter cognatos et adfines nemo interponebatur, ut si qua inter necessarias personas querella esset orta, apud sacra mensae et inter hilaritatem animorum et fautoribus concordiae adhibitis tolleretur.
A festival worth reviving. See also Renata Raccanelli, "Cara cognatio: La tradizione di una festa tra propinqui," Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica 53.2 (1996) 27-57.

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