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Floralia – spring craziness…

(28 April - 3 May)

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Caracalla during the show
Caracalla during the show

The feast in honour of Flora (Floralia), although it had a joyful atmosphere, it was rather dissolute, plebeian in nature. Why was this holiday so special? Was it controversial at the time?

During the festival, various games and activities were organized, pods were thrown at each other, and various performances took place in the circus. In theatrical performances, one could come across very obscene scenes, because prostitutes were allowed until the holiday (they could perform naked)1. Elagabalus mimic performances, already vulgar, ordered to make real with real ratio. He kissed his lover, Hierokles, on the lower abdomen, covering himself with the feast of Flora2.

Objections of the elite, however, avoiding such a celebration, laughed in his epigram Martial, reaching for the strong moral authority of Cato himself:

Since you knew the lascivious nature of the rites of sportive Flora, as well as the dissoluteness of the games, and the license of the populace, why, stern Cato, did you enter the theatre? Did you come in only that you might go out again?3

Even today, theatre and the plays staged there would be considered as crossing all boundaries. No wonder Christians avoided such entertainment. John Chrysostom warned: who hasten to the theatres, and make themselves adulterers every day4. Perhaps it makes contemporaries smile, but it must be remembered that in the world of that time, dance was also widely disdained, and those engaged in it were treated as prostitutes (Lucian of Samosata in his dialogue The dance, defends this pleasure)56.

Author: Waldemar Owczarczak (translated from Polish: Jakub Jasiński)
Footnotes
  1. Seneca, Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium 97:8
  2. Historiae Augustae, Heliogabal 12; 25
  3. M. Waleryusa Marcyalisa epigramów ksiąg XII, Wstęp Marcjalisa, przekład Jan Czubek, Akademia Umiejętności, Kraków 1908 - pierwsze pełne wydanie w języku polskim
  4. John Chrysostom, On The Statues XV/4:196, Wydawnictwo UG 2017
  5. W obronie Sulpicjusza Rufusa Mureny
  6. Dariusz Słapek, Sport i widowiska w świecie antycznym, Wydawnictwo UW Homini, 2010, s. 597

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