Sunday, March 14, 2010

Feast of the Mamuralia, ancient Rome

This festival was celebrated during the time of the Republic.

A man clad in furs was beaten with rods and driven beyond the bounds of the city, a practice said to have commemorated the expulsion of the smith Mamurius Veturius from the city, as Rome had suffered because of a shield he had provided. It seems that Mamurius represented the old year, depicted as the god of war, Mars. This festival also celebrates the art of armour making.

On this day, Frazer (Frazer, Sir James George (1854 - 1941), The Golden Bough, 1922, Ch. LVIII) tells us (originally the day before the traditional first full moon of the new year which began on March 1), a man dressed in goatskins would be ceremonially beaten with long white rods and chased out of the city in a rite of purification. Mamurius, representing the old year and all its troubles, is thus purged from the community.

Mamuralia and the scapegoat
This ritual of scapegoating is not uncommon in world cultures and religions – Frazer investigates some of these – and may be said to find an echo in the passion and execution of Jesus Christ ...

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