Poplifugia, Nonae Caprotinae, Vitulatio

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On July 7, the Nonae Caprotinae (The Feast of the Wild Fig) is held. Offerings of figs are made under the boughs of figs for Juno Caprotina by the serving girls of Rome. This festival is so ancient that even the Romans had trouble discerning what it was about.

Conflicting ideas about the origins of the Nonae Caprotinae adds to the confusion. Is it about the serving girls who saved Rome from the Latins? Or is it about Romulus, the Founder of Rome, who disappeared in a cloud? Is it related to the Poplifugia (the Flight of the People) held earlier on July 5?

The Palus Caprae (Goat’s Marsh) features in both Romulus’ vanishing and in the Popifugia. This is the place where he was taken up into a cloud. The Palus Caprae is also where the Romans fled in a panic (reportedly from the Etruscans). Meanwhile, Juno Caprotina, who receives the offerings of figs, is depicted wearing a goat headdress, and driving a chariot pulled by goats. A part of fertility rites, the goat is perhaps the unifying thread.

In Italy, figs are harvested in June and July. This fruit is noted for two things – being prolific and as a purgative. The Popifugia may have to do with the cleansing of the city, which would connect it to the Nonae Caprotinae.

Juno Caprotina overseas marriage and fertility. At the Nonae Caprotinae, one aspect of the festival celebrates the marriage of the caprificus (goat fig) and the ficus (fig). The Romans regarded the caprificus to be wild, and the ficus domesticated. (In the Roman mind, wildness is male, and domestication is female.)

The third related festival related to the Poplifugia and the Nonae Caprotinae is the Vitulatio, which is celebrated on July 8. Macrobius claims the Vitulatio marks the comeback victory of the Romans. As an act of thanksgiving, Vitula, the Goddess of Victory Celebrations, is given the first fruits.

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One thought on “Poplifugia, Nonae Caprotinae, Vitulatio

  1. Pingback: Roman Gods for July | Neptune's Dolphins

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