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Date(s) - 14/05/2022
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This is the second part of a ceremony that started on March 16-17.

In March processions occurred over two days. The procession went to the shrines of the Argei. These Argei were 30 sacraria in each Curia within the four ‘Servian’ urban tribes of Rome. It involved the entire Collegium Pontificum, Flamen, the wife of the Flamen Dialis, Vestals, and Comitia Curiata and Praetores. On March 16th, 30 straw effigies made like men, which were also called Argei were offered (made sacer) to Saturnus at his temple. Then on March 17th the procession made additional sacrifices at each of the 30 argei shrines to Saturnus and deposited one effigy at each shrine. These figures were a proxy for human sacrifice to Saturn in primitive times.

Now in May, on this day, these figures are sacrificed to Saturnus by being collected by yet another procession of the entire Collegium Pontificum, Flamen, the wife of the Flamen Dialis, Vestals, and Comitia Curiata and Praetores to each of the 30 sacraria in each Curia. The figures were then thrown from a bridge into the Tiber as an act of sacrifice. According to an ancient tradition, old men over sixty were once thrown from the bridge (Ovid) prior to the start of the ancient republic. These straw figures act as proxies in relation to this ancient tradition dating from the earliest Roman kings.

Both Ovid and Plutarch calls the whole ceremony ‘the greatest of purifications’. The idea that it was a purification of the city from all ills which had accumulated during the past year and which were personified in the Argei, and thus this ceremony followed naturally just after the more private and domestic expulsion of darkness at the Lemuria. It also likely was focused on the fertility of both the new crops and of the population over the months ahead.

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