Ancillarum Feriae

The Feast of the Serving Women. After the Gauls had captured Rome, the Latins advanced on the city and demanded the Romans hand over their women. A serving girl named Philotis suggested that the Romans send out their servants dressed as free women. This was done, and the serving girls then disarmed the Latins while they slept. Philotis then lit a wild fig-tree on fire as a signal to the Romans, who fell upon the Latins and defeated them.

This is commemorated on this day, when huts made of fig-tree boughs are erected, and men run out of the city calling out ordinary names (such as Gaius, Lucius, and Marcius) as the Romans did during the battle with the Latins, calling to each other by name in the dark. The men then feast the serving women, who jest and later engaged in a mock battle with one another.

pat_byza.gif (1051 bytes)

Calendar / Master Index