Poplifugia was a Roman festival on July 5. It means “flight of the people.” The origin of Poplifugia is not known. Two explanations are given by H.H. Scullard:
- the people fled when Romulus disappeared from mortal sight during a tempest
- the flight of the Roman people after the sack of Rome by the Gauls
There doesn’t seem to be much information about this festival. It took a fair amount of digging, but I was able to come up with a little something more about the Poplifugia. Here’s what I found:
The Festivals of the Poplifugia and the commemoration of Romulus are celebrated on July 5 and July 7, respectively. These two festivals are thought to be a continuation of the same festival, as it was customary for the Romans to have festivals that ran on several days but skipped the even-numbered days because they were considered ill-omened in Rome.
There was also a Rumilia festival that might have been celebrated at the same time.
Although much has been written on this topic, it is not well understood, because the Romans had an extremely conservative religion, in which they continued to do rituals, but they did not remember what they were for, and much of the information about their religion has been lost or deliberately destroyed.
The Poplifugia was a ritual in which someone was chased out of the Regia, or “King’s House”, actually the formal residence of the Sacred King of Rome.
This early July date corresponds approximately to the time of slaughter of livestock in Mediterranean countries which have a dry season during most of the summer during which there is no fodder for cattle.
Its name which is interpreted to mean, “The Flight of the People”, may refer to the sacking of Rome by the Gauls in 390 BC. However, it is impossible not to notice that the word popli- in Poplifugia, and which is interpreted as meaning `people’ is very similar to the word popa which is the Latin word for the attendant who actually slaughtered the animals at a sacrifice, that is, it was the job of the popa to hit the animal in the forehead with an ax which stunned it. Someone else cut the animal’s throat so that it bled to death, and the whole operation was organized by a priest who spoke the religious formulas and directed everyone on what they should do.
If the festival was originally called a *Popafugia (“fleeing of the popa or axeman”), it would be even more completely in line with the Bouphonia, as it was performed in classical Greece. Nevertheless, the connection has been made between the Poplifugia and the Greek Bouphonia and both are thought to embody the myth of the killing of the first cow, which makes up the Indo-European creation myth, known as the Primal Cow Creation Myth.
Found at: Associated Content