Contenuto articolo principale
The Lupercalia was a feast with multiple meanings and its origin was attributed by sources to Romulus and Remus. The ritual of the feast, celebrated on February 15th, consisted in a race during which the luperci whip the infecund women with leather strips of goats to make them fertile. The whippings had a purifying function because the female infertility was attributed to a status of impurity. Afterward the Lupercalia were renewed by Augustus as a part of his policy of religious restoration. The aim of this article is double. Through a detailed analysis of literary and iconographical sources related to the feast, it will demonstrate that Augustus, presented by propaganda as the new Romulus, used the fertilistic nature of the whipping ritual in sacral terms to legitimize his policy of population growth, and will prove how this meaning of the festival is so predominant that it represents the main subject of all known images of Lupercalia.