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CryingWolf: The Pope and theLupercalia"

NEIL MCLYNN

Five centuriesafterCaesar's Lupercalia, in 448 C.E., theeruditeChristian antiquarian


PolemiusSilviusprepareda streamlinedcalendar forthebenefitof the 'less learned',and
for the particular attentionof his bishop, Eucherius of Lyons.' The Lupercalia still
features,sandwichedbetween the 'changeofwind' on I4 Februaryand the 'birthday of
Faustina,wife ofAntonius' on i6 February,but receivesnone of thebriefexplanationthat
Polemius tendedto add forthosepagan anniversaries which he selectedfor inclusion -
such as forthe 'parentatiotumulorum'twodays earlier,or theQuirinalia twodays later.
Ifwe had to assess thefestival'slateantique standingon thebasis of thisentryalone,we
would be temptedto dismiss it as a vestigialmemory.2At Rome itself,the sermonsof
Polemius' contemporaryLeo I certainlyofferno suggestionthat the city's calendar
operated otherwise than to a thoroughlyChristian rhythm.3 From his pulpit Leo
denouncednot pagans but theviciouslydeviantManichees or his own half-heartedfaith
ful: ifhis people preferredcircus shows to churchserviceson theanniversary ofRome's
deliverancefromtheGoths, theircrimewas insufficient commitmentto theirfaithrather
thanimplicitapostasy.4The only 'pagan'practicehe everspecifically denounces,tellingly,
is a gesturemade byChristianson theirway toworship at Saint Peter's basilica on the
Vatican.5
Not the least significanceof the text to be discussed in thispaper is to suggesthow
misleadingsuchperspectivesas thoseprovidedbyPolemiusand Leo mightperhapsbe. For
we shouldhardlyexpect,fromthevigorouslyconfident Roman Christianityexpressedin
Leo's sermonsandmirroredin thechurchesof themid-fifth century,to findtheBishop of
Rome mired in controversy with a powerful local constituency over theholdingof the
Lupercalia.6Yet fromtheveryend of thefifth centurycomes a textwhich enablesus, as
with Caesar half a millenniumbefore,to explore theexperienceof theLupercalia as it
happened, 'to see thefestivalinteractingwith thesocial,political realitiesof a particular
communityin theirfestivalspirit'.7

Versions of this paper have been presented at Vancouver, Oxford, Edinburgh, Perugia and Florence, and it has
benefited much from each outing. I am especially grateful for the advice offered by Alan Cameron, John North, Rita
Lizzi Testa, and the Editorial Committee.
1
For the Calendar of Polemius Silvius and its sources, see A. Degrassi (ed.), Inscriptiones Italiae 13.3: Fasti et
Elogia (1963). M. Maas, John Lydus and the Roman Past: Antiquarianism and Politics in the Age of Justinian
(1992), 62?3, and M. R. Salzman, On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in
Late Antiquity (1990), 242-5, discuss Polemius' working methods.
2
The only directly comparable entry is the Quinquatria (19 March): Salzman, op. cit. (n. 1), 161-3, suggests
tentatively that this remained a school holiday into the fifth century.
3
R. A. Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity (1990), 125-30; C. Lepelley, 'Saint L?on le Grand et la cit?
romaine', Revue des Sciences Religieuses 35 (1961), 130-50.
4
Leo, serm. 84.1.
5
Leo, serm. 27.4: 'superatis gradibus quibus ad suggestum areae superioris ascenditur, converso corpore ad
nascentem se solem reflectant, et curvatis cervicibus, in honorem se splendidi orbis inclinent'. This is done, says Leo,
'partim paganitatis spiritu'.
6
R. Krautheimer, Three Christian Capitals: Topography and Politics (1983), 107, presents fifth-century churches
in Rome as 'representative of a papacy sure of itself and penetrated by the old educated classes, Christian by now
yet conscious of the obligation to carry on the traditions of the classical past'. C. Pietri, Roma Christiana:
Recherches sur l'Eglise de Rome, son organization, sa politique, son id?ologie de Miltiade ? Sixte III (311-440)
(1.976) ends at Leo's accession, with Rome fully transformed 'en capital chr?tienne' (1653-1654).
7
North, above, p. 145 at n. 4.

JRS 98 (zoo8), pp. i6i-I75. ? World Copyright Reserved.


Exclusive Licence to Publish: The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies 2008
i6z NEIL MCLYNN

The textderivesfromthe largepapal dossier, theAvellan Collection,where it isgiven


the grandiose titleAgainst Andromachus and theOther Romans who Hold that the
Lupercalia should be CelebratedAccording to theAncient Custom.8The manuscript
attributiontoGelasius, bishop of the city492-496 C.E., has been questioned,but not
decisivelychallenged.9 And thepope's argumentdeservesour close attention,forit ismore
complicated thanhas generallybeen recognized.Indeed, he begins embroiled inwhat
seemsa different quarrel altogether.He gesticulatestowards 'certainpeople',who 'sit in
theirown houses,not knowingeitherwhat theyare sayingor aboutwhat theyare laying
down thelaw, strivingto sit in judgementabout others,when theydo not pass judgement
on themselves, andwhen they wish to accuse beforetheyknow, and to teachbeforethey
learn ...' (Adv.Andr. i).toThis opinionatederrorthentranspiresto relateto a questionof
ecclesiasticaldiscipline, theproper punishmentfor a clergymanguiltyof adultery:the
pope has been accused of being 'sluggish'in repressingthefaultsof his church.The scan
dal of theLupercalia isunmaskedbyway of counter-attack. These carpingstay-at-homes
have failed to realize thatspiritualadulteryhas been committedin theirmidst, and that
therehas been a defectionto unclean spirits (z): forwhat else is a man doing 'who,
althoughhewishes to be seen as a Christianand professesand claims to be so, stillopenly
and officially(palampubliceque) proclaims that"Diseases occur because demons are not
honoured,and sacrificeis notmade to thegod Februarius"' (3)? The pope dwells for
severalpages on theseriousnessof this lapse (4-5), pronouncingthat itdisqualifiedthe
offenderfromeither launchinga prosecutionhimself(6-8) or fromreceivingChristian
eucharist (9). He then turnsto the actual blasphemies thathave been committed,and
explains that thesewere not onlywicked butmistaken (io). 'Livy theorator' and his
'Romanhistories'are summonedto testifyto thepestilencewhich had 'veryfrequently'
occurredat Rome, with countlessthousandsof fatalities:'So at thattime',he asks, 'was
sacrificenot beingmade toyourgod Februarius,or did itdo no goodwhatsoever?At that
timewas theLupercalia not being celebrated?'But this,he immediately declares,was a
trickquestion.Of course theLupercalia had been celebratedat thisearliertime,since it
had reportedly been introducedto ItalybyEvander,beforeRome itselfexisted (ii)." And
Gelasius has a second Livian barrel loaded,which he immediately discharges. 'In his
seconddecade' Livy inanycasemakes clear thattheritewas instituted not forthepreven
tionof disease,but to remedysterility amongwomen (iz).
The scandalof theLupercalia dominatestheremainderof thetext,throughto thevery
finalsentence.And antiquarianpedantrycontinuestopreoccupythepope as hemoves to
hismost striking objection to thecurrentsupportersof therite,theirfailuretoconduct it
properly. Whereas theirancestorsused to runnaked themselvesin thestreetsofRome, and

8
Coll. Avell. ioo: O. G?nther (ed.), Epistulae imperatorum pontificum aliorum inde ab a. CCCLXVII usque ad
a. DLIII datae Avellana quae dicitur collectio, CSEL 35 (1898), 453-64; otherwise Gelasius, Tractatus 6: A. Thiel
(ed.), Epistolae Romanorum pontificum genuinae (1868) 1: 598-607. For the eleventh-century ms Vatic. Lat. 3787,
see G?nther, CSEL 35, iv?xvii. Whoever composed the title was sufficiently well-informed about the context to
identify Andromachus, but missed the central argument of the text, that contemporary celebrations were not
'secundum pristinum morem'.
9
P. Nautin, 'F?lix IIP, DHGE 16 (1967), 894-5; developed by Y. M. Duval, 'Des Lupercales de Constantinople
aux Lupercales de Rome', Revue des ?tudes latines 55 (1977), 222-70, at 246-50. Nautin's two principal points are
at best inconclusive: the situation at Rome cannot be related to the grain shortage of 490 c.E. attested in Exc. Vales.
50, which refers only to besieged Ravenna; and although some earlier letters in Coll. Avell. attributed to Gelasius
belong to the papacy of Felix, the immediately preceding item, Coll. Avell. 99, consists of a long resume of the
Acacian controversy with an explanatory appendix (Coll. Avell. 99.31-2) which cites a letter from Felix but is
manifestly not by him. Cf. C. Pietri, 'Aristocratie et soci?t? cl?ricale dans l'Italie chr?tienne au temps d'Odoacre et
de Th?oderic', M?langes de l'Ecole Fran?aise de Rome, Antiquit? 93 (1981), 417-67, at 421 n. 13; and for the
possible provenance of Coll. Avell. 99-100, see below, n. 17.
10
Text references are to G. Pomares, G?lase 1er: Lettre contre les Lupercales et dix-huit messes du Sacramentaire
leonine, Sources Chr?tiennes 65 (1959), who follows G?nther with minor emendations.
11
For Evander and the Lupercalia, see Livy 1.5.1.
CRYING WOLF: THE POPE AND THE LUPERCALIA i63

matrons used toofferthemselvesforflagellation,theyhave insteadoutsourcedtheactual


conductof therite'tovile and vulgarcharacters,to theworthlessand thelowest': 'ad viles
trivialesquepersonas, abiectos et infimos'(i6). This chargehas provided theframework
for all modern discussionof thecontroversy. There has been a rangeof more or less
anthropologically-informed interpretations of thelateantiqueLupercalia; in thepast forty
years,somehave seen a populist transformation of cult intocarnival,othersthedevelop
ment of a syncretistic ritualof public confessionand penance,othersa resurgence among
themasses of archaic religioussentiment, and othersagain the- secularizationof a religious
festivalintoa 'harmlesscivic indulgence'.12 The centralcontentionin thispaperwill be
that these interpretations have failed to do justice to thecomplexitiesof the situation
impliedby thetext.I shalldulypropose a more limitedinterpretation of thetransforma
tionderidedby thepope, and relatethistowhat isknownof thelate fifth-century Roman
context.But firstit isnecessarytoexamine thetrajectory of his argument. Gelasius' textis
our onlysourceforthisdispute:13 we must therefore takefullaccountof thecomplications
involved in his argument,and consider how thesemight bear upon the controversy
betweenthepope and his opponents,and on theeventitself.
AdversumAndromachum is generallydescribedas an 'open letter'.14 However, it is a
peculiar example of thegenre.Whereas usually 'it ismade explicit that the intended
audience is largerthansimplytheostensibleaddressee',Gelasius makes no concessions
whatever to epistolaryconvention.15 The complicatedargumentintowhich he plungesus
isaddressedtono particularrecipient;instead,he onlygraduallynarrowshis initialsurvey
of his housebound criticsinto a case against a separate,singleantagonist.These idlers
must be made to realize ('consequenteragnoscant') that thereis a fargreaterformof
adulterythanthephysical,whichmust be punishedproperly'in anyChristianat all', 'in
quolibetChristiano' (z); how can a self-professed Christian ('cum se christianumvideri
velitetprofiteatur etdicat'),who nevertheless does not recoilinhorror('nonhorreat,non
refugiat,non pavescat') fromattributing diseases to a failuretoworship demons,escape
the taint?(3). Only afterseveralmore paragraphsdoes this 'anyone' turnintoa 'you',
singular:'Do you see themote (festucamvides) inyourbrother'seye,and not see thebeam
inyours?' (6); 'Butperhapsyoumay say (dicas forsitan)thatyou are a layman'(7); 'and so
you too (etiamtu)are to be kept away fromthesacredbody' (9).Here Gelasius identifies
and solemnlyexcommunicates - one specificvillain,theauthorof a public and official
proclamation and so, we can confidentlyinfer,a magistrate holding public office.
Althoughno names arementioned in thetext,therubricprovided in theAvellan Collec
tion- AgainstAndromachusand theOtherRomans- invitesan identification with the
Andromachuswho features prominently in theItalianpoliticsof thisperiod,beingattested
as Odoacer's Magister Officiorumand consiliariusin489 C.E. and as his envoy toCon
stantinople,where he also acted as a papal agent in theAcacian controversy.16 Gelasius

12
Respectively Pomares, op. cit. (n. 10), 33-4; A. W. J. Holleman, Pope Gelasius I and the Lupercalia (1974),
38-53, 117-18; Duval, op. cit. (n. 9), 259; Markus, op. cit. (n. 3), 132.
13 are not germane. Even if the
The prefaces from the Leonine sacramentary adduced by Pomares and Holleman
attribution to Gelasius is accepted, the contents are general. The wife-stealing malefactors of XVIIII-xx, 'qui
penetrant domus et captivas ducunt mulierculas oneratas peccatis' (Pomares, op. cit. (n. 10), 222; cf. Holleman,
op. cit. (n. 12), 81-4, 88-107), are seducers, not Luperci.
14
Pomares, op. cit. (n. 10), 34-6; Markus, op. cit. (n. 3), 131. Thiel, op. cit. (n. 8), classified it instead among
Gelasius' Tractatus, followed byW. Ullmann, Gelasius I (492-496): Das Papsttum an der Wende der Sp?tantike zum
Mittelalter (1981), 252-4.
15
A. Fear, 'St Patrick and the art of allusion', in R. Morello and A. D. Morrison (eds), Ancient Letters: Classical
and Late Antique Epistolography (2007), 325-73, at 326: an exemplary analysis of an analogous text.
16
The index to Vatic. Lat. 3787 expands slightly: 'adversus Andromachum senator em' (G?nther, CSEL 35, ix). For
full references, see PLRE 2, Andromachus 2.
I64 NEIL MCLYNN

was therefore
takingon aman of substancewho was also a good Christian,closelylinked
to the papal establishment - whom he himself had acknowledged in 492 C.E. as a 'son .17
But althoughthisAndromachusstillengrossesthepope's interest when theLupercalia
is introduced- thegod Februariusis 'yours'('tuo'), and a singlevictimiscorneredby the
chronologicaltrap (iz: 'necdicturuses')- at preciselythismomentGelasius abruptly
facesabout, and beginsaddressinga wider audience: 'Whatare you to say (dicturiestis)
about theplague, about thebarrenness,about thecontinual stormofwars?' (I3). The
sequel shows that the shiftbetween personsmarks a genuine change of target,from
Andromachus to a wider group,who are describedmore fullyshortlyafterwards:they
defend theLupercalia (i6), and are thepatroniof theLupercalia (iv); theyare also the
descendantsof nobiles (i6, z5b). And theyremain the pope's sparring-partners right
throughthecentralportionof thetext(I3-z6). Only in the lastchapters(27-32) does the
singularreappear,as Gelasius apparentlyengages individualmembersof thispack.18 We
must therefore askwhy thepope chooses to dividehis firebetweenthesetwo targets,and
what thepossible relationship between themmighthave been.
We might begin by comparing the differentsentenceswhich the pope deals out.
AlthoughAndromachus is solemnlyexcommunicatedas theauthorof theblasphemous
proclamation -'and so you too are tobe kept away fromthesacredbody'- theforceof
thepenalty is bluntedby a conditional:Andromachuswas being treatedwith a severity
proportionalto his own insistencethatotherwrongdoersbe punished (9).Moreover, the
condemnationisdeliveredinpassing at an earlystage in thetext,and isneveralluded to
again. The bulk of Gelasius' indignationis reservedinsteadfor thepatroni.However,
theseemergefromhis thunderings entirelyunscathed.When he concludeshis textwith his
prescriptionsagainstfuture Lupercalia-relatedcrimes,he seemsat firstto imposecompre
hensivesanctions:'Letno Christiancelebrate(celebret)thisthing,and letonly thepagans,
whose riteit is,carryitout (exsequantur)'(30).This sounds impressive enough,untilwe
recall thatGelasius' previous taunts that thepatroni of theLupercalia did not in fact
'celebrate' it or 'carryit out' themselveshad used exactly these twowords (17: 'ipSi
celebrate'; 'perse exsequi ... erubescit');he had rubbedin thepoint severaltimeswith the
same key term 'celebrare'(I6, z4b, z5b; cf. z6: 'exsequi'). This exclusion of his inter
locutors from the termsof his ban can hardly have been carelessness,for the papal
chancelleryhad become a professionalorganization, its anathemasdraftedwith legal
precision.19Despite all itsconsiderablesoundand furytheassaulton thepatroni,towhich
Gelasius devotedmost of his textandmost of his virtuosity,seemsultimatelyto signify
nothing. We must therefore explainwhyGelasius decided to aimwide of his target.
We must also distinguishbetween thearguments made indefenceof theLupercalia by
Andromachuson theone hand and by thebroadergroupof patronion theother,insofar

17
Gelasius, Ep. 10.7 (Thiel) =Coll. Ver. 7.7, in E. Schwartz, Publizistische Sammlungen zum acacianichen
Schisma, Abhandlungen der Bayerischen Akademie derWissenschaften, Philosophisch-Historische Abteilung n.f. 10
(1934). In here invoking Andromachus' testimony for the benefit of a senatorial emissary at Constantinople in
492 c.E., Gelasius takes credit for a mandate ('qui et a nobis abundanter instructus est') which must have been
formally conferred by his predecessor. The equivocation is explained by Gelasius' diplomatic exigencies: the best
exposition remains Schwartz, 220-5 (cf- 2.65?6, for the suggestion that Coll. Avell. 99-100 both derive from the
archives of Andromachus himself).
18
Note how these singulars blend into plurals: 'You say (inquis) that as the image of the thing itself it should not
be changed;.. .why is the image more potent among you (apud vos), and not the reality itself?' (27: cf. 'sicut dicitis',
'quid quaeritis'); 'Why do you accuse me (quid me incusas)}'; 'let them see for themselves (ipsi videant), who fail to
obey just admonitions' (30); 'if you judge (si aestimas) that an objection can be made from the character of my
predecessors, each of us is to give an account of his administration, just as you see (sicut pervidetis) happening also
in public offices' (32: cf. 'vos ipsos abstinere ... perpenditis'). There is only one consistent singular (29): 'you say
also (diets etiam) that this has been done in Christian times' (cf. 'quaere ... unde agis'; 'causandum tibi ... est').
19
For the workings of 'La chancellerie papale', see Pietri, op. cit. (n. 6), 1482-94; P. A. McShane, La Romanitas et
le pape L?on le Grand: l'apport culturel des institutions imp?riales ? la formation des structures eccl?siastiques
(i979)i 3I3-74
CRYING WOLF: THE POPE AND THE LUPERCALIA i65

as thesecan be recoveredfromthepope's counter-charges. In thefirstcase,Gelasius pur


ports toquoteAndromachus' 'publicand official'proclamationverbatim:'diseasesoccur
for this reason, thatdemons are not worshipped and sacrificeis not paid to the god
Februarius' (3).Although it is inconceivablethatAndromachushad reallyhad theseexact
words posted up in public, thepope's precis is unlikelyto be entirelygratuitous.The
sacrificetoFebruarius,forexample, looks like a slyparaphraseof a statementthat the
traditionalentertainments of Februaryneeded to be maintained.20 Moreover, we can
confidentlyinferfrom the triumphantflourish with which Gelasius produces Livy to
demonstratethattheancientpurposeof theLupercaliawas notdisease-prevention, but the
promotionof fertility, thatAndromachushadmentioneda currentoutbreakof disease as
one reasonforholding thefestival. However, thissamepassage also betraysthe limitsof
Gelasius' interestin thetermsofAndromachus'proclamation,forhe restshis case against
himon thispoint.The argumenthere smacksof sophistry: Gelasius is an unsafeguide to
thepassage ofLivy thathe cites,andmaywell havemisrepresenteditsimportinhis eager
ness to seize upon the 'original'meaning of the festival.21 The readinesswith which the
pope then shrugs off Andromachus suggests that he might have introducedLivy
principallyas ameans of assertinghis culturalauthority,to servehim in theconfrontation
with hismore immediately relevantopponents.
Only afterhe has establishedhis new plural targetsdoes Gelasius introducewhat
becomes hismost consistenttheme:theclaim that the festivalpromotessalus, safetyor
salvation,specificallyfortheLupercalianists(thatis, thepatroni) themselves. This domi
nates thesecondhalfof his text:'Ifsuch thingsare greatand divineand bringsafety',he
asks, 'whydoes itshameyou tocelebratethemyourselves?'(17);22'You see foryourselves
what kindof safetyimpendsforyou' (id); runabout in theold-fashioned way, he demands
again, 'so thatby celebratingmore devotedlya thing which isdivineand salutaryforyou,
as you say it is,you shouldbe able to providemore andmore foryour safety'(z4b).He
harps on the themerelentlessly:'if it is divine, if it is salutaryforyou ... why do you
weaken thecauses of your safety?'(z5b); 'ifit is salutary,ifit isdivine .. .' (z6); 'ifitdoes
good, if it is salutary . . .' (z7); 'If it is good, if it is divine, if it is salutary .. .' (z9).
The themeof safety/salvation isclearlyimportantto thepope. But it is lessevidentthat
itwas as importantto theLupercalianiststhemselves,despitehis claim tobe quotingthem
and despiteA. W. Holleman's contention,inwhat remainstheonlymodern book-length
analysisof thetext,thattheritehad in factbecome a syncretist
vehicleforpersonal salva
tion.23
Holleman's claim thatAndromachushad been thestandard-bearer forthisview is
demonstrablyfalse,for the themeof salus is associated notwith his proclamation,but
with thepatroni.24
Moreover, evenhere it surfacesin a rathercuriousway. Gelasius first
invokestheterm when insistingthat 'nostrimores' had causedRome's recent misfortunes:

20
A repeated allusion to 'your god Februarius' as an object of sacrifice during pestilence (n) suggests that thiswas
more than a casual association of ideas. Efforts to identify Gelasius' ?
god Holleman, op. cit. (n. 12), 10, 159-77,
takes 'Februarius' as an adjective disguising Faunus; W. M. Green, 'The Lupercalia in the fifth century', Classical
?
Philology 26 (1931), 60-9, at 64-5, saw a late antique invention are probably misplaced. For the traditional
association between Februarius-Februatus-Lupercalia, see T. P. Wiseman, Remus: A Roman Myth (1995), 81-2.
21
Gelasius cites Livy as evidence specifically that the Lupercalia had been introduced 'propter sterilitatem ...
mulierum quae tune acciderat' (12), thus ascribing the sterilitas to prehistoric Rome. For third-century
developments, see T. P. Wiseman, 'The god of the Lupercal', Journal of Roman Studies 85 (1995), 1-22, at 14-15
(quoting Gelasius as a fragment of Livy at n. 117), and B. Valli '"Lupercis nudis lustratur antiquum oppidum
Palatinum": Alcune reflessioni sui Lupercalia', Florentia 2 (2007), 101-54, at 120-8.
22
'Salus' and its cognates here recur four times in three successive sentences: 'Si vere ergo profitemini hoc sacrum,
ac potius exsecramentum, vobis esse salutare, ipsi celebrate more maiorum, ipsi cum resticulo nudi discurrite, ut rite
vestrae salutis ludibria peragatis. Si magna sunt, si divina, si salut?fera, si in his vitae vestrae pendet integritas, cur
vos pudet per vos ipsos talia celebrare? si pudet et dedecus est, itane salutiferum est et divinum profuturum, quod
vos ipsi dedecus esse fateamini?'
23
Holleman, op. cit. (n. 12), especially 47-51, 60, 148-50.
24
Holleman, op. cit. (n. 12), 47-8.
i66 NEIL MCLYNN

'nonLupercalia quae suntpro vestra salute sublata' (i5).25He then,in a passage cited
earlier,accuses thepatroniof havingresignedto thelowlyrabble 'a cultwhich you think
tomerityour respectand to bringsafety'(i6: 'venerandum vobis cultumet salutiferum
quem putatis'); thisis thefirstoccurrencein the textof thekey term'salutifer'. And here
it is an afterthought,where Gelasius is reading the thoughtsof his opponents ('quem
putatis') ratherthanquoting any alleged statements.26 From thishe moves quickly to
imputethemuchmore dramaticclaim: 'Ifyou trulydeclare thisrite,or ratherthisutter
wrong (hoc sacrum,ac potiusexsecramentum), tobe salutary(salutare)foryou, runnaked
yourselves,thatyoumightachieve themockery (ludibria)of your safetyproperly ...' (I7).
We must therefore askwhether thepope isnotmerelyamplifying his own rhetorichere,
developinga congenial topic,ratherthanactuallyengaginga centralcontentionfromhis
opponents - much asAugustinehad claimed to laybare thefundamental basis of pagan
ism inCity of God. For all his harpingon thequestion,he stillseems to underplaywhat
would have been a verystronghand ifhis opponentshad actuallycommittedthemselves
to theproposition,as ostensibleChristians,thattheirown personal 'salvation'could come
fromsponsoringa pagan rite.Any suchclaimwould seem to inviteanathemaratherthan
theelaboratesarcasmwhich informsthispartof his argument. Moreover, indescribingthe
festival, Gelasius no fewerthanseven timestwins 'salutaris'with 'divinus' (I7 bis, z4b,
z5b, z6, z9 bis), an associationwhich theChristianLupercalianiststhemselvesaremost
unlikelytohaveproclaimedin theseterms.27 Ithardlyfits
with theargument, which he also
reports,that the festivalwas merely an imago,an inoffensive shadow (27).28We might
therefore suspectthatGelasius ishereconjuringan ideologyon his opponents'behalf.As
with his versionofAndromachus'proclamation,we might suppose thata termsuch as
'salutifer'had been used in the argument,perhaps to justifytheholding of a morale
boostingfestivalat a timeof disease, and thatthepope isgivingthisa significance which
his opponentshad never intended.29
A further aspect ofGelasius' presentationof thesituationraisesdeeperproblems.Was
Andromachusproposingto revivea defunctfestival, ormerelytocontinuean existingone?
Gelasius seems to accept itssurvivalthrough41OC.E. and untilas 'recently'as theconflict
betweenAnthemiusand Ricimer in 472 C.E. (z5a). There is,we must recall,no external
evidenceon either side. Scepticsmight dismiss the inclusionof theLupercalia in the
Calendar of PolemiusSilvius as antiquarianpedantry.On theotherhand, the imperfect
tenseused in thefifth-century scholiaon Juvenal,which explain that 'sterile
women used
to offerthemselvesto thepurifying Luperci andwere beatenwith a stick',needmean no
more than that theLuperci themselvesno longerperformedthe ritual,which suits

25
See Pomares, op. cit. (n. 10), 174 n. 2, for the 'n?gligence de style' of this expression, which seems too awkward
to carry any significant meaning.
26 In seems carefully to avoid any claim to be quoting his opponents. Having begun by
this section Gelasius inviting
them to speak ('Sed quid dicitis vos ipsi?'), he had given their thoughts about the festival ('quod vobis singulariter
prodesse putatis') and about the devotion with which it should be conducted ('celebranda ducitis'), before here
presenting their alleged thoughts on its salutary effects. His recourse to the same terminology at 24a ('apparet ...
nihil Lupercalia profuisse etiam eo tempore quo sicut dictum est, ut putatis, competente ordine gererentur') seems
to refer back specifically to this section: 'non longe impari cultu et devotione ea ducitis celebranda quam profanitatis
vestrae celebravere maiores.'
27
If the term had been used by Gelasius' opponents, itwas probably incidental: perhaps in conjunction with the
imperial imprimatur previously given to the festival (cf. below, n. 72). Symmachus provides abundant examples of
relevant late antique usage: Ep. 4.4; 5.95; 6.33; 7.13, 38; Rel. 3.19; 8.1; 13.1; 18.3; 21.1; 29.1; 30.4; 33.4; 34.7; 35.3;
36.1; 43.2; 44.1; 49.4. Fifth-century emperors operated by the same code: Majorian, Novell. 1 is subscribed 'manu
divina'.
28
This is one of a battery of arguments rebutted in the final sections of the text (cf. above, n. 18). Gelasius uses the
singular here, but there is no reason to suppose (as Holleman, op. cit. (n. 12), 47) that he is addressing
Andromachus.
29
Immediately before alleging that his opponents thought the festival's effects salutary, Gelasius had declared that
'vobis singulariter prodesse putatis' (16): a benefit conceived in such terms need not have been spiritual (cf. below,
atn. 77).
CRYING WOLF: THE POPE AND THE LUPERCALIA i67

equally inconclusiveis the fifth-century


Gelasius' own criticisms;30 commentby Servius
that theLuperci 'used to celebratetheLupercalia in thenude'.3'Our textat firstseems
quite clearly,and consistently,to imply that the issue concerned a planned revival.
Gelasius thusaskswhetherplague, barrenness,and thecontinuousstormof wars had
occurredbecause theLupercalia had been abolished, 'proptersublataLupercalia'; and
immediatelyanswers thiswith anotherquestion, about the sufferings of Tuscia and
Aemilia and theotherprovinces,now depopulated,which were devastated 'beforethe
Lupercalia were abolished', 'ante ... quam Lupercalia tollerentur'(I3); and the same
phrase,on the 'abolition'of theLupercalia, recursintermittently, fivetimesin thenext
nineparagraphs (I4, I5, i6, 2I, 2z), untilGelasius challengeshis opponentsdirectlyand
seems tomake everything explicit:he will omit ancienthistory,but notes that there
certainlyhad been outbreaksof pestilencebefore theLupercalia 'wereabolished, inmy
time', 'antequammeis temporibustollerentur'(23); he deals brieflywith the related
allegation fromhis opponents that the currentsufferings were caused by the sudden
abolitionof an ancienttradition(24a: 'repentesublata sunt').
The case thereforeseemsclear. It is slightlydisconcerting,however,to findno hint in
theactual condemnationofAndromachus,or in thecriticismof thepatroni,thatanyone
was proposinggratuitouslyto revivea pagan ritualwhich was already in abeyance,
althoughany such initiativeought to have offeredthepope a devastatingargument.32 Far
more serious,moreover, are thosepassageswhich suggestthat the ritewas still in fact
alive:most notablyat theveryend of thetext,when thepope laboriouslyspellsout a con
clusion thatseems to implytheveryoppositeofwhat he has previouslybeen saying:
I do not doubt thatmy predecessorsalso perhapsdid this[sc. triedtohave thefestival
abolished],and tried at imperialaudiences to have these thingsremoved (haec
summovenda); and because (sincetheseevilscontinueeven today)it isnot certainthat
theywereheard,tbisis thereasonthattheimperial authorityitselfhas failed,and itisfor
thisreasonalso (thatis,sincetheLupercaliahavenot been removed(nonremotis etiam
Lupercalibus)),thattheRoman namehas reachedtheverylastextremity. And forthis
reasonI now advisethattheybe removed... (3I)
So herewe have an apparentcontradictionof theprecedingstatements:thelanguageof
abolition is replacedby thestatement, offeredthreetimesin thisone sentence,thatthe
Lupercalia still continued.33 Commentatorshave tended to ignore thiscontradiction,
simplypreferring We need, however,to explain
one or otherof the impliedsituations.34
themixedmessage in thepope's presentation.
The explanationforthecomplexitiespresentedabove is at one levelstraightforward.
The pope's argumentsare confusingbecause hewas arguinga difficult case,which did not
lend itselfto plain expression.He could neitherlaughoff theLupercalia, nor deliveran
authoritativedeath-sentence. His rhetoricsuggestsinsteadthathis opponentshad been

30
Schol. Vet. in luv. 2.142: 'steriles mulieres februantibus Lupercis se offerebant et ferula verberabantur', cited in
this context by Alan Cameron, 'Vergil illustrated between Pagans and Christians: reconsidering "the late-4th
c. Classical Revival", the dates of the manuscripts, and the places of production of the Latin Classics', JRA 17
(2004), 502-25, at 513. On the scholia, see further the postscript below: p. 180.
31
Servius, In Aen. 8.663.8: 'consuetudo permansit ut nudi Lupercalia celebrarent.' See C. Murgia, 'The dating of
Servius revisited', CP 98 (2003), 45-69, at 53.
32 seems to accept a distinction between the Lupercalia
Gelasius and the ancient pagan superstitions which he
challenges his opponents to reintroduce: 'sacrificetur in templis daemonum et in Capitolio profana vanitas
celebretur!' (28).
33
The shift in this passage from tollere to compounds of mover? ismerely stylistic: the two are used earlier as exact
synonyms (14: 'propter quam auferendam...'; ... removendam').
'propter quam
34
Holleman, op. cit. (n. 12), 7, thus supposes that Gelasius himself had recently 'banned' the festival; Markus, op.
cit. (n. 3), 132, suggests an earlier, but ineffectual, prohibition of Christian participation by Gelasius; H. Chadwick,
Boethius: The Consolations of Music, Logic, Theology and Philosophy (1981), 12-14, presents Andromachus as
seeking to maintain a continuous tradition; Nautin, op. cit. (n. 9), posits an attempt to re-establish the festival.
i68 NEIL MCLYNN

givinghim as good as theygot fromhim here,and his veryfinalwords- 'notevennow


do you yourselvesdecide to bewilling todesist frominsaneventures'(32)- betrayhow
littlehe could expect toachieve.The inconclusiveness ofGelasius' anathemas,so different
fromtheauthorityhe deployedagainst thepretensionsof rivalchurchmen,invitesus to
reconsiderthesocial dynamicsof thefestival.35 The continuingdemand fortheLupercalia
has commonlybeen ascribed to theordinarypeople ofRome, who (we are told)wanted
theirancientcomfortabletraditionsduringa period of uncertainty and naturaldisaster,
and public-spirited ChristianaristocratslikeAndromachus saw no harm,or indeedsaw
positive good, in lettingthemhave these.36 But the superstitionsof the populace are
entirelyabsent fromGelasius' riposte,and he does not thinkto accuse his opponentsof
panderingtopopular taste.The lastword of hisdocument,'perpenditis',is significant: his
arguments are directed squarely at the considered preferencesof his aristocratic
addressees.No less than inCaesar's time,thefifth-century Lupercalia engaged theactive
interest of thecity'selite.
We must acknowledgehow littlewe know about the lateantiqueLupercalia.Gelasius
describes itonlynegatively:nobiles no longerrannaked,matronswere no longerbeaten
'withtheirbodies strippednaked inpublic' (i6). However, his readinessto accept thatthe
debased festival was stilltheLupercalia impliesthatitwas recognizablycontinuouswith
theclassical form,and continuedto involverunningby (moreor less)nakedmen along a
customarycourse,women being beaten, and an atmosphereof hilarity.As was seen
earlier,much remainsunclearabout exactlywhat happened inclassical times,despite the
(relatively)abundant testimonia.Even basic questions about the routeof the runners,
about thecharacterof theirrace,and about theiractivitiesas theyran remainunanswer
able.37However, JohnNorth's analysisof Caesar's Lupercalia conveysnicelyboth the
joyfullycarnivalesqueaspect of the ritualprogramme - thiswas a ceremonythatboth
bystandersand participantscould activelyenjoy-and themultiplicityof religious
associations thatwere available to those involved.38This combinationhelps explain the
longevityof the festival,and also itsmalleability.There had been several important
evolutionsduring the imperialperiod.A generationafterCaesar, Augustus had imposed
restrictions on therunners;thelanguageused of theeventby sucheyewitnessesas Juvenal
and Plutarch confirmsthat the ritualhad been toned down to suit the standardsof
Augustan decorum.39Those Luperci attestedepigraphicallyduring the early imperial
periodmeanwhile suggestthatthepriesthoodhad become a solidlyrespectablepreserveof
upwardly-mobile municipal equestrians.A celebrated tomb reliefshows Ti. Claudius
Liberalis,dead at sixteen,inhis double aspect as paradingeques and posturingLupercus,
decently wrapped as thelatterina kilt (P1.III)."4A numberof equestrianpraefectideclare
themselvesas Luperci on theirtombstones;in severalcases this is theironly association
with thecityofRome.41
Two tantalizingitemsof visual evidencefromthethirdcentury might seem to implya
further transformation.An Africanmosaic and a Roman sarcophagus(reusedfora Chris
tian burial in the fourthcentury) (PI. IV) both show a woman being liftedup by the

35
For Gelasius' authoritarian approach to dealings with Constantinople, see conveniently Ullmann, op. cit.
(n. 14), 162-216; cf. 226-36 on his supervision, 'als Oberhirt', of his Italian colleagues.
36
Duval, op. cit. (n. 9), 259; Green, op. cit. (n. 20), 68-9: 'a performance of the superstitious Christian mob.'
37
See the discussion inNorth, pp. 148-9, above.
38
See North, p. 147, above. Wiseman, op. cit. (n. 21), 15, remarks aptly on the 'sheer sexiness of the Lupercal':
'one can see why itwas such a popular spectacle.'
39
Suet., Aug. 31.4; Juv., Sat. 2.142; Plut., Caes. 61.
40
CIL 14.3624; Wiseman, op. cit. (n. 20), 82-4.
41
Attested Luperci are usefully presented in J. R?pke, Fasti Sacerdotum: Die Mitglieder der Priesterschaften und
das sakrale Funktionspersonal r?mischer, griechischer, orientalischer und j?disch-ehr istlich er Kulte in der Stadt
Rom von 300 v. Chr. bis 499 n. Chr. (2005); the same material is also available in J. Scheid and M. G. Granino
Cecere, 'Les sacerdoces ?questres', in S. Demougin and M. Th. Raepsaet-Charlier (eds), Ordo equester: Histoire
d'une aristocratie, Collection de l'?cole Fran?aise de Rome (1999), 1-112.
CRYING WOLF: THE POPE AND THE LUPERCALIA I69

assistantsof thesolemn-looking andmodestly-skirted Lupercus forherbeating,hercloth


inghoistedup and thewhip heldmenacinglyabove her.42 This no longerseems liketreat
ment towhich noblewomenwould deliberatelyexpose themselves,likePlutarch's 'child
renat school'. The significance of theseimages is difficultto assess,without eitherany
accompanyingtextor any comparable imagesfromtheearlierperiod.43It is temptingto
relateit,however,to an apparentincreasein thesocial profileof attestedLuperci,where
senatorscome tomonopolize an admittedly much reduced sample:44the sarcophagus
certainlysuggeststhattheLuperci each now commandedamuchmore formidableretinue
thanhad theirpredecessors.In theearly fourthcentury,theLuperciwere bracketed in
Christianpolemicwith thearistocraticSalii, as examplesof ludicrousabsurdityfrom men
who ought to have known better.45 By theend of thesame century, Prudentiuscould still
presentLuperci as prospective 'luminariesof the senate', and would dwell upon the
paradoxical ignobilityof theirsportivenudity.46
Prudentiuswas writing in theaftermath of theTheodosian anti-sacrifice laws,during
thegeneration which saw thepublic expressionof explicitpagan devotiondisappear.47 By
395C.E. thetraditional pagan holidayshad formallylosttheirstatusas dies feriati.48
How
ever,fifteenyears later,theLupercaliawas stillapparentlybeingrun (z5a).One significant
changemust alreadyhave occurred:theanimal sacrifice which had traditionally been an
intrinsicpartof thepreliminaries must have been eliminated.49But overall, theLupercalia
lent itselfratherwell to adaptation to thenew rulesgoverningpublic religiosityin the
ChristianEmpire.For unusuallywithin theclassical religioustradition,sacrifice was not
theclimaxof thefestivalbut a prelude;50a collegiateratherthana public event,itcould
have evolved intoa solemnlyheartybreakfast,beforetherunnersemergedto begin their
course.However, Theodosius' legislationalso meant thattherivalsodalitatesof Luperci
which had traditionally been responsiblefor theLupercalia, likeall otherpublic priest
hoods,would alreadyhave been on thevergeof extinctionby the timeAlaric arrived
beforeRome; no new cohortsofyoungmenwere being inductedintothecollegesto supply
therunners.51
The changesdescribedbyGelasius can best be seen as a responseto thisproblem.As
authenticLupercidied out, a decisionwas made tocontinuetheLupercaliawithout them.
Such a decisionmust have beenmade within theelite from whom thepriestswere previ
ously recruited.There isno need to reviveoutdated ideasof a 'pagan revival'among the

42
H. Solin and H. Brandenburg, 'Paganer Fruchtbarkeitsritus oder Martyriumsdarstellung? Zum Grabrelief der
Elia Afanacia imMuseum der Pr?textat-Katakombe zu Rom', Arch?ologischer Anzeiger 1980, 271?84.
43
These images lend themselves to over-interpretation: Holleman, op. cit. (n. 12), 138-44, especially 142: 'an act
of public denunciation, confession, and penance, with a view to obtaining salvation'; cf.Wiseman, op. cit. (n. 21),
16: 'the high spirits have disappeared, replaced by a cold-blooded formality.' Cf. Postscript, p. 179 below.
44
Riipke, op. cit. (n. 41), 1:22. It should be noted that despite the fourth-century epigraphic habit of
commemorating even minor senatorial offices and priesthoods, the only attested post-Aurelianic Lupercus is
L. Crepereius Rogatus, commemorated as 'insignis lupercus' as well as VHvir and pontifex solis (CIL 6.1397);
cf. PLRE i Rogatus 2.
45
Lactantius, Div. Inst. 1.20.2, 21.45.
46
Prudentius, Per. 2.517-18, 10.161-5; C. Symm. 2.862-3.
47
For the cultural impact on post-Theodosian Rome of 'popes and emperors', see M. Salzman, 'The
Christianization of sacred time and sacred space', inW. V. Harris (ed.), The Transformations ofUrbs Roma in Late
Antiquity, JRA Supplement 33 (1999), 123-34. A corresponding analysis of the scope available to other actors is
much needed.
48
CTh 2.8.22, alluding to a previous law. Macrobius, Sat. 1.16.5 includes the Lupercalia among the dies feriati;
cf. Festus 85M/60L.
49
Green, op. cit. (n. 20), 67?8; doubted (but without argument) by Holleman, op. cit. (n. 12), 6 n. 5.
50
For the initial sacrifice, see Wiseman, op. cit. (n. 20), 80?1. Wiseman's proposal of 'a final sacrifice at the
Comitium' at the end of the day (82) is attractive but stretches the evidence considerably.
51
The data presented for the two decades 390-410 ce. in Riipke, op. cit. (n. 41), 1:540-8, tell their own story:
twenty-nine pagan priesthoods are attested in 390, none in 410 ce. The last entry, for Fl. Macrobius Longinianus
(PPO 408), is problematic: PLRE 2, 686-7: 'Longinianus'. Wiseman, op. cit. (n. 20), 81-2, suggested that the runners
each year were newly-inducted Luperci, 'blooded' at the initial sacrifice by senior members.
I70 NEIL MCLYNN

Roman aristocracy;however, in locating the crucial change to the festivalin the later
fourthcentury we might creditthose responsible with a determinationtomaintain their
culturalheritageunder thenew dispensation,and an ingenuityincontrivingthemeans to
do so.52When Gelasius accuses thenoble patroniof being 'thefirst'tooffendagainst the
Lupercalia (i6), he must therefore be speakingcomparatively:his addresseeswere not
themselvesresponsibleforchangingthe shape of the festival,butwere implicatedin a
transformation which had predatedhis own abolitionistefforts.53 The attestedsurvivalof
theLupercalia intothefifth centurypresupposesthatamechanismhad beendeveloped for
bringingtogetherthe teamsof runners,providingthemwith theirequipment,and pro
vidingtherehearsalnecessarytoensurethattheeventdid not collapse intoconfusion.The
festivalthatGelasius describeshas thusbecomeprofessionalized. The 'vileand vulgarper
sons' deridedby thepope (i6) aremost straightforwardly seenas realactors,and probably
actressestoo:while theatrical professionalsmighthave been employedas assistantsto the
Luperciprior to theTheodosian period,now theyreplacedthemaltogether.54 The vocabu
larysuits such an interpretation: a law ofGratian had treatedwomen born 'ex viliore
sorte'as potentialactresses,Theodosius I had soughtto restrictthepostingof portraitsof
'vileactors',whileAmmianus' collectivenoun forthethespiansofRome is 'theatricalvile
ness'.55It also suits thepoint raised indefenceof thefestival,thatitwas only a harmless
imago (27).But above all itexplainswhyGelasius dwells so littleon theactual performers
of therite,and seemsso remarkably unscandalizedby thefactthatwhip-wieldingpagans
were runningthroughthestreetsofRome. Actorswere uniquely 'un-christianizable', and
beyond thebishop's reach;henceGelasius' concentrationinsteadupon theirbackers.56
A further reason fortheconclusionthatthishad become an organized,choreographed
occasion relatesto theone elementwhich is recordedforthefifth-century Lupercalia, but
not foritsclassical ancestor:thepope calls his enemies 'defenders
of foulsongs' (i9). They
claimed thatby publicizing thewickedness of individuals,otherwrongdoerswould be
deterred.And thischantingincludedan explicit roll-call,theeffectiveness ofwhich the
pope denies, sincemiscreantsare chantedat 'notforpunishmentbut fora sortofmerri
ment, and as a celebrationof names' (z0).57This aspect is not recordedin theclassical
period.58But ifprofessionalactors had now replaced theLuperci, theywould also, of
course,be trainedas singers;fortheorganizersof thefestival,choralbarrackingofnotori
ouswrongdoerswould be an effective way of exploitingtheactors'professionalskills,and
also an ingeniousadaptationof theceremony'straditionalfunctionof purgingthecity.

52
A. Cameron, 'The last pagans of Rome', inW. V. Harris (ed.), The Transformations of Urbs Roma in Late
Antiquity, JRA Supplement 33 (1999), 109-21, convincingly demolishes notions of an organized 'pagan opposition',
but invites questions about the scope available for residual pagan activity. For some useful suggestions, presented
as a critique of Cameron, see C. W. Hedrick Jr., History and Silence: The Purge and Rehabilitation ofMemory in
Late Antiquity (2000), 47-54.
53
Comparable examples of this use of primus inChristian polemic include Augustine, serm. 162A (serm. Denis 19,
inG. Morin (ed.), Miscellanea Agostiniana 1 (1930), 98-111), 8; Arnobius, Adv. Nat. 3.6.
54
This suggestion is anticipated by Cameron, op. cit. (n. 30), 512-13, who interprets the use of actors as evidence
that the celebration was merely a 'picturesque revival'. For intrinsic associations between the Lupercalia and the
theatre, seeWiseman, op. cit. (n. 21), 10. See further the Postscript, below, p. 180.
55
CTh 15.7.4 (380), 12 (394); Amm. Marc. 28.4.32.
56
R. Lim, 'Converting the unchristianizable: the baptism of stage performers in Late Antiquity', in K. Mills and
A. Grafton (eds), Seeing and Believing: Conversion in Late Antiquity and theMiddle Ages (2003), 84?126.
57
'Per quandam laetitiam et celebritatem nominum decantata est.' Here, and again in the same sentence (20: 'ut
sit unde nominum sollemnia celebrentur'), the editions emend 'nominum' to 'numinum'. The ms reading should be
preserved in both instances: in the latter case, Gelasius is saying that a malefactor targeted in the songs, being
indispensable to the festival and so invested with a spurious religiosity, preens himself 'that he should be the source
for the celebration of the rites of the names, which cannot be held without chanting of accusations'.
58
Cicero's sly dig at the readiness of a fellow-Lupercus to prosecute his client (Pro Caelio 26: 'nomina deferunt
inter se sodales') is irrelevant here, despite Holleman, op. cit. (n. 12), 71-2 ('the Luperci must have been famous for
it'), 83, 152.
CRYING WOLF: THE POPE AND THE LUPERCALIA I71

Whoever hired theperformers will also, of course,have had a certaincontrolover their


scripts.This bringsus back toGelasius, and to thequestionof how thefestivalcreatedso
much controversyin thisparticularyear. For it is not difficultto inferthat theerrant
presbyter(andperhapseven theindulgent pope himself)was on the listofwrongdoersto
be barracked at the coming festival.59 Andromachuswas presumablyresponsiblefor
arrangingthe festivalfor theyear in question, and good Christian thoughhe was, he
refusedtoback downwhen thepopemade what will have seemeda highlyself-interested
demand thatitbe called off.His proclamationon behalfof theLupercalia indicatesthat
Andromachusheld public officeatRome; givenhis previouseminenceat court,hemight
reasonablybe identified as urbanprefect.60
Such a milieu is suggestedby one of themost curious turnsinGelasius' argument. He
shiftssuddenlyfromtheimplicitadmissionofwrongdoing in therefusalof thepatroni to
run theLupercalia themselves,to 'thoseCastors of yours, fromwhose cult you have
refusedtodesist:why have theydone so littletoprovidefairseas?' (i8). A (probably)fifth
centurygeographertellsus that thepeople of Rome 'go out with theurban prefector
consul' each year in a 'sollemnitasiocunda' to the templeof theDioscuri inPortus (on
27 January),forwhatmust have been (at leastwhen theweatherheld) a delightful day out
in a famouslyscenic spot.6'Here, then,public officialsare attestedleadinga decidedly
non-Christian procession,only a fortnight beforetheLupercalia.Gelasius' commentshere
are aimednot atAndromachusbut at thepatroni:might thesethenhave includeda consul
(sincewhen thesewere available to lead thecelebrations,they will have takenprecedence
over cityprefects)? After a briefhiatus in 49I-492 C.E., when therewere noWestern
consuls,Gelasius' papacy coincidedwith a restoredseriesofproperlyRoman consulswho
were presentin thecity - forexample,Asteriusgave his inauguralgames thereinJanuary
494- andwere therefore able to lendtheirdignityto thecelebrationof theCastores.6' In
494C.E.,moreover,thisfestivalfellon a Sunday,whenGelasius will have beenparticularly
sensitiveto anyconspicuousabsenteesfromhis cathedral.
Recourse to thecalendarmightalso offera solutionto theproblemraisedearlier,about
the statusof theLupercalia. If the festivalwas now organized by public officials,and
carriedout byprofessionals,theeventwould dependeach yearon theenergyand commit
ment of themagistrate incharge (and of course on thesubordinates who ranhis office);
aftera certainpoint, itsimplycould nothappen iftheorganizerdeclinedto see itthrough.
And such a failure(whateverthereasonforit)could be describedas 'abolition',but there
would be no formallegalsuppression. And indeed,we shouldnote thattheveryfirsttime
Gelasius discusses thequestion,he says thatthefestivalhad been 'intermissum', 'tempo
rarilystopped' (iz), a muchweakerword than 'sublata'which thenconsistentlyreplaces
it.So here, as inhis talkof salus,we might again suspectthatGelasius has allowed his
rhetoricto escalate.The interruption had presumablyoccurredafterAnthemius' reign,
and afterGelasius had become active inRoman politics; itneed amount to nomore than
a singleprefect'stermof office.The fouryearsofGelasius' actual papacy seem too short
to accommodate the required sequence of events; but we might look earlier- for
example,to487 C.E., sixyearsbeforehe becamepope, butwhen hewas alreadyprominent
as his predecessorFelix's archdeacon (hence,still 'inmy times').That year, I5 February
was notmerelya Sunday,but theSundaymarking thebeginningof theLenten season, a
daywhichwas flaggedin thesermonsofLeo as one requiring particularobservance.63The

59
This connection was noted by Green, op. cit. (n. 20), 66-7.
60
As magister officiorum, Andromachus already held the rank of vir illustris; the urban prefecture was the only
office at Rome with the same level of seniority. Both praefectus annonae and vicarius urbis Romae were still
spectabiles in the fifth century.
61
Aethicus, Cosmographia 1.25 (ed. A. Riese, Geographi Latini Minores (1878), 83); cf. Duval, op. cit. (n. 9), 256.
62
For details see R. S. Bagnall, A. Cameron, S. R. Schwartz and K. A. Worp, Consuls of the Later Roman Empire
(1987), 516-27.
63
Leo, serm. 48.
172 NEIL MCLYNN

conscientiousChristianofficialinchargethatyearmightwell have thoughtit improperto


keep themasses fromtheirmasses, and suspended the festival.64Gelasius acknowledges
thattherehad been an outbreakof disease inCampania, crop failuresinGaul andAfrica,
and (perhaps)a militaryemergency was suspended(I3-14); but thereis
while thefestival
no reason to suppose thatthese
misfortuneshad been advertisedspecifically
as thereasons
for its Rather, the normal was resumed.
resumption.65 holiday cycle being
The Lupercalia should therefore be seen as an annual option fortheofficialincharge.
Although there will have been somedifficulty inensuringtherightbalance betweenpublic
hilarityand public order, the rewardsfor theorganizerarguablyoutweighedany head
aches. For Andromachus and his peers, theLupercalia should be counted among 'the
opportunitiesso essential to them,to be seen bywhole crowds, active in thepursuitof
theirreligion':66 fortheactivityofmaintainingtraditionsa thousandyearsold shouldbe
allowed its religioussignificance.In fact, itmust have been rathera fineopportunity.
Visually, theLupercalia must have been a very impressiveoccasion, and indeedmore
impressivethanever in thefifth century,involvingas itdid a rollicking
promenadethrough
someof themost historicpartsofRome- theareasdominatedby 'theatres, porticoesand
temples', which by thisperiodmost of thepopulacewill normallyhave had littlereason to
visit.67The ancientForum, inparticular, was nowmaintainedpurelyforshow: theBasilica
Aemiliawas stillfullof rubbleafterthesack of 41OC.E., but thefacade facingtheForum
was maintained; thepaving-stonesof theForumwere also kept ingood repair,although
thereisno evidencethatthespacewas in regularuse.68On theday of theLupercalia, how
ever, theForum became a stage-setfor theclimax of theevent,when the runnerscame
down theVia Sacra towardstheirgoal.
Moreover, we can suggestthatAndromachuswould be seen to be inchargeof proceed
ings.In fact,we mighteven suggestthatthelateantiqueLupercalia had takenon a coinci
dental resemblanceto thatentirelyexceptionaloccasion in44 B.C.E.,when JuliusCaesar,
seated on his throneon the rostra,was waiting for the runnersas theyarrived in the
Forum.69 Normally,we must assume, theclassicalLuperci had not requiredsuch a recep
tion;therunning was butone stage in theirproceedings,onwhat was above all theirday.70
As priests themselves,theywere capable of takingcharge.But once the formalsacral
elementwas removed,and therunnersreducedtohiredperformers, theendingof therun
would inevitably have required management.And here,at theend of therun,iswherewe
must surelyexpect to findourAndromachus:who thusbecomes (likeCaesar in44 B.C.E.)
thestarof theshow, asmaster of ceremoniesand (at leastas he broughttheday's festiv
ities to a close) the focusof attention.The senatorialaristocracystill thrivedon such
occasions as this in the late fifthcentury:71theLupercalia, moreover,was an event
guaranteedtodraw thecrowds,which (itmightbe added)must have been relatively cheap

64
CTh 2.8.25(408) had forbidden public entertainment on Sundays: 'nullas edi penitus patimur voluptates'.
65
The question is resumed later, where G?nther broke up the transmitted text to create a sequence 24a-25a-24b
25b, improving the flow of the argument (cf. Pomares, op. cit. (n. 10), 182 n. 2: the proposed tripartite analysis of
the pope's case depends on accepting the hypothesis) but perhaps obscuring Gelasius' actual train of thought. 24a
deals with food shortages and pestilence, following 23; 25a introduces the separate topic of military defeat and civil
disorder. Itmight be that the former was the more immediate issue and was treated separately.
66
J. F. Matthews, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, A.D. 364-425 (1975), 365.
67
J.Matthews, The Roman Empire of Ammianus (1989), 423.
68
For a convenient summary, see R. Meneghini and R. Santangeli Valenziani, Roma nell'altomedioevo:
Topograf?a e urban?stica d?lia citt? dal V al X sec?lo (2004), 157-75.
69
See North, pp. 155-6 above.
70
For the possible role of the flamen dialis, attested at Ovid, Fasti 2.282 ('flamen ad haec prisco more Dialis erat'),
see P. Marchetti, 'Autour de Romulus et des "Lupercalia": Une explication pr?liminaire', Les Etudes Classiques 70
(2002), 77-92, at 89-92. It is likely that senior members of the sodalitates Lupercorum played a significant role:
cf. above, n. 51.
71
For the evidence of the Colosseum inscriptions, see A. Chastagnol, Le S?nat romain sous le r?gne d'Odoacre:
Recherches sur l'?pigraphie du Colis?e au Ve si?cle (1966).
CRYING WOLF: THE POPE AND THE LUPERCALIA 173

fewdays in the sunwould cost a senatorof Rome as littleas the fee for a single
performanceby a troupeof actors.
What is more, theLupercalia presented its organizersmore particularlywith an
opportunitytoput 'OldRome' on impressive display.Unfoldingas itdid across thecentro
storico,itwas an occasionwhich took itsspectatorsback into theunfathomablepast of
thegreatcity.This aspecthelpsexplainanotherofGelasius' asides,where he notes: 'When
theemperorAnthemiuscame toRome, theLupercaliawere certainly(utique)carriedout
and yet so great a pestilencespread that itwas hardlyto be endured' (I3). The verb,
Roman perspective,sinceAnthemiushad not been a
'venit',betraysa characteristically
mere visitorbut a reigning emperor,residentinRome forfivecontinuousyears (equalling
thefifth-century He had arrivedwithmuch fanfareinApril 467 C.E., sowill not
record).72
have experiencedhis first Lupercalia untilninemonths later,when he was comfortably
established,and at theheightof his popularity;thiswas thefirstof his fiveopportunities
towatch the show, and of his fivemissed chances to suppressit officially(althoughin
470 C.E. it fellon a Sunday).73ButAnthemiushad arrivedfromNew Rome; and festivals
liketheLupercaliaweremarvellouslydesignedto showoffOld Rome to advantageto the
likesof him and his entourage.For Anthemiuswill alreadyhave been familiarwith a
'Lupercalia';theBook of Ceremoniesrecordsin faithful detail theelaborate riteof spring
performedat Constantinopleunder thatname, an impressiveenough ceremonydating
apparentlyfromthecity'sfoundation, but a pale imitationof theoriginal,confinedto the
hippodromeand conductedby charioteers.74 At Rome hewould be shown thereal thing.
We shouldsuppose thathis senatorialhosts (like theirancestorswith other imperialtour
ists)75relishedthechance toprovidecommentary,justas a centurypreviously,at a much
lowersocial level,theRoman friends of theyoungAfricanrhetor Augustineseem tohave
interpreted theceremonyforhim as hewatched it in theForum.Theirmisinformation has
leftitstracesinCityofGod, where he explainshow therunners'course 'up and down' the
Via Sacrawas interpreted as a replayof theGreat Flood, a fabrication which cannotcon
ceivablybe foistedupon Varro.76Augustine,who was inRome inFebruary384 C.E., is
insteadgivingus thebenefitof autopsy,and betrayingtheincompetence of his guides.
Anthemiushad clearlybeen a conspicuouspresence.Gelasius can askwhy thefestival
had benefited neitherhimnor his eventualnemesisRicimer,suggestingthatthelatterhad
also found ituseful to attendduringhis longperiod of ascendency(z5a).77As Gelasius'
papacy began, in 492 C.E., a new overlord,Theoderic theOstrogoth,was establishing
himselfinnorthernItaly.78 The senatorsofRome,who had collaboratedcomfortably with
theprevious regime,had particularreasonat thistimeto reaffirm theirgripon thecere
monial levers,and so to resistanypapal interference inone of theirmost effectivemeans
of self-presentation.79

72
A. Gillett, 'Rome, Ravenna and the last western emperors', PBSR 69 (2001), 131-67, at 132-3; cf. 165, on
Anthemius' success inwinning support through 'appropriations of the urban rhythms of Rome'.
73
The solemn oath taken by Anthemius before Pope Hilarius at St Peter's, reported elsewhere by Gelasius (ep. 13),
indicates an effective working relationship between emperor and pope.
74
Const. Porphyr., De Caerim 1.79 (70), 82 (73); Duval, op. cit. (n. 9), 223-43.
75
The prize example is Constantius IPs visit in 357 ce. For his senatorially guided tour, see Symmachus, Rel. 3.8;
cf. Amm. Marc. 16.10.13-17.
76
Aug., De civ. Dei 18.12; cf. North, above, p. 156. The ascription to Varro is accepted by Wiseman, op. cit.
(n. 21), 7.
77
Pomares mistranslates here: the pronoun in 'cur istisminime profuerunt' (25a) ismasculine not neuter, and the
expression comparable to the adjacent 'salutarem vobis' (24b) and 'salutare vobis' (25b); cf. 'vobis singulariter
prodesse' (16).
78 are discussed by J.Moorhead, Theoderic in
The stages of Theoderic's hard-fought struggle against Odoacer
Italy (1992), 21-8, who also shows the level of senatorial involvement. Andromachus' mission on Odoacer's behalf
belongs to the opening stages of the conflict.
79 see Moorhead,
For Theoderic's six-month visit to Rome in 500 ce., op. cit. (n. 78), 60-5.
I74 NEIL MCLYNN

The referencetoAnthemius' arrival also suggests,finally,somethingof theprocess


which led to thecompositionof our text,and so returnsus to thequestionof itscharacter
and context.The inconvenient counter-argument providedbyAnthemius' indulgence will
hardlyhave occurred toGelasius spontaneously;thepoint that the last real emperorat
Rome had chosen to let theshow go on exposes a weak linkinhis own reasoning,and so
had (presumably)been raised by thepatroni.80The observation that a pestilencehad
followedthis,presumablythebest rejoinderthathe could find,nomore thanparriesthis;81
but it createsan opening fora palpable hit, thepoint thattheLupercalia was not cele
brated inCampania, presumablytheplaceworst affectedby theoutbreakof diseasewhich
had marked its interruption (I3). This did not seal thequestion,but opened up further
issuesconcerning Rome's influence over theprovinces (14).The letterthusrepresents
but
one round ina quarrel thathad alreadytakensomecomplex turns,and looked set to con
tinue.
This invitesus to reconstructthedifferent levelsof argument which liebehind thetext.
We might inferthatafterthe firstbreach betweenAndromachusand Gelasius (whether
thiswas caused byAndromachus'provocativezeal forhis taskof organizingthefestival,
or- muchmore likely - when itbecameknown thatthechoirwas going to serenadethe
errantpresbyter), Gelasius made soundingsamong his senatorialparishioners,eitherto
negotiatea compromiseor else to isolateAndromachus.There isample evidenceforsocial
interactionsbetween theLateran and thegrandbut decayingsenatorialmansions on the
Caelian- Gelasius' predecessorFelixwas himselfof senatorialstock,and theschismof
Laurentius,where thenexus betweenchurchmenand senatorswould play a key role,was
only a decade in thefuture.82However,Gelasius was rebuffed, and came awaywith a bat
teryof counter-arguments ringingin his ears; perhaps thisencouragedAndromachus to
publishhis edictconfirming thattheLupercaliawould indeedbe held, tomaintain a salu
tarytraditionduringa dangerous season.83And the letterisGelasius' counter-stroketo
thisunholyalliance between theblaspheming magistrateand his senatorialsympathizers,
a ripostewhose clevernessin constructinga position of apparent strengthfromsome
decidedlyflimsy materials should be acknowledged.Itwas intendednot as theauthori
tativeprohibitionthathas so oftenbeen supposed,but to scorepoints ina roundof salon
warfare. The ordinaryChristians of Rome are studiouslyignored,although theywill
presumablyhave been themain spectatorsat thefestival;inall his argumentsagainst the
patroniGelasius neveronce accuses themof corruptingtheirweaker Christianbrethren,
by exposing themto somonstrousa spectacle.But thepope's failurein thetexttodeliver
any formalcondemnationat all against his Lupercalianists (except forAndromachus,
disposed of at theoutset)mustmake onewonderwhether theywere really,afterall, the
main intendedreadershipof his letter. One centralmessage of thetext,therobustrejection
ofAndromachus' righttoexpose evensinfulprieststopublichumiliation(criminally sinful
priests,if 'adulterium'is taken literally),would be of obvious interestto the clergyof
Rome; perhapsGelasius (who could do nothingto stop theevent)was writingprimarily
to advertisehis commitmenttohismost important constituency.

80
Gelasius feels obliged to return to the point at the end of his text, where he discusses his predecessors' failure to
persuade emperors to act. For dealings between Anthemius and Pope Hilarius, see above, n. 73.
81
The choice of verb ('subrepsit') suggests that there was no obvious connection between Anthemius' endorsement
of the festival and any subsequent pestilence; as urban prefect in 468 c.E., Sidonius Apollinaris expresses only
routine anxiety about the grain supply (ep. 1.10). The reference might be to the consequences of the fighting at Rome
between Anthemius and Ricimer in 472 c.E.
82
Moorhead, op. cit. (n. 78), 129-35.
83
Gelasius' presentation of his case leaves it uncertain whether Andromachus' edict and excommunication were
recent developments, rather than a recapitulation for effect of an earlier round in the controversy; the concern
shared by the sedentary critics (2) and Andromachus (6-8) over the adulterous priest suggests but does not prove
the former.
CRYING WOLF: THE POPE AND THE LUPERCALIA I75

In any case, once he had said his piece, he had no reason to press the issue.On
I5 FebruarytheLupercaliawill dulyhave been held, andGelasius will dulyhave turned
thetraditionalblindeye toall thoseChristianswho turnedup towatch; at amutuallycon
venientmomenthe andAndromachuswill havemade theirpeace; andwhen thenextyear
theLupercalia came roundagain,Gelasius will have been fartoo intelligent to crywolf a
second time.There is insteadeveryreason to suppose thatthefestivalenduredforas long
as theciviladministrationofRome had themeans to sponsorsuch shows. Itsendurance
shouldbe explainednot bypopularnostalgiaor superstition, nor again by elitecondescen
sionor indulgence, but by thereturnsthatmembersof theRoman aristocracycontinued
toderivefrominvestingtheirenergiesin thecity'sheritageindustry.

Corpus ChristiCollege,Oxford
neil .mclynn(classics.
ox. ac.uk

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