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Favonius Cornelius

Robigo

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'On the dawn of that day (25th April),, when I was returning from Nomentum to Rome, a white-robed crowd blocked the middle of the road. A flamen was on his way to the grove of ancient Robigo, to throw the entrails of a dog into the flames and also the entrails of a sheep. Immediately I went up to him to learn of the rite. Your flamen, Quirinus, uttered the following words: 'Scaly Robigo, may you spare the sprouting corn, and let the smooth top quiver on the surface of the ground. Let the crops grow, nourished by the propitious constellations of the heavens, until they are ready for the sickle. Your power is considerable: the grain on which you have made your mark the farmer sadly counts as lost. Neither winds nor rain nor glistening frost that nips and pales the grain harm it as much as when the sun warms the wet stalks.

 

Then, fearful goddess, is the time for your anger. Spare, I pray, and take your scabby hands from the harvest and d not harm our fields of grain. It is enough that you have the power to harm. Do not embrace the tender crops, but rather embrace hardy iron. First destroy what can destroy others. Better that you pick on swords and harmful weapons. There is no need of them: the world is at peace. Now let hoes, the handy two-pronged mattock, and the curved plough-share, the wealth of the countryside, shine brightly. But let rust defile arms, and let anyone who tries to draw his sword from its scabbard feel it stick from long disuse. But do not defile the grain, and may the farmer always be able to pay vows to you in your absence.

 

These were his words. From his right hand hung a napkin with a loose nap, and he had a box of incense together with a bowl of wine. The incense and wine, and the entrails of a two-year old sheep and the foul guts of a filthy dog he placed on the hearth - we saw him do this. Then he asked this question. 'Learn the reason,' the flamen said, 'it is the Dog (they call it the Icarian dog) and when that constellation rises the earth is parched and dry, and the crop ripens prematurely. This dog is put on the alter in the place of the Dog Star; there is no reason for killing him other than the name.'

 

- Ovid, Fasti

 

 

 

 

This is such a peaceful excerpt. I especially like the sentiment of rusting blades rather than barley. The Icarian dog is Maera, who discovered the body of Icarius and was transformed into the Dog Star.

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