Lupercalia a noted Roman festival, was celebrated annually on February 15, in honor of Lupercus, the god of fertility, or, as is alleged by many, in honor of Pan. Plutarch calls it the feast of wolves, and declares it to have been of a lustral or ceremonially purifying character. Whatever may have been its origin, it was in some way connected with the legend that Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf, and accordingly the rites of the Lupercalia were observed in the Lupercal, the place where this nursing was supposed to have occurred. On the appointed day the Luperci (q.v.) assembled and offered sacrifices of goats and young dogs. A peculiar ceremony then followed. Two youths of high rank were led forward to the priests, who, having dipped a sword in the blood of one of the victims which had been sacrificed, touched their foreheads with it; after which some of the other priests came forward and wiped off the blood with a piece of woollen cloth which had been dipped in milk. The youths now burst into a fit of laughter, and forthwith the general merriment which characterized this festival began. The priests having feasted themselves, and indulged freely in wine, covered their bodies over with the skins of the goats which they had sacrificed. Thus fantastically dressed they ran up and down the streets, brandishing thongs of goat-skin leather, with which they struck all they met, particularly the women, who hailed the infliction of the sacred lash as a species of ceremonial lustration. This festival was long observed in commemoration of the founding of Rome, but having been neglected in the time of Julius Caesar, it was revived by Augustus, and continued to be celebrated until the reign of the emperor Anastasius.

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