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Lupercalia [from lupus]
Festival of Lupercus; wolf.

Lupercalia is from Lupercal, the name of a grotto at the foot of the Palatine Hill in Rome. It is an ancient Roman festival with fertility rites, held on February 15 in honor of Lupercus, a pastoral god sometimes identified with Faunus. The festival started at the Lupercal where Romulus and Remus were said to have been suckled by the lupa or she-wolf.

Dogs and goats were sacrificed to Faunus and Luperci, or Creppi, young men dressed in goat-skins (or in the nude), ran around the base of the Palatine hill striking women with goat-hide strips, or thongs, called amicula Iunonis or "mantles of Juno". The touch of the lash, or whip, was supposed to make the women fertile.

It was at the Lupercalia in 44 B.C. that Antony, himself a Lupercus, offered Caesar a crown and Shakespeare has Julius Caesar instruct Antony to "touch Calpurnia" so she might become fertile and be rid of her "barren" condition.

This entry is located in the following units: Latin Proverbs, Mottoes, Phrases, and Words: Group L (page 3) lupus, lup- + (page 1)