A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities/Terminalia

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A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities  (1890) 
by Various Authors, edited by William Smith
Terminalia

TERMINA´LIA a festival in honour of the god Terminus, who presided over boundaries (Dionys. A. R. 2.74; Plut. Num. 16, Qu. R. 15). His statue was merely a stone or post stuck in the ground to distinguish between properties. The boundary-stone at its first setting up was consecrated with peculiar ceremonies. A trench being dug, a victim was sacrificed: the blood was poured into the trench while the ministrants were veiled (which speaks for the antiquity of the rite and its Roman character; cf. Sacrificium p. 586 a): the body of the victim, along with corn, fruits, incense, honey and wine, was cast into the trench and the whole consumed by blazing pine-brands: the boundary-stone was set upon the bed of ashes (Sic. Flacc. p. 141, 8). On the festival the owners of adjacent property crowned the statue with garlands and raised a rude altar, on which they offered up some corn, honeycombs, and wine, and sacrificed a lamb (Hor. Epod. 2.59) or a sucking-pig. They concluded with singing the praises of the god (Ovid, Ov. Fast. 2.639, &c.). The public festival in honour of this god (perhaps, as Huschke thinks, in earlier times marking the conclusion of the Roman year) was celebrated at the sixth milestone on the road towards Laurentum (Id. 682), doubtless because this was originally the extent of the Roman territory in that direction (Marquardt, Staatsverw. 3.202).

The festival of the Terminalia was celebrated a. d. vii. Kal. Mart., or the 23rd of February on the day before the Regifugium. When Cicero in a letter to Atticus (6.1) says, “Accepi tuas litteras a. d. v. Terminalia” (i. e. Feb. 19), he uses this mode of defining a date, according to Mommsen, because being then in Cilicia he had no official notice of the intercalation which was due that year. But Huschke thinks that this was then the regular mode of expressing that date in ordinary (not intercalated) years. He cites an Inscr. from Capua, 14th Feb. A.U.C. 659, “Pagus Herculaneus scivit a. d. x. Terminalia” (Orelli, 3793). As to the method of intercalation, and the connexion of the date Feb. 23rd with the conclusion of the old Roman year, see Calendarium Vol. I. pp. 341 b, 342; and compare Mommsen, Chronologie, p. 38; Huschke, Das röm. Jahr, p. 149.[G.E.M] [W.S]