Ante diem XII Kalendas SEPT (already) and one of the best puns I have ever heard

I meant to post this yesterday, but I get busy and forget.  While today is the anniversary of the death of Stilicho in 408, yesterday in Ancient History, otherwise known as “ante diem XII Kalendas SEPT (can you believe it?  Already?)

Consualia – Festival to the store-bin of the harvest god celebrating the end of the harvest. The flamen Quirinalis was in charge. Consus was honored with sacrifice and burnt offerings of first fruits, and horse and chariot races. [Any excuse for a party, back then.  But wait! There’s more!]

Livy‘s account of the Rape of the Sabine Women takes place on this day.

Romulus, disguising his resentment [over the fact that other cities wouldn’t give his men the right to marry their women], made elaborate preparations for the celebration of games in honour of “Equestrian Neptune,” which he called “the Consualia.” He ordered public notice of the spectacle to be given amongst the adjoining cities, and his people supported him in making the celebration as magnificent as their knowledge and resources allowed, so that expectations were raised to the highest pitch. There was a great gathering; people were eager to see the new City, all their nearest neighbours-the people of Caenina, Antemnae, and Crustumerium-were there, and the whole Sabine population came, with their wives and families. They were invited to accept hospitality at the different houses, and after examining the situation of the City, its walls and the large number of dwelling-houses it included, they were astonished at the rapidity with which the Roman State had grown.When the hour for the games had come, and their eyes and minds were alike riveted on the spectacle before them, the preconcerted signal was given and the Roman youth dashed in all directions to carry off the maidens who were present.
Livy Bk I

A pretty dirty trick, that!

That aside, this classical reference always makes me, and I am sure you too, think of the Johnny Mercer song in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.  This may be one of the cleverest puns ever.


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  1. Andrew says:

    And a nearly identical event is told in the Bible (Judges 21:18 etc):

    For as to our own daughters we cannot give them, being bound with an oath and a curse, whereby we said: Cursed be he that shall give Benjamin any of his daughters to wife. 19 So they took counsel, and said: Behold, there is a yearly solemnity of the Lord in Silo, which is situated on the north of the city of Bethel, and on the east side of the way, that goes from Bethel to Sichem, and on the south of the town of Lebona. 20 And they commanded the children of Benjamin and said: Go, and lie hid in the vineyards, 21 and when you shall see the daughters of Silo come out, as the custom is, to dance, come suddenly out of the vineyards, and catch every man his wife among them, etc.

  2. Philippus says:

    Seven Brides for Seven Brothers has got to be one of my favorite movies of all time. I can still sing all the songs by heart.

  3. KAS says:

    I have always considered Seven Brides for Seven Brothers one of my very favorite musicals. I will occasionally catch myself humming one or another of the songs. Almost wore out a VHS of it and am very glad DVD’s are hardier!

    My kids liked it too which is good since I pull it out fairly regularly!

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