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Lupercalia Begins!

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Thus it began!

The Flamen Dialis along with the other luperci took the goats and the dog. Symbols of sexuality and fertility in Rome. The animals had been sacrificed, and their screams filled the air. The smell of blood loomed around them. The Flamen Dialis watched as the young men killed the sacrficed animals, they were gifts for the Gods, and it was their sacred duty. He was cowled, his head was covered and the mealcakes, treats that had been made by the Vestals virgins was also placed. After the slaying of the beasts, the head priest of Jupiter approached both of the young men and anointed their foreheads with blood from the sacrificial knife. Gaius did not laugh nor smile. Yet it was expected for both Titus and Tiberius, the luperci to laugh and smile at the gesture. 

The pair of them were marked as the luperci for this year. The blood would dry on their foreheads, and a sacrificial feast followed. Bloodied strips were taken from the skins of the beasts. The strips, called febua or throngs were placed into the hands of both of the young men. 

"Now go, go and grace the barren unmarried women with increased fertility," Gaius said, the luperci had changed over time. Either of the youths could run naked or semi-naked through the streets of Rome. Married women or women on the cusp of marriage would offer their hands or backs to ensure fertility would follow. 

 

Gaius is the NPC for the Flamen Dialis, the head priest of Jupiter. 

Notes: Tiberius or Titus to go first. Then they will be instructed to run through the Palatine and to strike the ladies. Once that begins, people are welcome to join in! 

 

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Titus stood tall and straight, clad in only the skin he’d been graced with since the day of his birth. Nudity was no shame, nothing untoward in a society that both lived in a typically warm clime and where the naked body was not seen as a thing of shame or even titillation. How often had the same features, the same contours, been on display at the public baths, or in the field on a campaign when opportunities to wash with even a basin of water, or a plunge into frigid river, were grabbed and appreciated as they came, with no regard for all the many others who might be taking advantage of the same gift? He accepted the bloodied strips of goat hide with dignity and gravity, even as the blood on his forehead itched faintly, making him want to wipe it away. It was an honor to be chosen for this role, and he meant to carry it out with what he hoped would be looked upon as virtus – the valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths.

Inclining his head to the priest, he then looked to his side, to his young cousin, Tiberius, and with a slightly wicked grin – for the festival and the ritual both were meant to be enjoyed as a time for rather...raucous and wild revelries....as well as holding religious significance. With such a grin and a smirk, he asked simply, ”Ready?”

 

 

@Sarah

Edited by Gil
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When Tiberius first heard that Titus would be running with him he'd thought it was his brother by adoption, Titus Flavius Caesar Alexander, but somehow his usually adventurous buddy had managed to weasel out. Rather it was the other Titus Flavius Alexander, his second cousin on his mother's side.

It was an honour to be chosen as one of the luperci for this year's celebrations. Tiberius had felt proud and not at all self-conscious about standing before the crowds in nothing but what the Gods gave him - nudity was hardly rare in Roman society - at least until he came to stand next to his cousin. Titus was a man grown, married with children, and had served Caesar in the farthest corners of the Empire. Though filling out, Tiberius still had the slimness of youth, and his story was still largely unwritted.

Well, a small part was being written today, as he stood up straight whilst the priest laid the bloodied knife against his brow, marking with the blood of the sacrifices. The febua, bloody thongs of fresh hide, were brought to them and placed in their hands. Tiberius gripped his tightly, not wanting to lose hold of it.

A glance to the side revealed Titus's wicked grin, as his cousin smirked and quietly asked if he was ready. It was a reassuring sight, and in that moment the mischief of his cousin's smile was infectious; Tiberius smirked slowly as well. "Ready." He confirmed. If they were going to do this, they would do it properly, and give their all for the Gods and the future generations of Rome.

@Gil@Gothic

Edited by Sarah
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With such a mix of gravity and mirth, Titus nodded. "Then let us be about our work" he exclaimed to Tiberius, and with a chuckle he turned. At a steady pace, he jogged from the grove, to be greeted by those most interested in the ceremony and the rituals. he looked about for his first target and immediately spying a trio of young women, made for them hand raised to lay on the lash, but gently, in gesture only.

He had no intentions of bringing pain to any who sought only the gift of a fertile womb.

@Sarah@Gothic

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With a grin and a nod Tiberius followed Titus's lead, heading from the grove just a pace behind him, in the athletic jog of the young and fit. This was a serious business, but also fun, and amongst those waiting for them would be many young women of Rome, hoping for the gift of fertility bestowed by the Gods' grace, in the form of the two naked young men.

He swung the lash in his hand, the strips of hide moving heavy and wet, ready to flick it gently over those who presented themselves for the blessing, and what they presented. Hands were common, backs for those truly hoping for a change in their fortunes. Let Rome grow and prosper!

@Gil@Gothic

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Claudia stood with members of her family and friends. It was a strange thing to see your twin naked and bloodied, along with another male relative but she could not help but cover her mouth and giggle at the sight. Alongside her stood her friend; Veturia Cicurina who was recently married and on the other side stood her husband. She stepped forward, hesitated and her husband whispered in her ear. They were desperate. While they could adopt a distant male relative, they truly wished to have a male son to carry on the family name and continue the bloodline. Claudia, unmarried and virtuous did not move forward.

Claudia saw the inner conflict that Veturia had and stepped close to her to whisper, "It is okay, it will help you be fertile. They won't hit you hard." She promised, slightly hoped that one of them would hit her hard and her friend nodded her head. She reached down to squeeze her friend's hand in support, before letting Veturia's hand go as her friend walked towards the two luperci. 

Slowly she found her courage and stepped forward with her hands outstretched to take the lashes on them. Ready to take the strike to ensure her fertility. Her husband called out to her, gestured for her to bare her back and she gulped. Veturia turned, lifted her stola and unlaced her dress to allow the back to fall while hiding her body from the crowd. 

Claudia watched both in fascination and dread that one day she may need to do this to ensure her own fertility. 

@Sarah @Gil

 

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There were a good number of people, gathered along the way, the beginning of the route that would take them throughout the city. It would be a long journey, but not tiring. Titus was fit. The odd piece would be the striking of the willing women, some of whom were already near, their faces expectant, hopeful, but also a little uncertain as well. He was already to a group of several, two of whom had that same giddy look on their faces, and who were even now stretching forth a hand.

 

Titus approached and swung the rather slimy, gross, but sacred (apparently) thong of freshly flayed skin. It smacked first one hand, with a wet sound, and the woman gave a small shriek, but with laughter in her voice. Then he swung a second time and repeated, as both women broke into gales of giggles and excited chatter. He smiled at them and looked for another eager target, and then he spotted his cousin.

 

Sister to his running mate – twin, in fact – and appearing to give courage to a friend, who slid forward looking very anxious. Titus grinned at Tiberius. ”I’ll leave that one for you, cousin. I’d hate to be the one who might catch your sister by mistake. I’d never hear the end of that!”

 

He laughed and ran forward, in the opposite direction from Claudia.

@Gothic @Sarah

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Juliana stood among the other ranked women of note, and could not help but smirk at the sight of her kinsmen. She would not step forward to expose either palm of hands nor her back for the lash of goat skin.

After all, she drank a mixture of Silphium seeds in order to prevent pregnancy when her husband was with her to prevent more children being born, and since he was not here. There was no need. She had already given him children, and had no desire for her body to break and suffer further in the production of more. Yet... children were vital for the future of the Empire. 

She glanced towards Caecina who stood alongside her. Another who would not require the strike of the straps and she leaned down to whisper in her step-daughter's ear. "This is a rite that could happen if you do not produce children for your husband." She smiled softly and glanced back at she watched a young woman approach Tiberius, only to have Titus in in the opposite direction. 

@Sarah @Echo @Gil

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This was the kind of event that failed to catch Caecina's attention. It was more solemn than anything and most of the men here were not bachelors but men accompanying their wives, hoping to be blessed with children. Caecina was also far from pious; though she believed in the gods, she wondered what smacking women with goat hides had to do with getting pregnant. But she managed a neutral expression, standing next to her step-mother in a clean, white linen chiton and a white palla draped over her head. 

She turned her ear to Juliana as she whispered and just managed to stop herself before she could snort. She would be so unlucky! It didn't look painful to be whipped with the goat hides, more uncomfortable, especially the blood. She tried to think of something to distract herself before she saw Tiberius, the young prince. It would seem that not everyone was married here. She grinned as she watched the spectacle, somehow more entertained now than she had been a few minutes before. 

@Gothic @Sarah @Gil

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He had come to attend the event to support his male kin in their priestly duties. Horatia and himself had several children already so the lash was not required for them. His dimples showed when he smirked cheekily down at her, then pointed to Titus and Tiberius in a playful offer for her to step forward and take part. Appius would have received the shock of his life if she consented and went forward. He was out-going, confident, and loved to be the centre of attention. A sharp contrast between him and his wall-flower, mostly quiet spouse, and discreetly bent down to kiss the top of her head and murmured. "We already have been blessed many times, Horatia."

He looked at the young girl who had been encouraged by Claudia to step forward. Roman society often meant that the upper classes were all connected through bloodlines, marriage, business or more. It gave a complicated network of alliances and family obligations that made it difficult. His recent contributions to the empire allowed him to stand tall. His elder brother, Lucius, may have done more for Rome yet it was him who betrayed Rome in the end and brought shame to the family. He and Cornelia's efforts allowed them to restore it. 

Again he leaned down to address his wife. 

"You never know," He grinned, Horatia knew his feelings towards his eldest sister, "perhaps we will somehow arrange for a marriage for Decima while we are here." He teased. Appius glanced to one side to see if Cornelia had arrived with them. Thus far, he could not find her or her husband among the crowd of onlookers. 

@Echo @Sarah @Gil

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"I fear that I will have to make many visits to Juno's temple for that to happen, husband. Or perhaps I should resort to something more ancient and pagan? The Greeks use to seek their Persephone in such a matter..." Horatia teased in reply at the mention of her eldest sister in law finally finding a new husband. They did not get on well with Decima, whom Horatia found to be a shrew and somewhat of a harlot at times. Cornelia was not lying when she stated that Decima was better off in a brothel. It did shock her however when she noticed Decima was not present.  While she was quiet and liked her shadows and plants, she still watched the festivities with mirth in her eyes.

"If Cornelia shows up, I would probably keel over, I know Quintus has all but demanded she not become pregnant again. Not after little Annthea nearly took her life. And Jupiter only knows Decima does not need to be here." She commented as they were approached. Would she step forward to take the strike? She wasn't sure for a moment. They had four beautiful children among themselves. Three strapping, healthy young boys and a darling daughter who was bright and creative. But she did long for a second daughter. She glanced up at her husband for a moment. 

"If I took the strike, would you be angry?" She asked, needing to consult him before she allowed herself to do so. "I know it is up to the gods, but I've had dreams of a second daughter and Appiana needs a little sister. I also have a strong need to show the family that Decima is the exception to your family tree."  

@Brian

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Drusilla pulled the piece of thick woolen fabric she was using as a cloak around her tightly, making sure it hid her facial features well as she traveled in the shadows to the festivities. She would step forward only for the hand strikes, she knew. She lacked the conviction and the courage to expose her back to the luperci, lest she be discovered to be the Augusta. She would not seek embarrassment of the sort - not for her nor for her husband. 

She had raised many children since becoming a wife. Finishing off the twins' raising, taking Titus and Rutilliana into her heart as her own, even gifting her husband with a son that carried her name. But since Drusus, her womb had not allowed another seed to take root. Her physicians uncertain what the cause truly was. Both husband and wife were fertile from all they could tell.  

As she moved to join the others who stepped forward to receive the strike, she held out her hands as she kept her head ducked down. Relying on the wool and the shadows casted by firelight to hide her visage. Her hands were stained thanks to the ink she had been using that evening, just hours before. Letters to those she kept in contact with were well on their way. It would aid in her disguise, as she muttered prayers to the gods as she waited for the strikes to happen. 

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Some came forward, others pulled back. Many were just onlookers, and Titus spotted a few familiar faces, besides that of the young princess. Flavia Juliana, his cousin, and her young step-daughter, Caecina Tusca - neither of them seemed to welcome an approach. He assumed the young woman was not married yet. Being away for the better part of fifteen years meant that sometimes some news of what was going on within his huge extended family fell through some crack or other. Jullus' daughter was married and was by no means too old to bear more children. But it was a task fraught with dangers and she was already a mother - was it two or three now? He tried to recall as he loped past them, with a solemn smile but nothing more.

Scipio and his wife, he saw, the man a contemporary of his cousin Octavius and raised for some part by his aunt Annthea, Octavius' mother. He was fairly sure that Apius had children, yes...several, he thought. He saw the couple speaking with one another but he wouldn't run up and smack Apius' wife with the goatskin tether unless he knew for sure - unless she put her hand out for him to strike it. He hesitated.

But then there was one, a woman not of extremely tender years, as told by her hands, which were stained with ink. Hands that were definitely extended towards him, desirous of the blessing the gods could bestow. He ran up and struck with accuracy, and gentleness, no need to be harsh. The slimy skin hit hers, and Titus was already moving on. The women's head was bowed, her face turned aside. It wasn't for him to poke into her affairs. His task was only to act as a conduit, in some bizarre way, for the gift of fertility, nothing more.

@Anna

@Brian

@Echo

@Gothic

 

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Having kept to herself during Saturnalia due to the illness of her husband and his passing, Julia wondered when Lupercalia rolled around whether she should venture out or not. So many titles had described her over the years- patrician, slave, patrician again, wife, mother but the title that hung over her head now was widow. Lupercalia certainly did not apply to her now, but it was an opportunity to get out- it was okay to simply stand back and observe. Standing toward the back of the crowd she watched the initial ceremony and then watched with amusement as the 2 boys- Tiberius & Titus ran naked through the crowds striking women who stood with their hands out. Having served as Tiberius’ governess she was very aware of how much he was enjoying this experience- he had always been a quirky child prone to causing mischief so this was right up his alley.

(only observing unless someone wants to come up and talk to her- definitely NOT due for a smack)

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Appius leaned down to listen to his wife when she answered him. He chuckled and grinned at her comments about Decima, it was fortunate she shared the sentiments towards his eldest sister and was glad. The last thing they needed was an illegitimate child born into the family. Ideally, a marriage would need to be found for her eventually and he wondered what poor soul would eventually be drawn into the union. "Could you imagine the poor man?" He whispered, surely there had be a repulsive man he could push his sister onto.. no, he could not do that to her. Despite how much Decima annoyed him, angered him, he still cared for her. Cornelia on the other hand he was sure would throw her down a well. 

He nodded about the comments about Cornelia and the birth of Annthea. Named in honour of Cornelia Annthea. It had been one of the most terrifying times of his life. Cornelia was a constant companion to him, he could always rely on her advice and good sense. 

Horatia had always been maternal. Always. At least, as long as he knew her and it was not common for his wall flower of a spouse to participate. He smiled and kissed her forehead lovingly, "Go, go and give Appiana a little sister and make your dreams come true," He granted his consent. Appius noticed another woman who walked forward and could have sworn there was something familial about her. Unfortunately his gaze still remained on Horatia and wondered whether the bloodied piece of lambskin would make the difference to give him another child. 

@Gil @Anna @Jenn @Sarah @Echo

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Claudia looked over at her kinswomen and smiled to herself. There were several people she knew well here with them. Family, friends, acquaintances. She purposely tried to ignore the sight of her naked brother and instead looked towards the direction of cousin Titus. Curiously, she could not help but wonder who the woman was, who felt the need to conceal her identity and hoped that she was willing to see the face. A few people were in the way, she had to discreetly peer past and gasped when she finally saw her. Her delicate hand rose to cover her mouth when she recognised the face. A flicker of light gave her a sign. There was ink on her fingertips and letters, all little things can concealed her face. Claudia had no desire to break her secrets nor to ruin her potential happiness.

The woman in question was a mother already, and had been maternal figure for her too. Already she had a son. Perhaps she desired for another? 

She smiled, leaned backwards and went back to giggling with her friend who still stood there with the sacrificial blood on her. Already Veturia Cicurina was blushed, her eyes alight with hope that soon a son would settle in her belly and give her the connections she needed. Unfortunately, her husband, a wealthy Senator was already eager to have a son and took her away. Claudia could not help but wonder at what had possessed him. Did he down a bottle of gladiator's blood in order to give him vigour? From what Veturia had told her. He needed it. 

She saw her cousins, and Julia in the crowd. The news was that Canus, Clemens' butcher was now dead and she felt better about it now. 

@Gil @Anna @Jenn @Sarah @Echo @Brian

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There were a few giggles; well, what should one expect? Like Greek athletes the two young man ran naked, and the audience contained many women, but theirs was a trust of the Gods. Tiberius tries to tell himself that they weren’t laughing at him. He’d been chosen for this sacred duty, that offered some small salve for uncertain adolescent pride.

Hands were extended, and occasionally a back was bared. Each youth ran down one side of the route, and Tiberius flicked his bloodied last onto the proffered skin, not hard and not really paying any attention to who it belonged to, just desperate not to miss anyone who’d come for the blessing. Some would be newly wed and eager, others lacking a child and hopeful a blessing would help them.

I’ll leave that one for you, cousin!

Titus’s call caught Tiberius’s attention, and sure enough, near his twin sister who was hanging back out of range, was a young lady with her back bared. Dashing over with a grin, Tiberius flicked the lash of fresh skin at the woman’s back, trying to turn it so that the bloody side hit her skin, but not too hard, and seeing that he left a mark. Then he smirked at his sister Claudia, brandished the lash in a mock-threat before winking and running off again. If he actually hit her with it he’d never hear the end of it.

A woman,  still young but with the figure of a mother, left the side of one he recognised as Cornelii-Scipionis; Appius, he recalled, to hold out her hands. Tiberius smiled at her warming and flicked the bloody strips of hide lightly over her skin, hoping that she would get her wish. He was reasonably sure they had children, but that did not mean they should not wish for more.

@Gil @Anna @Jenn @Gothic @Echo @Brian

 

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