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Relief depicting the three animals sacrificed at the Ambarvalia as part of a suovetaurilia (a sow, a sheep, and a bull)

Ambarvalia was a Roman agricultural fertility rite, involving animal sacrifices and held on 29 May[1] in honor of Ceres, Bacchus[2] and Dea Dia.[3] However, the exact timing could vary since Ambarvalia was a "fariae conceptivae" - a festival not bound to a fixed date.[4]


Ambarvalia is believed to have taken its name from the words "ambiō" - "I go round" and "arvum" - "field".[2] During the festival, they sacrificed a bull, a sow, and a sheep, which were led in procession thrice around the fields. This sacrifice was called a suovetaurilia in Latin. Ambarvalia can be of two kinds: public and private. The private were solemnized by the masters of families, accompanied by their children and servants, in the villages and farms out of Rome. The public was celebrated within the city's boundaries, in which twelve fratres arvales walked at the head of a procession of citizens who had lands and vineyards in Rome. During the procession, prayers would be made to the goddess.[5] The ambervale carmen was the preferred prayer.[6]

The name "Ambarvalia" appears to be predominantly an urban designation. Roman farmers' almanacs (Menologia rustica) describe this only as segetes lustrantur ("crops are purified").[3] Scaliger, in his notes on Festus, maintains the ambarvalia to be the same as amburbium. Numerous other communities of the Italian peninsula enacted similar rites with different names.[3]

In literature[edit]

In music[edit]


  1. ^ "Roman Festivals & Holidays". Archived from the original on 2020-02-16. Retrieved 2015-05-08.
  2. ^ a b Ephraim Chambers (1728). Cyclopedia (Chambers) - Volume 1. pp. 74, 146.
  3. ^ a b c Phillips III, C. Robert (1996), "Ambarvalia", in Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Anthony (eds.), Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-521693-8
  4. ^ Stek, Tesse D. (2009), "Roman Ritual in the Italian Countryside? The Compitalia and the Shrines of the Lares Compitales", Cult Places and Cultural Change in Republican Italy, A Contextual Approach to Religious Aspects of Rural Society after the Roman Conquest, Amsterdam University Press, p. 200, ISBN 978-90-8964-177-9, retrieved 2024-03-03
  5. ^ Robert J. Ball (1983). Tibullus the Elegist: A Critical Survey. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. pp. 162–. ISBN 978-3-525-25175-1.
  6. ^ Wolfgang Haase (1986). Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt : (ANRW); Geschichte und Kultur Roms im Spiegel der neueren Forschung. 2, Principat : 16, Religion (Heidentum: Römische Religion, Allgemeines) : 3. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 1949–. ISBN 978-3-11-008289-0.
  7. ^ Clough, Thomas Burbidge Arthur Hugh (2019-02-20). Ambarvalia: Poems. Creative Media Partners, LLC. ISBN 978-0-353-99363-1.
  8. ^ "Nishiwaki's Ambarvalia: Reimagining Catullan Poetics in Modern(ist) Japan | Society for Classical Studies". Retrieved 2024-03-03.
  9. ^ Junzaburô, Nishiwaki; Willett, Steven J. (2004). "Ambarvalia". Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics. 12 (1): 41–50. ISSN 0095-5809.
  10. ^ Burns, Alex (2021-03-28). "Ruth Gipps 'Ambarvalia': A Mature Style". Classicalexburns. Retrieved 2024-03-03.


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