Homer Hesiod Hymns Tragedy Remythologizing Tools Blackboard Info
Form: ludi.
Rural festivals, of great antiquity, held by the population of Etruria and Latium, and named, from some cause which cannot now be ascertained, from Fescennium in South Etruria. At harvest festivals, at the feast of Silvanus, and others of the kind, and at weddings, the young men would appear in rough masks or with faces painted with vermilion, bantering each other for the amusement of the spectators in rude and indecent jests. These were thrown into a rough kind of metre, originally no doubt the Saturnian. The Italians had at all times a keen sense of the ridiculous, and a love for personal attack; tendencies which were much encouraged by their gift for improvization, and pointed repartee. In Rome these games were taken up by the young men at public festivals, and combined with a comic imitation of the religious dances introduced from Etruria in 390 B.C. to avert a pestilence. In this form they are supposed to have given birth to the dramatic satura. (See SATURA.) The license of personal abuse ended by going so far that it had to be restrained by a law of the Twelve Tables. The Fescennini versus were gradually restricted to weddings, and the word came to mean the merry songs sung when the bride was brought home.
Type: Standard
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