Regifugium

In the Roman religion, "Regifugium" or "Fugalia" was an annual observance that took place every February 24. In Latin, the name of the observance transparently means "flight of the king."

What exactly this observance was occasioned by is a matter of some controversy. According to Varro and Ovid, this was a festival commemorating the flight of the last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, in 510 BC. Ovid's "Fasti" contains the longest surviving account of the observance; he begins:

:"Nunc mihi dicenda est regis fuga. Traxit ab illa
sextus ab extremo nomina mense dies.
Ultima Tarquinius Romanæ gentis habebat
regna, vir iniustus, fortis ad arma tamen."

:: (Now I must tell of the flight of the King, six days1 from the end of the month. The last of the Tarquins possessed the Roman nation, an unjust man, but nevertheless strong in war.)

Plutarch disagrees; he holds that since the "Rex Sacrorum", substitute for the former king of Rome in various religious rituals, held no civic or military role, but nevertheless was bound to offer a public sacrifice in the Comitia on this date, the "flight of the king" was the swift exit the proxy king was required to make from that place of public business.

References

*William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D., "A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities" (London, 1875).

Note

:1Inclusively, as the Romans were wont to count. See "nundinae" at Roman calendar


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