The Feast of Lupercal
In Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, the Feast of Lupercal presents itself early in the play. This feast was significant in the two following ways: it represented the beliefs of the people of the power of Lupercal, and in the play it shows Antony’s devotion to Caesar. Although the root of the word Lupercal can be drawn from the Latin lupus, which means wolf, the feast is a celebration of fertility. In the mythology of the times, Lupercus (the Roman god Faunus) was the shepherd-god. One of the reasons it had such significance with the Romans was Lupercus’s connection to Lupercal. Lupercal was the cave where Romulus and Remus, the very founders of their great city, were raised by a female wolf. After a short sacrificial ceremony, where two goats and a dog were given to Lupercus, two young patrician Luperci were led to the altar and anointed to become priests. What was to come next was the most central reason for the feast; the race. The two priests cut thongs from the animals and ran around the city wall. They used these thongs to strike women and girls as they passed. This ritual was believed to increase fertility, diminish the likelihood of sterility, and ease the suffering of childbirth for women. The part most significant to Julius Caesar is the race. In the play, Caesar requests of Marc Antony that as he is running around the walls that he strike the wife of Caesar. Caesar’s wife has been sterile, leaving Caesar no heir. This request, so quickly accepted by Antony, shows Antony’s dedication and love to Caesar. In a way, this also shows that he wants Caesar to have an heir when he is dead to take the throne that he offers Caesar thrice. Also, when Brutus and Cassius are disdained by the images of Caesar and celebrations of his arrival, they wish to remove the signs of celebration of his return. However, they refrain because they fear what the people will do, not only because of...
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