Lessico


Libero & Libera

In latino Liber - detto anche Liber Pater in quanto era frequente associare il sostantivo pater (padre) al nome del dio - era una divinitÓ dell'antica Roma identificata con il dio greco Dioniso, accoppiato talvolta a una dea Libera (a sua volta identificata con la greca Persefone, la romana Proserpina), entrambi raffigurati come bambini, figli della dea Cerere (equivalente alla greca Demetra). Non si pu˛ dire quanto di originariamente romano vi sia in Libero. Potrebbe non trattarsi nemmeno di un vero dio, perchÚ Libero era anche un epiteto di Giove.

Comunque fosse, Libero era il dio italico della feconditÓ, del vino e dei vizi. Dopo la soppressione da parte del Senato romano dei culti di Bacco, gli italici seguirono nuovi usi riferiti a quest'ultimo, certo pi¨ quieti dei baccanali, i Bacchanalia. Nonostante non vi fossero meri luoghi di culto nell'Urbe per Liber, nei giorni a partire dal 17 marzo si festeggiavano i Liberalia, con feste e divertimenti e riposo nei campi, in quanto Liber era un dio agreste. In quei giorni non lavorativi, gli adolescenti avevano diritto a divenire adulti, secondo le regole del tempo, con l'assegnazione della toga virilis. Libero, secondo le testimonianze dovute a Cicerone, aveva come compagna - e non come sorella - la dea Libera che, come si Ŕ detto, era identificata con Proserpina, la versione romana della dea greca Persefone o Kore.

Cicerone, De natura deorum, II, 62: Suscepit autem vita hominum consuetudoque communis ut beneficiis excellentis viros in caelum fama ac voluntate tollerent, hinc Hercules hinc Castor et Pollux hinc Aesculapius hinc Liber etiam (hunc dico Liberum Semela natum, non eum quem nostri maiores auguste sancteque Liberum cum Cerere et Libera consecraverunt, quod quale sit ex mysteriis intellegi potest; sed quod ex nobis natos liberos appellamus, idcirco Cerere nati nominati sunt Liber et Libera, quod in Libera servant, in Libero non item) -- hinc etiam Romulum, quem quidam eundem esse Quirinum putant. quorum cum remanerent animi atque aeternitate fruerentur, rite di sunt habiti, cum et optimi essent et aeterni.

Di qui l'introduzione di divinitÓ quali Ercole, Castore, Polluce, Esculapio e lo stesso Libero (mi riferisco qui al dio omonimo figlio di Semele [eroina della mitologia greca, figlia di Cadmo e Armonia, divenuta amante di Zeus dal quale concepisce Dioniso], non a quel Libero che i nostri antenati venerarono con solennitÓ e devozione accanto a Cerere e a Libera) la cui importanza cultuale Ŕ ravvisabile nelle pratiche misteriche. In base alla considerazione che Ŕ nostra consuetudine chiamare liberi i figli nati da noi, Libero e Libera furono considerati figli di Cerere; il che vale per LÝbera ma non certo per Libero.

Liber

In Roman mythology, Liber was originally associated with husbandry and crops, but then was assimilated with Dionysos. He is the consort of Ceres and the father of the goddess Libera. His festival, the Liberalia, was on 17 March when young men celebrated the arrival of manhood. Libera is also known as Liber's consort, wife.

Libera

In Roman mythology, Libera is a goddess of fertility and the Earth. She is the daughter of Liber and Ceres. According to other beliefs she was sister of Liber. Libera is associated with Persephone of Greek mythology.

Liber & Libera

Liber: this name, or Liber pater, is frequently applied by the Roman poets to the Greek Bacchus or Dionysus, who was accordingly regarded as identical with the Italian Liber. Cicero (de Nat. Deor. ii. 62), however, very justly distinguishes between Dionysus (the Greek Liber) and the Liber who was worshipped by the early Italians in conjunction with Ceres and Libera. Liber and the feminine Libera were ancient Italian divinities, presiding over the cultivation of the vine and fertility of the fields; and this seems to have given rise to the combination of their worship with that of Ceres. A temple of these three divinities was vowed by the dictator, A. Postumius, in BC 496, near the Circus Flaminius; it was afterwards restored by Augustus, and dedicated by Tiberius. (Tac. Ann. ii. 49; Dionys. vi. 17.) The most probable etymology of the name Liber is from liberare; Servius (ad Virg. Georg. i. 7) indeed states that the Sabine name for Liber was Loebasius, but this seems to have been only an obsolete form for Liber, just as we are told that the ancient Romans said loebesus and loebertas for the later forms liber(us) and libertas. (Paul. Diac. p. 121, ed. MŘller.) Hence Seneca (de Tranq. Anim. 15) says, "Liber dictus est quia liberat servitio curarum animi;" while others, who were evidently thinking of the Greek Bacchus, found in the name an allusion to licentious drinking and speaking. (Macrob. Sat. i. 18; August, de Civ. Dei, vi. 9 ; Paul. Diac. p. 115.) Poets usually call him Liber pater, the latter word being very commonly added by the Italians to the names of gods. The female Libera was identified by the Romans with Cora or Persephone, the daughter of Demeter (Ceres), whence Cicero (de Nat. Deor. ii. 62) calls Liber and Libera children of Ceres; whereas Ovid (Fast, iii. 512) calls Ariadne Libera. The festival of the Liberalia was celebrated by the Romans every year on the 17th of March.

Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
William Smith, Boston, 1867

Liberali

I Liberali, in latino Liberalia, erano una festa del calendario arcaico romano: cadeva il 17 marzo, insieme con i secondi Agonali. ╚ ignoto il suo carattere originario. Il nome pu˛ essere giustificato sia dal fatto che in quel giorno tradizionalmente i giovani che avevano compiuto il 17║ anno di etÓ vestivano la toga libera (o virilis), celebrando il passaggio all'etÓ adulta, sia dal culto al dio Libero che vi aveva luogo.

Agonali, dal latino Agonalia, probabilmente in relazione con agere, celebrare una festa: feste dell'antichitÓ romana che ricorrevano quattro volte l'anno: il 9 gennaio in onore di Giano, il 17 marzo in onore di Marte, il 21 maggio in onore di Vediove, e l'11 dicembre forse in onore delle divinitÓ infernali. Il rito centrale consisteva nel sacrificio di un montone compiuto dal re sacrale in un edificio del Palatino.

Liberalia

The Liberalia (17 March) is the festival of Liber Pater and his consort Libera. The Romans celebrated Liberalia with sacrifices, processions, ribald and gauche songs, and masks which were hung on trees. This feast celebrates the maturation of young boys to manhood. Roman boys, usually at age 14, would remove the bulla praetexta, a hollow charm of gold or leather, which parents placed about the necks of children to ward off evil spirits. At the Liberalia ceremony the young men might place the bulla on an altar (with a lock of hair or the stubble of his first shave placed inside) and dedicate it to the Lares, who were gods of the household and family. Mothers often retrieved the discarded bulla praetexta and kept it out of superstition. If the son ever achieved a public triumph, the mother could display the bulla to ward off any evil that might be wished upon the son by envious people. The young men discarded the toga praetexta, which was probably derived from Etruscan dress and was decorated with a broad purple border and worn with the bulla, by boys and girls. The boys donned the clothing of adulthood, the pure white toga virilis, or "man's gown". The garment identified him as a citizen of Rome, making him an eligible voter.

The celebration on March 17th was meant to honor Liber Pater, an ancient god of fertility and wine (like Bacchus, the Roman version of the Greek god, Dionysus). Liber Pater is also a vegetation god, responsible for protecting seed. Liber, again like Dionysius, had female priests although Liber's priests were older women. Wearing wreaths of ivy, the priestesses made special cakes, or libia, of oil and honey which passing devotees would have them sacrifice on their behalf. Over time this feast evolved and included the goddess Libera, Liber Pater's consort, and the feast divided so that Liber governed the male seed and Libera the female. This ancient Italian ceremony was a country or rustic ceremony. The processional featured a large phallus which the devotees carried throughout the countryside to bring the blessing of fertility to the land and the people. The procession and the phallus were meant also to protect the crops from evil. At the end of the procession, a virtuous and respected matron placed a wreath upon the phallus.
This ancient feast is also sacred to the Nazorean Essenes. According to the Essenes, the Liberalia is held on March 27 and honors the vegetation god, Liber. Liber watches over the maturation of boys to adulthood, usually at age 17 (according to the Essenes), symbolically at the feast, the boys discard the purple-bordered togas for plain adult togas.

Related to the celebration of the Liberalia is the Procession of the Argei, celebrated on March 16th and 17th. The Argei were 27 sacred shrines created by the Numina (very powerful ancient gods who are divine beings without form or face) and found throughout the regions of Rome. However, modern scholars have not discovered their meaning or use. In the Argei celebration, 30  Argei dolls were fashioned from rushes into shapes resembling men; later in the year they were tossed into the river(s). The origin of this celebration is lost in the mist of time, but many scholars feel that it may have been a ritualistic offering meant to appease and praise the Numa and that the 30 Argei probably represented the thirty elder Roman curiae, or possibly represented the 30 Latin townships. Other ancient scholars wrote that the use of the bull-rush icons was meant to deter celebrants from human sacrifice, which was done to honor Saturn. Some historical documents indicate that the Argei (the sacred places) took their names from the chieftains who came with Hercules, the Argive, to Rome and then occupied the Capitoline (Saturnian) Hill. There is no way at present to verify this information, but it does coincide with the belief that Rome was founded by the Pelasgians and the name Argos is linked to that group.