A Roman divinity of flocks and shepherds, is described by some as a male, and by others as a female divinity; whence some modern writers have inferred that Pales was a combination of both sexes; but such a concept is altogether foreign to the religion of the Romans.
Some of the rites performed at the festival of Pales, called the Palilia and which was celebrated on the 21st of April, the reputed founding day of the city of Rome, would indeed seem to indicate, that the divinity was a female character; but besides the express statements to the contrary,1 there also are other reasons for believing that Pales was a male divinity. The name seems to be connected with Palatinus, the center of all the earliest legends of Rome, and the god himself was with the Romans the embodiment of the same idea as Pan among the Greeks.
The Palilia commemorated the day when Romulus drew the first furrow at the foot of the hill and laid the foundations of Rome Quadrata. This nationwide purification festival of shepherds included driving cattle between large fires. According to others, the Parilia is a fertility festival (from Latin pario, "to bring forth").
- Servius on Virgil's Georgics iii, 1; Arnobius. Adversus Nationes iii, 23; Martianus Capella, i, p. 27
- Aken, Dr. A.R.A. van. (1961). Elseviers Mythologische Encyclopedie. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
- Athenaeus, viii, p. 361.
- Dionysius, i, 88.
- Ovid. Fasti iv, 721, 746, 766.
- Servius on Virgil's Eclogues v, 35.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
- Virgil. Aeneid iii, 1, 297; Georgics iii, 1.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.