Lupercalia

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Sed quid dicitis vos ipsi qui Lupercalia defenditis, et agenda proponitis? vos eadem pretiatis, vos eorum cultum celebritatemque vilem vulgaremque redditis. si ostensio Lupercaliorum nobis adversa procuravit, vestra culpa est; qui quod vobis singulariter prodesse putatis, negligentissime, et non longe impari cultu et devotione ea ducitis celebranda, quam profanitatis vestrae celebravere maiores. apud illos enim nobiles ipsi currebant, et matronae nudato publice corpore vapulabant. vos ergo primi in Lupercalia commisistis: satius fuerat non agere quam ea cum iniuria celebrare; sed deduxistis venerandum vobis cultum, et salutiferum quem putatis, ad viles trivialesque personas, abiectos et infimos. si vere ergo profitemini hoc sacrum, ac potius exsecramentum, vobis esse salutare, ipsi celebrate more maiorum, ipsi cum amiculo nudi discurrite, ut rite vestrae salutis ludibria peragatis. si magna sunt, si divina, si salutifera, si in his vitae vestrae pendet integritas, cur vos pudet per vos ipsos talia celebrare? si pudet et dedecus est, itane salutiferum est et divinum profuturum, quod vos ipsi dedecus esse fateamini? nemo religionem profitetur, quam per se exsequi prorsus erubescit et refugit; ipsa verecundia vestra vos doceat crimen esse publicum, non salutem, et non Divinitatis cultum, de quo sapiens nullus erubescit, sed instrumenta pravitatum, quibus mens vestra contra semetipsam testimonium ferens, quod gerendum profitetur, erubescit implere.
(Gelasius I, Adversus Andromachum 16-17)

But what do you yourselves say, who defend the Lupercalia and declare what should be done? You yourselves deprecate them, you render their cult and its celebration cheap and vulgar. If the scandal of the Lupercalia has had adverse effects on us, it is your fault because what you think is particularly advantageous for you, you believe should be celebrated with an extreme heedlessness in a cult and worship not far inferior to that which the ancestors of your profanity celebrated. For with them the noble men themselves used to run about, and the matrons were whipped on their naked body in public. Therefore, you yourselves were the first to engage in the Lupercalia; it would have been better to have done nothing than to have impaired their celebration. But the cult that is venerable and salutary for you (you think), you have brought down to cheap and vulgar persons, the worthless, and the lowest. Therefore, if you truly confess that this sacred – or rather, execrable – rite is salutary for you, celebrate it yourselves in the manner of your ancestors, run around naked yourselves with a strap so that you carry out ritually the wanton acts of your salvation. If they are substantial, if they are divine, if they are salutary, if the integrity of your life depends on them, why are you ashamed to celebrate such rites by yourselves? If it is a matter of shame and disgrace, is what you yourselves confess is a disgrace so salutary and divine and profitable? Nobody professes a religion that he is ashamed of and completely avoids practising himself: let your very sheepishness teach you that it is a public crime, not salutary and not a worship of the divinity, about which no sane person is ashamed, but instruments of crooked acts about which your mind, in bearing witness against itself, is ashamed to fulfill what it declares should be done. (tr. Pauline Allen)

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