Anna Perenna engraving

Anna Perenna

We see you, Caesar. But I’m afraid the Ides of March, or mid-March to most of us, is far more interesting (to us 6witchers) because it’s the day of the Festival for Anna Perenna, the goddess of the cycle of the year, or the ring, or the wheel of time. Her adherents would gather near a fountain and a grove dedicated to her, celebrate her “ut annare perannareque commode liceat” – that they would complete the cycle of the year happily, and that she may grant them as many years of prosperity as cups of wine they could drink during the festival. She was also celebrated with bawdy songs and jokes, and associated with nourishing the plebian rebels of the secessio plebis – something like a massive, nationwide general strike of the working and serving classes – of her lifetime.

While Ovid recounted a legend that Anna Perenna was the sister of the goddess Dido, we might prefer the origin story that he himself also favored. From Wiki: “Ovid adds that… during the secessio plebis an old woman of Bovillae named Anna baked cakes every morning and brought them to the hungry rebels, in gratitude for which the plebeians worshipped her as a goddess. Ovid goes on to report that after old Anna had become a goddess, she impersonated Minerva to gain admission to the god Mars’ bedchamber, which is why coarse jokes and coarse songs are used at Anna Perenna’s festivities, and remarks that since the festival of Anna Perenna is in the month dedicated to Mars, it is reasonable that Mars and Anna Perenna should be associated as cult partners.”

Since her most essential story is lost to time, we’re left to wonder if she ever gained enthusiastic consent from ol’ warbringer and agri-guardian Mars*. Given that Minerva was Mars’s wife before and during his great affair with Venus, we’re not sure if Mars would have felt deceived or rewarded. ? It’s tough to make a call either way from this time and distance, so we’ll leave that delicately placed on the floor in the past where we found it.

Today, we raise a glass, or two, to Anna Perenna, the Moon goddess, a face of Themis, Io or Amaltheia, and/or the face of mortal woman Anna who, through feeding striking rebels and gaining their allegiance, ascended to the heavens to become a goddess. The end.

(*Funnily enough, this is also the date of the Mamuralia, a festival when the Mamurius Veturius is driven out, thought to be a pre-cursor to the old year being driven out for the new year, where the old year is “old Mars.” Poor old war dude.)