Welcome to August, the second month of our calendar named after a human being: Gaius Octavius, heir to Julius Caesar, brutal leader in a savage civil war, last one standing. He became princeps, was granted the title Augustus by the senate, and declared divine upon his death.
On this day - the Kalends of August - the Romans celebrated Hope. Spes, the Roman goddess of Hope, is often portrayed holding an opening flower, and hitching up her long skirts as if about to take flight. Hope is - worse luck - an inconstant companion. sit Spes tecum hodie.
On this day - August 12 - the Romans celebrated not one but two festivals; for Hercules Invictus and Venus Victrix, Venus the Conqueror and Hercules the Unconquered. The temple of Venus Victrix formed part of the theatre complex of Pompeius Magnus, aka Pompey the Great.
On this day - Augustus 17 - the Romans celebrated the Portunalia, a festival honouring Portunus, god of keys, locks, doors, ports and livestock. Portunus is often depicted holding a key, and on this day Romans threw keys into a fire for good luck. Happy Portunalia!
On this day - August 19 - Romans celebrated the Vinalia Rustica, an agricultural festival during which the first grapes of the season were broken from the vines. This day may have been observed more in the countryside than in the cities; hence the name Rustica (rural).
On this day - August 21 - the Romans celebrated the Consualia, festival of the granary god, Consus. They exposed the god’s altar, which otherwise remaind buried at the Circus Maximus, then enjoyed feasts and made generous offerings. In the afternoon there was horse racing.
On August 24 and 25 79AD Mount Vesuvius erupted destroying Herculaneum and Pompeii. Many people escaped with their lives. Some, no doubt, sought the assistance of their Lares (household gods), by praying at the Lararium.