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Nonae Caprotinae The Nones (7th) of the Wild Fig

Nonae Caprotinae’s beginning is linked to Roman agriculture since it coincides with caprificatio, the time of year when branches of wild fig trees were fastened to cultivated ones to promote pollination.

According to history, Rome, weakened by the invasion of the Gauls, finds itself set upon again but this time by the Latins. The Latin dictator requested that the matronae and daughters of the most prominent families be surrendered to them as hostages.

While the senate was debating the issue, a slave girl named Tutela proposed that she, together with other slave girls, would present themselves to the enemy by pretending to be the Roman families wives and daughters. The senate agreed and dressed the slave women in elegant garb and jewelry and sent them to the Latin camp. Upon their arrival, the women enticed the Latins into carousing until they eventually passed out whereby they stole their captors’ swords. Tutela then climbed up into a wild fig tree (caprificus) and while hiding the fire with her mantle, signaled the Romans who then charged into the enemy camp and killed them.

Tutela and the other slave women were rewarded with freedom and a dowry at public expenses.

It was this historical (and possibly mythical event) that led to the Ancillarum (Serving women) Feriae ( Free day). On this day, rites and offerings of figs are made by women only in honor of Juno Caprotina, one of Juno’s many epithets. Juno as a Goddess of the fig tree who ensured a bountiful crop, Juno Caprotina was seen as encouraging the fertility of the women.

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