The celebrations are directly traceable to the pagan Saturnalia of ancient Rome, which in spite of the conversion of the Empire to Christianity, and of the denunciation of bishops and ecclesiastical councils, continued to be celebrated by the people on the Kalends of January with all their old licence.
Ambrosius Macrobius Theodosius (c. 400) wrote a treatise on Cicero's Somnium Scipionis and seven books of miscellanies (Saturnalia); and Martianus Capella (c. 430), a native of Africa, published a compendium of the seven liberal arts, written in a mixture of prose and verse, with some literary pretensions.
1 7, 45; Bellum africanum, 28; Macrobius, Saturnalia, i.
See Plato, Rep. 616 c, Symp. 195 C, 197 B; Macrobius, Saturnalia, i.
He is one of the interlocutors in the Saturnalia of Macrobius, and allusions in that work and a letter from Symmachus to Servius show that he was a pagan.
He wrote a play of which the subject was his visit to Lentulus in the camp of Pompey at Dyrrhachium, and, according to Macrobius (Saturnalia, iii.
Here, according to Macrobius (Saturnalia, iii.
24; Macrobius, Saturnalia, ii.
12); the Ganesa-caturthi, or 4th day of the light fortnight of Bhadra (August - September), considered the birthday of Ganesa, the god of wisdom; and the Holi, the Indian Saturnalia in the month of Phalguna (February to March) - have nothing of a sectarian tendency about them; others again, which are of a distinctly sectarian character - such as the Krishna janmashtami, the birthday of Krishna on the 8th day of the dark half of Bhadra, or (in the south) of Sravana (July-August), the Durgapuja and the Dipavali, or lamp feast, celebrating Krishna's victory over the demon Narakasura, on the last two days of Asvina (September-October) - are likewise observed and heartily joined in by the whole community irrespective of sect.
Censorinus, De die natali, xx.; Macrobius, Saturnalia, i.
He called it "the saturnalia, or excess of faith."
Such was the bearded Aphrodite of Cyprus, called Aphroditos by Aristophanes according to Macrobius, who mentions a statue of the androgynous divinity in his Saturnalia (iii.
The most important of his works is the Saturnalia, containing an account of the discussions held at the house of Vettius Praetextatus (c. 325-385) during the holiday of the Saturnalia.
The first book is devoted to an inquiry as to the origin of the Saturnalia and the festivals of Janus, which leads to a history and discussion of the Roman calendar, and to an attempt to derive all forms of worship from that of the sun.
The form of the Saturnalia is copied from Plato's Symposium and Gellius's Nodes atticae; the chief authorities (whose names, however, are not quoted) are Gellius, Seneca the philosopher, Plutarch (Quaestiones conviviales), Athenaeus and the commentaries of Servius (excluded by some) and others on Virgil.
Eyssenhardt (1893, Teubner text); on the sources of the Saturnalia see H.