FEBRUUS

An ancient Italian divinity, to whom the month of February was sacred, for in the latter half of that month great and general purifications and lustrations were celebrated, which were at the same time considered to produce fertility among men as well as beasts. Hence the month of February was also sacred to Juno, the goddess of marriage, and she was therefore surnamed Februata, or Februtis. (Fest. s. v. Februarius; Arnob. iii. 30.) The name Februus is connected with februare (to purify), and februae (purifications). (Varro, de L. L. vi. 13; Ov. Fast. ii. 31, &c.) Another feature in the character of this god, which is however intimately connected with the idea of purification, is, that he was also regarded as a god of the lower world, for the festival of the dead (Feralia) was likewise celebrated in February (Macrob. Sat. i. 4, 13; Ov. Fast. ii. 535, &c.); and Anysius (ap. J. Lydum, de Mens. i. p. 618) states, that Februus in Etruscan signified the god of the lower world (kaatachthonios). Hence Februus was identified with Pluto. When the expiator sacrifices were burnt, the people threw the ashes backwards over their heads into the water. (Serv. ad Virg. Georg. i. 43; Isidor. Orig. v. 33; Voss. in Virg. Eclog. viii. 101.)