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The Goddess Flora
Flora is the Italian Goddess of vegetation and of flowers in particular. Originally a nymph named Chloris, the west wind, Zephyrus, was in love with Her. His kiss transformed Her into Flora and She breathed out a shower of flowers that rained over the earth at spring, just as the warm west wind blew in. When Juno wanted revenge against Jupiter for giving birth to Minerva, Flora gave Juno an herb that made her pregnant with Mars.
She is an ancient Goddess and had her own flamen. The brotherhood of the Arva Brethern sacrificed to Her in their sacred grove and King Tatius was said to have dedicated an altar to Her, but She did not have a temple built to Her until 238BCE, when a drought struck Rome. It was at this time that a Games was celebrated in Her honor. Her temple near the Circus Maximus was dedicated on April 28th.
From April 27 to May 3, the Ludi Florae, or Floralia, was celebrated. This festival began with theatrical performances and ended with a Games at the circus and a sacrifice to Her. Prostitutes feasted on the 27th. They were supposed to have even performed strip teases in the theaters and fought gladiatorial matches. The Games of the Floralia had several special aspects. Goats and Hares were let loose to celebrate Her fertility aspect, and beans, lupins and vetches were scattered throughout the crowd, perhaps as a ritual fertilization of the people, much as a farmer would scatter seeds over his field. Unlike the Cerialia, where everyone wore white, the Floralia was celebrated while wearing brilliant, multi-colored clothing.
She is also known by the following names:
Chloris (Greek), Feronia (Etruscan)
Flora's sacred rites were performed in Rome on the following days:
April 27 - May 3 - The Floralia. Games dedicated to Her began on April 27 and were closed by a ceremony closed the games and was probably performed at Her temple on the Quirinal hill.
Floralia - Ludi Florales