On this day, the ancient Romans continued to celebrate the Festival of Mars. As part of the occasion, the priests of Mars known as salii (from the verb salire to leap), who were appointed for life, carried sacred shields, called ancilia, throughout the city, while they danced, sang hymns for Janus and other gods, and hit the shields with their weapons (swords and spears or some sort of staff). The Roman salii wore purple tunics, bronze breastplates, and a pointed hat (apex), which suggest a connection with the early kings. The accompanying picture of Etruscan Salii may show slaves holding the ancilia, according to the William Smith Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.
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Mars & Etruscan Salii pictures © Clipart.com