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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Festival of Sol Indiges

Festival of Sol Indiges, the Roman sun god was celebrated on August 9. In Roman society the sun was worshipped in many forms. An epigram quoted by Cicero shows that the rising sun was greeted each morning with a prayer that was spoken while facing east.

Sol was the sun god of ancient Roman religion and mythology. Sol originated in Mesopotamian mythology and was introduced in 220 CE as Sol Invictus to the Romans by the emperor Heliogabalus. Sol was worshiped in Rome until Christianity took hold.

Under Greek influence, the image of Sol driving a quadriga, a four-horse chariot was derived from his equivalent Helios. The Greek sun-god Helios rode a chariot drawn by horses through the sky, bringing light to the earth. According to the Helios mythology, the journey of the Sun, naturally, began in the East and ended in the West, at which point Helios completed his daily rounds and floated back to his Eastern palace in a golden cup.

Sol was worshipped as Sol Indiges (the Native Sun). Another aspect of the sun, Sol Invictus (the unconquered sun) was a powerful symbol for the Romans of the late Empire: each evening he is forced apparently to submit to the powers of darkness, but he reappears each morning as the eternal victor.

One day of the week was named after Sol, the sun. However, there was no observance of any of these days in the way that the Jews observed Saturday or the Christians Sunday. The first Sunday closing law was enacted by Constantine in 321 AD, and refers to dies Solis, the "day of the sun". It forms the basis of subsequent Christian legislation in this area.

Here's the decree:

On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for grain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.

Collected from various sources.
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