Terminalia — Our Day

The end of the year approaches. This Sunday 23 February we celebrate Terminalia — the festival that marks the end of the Old Roman Year.

TerminusDB is named after the Roman God of boundaries, Terminus — all databases need good boundaries — and Terminalia is his festival.

We want the finest wines available to humanity! We want the finest wines available to humanity!

Terminus is an old Roman god — probably introduced by Romulus after the founding of the city. There is a famous story told of the last king of Rome, Tarquin (so disliked & proud that he was overthrown and the Republic declared) — he wanted to reshape Rome as an imperial capital and engaged in a large scale building programme. As part of his works, he set about reconstructing the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitol Hill. Tarquin thought that constructing a massive temple over the remains of a holy site consecrated by Romulus would cement his place as a great King of Rome. To facilitate the reconstruction, the older shrines to various gods had to be removed; however, when they attempted to move the shrine of Terminus, it would not budge. Terminus was the immovable rock of the Capitol. Even Jupiter, the king of the gods, had to kneel to Terminus.

More on Terminus and TerminusDB’s name.

Terminus’ slogan ‘Concedo Nulli’ — concede to nobody — remains at the heart of the TerminusDB project. We continue to walk through walls to get the features out the door. We will not yield.

statue of Terminus

Terminalia is the official holiday for TerminusDB. As it’s on a Sunday this year, we celebrate tonight. As Ovid dictates, we will allow the pagan spirits to flow. We will pour lamb’s blood on the statue of Terminus and offer him suckling pigs and wine.

painting of Terminalia

“When night has passed, let the god be celebrated With customary honour, who separates the fields with his sign. Terminus, whether a stone or a stump buried in the earth, You have been a god since ancient times. You are crowned from either side by two landowners, Who bring two garlands and two cakes in offering. An altar’s made: here the farmer’s wife herself Brings coals from the warm hearth on a broken pot. The old man cuts wood and piles the logs with skill, And works at setting branches in the solid earth. Then he nurses the first flames with dry bark, While a boy stands by and holds the wide basket. When he’s thrown grain three times into the fire The little daughter offers the sliced honeycombs. Others carry wine: part of each is offered to the flames: The crowd, dressed in white, watch silently. Terminus, at the boundary, is sprinkled with lamb’s blood, And doesn’t grumble when a sucking pig is granted him. Neighbours gather sincerely, and hold a feast, And sing your praises, sacred Terminus: ‘You set bounds to peoples, cities, great kingdoms: Without you every field would be disputed. You curry no favour: you aren’t bribed with gold, Guarding the land entrusted to you in good faith. If you’d once marked the bounds of Thyrean lands, Three hundred men would not have died, Nor Othryades’ name be seen on the pile of weapons. O how he made his fatherland bleed! What happened when the new Capitol was built? The whole throng of gods yielded to Jupiter and made room: But as the ancients tell, Terminus remained in the shrine Where he was found, and shares the temple with great Jupiter. Even now there’s a small hole in the temple roof, So he can see nothing above him but stars. Since then, Terminus, you’ve not been free to wander: Stay there, in the place where you’ve been put, And yield not an inch to your neighbour’s prayers, Lest you seem to set men above Jupiter: And whether they beat you with rakes, or ploughshares, Call out: “This is your field, and that is his!”’ There’s a track that takes people to the Laurentine fields, The kingdom once sought by Aeneas, the Trojan leader: The sixth milestone from the City, there, bears witness To the sacrifice of a sheep’s entrails to you, Terminus. The lands of other races have fixed boundaries: The extent of the City of Rome and the world is one.” — Ovid, Fasti II

Terminalia and Terminus also sneak into Irish place names and traditional events (link to a great Irish Times article on the subject)

Terminators around the world are encouraged to celebrate this momentous day. Wear white, sacrifice a lamb, let the spirit of pre-Republican Rome flow.

modern festival Get out there, Terminators


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