Like January, February was not originally in the earliest Roman calendar system. To complete the calendar year, the Romans inserted a blank number of days or an occasional intercalary month in the “dead” season of midwinter, between the last month of the year (December) and the first month of the next year (March). Tradition says that Numa Pompilius, the legendary second Roman king (circa 715-672 B.C.; AUC 39-82) added the months of Januarius (Ianuarius) and Februarius for the previously unnamed period. Julius Caesar revised the lengths of the months in his calendar reform. He gave February 28 days, except for every fourth year, when it had an extra day between February 23 and 24 (not at the end of the month as it is now). The name, Februarius, came about because of the Roman ceremonies for religious purification and expiation which took place during that month in anticipation of the new year; which originally started on March 1. The most important festival in February was the Lupercalia, the ancient feast of fruit-fulness, or fertility, on February 15. The Lupercalian festival was an ancient fertility rite whose origins are lost in antiquity and may even predate civilization. These religious rites were under the supervision of a group of priests called the Luperci that was divided into two colleges called Quincti-llani and Fabiani and each was in charge of a master (magister). In 44 B.C., a third college, the Luperci Iulii, was established in honor of Julius Caesar; and on February 15 of that year, Mark Antony, as its magister, offered to make Caesar king, just a month before Caesar’s assassination. The Lupercalian rites began as the priests gathered in the cave of Lupercal on the southwestern part of the Palatine Hill. There the priests sacrificed goats and a young dog to the god Faunus, after which the foreheads of two youthful Luperci of high rank were smeared with the blood of the victims. Goats were offered to Fanus at the Lupercalia Later the blood was wiped off with wool dipped in milk, then the ritual required the two young men to laugh. After a sacrificial feast, they stripped themselves naked and put on a “loin skin” from the skins of the slain goats. William Shakespeare made use of the “Feast of the Lupercal” when he had Julius Caesar tell his barren wife, Calphurnia, to “Stand you directly in Antonio’s way when he doth run his course.” Then he instructed Mark Antony, “Forget not in your speed, Antonio, to touch Calphurnia; for our elders say, the barren, touched in this holy chase, shake off their sterile curse.” Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene ii, lines 3-9. The Lupercalia was observed well into the Christian era. It is said that Pope Gelasius I introduced the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary, called Candlemas in A.D. 494, to counteract the excesses of the pagan celebrations of the Lupercalia. The Saxons called the month of February Sol-monath in recognition of the returning strength of the sun. Until Tomorrow: Life writes itself, the will to live is the great ink.