"Why does Februa take so long!" Rome whined out loud, watching the luperci drag two goats and a dog toward the altar stone of the Lupercal. "I want to feast and orgy now!" He drained the cup of wine he carried with him and grabbed the nearest full vessel available to refill it. The streets of the Palatine were filled with festival participants charging the air with anticipation for the three-day purification and fertility festival of Lupercalia.
"Always so impatient," a familiar female voice admonished him from behind. Rome's face broke into a lecherous smile as he spun around and found Ancient Greece with both hands on hips, gazing at him.
"Only for the things that matter, such as sex, beautiful women and sex!" Rome laughed, grabbing her by the wrist and pressing her body close to his. "Will you participate in the couples lottery after the ritual? Please say yes!" His lips lowered toward hers as he ground his hips suggestively against her. Rome's hands moved down her back in a seductive caress.
"Maybe. I came for the fertility ritual, now stop that!" She planted both hands on Rome's chest and pushed him roughly away.
"You want to have a baby? I approve!" Rome grinned. "Can I help?" In the distance the scream of the first goat being sacrificed filled the air. Rome ignored the luperci draining the blood of the dead animal into a cup; he was more interested in Ancient Greece's fertility plans.
"No, you can't." Mother Greece said flatly, waving him off with a hand as she passed by. "Now if you excuse me, I need to line up with the other women wanting to be blessed." Rome watched her hips sway, "Like two puppies playing under a blanket, ungh!"
The second goat screamed just as he felt a hard, painful flick on his ear. "Ow!" Rome exclaimed, frowning as he turned to punch the fool in the face. Instead he was greeted with kohl-lined eyes looking very angry with him. "Ancient Egypt! This is a very pleasant surprise. Are you here for the fertility festival too?"
"That is hardly any of your business! I simply wanted to punish you for speaking so rudely about Ancient Greece."
"Fine, you punished me. Are you here for the festival?" Rome flashed his most dazzling smile.
"Are you deaf? I just told you none of your business. Deaf or stupid, I can't decide which."
"Awww, you don't want to enjoy the games with me? I'm crushed!" Rome wrapped Ancient Egypt in his arms. "Give me a kiss to cheer me up?" The dog howled then went silent.
"Let me go! I have to get in line to get whipped by the Luperci!" Ancient Egypt stomped on his foot and pried his hands off of her. "Keep your greasy meat hooks off of me!" She fumed and stomped off.
"So many beautiful women to choose from, must I only win one for the festival? Or perhaps she will stay with me for the entire year! "Rome grinned and rubbed his hands as the luperci smeared the fresh blood on their foreheads and laughed maniacally. Grabbing his cup and filling it with more wine, he wandered through the lines of women standing on the sides of the street, stripping bare in anticipation of the blessing ritual about to begin. Rome gazed at them all as he drank his wine, grinning lustfully.
A final laugh ripped through the group of luperci. The hides had been stripped from the goats and cut into thongs. Once they had their thongs, the luperci ran into the crowds of women lined up along the street, flogging their bare flesh hard and leaving red welts. The women cried out when they were hit, some even screamed if the lashing was severe. Rome enjoyed the sight; he found it very arousing.
The ritual went on for hours. The priests ran through the streets, hitting any naked woman they saw. Rome wandered about, enjoying the sight of naked women everywhere, some with red welts across their backs, some waiting for their turn. He spied Ancient Greece attempting to find one of the running priests and get into his path, but the priest sped past and hit a very heavyset woman standing nearby instead. Rome chuckled when the other nation stamped her foot and ran off looking for another luperci. He filled his cup with more wine and walked past a house, but was almost knocked over when the door opened and a young nude girl screamed as she was thrust roughly into the street by an older woman, looking very stern.
"Get out there! I want grandchildren!" The matron shouted, slamming and bolting the door behind her. Rome couldn't help but laugh when the poor girl crossed her arms over her chest and looked about frantically. Just then a luperci jumped out from the alley next to the house and whipped the girl three times severely across her back, leaving rising red welts and making her scream in pain before tearing down the street, swinging his goat skin lash over his head and howling.
Rome drained his cup and wandered off in search of more wine; the signs of the ritual winding down as women found their clothes and got dressed. Some had red spots staining the fabric covering them from the luperci's lash striking hard enough to make them bleed. "Fun fun!" He grinned, making his way toward the center of the Palatine again where there would be more wine, and the couples's lottery for the rest of the festival.
"So many beautiful girls! I can hardly wait to find out which one will be mine!" Other men milled through the crowd, looking over the women before the lottery began. Rome spotted Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt standing together, but they pointedly looked away as if ignoring him when he smiled and waved. The wine made him unsteady on his feet as he swayed over to a wall and used it to hold him up. Soon the men went to one side, the women to the other, and the pairing off began.
Everyone produced small pieces of parchment and looked at the symbol written on it. Now it was time for each man to match up with each woman. It was customary to stay with your partner for the three-day festival, but some stayed together for the entire year until the next Lupercalia. People laughed and walked around, holding up their pieces of parchment to show each other. Suddenly, there were cheers ad the first couple found each other. They hugged and ran off hand in hand. It didn't take long for the others to find their partners either. Rome unfortunately still had not found his, and he began to panic as the crowd thinned rapidly. Both Ancient Greece or Ancient Egypt was no longer in sight now, and that really frustrated him. Who were the lucky guys who got them? They should both go to him!
With a sad frown on his face, he watched with sinking heart as all the women found the men they were matched with. "What is going on?" Rome spat out angrily.
From behind Rome heard a man clear his throat. He looked over his shoulder and found Germania standing there. "Germania, did you get here late?" He looked down at his piece of parchment, feeling very rejected.
"No, I didn't." He answered, holding up his piece of parchment. On it was the identical match of the symbol on Rome's parchment.
Rome's face blanched with shock. "What? Wait, how … you …" He pointed at Germania, incredulity giving in to shock. "This isn't right! They were supposed to give one to a girl!"
Germania shrugged. "Didn't work out that way." He stepped closer to Rome and looked into his eyes. "Shall we go?"
"Go?" Rome blinked, then panic set in. "No! I don't want you!" Rome shouted, making a few couples that hadn't made it to the festival yet turn and stare. "I'm supposed to be with a beautiful woman! I don't want you! Stop!" He screamed out loud when Germania produced one of the whipping thongs dropped by a luperci and continued walking toward Rome, a gleam in his eyes. "Germania! No, don't do this! I don't want to live with you for a year!"
Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt watched from around a corner. The women broke into laughter when Germania showed Rome the whip.
"Are you going to confess to Rome eventually that you had the parchment that matches his?" Ancient Egypt asked.
"What? This is too much fun!" She watched Germania force Rome to his knees, the other was blubbering like a baby. "Oh … I suppose in a little while. Right now I want to watch him get a taste of what he likes to dish out."
Author's Note: Before Valentine's Day and the holiday's associations with romance, the Feast of Pan, or Lupercalia took place every spring in Rome. It originated as a shepherd's holiday of springtime purification and fertility. Lupercalia is also associated with the she-wolf who nursed the baby Romulus and Remus, the founders of the city of Rome.
One of the most well known rituals of Lupercalia is the fertility rite where priests wearing goatskin loincloths ran through the streets of the Palatine and flogged the women who gathered there. It was believed being hit with the thongs of goatskin would increase their chances of becoming pregnant. The festival lasted for three days – from February 13th to 15th - on the modern calendar. With the important rituals there were also games for people to participate in. They would couple up for the festival then go their separate ways, or stay together longer, up to a year until the next Lupercalia.
There is not much to go on personality wise for Ancient Greece and Egypt, so I decided to have them react to Rome's flirting in much the same way women respond to the Italy brothers' flirting.