Today is Saturnalia, an ancient Roman festival with a long tradition in the Volokh Conspiracy. Admittedly, this is just my tradition of doing a post about it every December 17th for the past few years. But, by internet standards, it’s a truly old tradition!
this Roman Encyclopedia A useful description of Saturnalia:
During the holidays, restrictions are relaxed and social order is inverted. Gambling in public is allowed. Slaves were allowed to use dice and did not have to work. . . Within the family, a tyrannical king was elected. Slaves were treated as equals, allowed to wear the clothes of their masters, and served at meals in honor of an earlier golden age believed to have been initiated by God. In Saturnalia, Lucian says: “In my week serious business is forbidden; no business is done. Drinking, noise, games and dice, feasts of appointment of kings and slaves, naked singing, wild clapping , occasionally lowering the cork’s face in the icy water—that’s what I preside over.”
As always, we have no shortage of strong candidates for the position of King of Tyranny. Many politicians from both major parties qualify, as do many others with political influence.
Happy Saturnalia to all my friends, Romans and readers of the Volokh Conspiracy!
Note: Much of this article is borrowed from previous Saturnalia articles.