Since my wife comes from the fruit-bearing Faliscan region, we journeyed to the city of Falerii which you conquered, Camillus. There priestesses were preparing the chaste festival of Juno, featuring famous games and locally-raised cattle.
The ceremonies repaid the effort we made to see them, though the route to the temple is narrow and steep. At the top stands an ancient grove, thickly grown and gloomy. Just look around: you cannot doubt that this place is home to a spirit. The altar which receives prayers and pinches of frankincense from the pious has been built artlessly by the hands of our ancestors.
When the trumpet sounds its solemn call, an annual procession winds through the dressed streets to this place. Past the cheering populace are led snowy heifers which have been fed on the grasses of the Faliscan meadows. They’re followed by calves too young to have threatening horns; and behind those come lesser victims, a pig from an humble stye and a bellweather who lead his flock with long, curling horns.
Juno scorns only the she goat as a sacrifice, because a she goat is said to have found her when she was hiding in the deep forest and forced her to give up her attempt at flight. Today as part of the rites, boys hurling javelins chase a she goat whose meat becomes the prize for the one who hits her.
Groups of youths and innocent girls strew the road along which the goddess will come with garments. The maidens’ hair is dressed with gold and jewels, and they wear purple dresses which hang down to their gilded sandals. According to the custom originated by the city’s Greek founder, each priestess tosses a fold of her white robe over her head.
Then the people cheer as Juno herself follows in gilded state behind her priestesses. The character of the procession is Argive, for after Agamemnon’s slaughter Halaesus fled crime and the wealth of his fatherland. After wandering long by sea and shore, he founded these high walls with a skilled hand.
Halaesus taught the Faliscan people the rites of Juno. May these rites always avail me and the folk of Falisci.