SOLDIERS from the Deva Victrix 20th Legion took back control of the city on Thursday as Chester returned to Roman rule for to celebrate Saturnalia.

The Saturnalia parade left the Grosvenor Museum and made its way to Eastgate Street where Emperor Domitian addressed his subjects before releasing the Lord of Misrule.

“Let none of you be mistaken, the Romans are still here, at certain times of the year you will see us marching once more through our fortress.

“Remember who and what I am. I am a sword that sings in the dark. I am the sound of a legion marching to war. I am the axe that thuds into your scull. I am accuser, judge and executioner. I am Imperator. I am a living God. I am Caesar. I am Rome.”

Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing said:  “Lo Saturnalia, the sight of flaming torches through the city centre is a spectacle not to miss. Thanks to Paul Harston and his Roman Tours who are brilliant ambassadors for the city wherever they go.”

Adding to the spectacle, the Winter Watch Parade joined the Roman’s as they reached the Christmas Market in Town Hall Square. The Winter Watch made its way around the city centre with City Watch Men, angels, devils, fire skeletons, dragons and cooks with their Victorian Christmas Dinner.

“I’d like to wish a Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year to all our residents and the many visitors who have enjoyed this year’s Christmas events and activities across the borough,” added Cllr Gittins.

Saturnalia was the feast at which the Romans commemorated the dedication of the temple of the god Saturn. Saturnalia was originally celebrated in Ancient Rome for only a day on December 17 but it was so popular it extended to a week, from the 17 to 23 December, despite Augustus' efforts to reduce it to three days, and Caligula's, to five.

Saturnalia became one of the most popular Roman festivals. It was marked by tomfoolery and reversal of roles, with slaves and masters switching places. Clothing was relaxed and included the peaked woollen cap that symbolised the freed slave. A member of the familia (family plus slaves) was appointed Saturnalicius princeps, roughly, Lord of Misrule.