Roman Empire | Roman Religious Practices

Prev | Next | Contents


[219] Arnobius (v. 155) fortunately mentions that this story came from the second book of Valerius Antias, whose bad reputation is well known. It was plainly meant to account for the cult-title of Jupiter Elicius, and the origin of the procuratio fulminis, and was invented by Greeks or Graecising Romans at a time (2nd century B.C.) when all reverence for the gods had vanished as completely as in Greece. Yet Dr. Frazer writes of Numa as "an adept at bringing down lightning from heaven" (Early History of Kingship, p. 204).

[220] On this subject, the evolution of the knowledge of God, I may refer to Professor Gwatkin's Gifford Lectures of 1904-5, published by Messrs. T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh.

[221] The meaning of deus is well put by Mr. C. Bailey in his sketch of Roman Religion (Constable & Co.), p. 12.

[222] Guesses can be made about these, but little or nothing is to be learnt from them to help us in this lecture.

[223] I adhere to what was said in R.F. p. 312 foll. We do not know, and probably never shall know, the original deity concerned in that festival. The ritual is wholly unlike that of the rustica Faunalia (R.F. p. 256 foll.). I believe that it dates from a time anterior to the formation of real gods--possibly from an aboriginal people who did not know any. (I am glad to see this view taken in the latest summary of German learning on this subject, Einleitung in die Altertumswissenschaft, by Gaercke and Norden, vol. ii. p. 262.) At the moment of printing an interesting discussion of the Lupercalia, by Prof. Deubner, who treats it as a historical growth, in which are embodied ideas and rites of successive ages, has appeared in Archiv (1910, p. 481 foll.). See Appendix B.

[224] Wissowa, R.K. pp. 170 and 250 foll.

[225] Strabo, p. 164. Cp. Usener, Götternamen, p. 277, whose comment is, "Die Götter aller dieser Stämme waren 'namenlos,' weil sie nicht mit Eigennamen sondern durch Eigenschaftsworte benannt wurden. Für einen griechischen Reisenden vorchristlicher Zeit waren sie nicht fassbar." Arnobius iii. 43, Gellius ii. 28. 2 are good passages for the principle. The latter alludes to the anxiety of veteres Romani on this point, "ne alium pro alio nominando falsa religione populum alligarent." Hence the formulae "si deus si dea," or "sive quo alio nomine fas est nominare," Serv. Aen. ii. 351; "quisquis es," Aen. iv. 576. See also Farnell, Evolution of Religion, 184 foll.; Dieterich, Eine Mithrasliturgie, p. 110 foll.

[226] Serv. Aen. ii. 351. I am inclined to think it is only an inference from the want of substantival names in so many Roman deities; surely, it would be argued, the pontifices must have had some reason for this. It is contradicted by the fact that in such ancient formulae as that of the devotio (Livy viii. 9) the great gods are called by their own names, though the army was in the field and in presence of the enemy. There was, however, an old idea that the name of the special tutelary god of the city was never divulged, lest he should become captivus, and that the true name of the city itself was unknown; see Macrob. iii. 9. 2 foll. I believe that these ideas were encouraged by the pontifices, but were not founded on fact.

[227] For the Indigitamenta see below, p. 159; R.F. p. 341; R. Peter's able article in Myth. Lex., s.v. Scholars do not seem to me to have reckoned sufficiently with the tendency of a legal priesthood, devoted to the strict maintenance of religious minutiae, to elaborate and organise the material for god-making which was within their reach. To judge by the elaboration of the ritual at Iguvium, the same tendency must have existed in other kindred Italian communities, both to develop ritualistic priesthoods, and through them to elaborate the ritual. This is, I think, the weak point of Usener's reasoning in his Götternamen, and as applied to Roman deities it is the weak point of an interesting article by von Domaszewski, reprinted in his Abhandlungen zur röm. Religion, p. 155 foll.

[228] The best account of Tellus is in Wissowa, R.K. p. 159 foll.

[229] R.F. p. 71; Ovid, Fasti, iv. 631 foll. This was a festival of the populus as a whole, and also of each Curia, like the Fornicalia in February. Both were clearly agricultural in origin, though the Curia as we know it was probably an institution of the city. I must own that I am quite uncertain as to what the thing was which was originally meant by the word Curia; my friend Dr. J. B. Carter may have something to say on the subject in his book on the Roman religion in the Jastrow series.

[230] Dieterich, Mutter Erde, pp. 11 and 73 foll.

[231] Virg. Aen. iv. 166, "prima et Tellus et pronuba Iuno Dant signum"; commenting on which Servius wrote, "quidam sane etiam Tellurem praeesse nuptiis tradunt; nam et in auspiciis nuptiarum invocatur: cui etiam virgines, vel cum ire ad domum mariti coeperint, vel iam ibi positae, diversis nominibus vel ritu sacrificant." There is little doubt that Tellus is frequently concealed under the names of Ceres, Dea Dia, etc. For Ceres and Juno in marriage rites, see Marquardt, Privatleben, p. 49.

[232] See below, p. 206 foll.; Macrob. iii. 9. 11; Deubner in Archiv, 1905, p. 66 foll.

[233] See De Marchi, La Religione, etc., i. p. 188 and reff. (The reference to Gellius should be iv. 6. 7, not iv. 67.) Like some other operations of the Roman religion, this became a form, and was used as a kind of insurance, whether or no there had been any omission; Wissowa, R.K. p. 160.

[234] That Ceres represented the fructus is shown by the fact that in the XII. Tables the man who raided a field of standing corn at night was made sacer to her; Pliny, N.H. xviii. 12.

[235] Cato, R.R. 134. De Marchi, op. cit. p. 135. Janus, Jupiter, and Juno are concerned in this rite, Ceres coming last. Varro has preserved the part of Tellus for us: "quod humatus non sit, heredi porca praecidanea suscipienda Telluri et Cereri, aliter familia non pura est" (ap. Nonium, p. 163).

[236] The verses are quoted by Dieterich, Mutter Erde, p. 75, among others from Buecheler's Anthology of Roman Epitaphs, Nos. 1544 and 1476. The story is told in Suetonius' Life of Tib. c. 75, and again of Gallienus by Aurelius Victor (Caes. c. 33).

[237] Marquardt, p. 326, who notes that the Romans themselves derived the word from filum, a fillet; e.g. Varro, L.L. v. 84, "quod in Latio capite velato erant semper, ac caput cinctum habebant filo." Modern etymologists equate the word with Brahman.

[238] Thus the Flamen Quirinalis sacrificed at the Robigalia, R.F. p. 89, and with the Pontifices and Vestals took part in the Consualia, Marq. 335.

[239] We may note here that the most general Latin name for a priest was sacerdos, which seems to have excluded all magic, etc.; it means an office sanctioned by the State. On the general question of the origin of priesthood see Jevons, Introduction, etc., ch. xx., with whose explanations, however, I cannot entirely agree. I should prefer to keep the word priest for an official who sacrifices and prays to his god. In this view I am at one with E. Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums, i.^2 p. 121 foll. God and priest go together as permanent, regular in function, and entrusted by a community with certain duties.

[240] Marquardt, p. 180; Wissowa, R.K. p. 427. The popa or victimarius is seen in many artistic representations of sacrifice, e.g. Schreiber, Atlas of Classical Antiquities, plate xvii. figs. 1 and 3.

[241] Jevons, ch. xx.; Frazer, G.B. i. 245 foll., and Lectures on Early History of Kingship, Lectures ii. and v.

[242] Virg. Aen. viii. 352.

[243] In a valuable paper in his Gesammelte Abhandlungen (p. 284) Wissowa says that "personal conception of deity is absolutely strange to the old Roman religion of the di indigetes." I believe this to be essentially true; but my point is that localisation and ritual prepared the way for the reception of Greek ideas of personality. The process had already begun in the religion of the house; but it was not likely there to come in contact with foreign germs. When Janus and Vesta, who were in every house (Wissowa, p. 285), were localised in certain points in a city, they would be far more likely to acquire personality, if such an idea came in their way, than in the worship of the family.

[244] Aug. Civ. Dei, vii. 28, "quem alii caelum, alii dixerunt esse mundum." Dr. Frazer, citing this passage (Kingship, p. 286) in support of his view that Janus was a duplicate of Jupiter, has omitted to notice that some theorisers fancied he was the universe, which by itself is enough to betray the delusive nature of this kind of theological speculation. Varro elsewhere gives us a clue to the liability of Janus to be exalted in this unnatural fashion, L.L. vii. 27, "divum deo" (in the Salian hymn), if this be taken as referring to Janus, as it may be, comparing Macrob. i. 9. 14. But this is easily explained by the position of Janus in prayers; cp. Cic. Nat. Deor. ii. 27. 67, "cum in omnibus rebus vim haberent maximam prima et extrema, principem in sacrificando Ianum esse voluerunt." The phrase "Deorum" or "Divum deus" is indeed remarkable, and unparalleled in Roman worship; but no one acquainted with Roman or Italian ritual will for a moment suspect it of meaning "God of gods" in either a Christian or metaphysical sense. I shall have occasion to notice the peculiar use of the genitive case and of genitival adjectives in worship later on. See below, p. 153 foll.

[245] Fasti, i. 89 foll.; R.F. p. 281 foll.

[246] Frazer, l.c. (a page of which every line appears to me to be written under a complete misapprehension of the right methods of research into the nature of Roman gods); A. B. Cook, Classical Review, vol. xviii. 367 foll.; Professor Ridgeway, Who were the Romans? p. 12, where, among other remarkable statements, Janus is confidently said to have been introduced at Rome by the Sabine Numa, and therefore to have been a Sabine deity, an assumption quite irreconcilable with those of Dr. Frazer and Mr. Cook. In striking contrast with such speculations is a sensible paper on Janus in M. Toutain's Études de mythologie et d'histoire, p. 195 foll. (Paris, 1909).

[247] Dr. Frazer is aware of this; see his Kingship, p. 285, note 1. See also Roscher in Myth. Lex., s.v. "Janus," p. 45 foll.

[248] For the evidence for this and the following facts, see Roscher's article just cited, or Wissowa, R.K. p. 91 foll.; cp. R.F. p. 280 foll. The cult epithets of Janus are thus explained by von Domaszewski, Abhandlungen, p. 223, note 1, "Bei Ianus tritt regelmässig der Begriff des Wesens hinzu, dessen Wirkung er von Anfang an bestimmt, so I. Consevius der Anfang der in Consus wirkenden Kraft, und in derselbe Weise I. Iunonius, Matutinus," etc. This is reasonable, but it does not suit with I. Patulcius-Clusius, and I cannot accept it with confidence at present.

[249] Roscher, op. cit. p. 34.

[250] Wissowa, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, p. 284 foll.

[251] Festus, p. 185.

[252] It is due to the good sense and learning of Dr. Roscher; he had previously, when working on the old methods, tried to prove that Janus was a "wind-god" (Hermes der Windgott, Leipzig, 1878); but a more searching inquiry into the Roman evidence, when the prepossessions had left him which the comparative method is so likely to produce, brought him to the view I have explained in outline, which has been adopted in the main by Wissowa, Aust, and J. B. Carter, as well as by myself in R.F. The last word about so puzzling a deity can of course never be said; but if we indulge in speculations about him we must use the Roman evidence with adequate knowledge of the criticism it needs.

[253] This difference between Zeus and Jupiter has been pointed out by Wissowa, R.K. p. 100; Jupiter stands for the heaven even in classical Latin literature, as we all know.

[254] See his papers in the Classical Review, vol. xvii. 270 and xviii. 365 foll., and in Folklore, vol. xv. 301; xvi. 260 foll.

[255] Kingship, p. 196 foll.

[256] Macrobius i. 15. 14. In historical times a white victim, ovis idulis, was taken to the Capitol by the via sacra in procession (Ov. Fasti, i. 56. 588). Festus says that some derived the term via sacra from this procession (p. 290); and to this Horace may be alluding in Ode iii. 30. 8, "dum Capitolium Scandet cum tacita virgine pontifex."

[257] R.F. pp. 86, 204.

[258] R.F. p. 160.

[259] No doubt Jupiter was specially connected with the oak, as Mr. Cook has shown with great learning in the paper cited above, note 36; but at Rome he had an ancient shrine among beeches, and was known as I. Fagutalis: Varro, L.L. v. 152; Paulus 87. For I. Viminalis, see R.F. p. 229.

[260] See Aust's article "Jupiter" in Myth. Lex. p. 673.

[261] Aust gives a cut of a coin of the consul Claudius Marcellus (223 B.C.) dedicating spolia opima in this little temple, according to the ancient fashion, supposed to be initiated by Romulus, Livy i. 10.

[262] Dionys. Hal. ii. 34.

[263] R.F. p. 230.

[264] See De Marchi's careful investigation, La Religione, etc., i. p. 156 foll.; Gaius i. 112. The cult-title should indicate that the god was believed to be immanent in the cake of far, rather than that it was offered to him (so I should also take I. Dapalis, though in later times the idea had passed into that of sacrifice, Cato, R.R. 132), and if so, the use of the cake was sacramental; cp. the rite at the Latin festival, R.F. p. 96.

[265] There are distinct traces of a practice of taking oaths in the open air, i.e. under the sky; of Dius Fidius, unquestionably a form of Jupiter, Varro says (L.L. v. 66), "quidam negant sub tecto per hunc deiurare oportere." Cp. Plutarch, Quaest. Rom. 28; R.F. p. 138. For the conception of a single great deity as primitive, see Lang, The Making of Religion, ch. xii.; Flinders Petrie, Religion of Egypt (in Constable's shilling series), ch. i.; Ross, The Original Religion of China, p. 128 foll.; Warneck, Die Lebenskräfte des Evangeliums, p. 20 (of the Indian Archipelago). The last reference I owe to Professor Paterson, of Edinburgh University.

[266] Serv. Aen. viii. 552, "more enim veteri sacrorum neque Martialis flamen neque Quirinalis omnibus caerimoniis tenebantur quibus flamen Dialis, neque diurnis sacrificiis distinebatur." It is, however, possible that under the word caerimonia Servius is not here including taboos, but active duties only.

[267] See my paper, "The Strange History of a Flamen Dialis," in Classical Review, vol. vii. p. 193.

[268] Henzen, Acta Fratr. Arv. p. 26.

[269] Cato, R.R. 141; Henzen, op. cit. p. 48.

[270] Frazer, G.B. iii. 123, note 3; R.F. p. 40, for further examples. It may be worth while to point out here that the coupling of all farm animals except goats took place in spring or early summer; Varro, R.R. ii. 2 foll. Isidorus (Orig. v. 33), who embodies Varro and Verrius to some extent, derived the name Mars from mares, because in the month of March "cuncta animalia ad mares aguntur."

[271] I prefer, with De Marchi, to take Silvanus here as a cult-title, though we do not meet with it elsewhere; see La Religione, etc., p. 130 note; but Wissowa, who has a prejudice against the view that Mars was connected with agriculture, insists on taking Marti Silvano as a case of asyndeton, i.e. as two deities.

[272] See, e.g., Varro, L.L. v. 36, "quos agros non colebant propter silvas aut id genus, ubi pecus possit pasci, et possidebant, ab usu salvo saltus nominarunt."

[273] Cato, R.R. 141. Mars is there invoked as able to keep off (averruncare) evil influences and to make the crops grow, etc.; he has become in the second century B.C. a powerful deity in the actual processes of husbandry, just as he became in the city a powerful deity of war. But as he was not localised either on the farm or in the city, I prefer to think that he was originally conceived as a Power outside the boundary in each case, but for that very reason all the more to be propitiated by the settlers within it.

[274] See below, p. 235.

[275] So Wissowa, R.K. p. 131. Cp. R.F. p. 39, note 4. Deubner in Archiv, 1905, p. 75.

[276] Servius, commenting on line 3 of Aen. viii. (utque impulit arma) writes: "nam is qui belli susceperat curam, sacrarium Martis ingressus, primo ancilia commovebat, post hastam simulacri ipsius, dicens, Mars vigila." The mention of a statue shows that this account belongs to a late period. But Varro seems to have stated that there was originally only a spear; see a passage of Clement of Alexandria in the fragments of the Ant. rer. div., Agahd, p. 210, to which Deubner (l.c.) adds Arnobius vi. 11. Deubner calls this spear a fetish, which is not the right word if the deity were immanent in it in the sense suggested by "Mars vigila." See above, p. 116. If Servius correctly reports the practice, it must be compared with the clashing of shields and spears by the Salii, which may thus have had a positive as well as negative object.

[277] Livy v. 52.

[278] Mr. A. B. Cook (Classical Review, 1904, p. 368) has tried to connect both names with the Greek word [Greek: prinos], and Professor Conway, quoted by him, is inclined to lend the weight of his great authority to the conjecture. Thus Quirinus would be an oak-god, and Quirites oak-spearmen. We must, however, remember that Mr. Cook is, so to speak, on an oak scent, and his keenness as a hunter leads him sometimes astray. One is a little perplexed to understand why Jupiter, Janus, Mars, and Quirinus should all be oak-gods (and all in origin identical as such!). On the other hand, it is fair to note that the original spear was probably of wood, with the point hardened in the fire, like the hasta praeusta of the Fetiales: Festus, p. 101. If quiris has really anything to do with oaks, it would be more natural to explain the two words as springing from an old place-name, Quirium, as Niebuhr did long ago, and to derive that again from the oaks among which it may have stood. But I am content to take quiris as simply a spear, as Buecheler did; see Deubner, op. cit. p. 76. Since the above was written, the article "Quirinus" by Wissowa in the Myth. Lex. has appeared. Naturally it does not add anything to our knowledge; but Wissowa holds to the opinion that the most probable derivation of the name Quirinus is from Quirium, possibly the name of the settlement on the Quirinal; and compares Q. pater (e.g. Livy v. 52. 7) with the Reatinus pater of C.I.L. ix. 4676.

[279] The Nonae Caprotinae (July 7), the day when women sacrificed to Juno Caprotina under a wild fig-tree in the Campus Martius, is not known to us except from Varro. See R.F. p. 178, where (note 8) is a suggestion that the festival had to do with the caprificatio, or method of ripening the figs, which Dr. Frazer has expanded in his Lectures on Kingship, p. 270, believing the process to be that of fertilisation.

[280] Classical Review, vol. ix. p. 474 foll. The same view has recently been taken independently by W. Otto in Philologus, 1905, pp. 215 foll., 221. It is perfectly clear that the monthly sacrifice to Juno was the duty of the wife of the rex sacrorum; a pontifex minor is also mentioned (Macrob. i. 15. 19).

[281] Wissowa, R.K. p. 116.

[282] Ib. p. 114.

[283] See Ihm's article "Iunones" in Myth. Lex. vol. ii. 615; Pliny, N.H. ii. 16.

[284] Dr. J. B. Carter tells me that he has abandoned this explanation of the evolution of Juno. On the other hand, von Domaszewski seems in some measure to accept it (Abhandlungen, p. 169 foll.), when he says that "similar functions, when exercised by different numina, can eventually produce a god. Auf diese Weise ist Iuno geworden." He means that the creative power is called Juno in a woman, or in a people (Iuno Populonia), or in the curiae (Iuno Curitis), and that an independent deity, Juno par excellence, emerges from all these. But so far I cannot follow him.

[285] There is no real evidence from purely Roman sources of this fancied conjugal or other relation, if we exclude that of the alleged cult of Juno by the Flaminica Dialis. This has been well seen and expressed by W. Otto, l.c. p. 215 foll.; see also Classical Review as quoted above. As we shall see in the next lecture, Dr. Frazer is much concerned to show that Jupiter and Juno are actually a married pair, and consequently he will have nothing to do with my opinion on this point: Early History of Kingship, p. 214 foll., and Adonis, Attis, Osiris, ed. 2, p. 410, note 1.

[286] Wissowa, R.K. p. 141.

[287] Festus, p. 106; Macrob. i. 12. 6.

[288] I have discussed the Vestalia and the nature of Vesta and her cult in R.F. p. 145 foll. See also Marquardt, p. 336 foll., and Wissowa, R.K. p. 141 foll.

[289] Ovid, Fasti, vi. 296, says that he had been stupid enough to believe that there was a statue in the aedes Vestae, but found out his mistake:--

esse diu stultus Vestae simulacra putavi; mox didici curvo nulla subesse tholo.

The passage is interesting as showing how natural it was for a Roman of the Graeco-Roman period to suppose that his deities must be capable of taking iconic form. For anthropomorphic representations of Vesta in other places and at Pompeii, see Wissowa, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, p. 67 foll.

[290] See Lanciani, Ruins and Excavations of Ancient Rome, p. 223 foll. The statues of the virgines vestales maximae, discovered in the Atrium Vestae, all belong to the period of the Empire. They are now in the museum of the Baths of Diocletian.

Prev | Next | Contents

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13]
[14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24]