Roman Empire | Roman Religious Practices

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[406] Dill, Roman Society in the Last Century of the Western Empire, p. 63.

[407] See Westermarck, Origin and Development of Moral Ideas, ii. 615 foll.

[408] C.I.L. i. Nos. 43 foll.

[409] C.I.L. xiv. 2863. See R.F. p. 224, and Wissowa, R.K. p. 209.

[410] Op. cit. vol. i. p. 252; cp. 271.

[411] See Sir Alfred Lyall's Asiatic Studies, Series I. ch. vi. No one would call the vow of Aeneas, in Aen. vi. 69, a bargain with Apollo and the Sibyl.

[412] Marquardt, p. 266; Mommsen, Staatsrecht, i.^2 594 foll. The ceremony is best described by Ovid, Ex Ponto, iv. 9. 5 foll. He is addressing the consul of the year from his place of exile:

at cum Tarpeias esses deductus in arces, dum caderet iussu victima sacra tuo, me quoque secreto grates sibi magnus agentem audisset media qui sedet aede deus.

  (II. 28 foll.)

[413] Valerius Maximus iv. 1. 10.

[414] A list of these is given in Aust, De aedibus sacris populi Romani (Marpurg, 1889). A valuable work, which will be of service to us later on.

[415] Livy xxxvi. 2. 3.

[416] Ib. xxii. 10.

[417] Ib. sec. 6. The meaning is that if any one has stolen an animal which was intended to be dedicated, no blame attaches to the person so robbed; and that if a man performs his dedication on a day of ill omen unwittingly, it will hold good none the less.

[418] Farnell, Evolution of Religion, p. 195.

[419] The fact that words like reus and damnatus were applied respectively to persons who had made a vow and to those who had performed it, i.e. as being liable like a defendant, and then released from that position by a verdict or sentence (see Wissowa, R.K. p. 320), is of course significant of the idea of the transaction in the mind of the Roman, who, as Macrobius says (iii. 2. 6) se numinibus obligat, as an accused person is obligatus to the authorities of the State (Mommsen, Strafrecht, 189 foll.). It is the natural tendency of the Roman mind to give all transactions a legal sanction; but it does not thence follow that the original idea was really thought of as a contract, and we have only to reflect that the final act was a thank-offering to see the difference between the civil and the religious process.

[420] Livy v. 21.

[421] Macr. iii. 9, 6. He says that he found it in the fifth book of Res reconditae by one Sammonicus Serenus, and that the latter had himself found it "in cuiusdam Furii vetustissimo libro."

[422] On this subject see article "Devotio" in Pauly-Wissowa.

[423] Livy viii. 10, "licere consuli dictatori praetori...." Cp. Cic. de Nat. deorum, ii. 10, "at vero apud maiores tanta religionis vis fuit, ut quidam imperatores etiam se ipsos dis immortalibus capite velato certis verbis pro republica devoverent."

[424] See Münzer's article "Decii" in Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encycl.; Soltau, Die Anfänge der röm. Geschichtschreibung, p. 48 foll.

[425] Livy viii. 9 foll.; Dio Cassius, fragment, xxxv. 6; Ennius, Ann. vi. 147, Baehrens. The latter fragment is the oldest reference to the event which we possess, and just sufficient to confirm Livy's account: "Divi hoc audite parumper, ut pro Romano populo prognariter armis certando prudens animum de corpore mitto."

[426] It is worth remarking that the sacrificial aspect struck St. Augustine. In Civ. Dei, v. 18, he writes: "Si se occidendos certis verbis quodam modo consecrantes Decii devoverunt, ut illis cadentibus et iram deorum sanguine suo placantibus Romanus liberaretur exercitus," and goes on to compare the Decii with Christian martyrs. I am indebted for this reference to Mayor's note on Cicero, de Nat. deor. ii. 3. 10.

[427] See above, p. 176; Wissowa, R.K. p. 352, note 1.

[428] By Deubner in Archiv, 1905, p. 69 foll. This touching of the chin seems to be an example of that personal contact which makes a man or thing holy; see, e.g., Westermarck, op. cit. i. 586. Decius makes himself holy for the sacrifice (as victim) by touching (as priest) the only part of his person which was exposed. For the magic touch of the hand see O. Weinrich, Antike Heiligungswünder, p. 63 foll., and Macrobius iii. 2. 7, for the touching of the altar by a sacrificing priest.

[429] See above, p. 180.

[430] This is Deubner's explanation, which he elaborates at length by examples of the worship of the spear or sword among various peoples.

[431] This is peculiar to the formula in Livy viii. 9. Is it possible that it may have some reference to the fact that the Romans were fighting their own kin, the Latins?

[432] Buecheler, Umbrica, pp. 22 and 102: "hastatos inhastatos completo timore tremore, fuga formidine, nive nimbo, fragore furore, senio servitio," where, however, the translator from the Umbrian is assisted by the Latin formulae we are discussing.

[433] Macrobius iii. 9. 10, "exercitum quem ego me sentio dicere fuga formidine terrore compleatis," etc. This is of comparatively late origin, as it is addressed to Dis pater, who only became a Roman deity in 249 B.C. (Wissowa, R.K. p. 257). The interesting feature in this devotio, used at the siege at Carthage, is that it is not himself whom the commander devotes--the common sense of the Romans had got beyond that--but the enemy as substitutes for himself. "Eos vicarios pro me fide magistratuque meo pro populo Romano exercitibus do devoveo, ut me meamque fidem imperiumque legiones exercitumque nostrum bene salvos siritis esse." Thus the enemy is made the victim, and this is why the only gods invoked are the Di Inferi, Dis pater, Veiovis, Manes, while in the older formula it is the gods of Romans and Latins. Pacuvius in a praetextata called Decius wrote: "Lue patrium hostili fusum sanguen sanguine" (Ribbeck, p. 280). This is the language Ennius used before him of the sacrifice of Iphigenia: "ut hostium eliciatur sanguis sanguine," where, however, the word eliciatur shows that it is magic. The curious thing in this last passage is that the parallel passage in the Euripidean Iph. in Aul. (1486) does not suggest magic. Is the idea Italian? The curse (for such it really is) is to be witnessed by Tellus and Iuppiter, and the celebrant points down and up respectively in invoking them, as also in the devotio of Curtis in the Forum (Livy vii. 6), which was an abnormal procuratio prodigii.

[434] Cp. the language used by Livy of the second Decius (x. 29): "prae se agere formidinem ac fugam ... contacturum funebribus diris signa tela arma hostium." For spells or curses of this kind see Westermarck i. 563: a curse is conveyable by speech, especially if spoken by a magistrate or priest. "Among the Maoris the anathema of the priest is regarded as a thunderbolt that an enemy cannot escape." See also Robertson Smith, Semites, p. 434, for the Jewish ban, by which impious sinners, or enemies of the city and its God, were devoted to destruction. He remarks that the Hebrew verb to ban is sometimes rendered "consecrate": Micah iv. 13; Deut. xiii. 16; and Joshua vi. 26 (Jericho), which exactly answers to the consecratio of Carthage. For curses conveyable by sacrifices, as in all the cases I have mentioned, see Westermarck ii. 618 foll. 624, and the same author's paper on conditional curses in Morocco, in Anthropological Essays, addressed to E. B. Tylor, p. 360.

[435] "Abate their pride, assuage their malice, and confound their devices." I well remember hearing this read in church throughout the Crimean war.

[436] "Pro republica Quiritium," in the formula quoted above.

[437] Livy viii. 10 ad fin.

[438] See above, note 28.

[439] See Marquardt, p. 276 and notes; Mommsen, Strafrecht, 900 foll. The subject has generally been treated from the legal point of view rather than the religious; but from the religious point of view it has generally been assumed that the sacrifice was to appease the god. So no doubt it was; but I venture also to conjecture that the victim was vicarius for the contamination of the community. On the subject generally Westermarck's two chapters on human sacrifice and blood-revenge (xix. and xx. in vol. i.) are extremely well worth reading.

[440] Aen. i. 607 foll. Cp. Aen. iii. 429--

praestat Trinacrii metas lustrare Pachyni cessantem, longos et circumflectere cursus,

where the slow movement and circuitous course of a lustratio must have been in Virgil's mind. The movement round an object for lustral purposes is seen in Aen. vi. 229, "idem ter socios pura circumtulit unda," where Servius explains circumtulit by purgavit. As early as Livius Andronicus (second century B.C.) we find "classem lustratur" of fishes swimming round a fleet (Ribb. Trag. Fragmenta, p. 1).

[441] Marquardt, p. 324, for the februa of the Luperci, R.F. p. 320 foll., and the explanations there given. More will be found alluded to in Van Gennep, Les Rites de passage, p. 249. To my mind none are quite convincing. The Romans believed that blows with these februa (strips of the victim's skin) made women fertile; they were therefore clearly magical implements, but beyond this we do not seem to get. (See also Deubner in Archiv, 1910, p. 495 foll.)

[442] Varro, L.L. vi. 13, "Februum Sabini purgamentum, et id in sacris nostris verbum." Cp. Varro, ap. Nonium, p. 114; Ovid, Fasti, ii. 19 foll., where he calls februa piamina, purgamenta, in the language of the ius divinum.

[443] L.L. vi. 11.

[444] Servius, ad Aen. x. 32; xi. 842; cp. i. 136.

[445] See R.F. p. 127, for the same rite in the Church of England (Brand, Popular Antiquities, p. 292).

[446] Les Rites de passage, ch. ii.

[447] For boundary marks in historical times see Gromatici auctores, vol. ii. p. 250 foll. (Rudorff).

[448] If the cattle were in the woodland beyond the settlement, as they would be in summer, they could not be protected in this way: like an army going into the country of hostes (see above, p. 216) they were treated in another way, which we may connect with the ritual of the Parilia, as Dr. Frazer has beautifully shown in his paper on St. George and the Parilia (Revue des études ethnographiques et sociologiques, 1908, p. 1 foll.).

[449] Georg. i. 338 foll.

[450] Varro, L.L. v. 143; Servius, Aen. v. 755 (from Cato); Plutarch, Romulus, xi.

[451] See above, p. 117.

[452] Buecheler, Umbrica, pp. 12 foll. and 42 foll.

[453] The deities of the city were invoked to preserve the name, the magistrates, rites, men, cattle, land, and crops: a list in which the name is the only item that carries us back to pre-Christian times.

[454] Buecheler, Umbrica, pp. 21 and 84 foll.

[455] Livy xl. 6 init.

[456] See above, p. 96.

[457] Numbers xxxi. 19.

[458] Festus, p. 117.

[459] See Hülsen-Jordan, Röm. Topographie, vol. iii. p. 495; Von Domaszewski, Abhandlungen, p. 217 foll.

[460] Suggested by Van Gennep, Les Rites de passage, p. 28.

[461] Livy iii. 28. 11.

[462] Farnell, Evolution of Religion, p. 132 foll.

[463] The account of lustratio given in this lecture is adapted from the author's chapter on the same subject in Anthropology and the Classics, Oxford University Press, 1908.

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