Roman Empire | Roman Religious Practices

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It is a long descent from the inspiring idealism of Virgil to the cool, tactical attempt of Augustus to revive the outward forms of the old religion. It seems strange that two men so different in character and upbringing should have been working in the same years in the same direction, yet on planes so far apart. How far the two were directly connected in their work we cannot know for certain. It is said that the subject of the Aeneid was suggested to Virgil by Augustus, and it is quite possible that this may be true; but it by no means follows from this that the inspiration of the poem came from any other source but Virgil's own thought and feeling. We also know that Augustus from the first appreciated the Aeneid, and that he saved it for all time; but it is by no means clear that it inspired him in his efforts towards moral and religious regeneration. Perhaps the truth is that both were moved by the wave of mingled depression and hope that swept over Italy for some years after the death of Julius, and that each used his experience in his own way and according to his opportunities. They had at least this in common, that they utilised the past to encourage the present age, and that by filling old forms and names with new meaning they set men's minds upon thinking of the future.[900]

Yet the revival of the State religion by Augustus is at once the most remarkable event in the history of the Roman religion, and one almost unique in religious history. I have repeatedly spoken of that State religion as hypnotised or paralysed, meaning that the belief in the efficacy of the old cults had passed away among the educated classes, that the mongrel city populace had long been accustomed to scoff at the old deities, and that the outward practice of religion had been allowed to decay. To us, then, it may seem almost impossible that the practice, and to some extent also the belief, should be capable of resuscitation at the will of a single individual, even if that individual represented the best interests and the collective wisdom of the State. For it is impossible to deny that this resuscitation was real; that both pax deorum and ius divinum became once more terms of force and meaning. Beset as it was by at least three formidable enemies, which tended to destroy it even while they fed on it, like parasites in the animal or vegetable world feeding on their hosts,--the rationalising philosophy of syncretism, the worship of the Caesars, and the new Oriental cults,--the old religion continued to exist for at least three centuries in outward form, and to some extent in popular belief.

We must remember the tenacious conservatism of the Roman mind: the emotional stimulus of the age of depression and despair which preceded this revival: and the conscientious care with which the successors of Augustus, Tiberius in particular, carried out his religious policy.[901] Then as we become more familiar with the Corpus of inscriptions and the writings of the early Christian fathers, we begin to appreciate the fact that the natural and inherited religion of a people cannot altogether die, and that to describe this old Roman religion as dead is to use too strong a word. The votive inscriptions of the Empire show us overwhelming proof of surviving belief in the great deities of the olden time, and of the care taken of their temples. Antoninus Pius is honoured "ob insignem erga caerimonias publicas curam et religionem."[902] Marcus Aurelius himself did not hesitate in times of public distress to put in action the whole apparatus of the old religion.[903] Constantius in A.D. 329 was shown round the temples when he visited Rome for the first time, and in spite of his Christianity took a curious interest in them.[904] That the private worship, too, went on into the fourth century we know from the Theodosian code, where in the interest of Christianity the worship of Lares Penates and Genius is strictly forbidden.[905] Again, the constant ridicule with which the Christian writers speak of the minutiae of the heathen worship makes it quite plain that they knew it as actually existing, and not merely from books like those of Varro. They do not so much attack the Oriental religions of their time as the genuine old Roman cults; more especially is this the case with St. Augustine, from whose de Civitate Dei we have learnt so much about the latter. The very necessity under which the leaders of Christianity found themselves of suiting their own religious character, and in some ways even their own ceremonies, to the habits and prejudices of the pagans, tells the same story. But the question how far Latin Christianity was indebted to the religion of the Romans must be postponed to my last lecture; I have said enough to indicate in which direction we must go for evidence that the work of Augustus was not in vain, that it gave fresh stimulus to a plant that still had some life in it.

If, then, the Augustan revival was not a mere sham, but had its measure of real success, how are we to account for this? I think the explanation is not really difficult, if we bring to bear upon the problem what we have learnt from the beginning about the religious experience of the Romans. Let us note that Augustus troubled himself little about the later political developments of religion, which we have lately been examining,--about pontifices, augurs, and Sibylline books; these institutions, which had been so much used in the republican period for political and party purposes, it was rather his interest to keep in the background. But in one way or another he must have grasped the fundamental idea of the old Roman worship, that the prosperity and the fertility of man, and of his flocks and herds and crops on the farm, and the prosperity and fertility of the citizen within the city itself, equally depended on the dutiful attention (pietas) paid to the divine beings who had taken up their abode in farm or city.[906] The best expression of this idea in words is pax deorum,--the right relation between man and the various manifestations of the Power,--and the machinery by which it was secured was the ius divinum.[907] We shall not be far wrong if we say that it was Augustus' aim to re-establish the pax by means of the ius; but if we wished to explain the matter to some one who has not been trained in these technical terms, it would be better to say that he appealed to a deeply-rooted idea in the popular mind,--the idea that unless the divine inhabitants were properly and continually propitiated, they would not do their part in supporting the human inhabitants in all their doings and interests. This popular conviction he deliberately determined to use as his chief political lever.

This has, I think, been insufficiently emphasised by historians, who contemplate the work of this shrewd statesman too entirely from the political point of view. I am sure that he had learnt from his predecessors in power that reform on political lines only was without any element of stability, and that he knew that it was far more important to touch a spring in the feeling of the people, than to occupy himself, like Sulla, in mending old machinery or inventing new. If he could but induce them to believe in him as the restorer of the pax deorum, he knew that his work was accomplished. And I believe that we have what is practically his own word for this conviction; not in his Res Gestae, the Monumentum Ancyranum, which is a record of facts and of deeds only, but in the famous hymn which Horace wrote at his instance and to give expression to his ideas, for use in the Secular Games of 17 B.C., to which I am coming presently. Ferrero has lately described that hymn as a magnificent poem,[908] an opinion which to me is incomprehensible. It is neat, and embodies the necessary ideas adequately, but it is far too flat to be the genuine offspring of such a poet as Horace. To me it reads as though Augustus had written it in prose and then ordered his poet to put it into metre; and assuredly it expresses exactly what we should have expected Augustus to wish to be sung by his youthful choirs. I shall refer to it again shortly to illustrate another point; all I need say now is that he who reads it carefully and thinks about it will find there the conviction of which I have been speaking, that prosperity and fertility, whether of man, beast, or crop, depend on the Roman's attitude toward his deities; religion, morality, fertility, and public concord are the points which the astute ruler wished to be emphasised.[909] That this hymn was a really important part of the ceremony is certain from the fact that it was given to the best living poet to write, and that his name is mentioned as its author in the inscription, discovered not many years ago, which commemorated the whole performance: "CARMEN COMPOSUIT Q. HORATIUS FLACCUS."[910]

If, then, I am right, this strange movement was not merely a revival of religious ceremonies, but an appeal through them to the conscience of the people. A revival of religious life it, of course, was not, for what we understand by that term had never existed at Rome; but it was an attempt to give expression, in a religious form and under State authorisation, to certain feelings and ideas not far removed in kind from those which in our own day we describe as our religious experience. Whether Augustus himself shared in these feelings and ideas it is, of course, impossible to conjecture. But as a man's religious convictions are largely the result of his own experience and of that of the society in which he lives, and as Augustus' own experience for the twenty years before he took this work in hand had been full of trial and temptation, I am disposed to guess that he was rather expressing a popular conviction which he shared himself than merely standing apart and administering a remedy. And this view seems to me to be on the whole confirmed by the tone and spirit of the great literary works of the age.

Augustus did not become pontifex maximus till the year 12 B.C., nineteen years after he had crushed Antony at Actium; he waited with scrupulous patience until the headship of the Roman religion became vacant by the death of Lepidus.[911] But this did not prevent him from pursuing his religious policy with great earnestness before that date, for he had long been a member of the pontifical college, as well as augur and quindecemvir. No sooner had he returned to Rome from Egypt than the work of temple restoration began, the outward and visible sign to all that the pax deorum was to be firmly re-established. The fact of the restoration he has told us in half a dozen words in his own Res Gestae:[912] "Duo et octaginta templa deum in urbe ex decreto senatus refeci," adding that not one was neglected that needed repair. Among them was that oldest and smallest temple of Jupiter Feretrius on the Capitol to which I referred in a former lecture;[913] and his personal interest in the work is attested by Livy, who says that he himself heard Augustus tell how he had found an inscription, relating to the second spolia opima dedicated there, when he went into the temple bent on the work of restoration.[914] It needs but a little historical imagination to appreciate the psychological importance of all this work. We have to think not only of the bystanders who watched, but of the very workmen themselves, rejoicing at once in new employment and in the revival of an old sense of religious duty. Little more than twenty years earlier, no workman could be found to lay a hand upon the newly-built temple of Isis, when the consul Aemilius Paulus gave orders for its destruction as a centre of superstitio;[915] now abundant work was provided which every man's conscience would approve. When I think of the Rome of that year 28, with all its fresh hope and confidence taking visible shape in this way, even Horace's famous lines seem cold to me (Od. ii. 6. 1):

delicta maiorum immeritus lues
Romane, donec templa refeceris

aedesque labentis deorum et
foeda nigro simulacra fumo.

The restoration of the temple buildings implies also a revival of the old ritual, the cura et caerimonia. As to this we are very imperfectly informed,--we have no correspondence of this age, as of the last, and the details of life in the Augustan city are not preserved in abundance. But Ovid comes to the rescue here, as in secular matters, and on the whole the evidence in his Fasti suggests that the old sacrificing priesthoods, the Rex and the flamines, were set to their work again. He tells us, for example, how he himself, as he was returning to Rome from Nomentum,[916] had seen the flamen Quirinalis carrying out the exta of a dog and a sheep which had been sacrificed in the morning in the city, to be laid on the altar in the grove of Robigus. In spite of all its disabling restrictions, it was possible once more to fill the ancient priesthood of Jupiter; and of the Rex sacrorum and the other flamines we hear in the early Empire.[917] They were in the potestas of the pontifex maximus, and as after 12 B.C. that position was always held by the Princeps himself, it was not likely that they would be allowed to neglect their duties. Other ancient colleges were also revived or confirmed by the inclusion of the Emperor himself among their members (a fact which Augustus was careful to record in his own words), e.g. the Fetiales, of whom he had made use when declaring war with Antony and Cleopatra;[918] the Sodales Titienses, an institution of which we have lost the origin and meaning; the Salii, Luperci, and above all the Fratres Arvales, the brotherhood whose duty it had once been to lead a procession round the crops in May, and so to ensure the pax deorum for the most vital material of human subsistence. The corn-supply now came almost entirely from Africa and Egypt; the inner meaning of this old ritual could not be revived, and we must own that all this restoration of the old caerimonia must have appealed rather to the eye than the mind of the beholder. It was necessary to put some new element into it to give it life. Here we come upon a most important fact in the work of Augustus, which will become apparent if we take a rapid glance at the work and history of the Fratres, and then go on to find further illustration of the curious mixture of old and new which the Roman religion was henceforward to be.

The fortunate survival of large fragments of the records of the Brotherhood, dating from shortly after the battle of Actium, show that it continued to work and to flourish down to the reign of Gordian (A.D. 241), and from other sources we know that it was still in existence in the fourth century.[919] These records have been found on the site of the sacred grove, at the fifth milestone on the via Campana between Rome and Ostia, which from the time of this revival onwards was the centre of the activity of the Fratres.

The brethren were twelve in number, with a magister at their head and a flamen to assist him; they were chosen from distinguished families by co-optation, the reigning Emperor being always a member.[920] Their duties fell into two divisions, which most aptly illustrate respectively the old and the new ingredients in the religious prescriptions of Augustus, as they were carried out by his successors. The first of these is the performance of the yearly rites in honour of the Dea Dia, the goddess or numen without a substantival name (a form perhaps of Ceres and Tellus), whose home was in the sacred grove, and who was the special object of this venerable cult. Secondly, the care of vows, prayers, and sacrifices for the Emperors and other members of the imperial house. I must say a few words about each of these divisions of duty.

The worship of the Dea Dia took place in May on three days, with an interval always of one day between the first and second, according to the old custom of the calendar.[921] On the first, preliminary rites were performed at Rome, in the house of the magister; on the second was the most important part of the whole ceremony, which took place at the sacred grove. These rites will give a good idea of the old Roman worship, and of the exactness with which Augustus sought to restore it. At dawn the magister sacrificed two porcae piaculares to the Dea, and then a vacca honoraria, after which he laid aside the toga praetexta or sacrificial vestment, and rested till noon, when all the brethren partook of a common meal, of which the porcae formed the chief part. Then resuming the praetexta, and crowned with wreaths of corn-ears, they proceeded to the altar in the grove, where they sacrificed the agna opima, which was the principal victim in the whole ceremonial.[922] Other rites followed, e.g. the passing round, from one to another of the brethren, fruits gathered and consecrated on the previous day, each brother receiving them in his left, i.e. lucky hand, and passing them on with his right; and the singing of the famous Arval hymn to Mars and the Lares to a rhythmic dance-tune. Then after another meal and chariot-racing in the neighbouring circus, they returned to Rome and finished the day with further feasting.[923] A cynical reader of these Acta might suggest that the appetites of the good brethren were made more of than their pietas; but the feasting may be just as much a part of the ancient practice as any of the other curiosities of ritual.

The utensils employed were of the primitive sun-baked clay (ollae), and seem to have been regarded with a veneration almost amounting to worship.[924] Long ago I had occasion to note how the old form of piacular sacrifice was used and recorded whenever iron was taken into the grove, or any damage done to the trees by lightning or other accident. Once, when a tiny fig-tree sprouted on the roof of the temple, piacula of all suitable kinds had to be offered to Mars, Dea Dia, Janus, Jupiter, Juno, Virgines divae, Famuli divi, Lares, Mater Larum, sive deus sive dea in cuius tutela hic lucus locusque est, Fons, Hora, Vesta Mater, Vesta deorum dearumque, Adolenda Commolenda Deferunda,--and sixteen divi of the imperial families![925] As the date of this extraordinary performance is A.D. 183, nothing can better show the extent to which the revival of elaborate ritual had been carried by Augustus, and the amazing tenacity with which it held its ground.

The second part of the activity of the brethren well illustrates the new element which Augustus adroitly insinuated into the old religious forms: but I shall not dwell upon it, for the worship of the Caesars in its developed form is not of either Roman or Italian origin, any more than the other kinds of cult which were now pressing in from the East; and it thus lies outside the range of my subject. The revival of this old priesthood, and doubtless of others, the Salii for example, was turned to account to mark the sacred character and political and social predominance of the imperial family. All events of importance in the life of the Emperor himself and his family were the occasion of vows, prayers, or thanksgivings on the part of the Fratres; births, marriages, successions to the throne, journeys and safe return, and the assumption of the consulship and other offices or priesthoods. These rites all took place at various temples or altars in Rome, or at the Ara Pacis, recently excavated, which Augustus had built in the Campus Martius. Here, by way of example of them, is a "votum susceptum pro salute novi principis," on his accession.[926]

"Imperatore M. Othone Caesare Augusto, L. Salvio Othone Titiano iterum consulibus, III kalendas Februarias magistro Imperatore M. Othone Caesare Augusto, promagistro L. Salvio Othone Titiano: collegi fratrum Arvalium nomine immolavit in Capitolio ob vota nuncupata pro salute imperatoris M. Othonis Caesaris Augusti in annum proximum in III nonas Ianuarias Iovi bovem marem, Iunoni vaccam: Minervae vaccam: Saluti publicae populi Romani vaccam: divo Augusto bovem marem, divae Augustae vaccam: divo Claudio bovem marem: in collegio adfuerunt, etc."

This record, which belongs to the year 69 and the accession of Otho, shows the divi, i.e. the deified emperors Augustus and Claudius, together with the deified Livia, associated with the trias of the Capitoline temple and the Salus publica in the sacrificial rites. But under the Flavian dynasty which followed this association was judiciously dropped.[927] It may serve for the moment to illustrate what was to come of this new element so subtly introduced into the old worship; how it led to practices which are utterly repulsive to us, and repulsive too to an honest man even in that day. The noble words of Tiberius, declining to have temples erected to him in Spain, have been preserved by Tacitus from the senatorial records:[928] "Ego me, patres conscripti, mortalem esse fateor"; and he added that his only claim to immortality lay in the due performance of duty. Tiberius, whatever else he may have been, was beyond doubt an honest man; and so too was Seneca, the author of the famous skit on the deification of Claudius. But the extravagances of Caesar-worship are not to be met with in Augustus' time; for him the new element may be defined, as in Rome (and in Italy too, so far as his own wish could limit it) nothing more than the encouragement of the belief in him, and loyalty to him as the restorer of the pax deorum. To this end he sought to magnify his own achievements as avenger of the crime of the murder of Julius, by which the pax had been grievously disturbed. I propose to finish this lecture by giving some account of the way in which he attained this object. Let us briefly examine the famous ritual of the Ludi saeculares, of which we have more detailed knowledge than of any other Roman rite of any period; it marks the zenith of his prosperity and religious activity, and belongs to the year 17 B.C., two years after the death of Virgil,--a date which may be said to divide the long power of Augustus into two nearly equal halves.

This famous celebration is an epoch in the history of the Roman religion, if not in the history of Rome herself. It stands on the very verge of an old and a new régime. It was the outward or ritualistic expression of the idea, already suggested by Virgil in the fourth Eclogue and the Aeneid, that a regeneration is at hand of Rome and Italy, in religion, morals, agriculture, government; old things are put away, new sap is to run in the half-withered trunk and branches of a noble tree. The experience of the past, as with Aeneas after the descent into Hades, is to lead to new effort and a new type of character, of which pietas in its broadest sense is the inspiring motive. Henceforward the Roman is to look ahead of him in hope and confidence, virtutem extendere factis. Augustus, the Aeneas of the actual State, was firmly established in a prestige which extended beyond Italy even to the far East; his faithful and capable coadjutor Agrippa was by his side to take his part in the ritual, and no cloud in that year 17 seemed to be visible on the horizon.

The Ludi saeculares are also unique in respect of the records we have of them. By wonderful good fortune we can construct an almost complete picture of what was done in that year on the last days of May and the first three of June. We have the text of the Sibylline oracle,--how manufactured we do not know, nor does it much matter,--which prescribed the ritual, preserved by Zosimus, a Greek historian of the fifth century A.D., together with his own account.[929] Thus the outline of the ritual has been known all along, together with many details; and to help it out we have also the perfect text of the hymn written by Horace for the occasion, and sung by two choirs of boys and girls respectively. But great was the delight of the learned world when, in September 1890, workmen employed on the Tiber embankment, close, as it turned out, to the spot where the nightly rites of the ludi took place, came upon a mediaeval wall partly made of ancient material, in which some marbles were found covered with inscriptions relating to this same celebration.[930] This treasure was badly mutilated, but the inscription was easily decipherable; it contains a letter from Augustus giving instructions, two decrees of the Senate, and a series of records of the Quindecemviri, who were of course in charge of a ritual which had been ordered by a Sibylline oracle. Some few points were at first puzzling, but have been cleared up since the discovery. Mommsen, of course, took the work in hand, and his exposition is still, and always will be, the starting-point for students. Wissowa has an excellent popular account of it, and recently, in the fifth volume of his Greatness and Decline of Rome, Ferrero has utilised it to give an animated account of the whole ceremony.[931]

The Ludi saeculares take their name from the word saeculum; and the old Italian idea of a saeculum seems to have been a period stretching from any given moment to the death of the oldest person born at that moment,--a hundred years being the natural period so conceived.[932] Thus a new saeculum might begin at any time, and might be endowed with special religious significance by certain solemn ceremonies; in this way the people might be persuaded that a new leaf, so to speak, had been turned over in their history: that all past evil, material or moral, had been put away and done with (saeculum condere), and a new period entered on of innocence and prosperity. There are faint traces of three early celebrations of this kind, beginning in 463 B.C., traditionally a disastrous year, and renewed in 363 and 263. But in 249, another year of distress and peril, a new saeculum was entered on with a new and a Greek ritual, ordered by a Sibylline oracle. A subterranean altar in a spot by the Tiber, near the present Ponte St. Angelo, and called Tarentum (possibly to mark the original home of the rite), was dedicated to Dis and Proserpina, Greek deities of the nether world; and here for three successive nights black victims were offered to them. The subterranean altar and the use of the word condere (to put away), might suggest that this rite may have had something in common with those well-known quasi-dramatic ones in which objects are buried or thrown into the water, to represent the cessation of one period of vegetation and the beginning of another.[933] Or we may look on it in the light of one of those rites de passage in which a transition is made from one state of things to another, without any definite religious idea being attached to it. There is no doubt some mystical element in the primitive idea of the beginning and ending of periods of time, which has not as yet been thoroughly investigated.[934]

Now it is easy to see how exactly a rite of this kind, with suitable modifications, would fit in with Augustus' purposes as we have explained them. Fortunately too Varro had in 42 B.C. published a book in which the mystic or Pythagorean doctrine was set forth of the palingenesis of All Souls after four saecula of 110 years each; the fourth Eclogue of Virgil may have been influenced by this, among other mystical ideas, as it was written only three years later; and in any case the doctrine was well known.[935] But Augustus had to wait a while, until peace and confidence were restored. Why eventually he chose the year 17 is quite uncertain; it does not exactly fit in with any calculation of four saecula of 110 years starting from any known date. But a saeculum, as we have seen, might begin at any moment; and in any case it was easy to manufacture a calculation, which was now duly accomplished by trusty persons, chief among them being the great lawyer, Ateius Capito, an ardent adherent of Augustus and his projects.[936] Probably too it was necessary to take advantage of the popular feeling of the moment, that a better time had come, and that it should be started on its way in some fitting outward form.

So an elaborate programme was drawn up, the main features of which I must now explain. On 26th May and the two following days (for the mystic numbers three, nine, and twenty-seven are noticeable throughout the ritual)[937] the means of purification (suffimenta)--torches, sulphur, bitumen[938]--were distributed by the priests to all free persons, whether citizens or not; for this once, all in Rome at the time, with the exception of slaves, were to give an imperial meaning to the ceremony by their share in it. Even bachelors, though forbidden to attend public shows under a recent law de maritandis ordinibus, were allowed to do so on this occasion. No doubt the idea was that the whole people were to be purified from all pollution of the past; it is what M. van Gennep calls a rite de séparation, the first step in a rite de passage. The next three days all the people came to the Quindecemviri at certain stated places, and made offerings of fruges, the products of the earth, as we do at our harvest festivals; these were the firstfruits of the coming harvest.[939] It may be worth while to recall the facts that it was on these same days that the procession of the Ambarvalia used to go round the ripening crops, and that in the early days of June the symbolic penus of Vesta was being cleansed to receive the new grain.[940] That Augustus wished to emphasise the importance of Italian agriculture is beyond doubt, and is apparent also in the hymn of Horace, Fertilis frugum pecorisque Tellus spicea donet Cererem corona, etc.

When the suffimenta had been distributed and the offerings made, all was ready for the putting away or burying of the old saeculum. On the night before 1st June Augustus himself, together with Agrippa, sacrificed to the Greek Moirae, the Parcae of Horace's hymn, perhaps in some sense the Fata of the Aeneid; on the second night to Eilithyia, the Greek deity of childbirth; and on the third to Mother Tellus. The form of prayer accompanying the sacrifice is preserved in the inscription; it is Latin in language and form, as dry and concise as any we examined in my lectures on ritual, and contains the macte esto which I was then at pains to explain. Augustus prayed for the safety and prosperity of the State in every way, and also for himself, his house, and his familia.[941] The scene on the bank of the Tiber, illuminated by torches, must have been most impressive.

These were the nightly ceremonies. But each day also had its ritual, in which the Roman deities of the heaven were the objects of worship, not, as by the Tiber bank, Greek deities of the earth and the nether world. On the first two days Augustus and Agrippa offered the proper victims to Jupiter and Juno respectively on the Capitol; Minerva is omitted, and probably the other two are reckoned in Greek fashion as a married pair. The form of prayer was the same as that used by night, with the necessary modifications. Thus the great Capitoline temple and its deities have a full share of attention, and they go too far who think that Augustus was so wanting in tact as to put them in the shade.[942] But on the third and last day the scene changes from the Capitol to the Palatine, the residence of Augustus, where he had built his great temple of Apollo; here for the first time in the ceremony Horace's hymn was sung. On all the days and nights there had been shows and amusements, and a hundred and ten chosen matrons had taken solemn part in the services.[943] But I must pass these over and turn in the last place to the question, as interesting as it is old and difficult, as to how and where Horace's hymn was sung, and how we are to understand it.

The instructions given to the poet by Augustus are obvious as we read the Carmen in the light of the ceremonial of which it was to mark the conclusion. He was to bring into it, as we have already seen, the ideas which were to be revived and made resonant, of religion, morality, and the fertility of man, beast, and crop; and they are all there. He was also to include all the deities who had been addressed in prayer both by day and night, by Tiber bank and on the Capitol, and to give the most prominent place to those who on this last day were worshipped on the Palatine; to Apollo, for whom Augustus had built a great temple close to his own house (_in privato solo_[944]), as his own specially protecting deity since Actium, and Diana, who as equivalent to Artemis, could not but be associated with Apollo. Thus the deities of the hymn are both Latin and Greek,[945] and this expresses the undoubted fact that the religion of the Romans was henceforward to be even in outward expression a cosmopolitan or Romano-Hellenic one, in keeping with the fact that all free men of every race might take part in this great festival. But it cannot fail to strike every careful reader that the great trias of the Capitol is hardly visible in the poem, though Jupiter and Juno had been the chief objects of worship on the two previous days. Jupiter is twice incidentally named, but in no connection with the Capitol;[946] and it is only when we read between the lines of the fourteenth stanza that we discover Jupiter and Juno as the recipients of the white oxen which had been sacrificed to them there. I have already said that we must not make too much of the neglect of Jupiter and Juno by Augustus; but it is plain that he directed Horace not to make them too prominent in this hymn, and I think it is quite possible that Horace a little overdid his obedience.

The result of all this is that the hymn, in spite of its neatness and adequacy, is wanting in spontaneity, and presents the casual reader with an apparently unmeaning jumble of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. The only way to clear it up is by taking it in immediate relation with what we know about the places in which it was sung. To me at last it has become clear enough in all its main points; and I will give here my own results, which do not altogether coincide with those of other recent inquirers.

Before the discovery of the great inscription we knew that this hymn was sung before the new temple of Apollo on the Palatine; we now know that it was also sung on the Capitol,[947] thus uniting in one performance the old religion of republican Rome with the new imperial cult of Apollo. But this new fact has, in my opinion, led to misapprehensions both of the manner of singing and the order of subjects in the hymn. Mommsen thought that the first part was sung on the Palatine, the middle part on the Capitol, and the last again on the Palatine, and he is followed by Wissowa; and both seem to think it possible that there may have been singing too during the procession from the one hill to the other.[948] I think we need not trouble ourselves about the latter point, for the Via Sacra, by which the procession must have gone, was far too narrow and irregular to allow fifty-four singers, with the tibicines who must have been accompanying them, to walk and perform at the same time.[949] The inscription, too, says plainly that the hymn was sung on the Palatine and then on the Capitol, and by that plain statement of fact we had better abide.

Now let us note that these two stations on the two hills were the best possible positions for Augustus' purpose, not only because of their religious importance, but because they afforded the most spacious views of the city, now everywhere adorned with new or restored buildings. The temple of Apollo was built upon a large and lofty area at the north-east end of the Palatine.[950] Recent excavations have shown it to be some hundred yards broad by a hundred and fifty in length, and Ovid, in a passage of his _Tristia_[951] gives us an idea of its height:

inde tenore pari gradibus sublimia celsis

ducor ad intonsi candida templa dei.

On this area the choirs of boys and girls took their station, facing the marble temple, on the fastigium of which was represented the Sun driving his four-horse chariot.[952] After singing, probably together, the first two stanzas or exordium of the hymn, they addressed this Sol:

alme Sol, curru nitido diem qui
promis et celas, aliusque et idem
nasceris, possis nihil urbe Roma

visere maius.

As they sang these last words, they would turn towards the city that lay behind them, and look over it to the Tiber and the scene of the nightly sacrifices of the Tarentum; and with the deities of these rites, who must of course be taken before those of day and light, as in the order of the festival, the next five stanzas are occupied:[953] Eilithyia, the Moirae (Parcae), and Tellus or Ceres. When that duty is over they turn once more to the temple, and the Greek deities of the Tarentum are mentioned no more. Three stanzas are devoted to Apollo and Diana (Luna), with a happy allusion to the Aeneid, and then once more the choirs turn, and this time they face the Capitol; the hymn is long, and these changes of movement would be at once a relief to the singers and a pleasant sight to the spectators. They address the deities of the Capitol in appropriate language:

di probos mores docili iuventae,
di, senectuti placidae quietem,
Romulae genti date remque prolemque

et decus omne.

The allusion to Jupiter and Juno is thus veiled:

quaeque vos bobus veneratur albis
clarus Anchisae Venerisque sanguis, impetret, bellante prior, iacentem

lenis in hostem.

Horace has cleverly made Augustus himself the leading figure in this and the following stanza, and the listeners forget the Capitoline gods as they note the allusion to Venus, the ancestress of the Julii, the prestige of Augustus that has brought envoys to him from Scythia, Media, and India, and in the next stanza the public virtues, presented here as deities--Fides, Pax, Honos, Pudor, Virtus--on whose aid and worship the new régime is based.[954]

At the sixteenth stanza the choirs again face about to the temple of Apollo, and with him and Diana again the next two stanzas have to do. Only one remains, in which as an exodos we may be sure the two choirs of boys and girls joined; it sums up the whole body of deities, but with Apollo and Diana as the special objects of the day's worship:

haec Iovem sentire deosque cunctos spem bonam certamque domum reporto, doctus et Phoebi chorus et Dianae

dicere laudes.

The performance on the Palatine was now over, and the procession streamed down the hill to join the Via Sacra near the Regia and the Vesta temple, and so to make its way up to the Capitol, where the performance was repeated.[955] Taking station at this noble point of view, he who will can again follow its movement with the hymn in his hand. The area in front of the Capitoline temple looked across to the Palatine, and the image of Sol and his quadriga must have been in full view; thus the exordium and the next stanza (alme Sol) would be sung looking in that direction. Equally well in view, if they turned to the right, would be the scene of the midnight sacrifices across the Campus Martius; and so on throughout the singing the changes of position would be easy and graceful, here as on the Palatine.

Here I prefer to make an end of the performance, following the text of the inscription, which tells us nothing of a return to the Palatine. It would be far more in keeping with Roman practice that the Capitol should be the scene of the conclusion of the processional ceremony, even on a day when Apollo was, with Augustus himself, the principal figure. From the musical point of view, too, a third performance is improbable, for the singers were young and tender.

And here, too, with this impressive scene, which can hardly fail to move the imagination of any one who has stood on Palatine and Capitol, I will close my account of the religious experience of the Romans. A few remarks only remain for me to make about its contribution, such as it was, to the Latin form of Christianity.

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