Roman Empire | Roman Religious Practices

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[23] Renel, Les Enseignes, p. 43 foll. For the contrary view, Deubner in Archiv, 1910, p. 490.

[24] On taboo in general, Jevons, Introduction to the History of Religion, ch. vi.; Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites, p. 142 foll.; Frazer, Golden Bough (ed. 2), i. 343; Crawley, The Mystic Rose, passim. On the relation of taboo to magic, Marett, Threshold of Religion, p. 85 foll. Lately M. van Gennep in his Rites de passage has attempted to classify and explain the various rites resulting from taboo.

[25] See the Transactions of the Congress (Oxford University Press), vol. i. p. 121 foll. M. Reinach had alleged that the gens Fabia was originally a totem clan, Mythes et cultes, i. p. 47.

[26] Marett, On the Threshold of Religion, p. 137 foll. "In taboo the mystic thing is not to be lightly approached (negative aspect); qua mana, it is instinct with mystic power (positive aspect)": so Mr. Marett states the distinction in a private letter.

[27] Evolution of Religion, p. 94.

[28] Introduction, ch. viii.; Westermarck, Origin and Development of Ethical Ideas, i. 233 foll.

[29] See a paper by the author in the Transactions of the Congress of the History of Religions, 1908, ii. 169 foll.

[30] Macrobius, Sat. i. 16. 36; De Marchi, La Religione nella vita domestica, i. p. 169 foll.; Samter, Familienfeste der Griechen und Römer, p. 62 foll., where the dies lustricus is compared with the Greek [Greek: amphidromia]. Unfortunately the details of the Roman rite are unknown to us, which seems to indicate that the primitive or magical character of it had disappeared. Van Gennep, op. cit. ch. v., reviews and classifies our present knowledge of this kind of rite. See also Crawley, Mystic Rose, p. 435 foll.

[31] Crawley, op. cit. p. 436; Frazer, G.B. i. 403 foll. From this point of view Roman names need a closer examination than they have yet received. See, however, Marquardt, Privatleben der Römer, pp. 10 and 81, and Mommsen, Röm. Forschungen, i. 1 foll. Marquardt must be wrong in stating (p. 10) that only the praenomen was given on the dies lustricus; children dying before that day usually, as he says on p. 82 note, have no name in inscriptions, and that ceremony must surely have introduced the child to the gens of its parents. Certainly that introduction had not to wait till the toga virilis was taken; though Tertull. de Idol. 16 looks at first a little like it. The same statement is made in the Dict. of Antiq., s.v. "nomen." Macr. Sat. i. 16. 36, and Fest. 120, simply speak of nomen.

[32] Fowler, R.F. p. 56; De Marchi, op. cit. p. 176. For the primitive ideas about puberty, Crawley, Mystic Rose, ch. xiii. The idea of the Romans seems to have been simply that the child, who had so far needed special protection from evil influences (of what kind in particular it is impossible to say) by purple-striped toga and amulet (see below, p. 60), was now entering a stage when these were no longer needed. All notions of taboo seem to have vanished.

[33] Marquardt, Privataltertümer, p. 337 foll.

[34] Serv. Aen. ii. 714, and especially iii. 64. Other references in Marq. op. cit. p. 338, note 5, and De Marchi, La Religione nella vita domestica, p. 190. For similar usages of prohibition see van Gennep, op. cit. ch. ii.

[35] Festus, p. 3, "itaque funus prosecuti redeuntes ignem supragradiebantur aqua aspersi, quod purgationis genus vocabant suffitionem." For the possibly magic influence of these elements, see Jevons, op. cit. p. 70.

[36] Frazer, G.B. i. 325, iii. 222 foll.; Jevons, p. 59.

[37] Cato, R.R. 83, "mulier ad eam rem divinam ne adsit neve videat quomodo fiat."

[38] Plutarch, Quaest. Rom. 60. Dogs were also excluded (ib. 90); Gellius xi. 6. 2; Wissowa, R.K. p. 227; Fowler, R.F. p. 194, where the private and public taboos are compared.

[39] Festus, s.v. "exesto." For similar taboos in Greece, Farnell in Archiv for 1904, p. 76.

[40] Fowler, Social Life at Rome in the Age of Cicero, p. 143 foll. Cp. Westermarck, Origin, etc., vol. i. ch. xxvi., especially p. 652 foll.

[41] G.B. i. 298 foll.

[42] Festus, s.v. "exesto."

[43] Bücheler, Umbrica, p. 94 foll. Cp. Livy v. 50, where it is said that, after the Gauls had left Rome, all the temples, quod ea hostis possedisset, were to be restored, to have their bounds laid down afresh (terminarentur) and to be disinfected (expiarentur). Digest, xi. 7. 36, "cum loca capta sunt ab hostibus, omnia desinunt religiosa vel sacra esse, sicut homines liberi in servitutem perveniunt; quod si ab hac calamitate fuerint liberata, quasi quodam postliminio reversa pristino statui restituerentur." Cp. Plutarch, Aristides, 20. A friend reminds me that Bishop Berkeley, when in Italy, had his bedroom sprinkled with holy water by his landlady.

[44] See Marquardt, p. 420, notes 5 and 6. The verbenarius is mentioned in Serv. Aen. xii. 120, and Pliny N.H. xxii. 5. For the disinfecting power of verbena (myrtea verbena) see Pliny xv. 119, where it is said to have been used by Romans and Sabines after the rape of the Sabine virgins.

[45] See Marquardt, Privatleben, p. 192 foll., based on the famous essay of Mommsen in his Römische Forschungen, i. 319 foll. The passages quoted from Livy for the practice in early times (i. 45, v. 50) are not, of course, historical evidence; but we may fairly argue back from the more explicit evidence of later times, e.g. the Senatusconsultum de Asclepiade of 78 B.C. (C.I. Graec. 5879).

There is a good example of the feeling in modern Italy in a book called In the Abruzzi, by Anne Macdonell, p. 275. I have experienced it in remote parts of South Wales long ago. Moritz, the German pastor who travelled on foot in England towards the end of the eighteenth century, noted that even the innkeepers were constantly unwilling to take him in. His book was reprinted in Cassell's National Library some years ago.

[46] See the very interesting chapter in The Origin and Development of Moral Ideas, vol. i. p. 570 foll., especially p. 590 foll. Dr. Westermarck aptly points out that hospitality is almost universal among "rude" peoples, and loses its hold as they become more civilised. M. van Gennep in his recently published work, Les Rites de Passage, has attempted to classify the various rites relating to taboo of strangers; see ch. iii., especially p. 38 foll.

[47] Jevons, Introduction, p. 70.

[48] Gellius x. 15. 8, "vinctum, si aedes eius introierit, solui necessum est." (In hot countries chains still usually, or in some degree, take the place of bolts and bars, e.g. in the Soudan, as I am told by an old pupil now in the Soudan civil service.) The regular Latin phrase for imprisonment is "in vincula conicere": Pauly-Wissowa, s.v. "carcer."

[49] Gellius, l.c.; Serv. Aen. ii. 57, a curious passage, in which the release of Sinon from his bonds by King Priam is compared with that of the prisoner who enters the flaminia (house of the Flamen Dialis). That there was something in the iron which interfered with the religious efficacy of the Flamen seems likely; cp. the rule that he might wear no ring unless it were broken, and have no knot about his dress. But the latter restriction suggests that binding may have been originally the object of the taboo (cp. Ovid, Fasti, v. 432), and that the iron taboo came in with the iron age. Appel, de Romanorum precationibus, p. 82, note 2, seems so to understand it. Cp. Eurip. Iph. Taur. 468, where Orestes and Pylades are unbound before entering the temple.

[50] There has been much discussion of this question; I entirely agree with Wissowa (R.K. p. 354, where references are given for the opposite opinion) that there is no evidence for human sacrifice in the old Roman religion or law, except in the rule that a condemned criminal was made over to a deity (sacer), which may have been a legal survival of an original form of actual sacrifice. The alleged sacrifice by Julius Caesar of two mutinous soldiers in the Campus Martius (Dio Cass. xliii. 24) is of the same nature as the sacrifice of captives to Orcus in Aen. xi. 81, i.e. it is outside of the civil life and religious law; this is shown in the latter case by the mention of blood in the ritual (caeso sparsurus sanguine flammas), and in the former by the beheading of the mutineers.

[51] Mommsen, Strafrecht, p. 917 foll.; Livy x. 9; Cic. de Rep. ii. 31. 65. All other methods of execution were bloodless. Decollatio remained in use in the army (as in the case just mentioned), but the axe disappeared from the fasces in the city with the abolition of kingship. As further illustration of the dislike of all bloodshed, cp. the rule of XII. Tables, "mulieres genas ne radunto," i.e. at funerals, Cic. de Legibus, ii. 59, and Serv. Aen. iii. 67 from Varro, and v. 78. The gladiatorial ludi may have been a revival of an old custom akin to human sacrifice of captives in the field. See Social Life at Rome in the Age of Cicero, p. 304, note 3.

We may also note in this connection that there is no distinct trace of the blood-feud in old Roman law; see Zum ältesten Strafrecht der Kulturvölker, p. 38 (questions of comparative law suggested by Mommsen and answered by various specialists). Doubtless it once existed, but vanished at an early date.

[52] Fowler, R.F. p. 242. The tail of the sacrificed horse was carried to the Regia, where the blood was allowed to drip on the sacred hearth (participandae rei divinae gratia), Festus, p. 178.

[53] R.F. p. 311 foll., from Plutarch, Rom. 21.

[54] For this practice in many ancient religions, and its substitute, the smearing of the stone with turmeric or other red stain, see Jevons, Introduction, p. 139 foll.; Robertson Smith, Semites, p. 415.

[55] This is found in Zosimus ii. 1. 5; Diels, Sibyllinische Blätter, 132, and 73 note. Cp. Virg. Aen. viii. 106; also a Greek rite.

[56] G.B. ed. 2, i. 241 foll.

[57] The bronze and iron ages, of course, overlap; see Helbig, Italiker in der Poebene, p. 78 foll.

[58] Henzen, Acta Fratr. Arv. pp. 22 and 128 foll. Other examples are collected by Helbig, op. cit. p. 80.

[59] Dion. Hal. iii. 45; Mommsen in C.I.L. i. p. 177. It may be as well to point out that iron, like wheat in the taboos of the Flamen, was considered dangerous, as being a novelty. The old Italian grain was not true wheat but far, which continued to be used in religious rites; R.F. p. 304, and Marquardt, Privatleben der Römer, p. 399 foll.

[60] Varro, L.L. vii. 84; Ovid, Fasti, i. 629; Petronius, Sat. 44. There are many parallels in Greek ritual.

[61] See below, p. 146. Mr. Marett suggests to me a comparison with the rongo (sacred) of the Melanesians, and tapu as used of a place by them, i.e. set apart by a human authority; Codrington, Melanesians, p. 77.

[62] Wissowa, R.K. p. 408 foll.; cp. 323 and notes.

[63] The fullest account of this will be found in Marquardt, p. 262 foll. For the case of a man killed by lightning, see note 4 on p. 263; the body was not burnt but buried, and the grave became a bidental, and religiosum.

[64] For the intricate pontifical law of burial-places see Wissowa, p. 409. The quotation from Masurius is in Gellius iv. 9. 8, "M. Sabinus in commentariis quos de indigenis composuit." The word sanctitas is here used merely by way of explanation and not in a technical sense; for which see Marq. p. 145 and references; but it seems to have had a special use in the cult of the dead. (See below, p. 470.)

[65] Quoted by Macrobius, Sat. iii. 3. 8. For Sulpicius see Social Life at Rome in the Age of Cicero, p. 118 foll.

[66] Festus, p. 278. This Aelius lived at the end of the Republican period, and belonged to the school of Sulpicius; Schanz, Gesch. der röm. Lit. i. pt. 2, p. 486.

[67] e.g. the three days on which the mundus was open were all comitiales, though at the same time religiosi.

[68] R.K. pp. 376, 377.

[69] The authorities for the story are Verrius Flaccus, ap. Gell. v. 17, and Macrobius, Sat. i. 16. 21.

[70] For the extent of the taboo see Gell. iv. 9. 5; Macr. i. 16. 18.

[71] Gell. v. 17. 3 foll. (annalium quinto).

[72] Festus, p. 278.

[73] R.F. p. 151.

[74] Wissowa, R.K. p. 377, note 6.

[75] Cic. ad Qu. Fratr. ii. 4. 2.

[76] Wissowa, R.K. pp. 187, 189.

[77] R.K. p. 377. Gell. iv. 9. 5 says that the multitudo imperitorum confused the dies religiosi and dies nefasti. The distinction is most clearly seen in the fact that on dies religiosi the temples were (or ought to be) shut, and "res divinas facere" was ill-omened (Gell., ib.), while on dies nefasti the latter was regular, such days being made over to the gods. No wonder that Gellius brands the popular ignorance with such words as prave and perperam.

[78] See Prof. Rhys's paper read before the British Academy, "Notes on the Coligny Calendar," p. 33 and elsewhere.

[79] Introduction, p. 65 foll.

[80] Since writing this sentence I have read the paper by W. Otto on "Religio and Superstitio" in Archiv für Religionswissenschaft, 1909, p. 533 foll.; in which at p. 544 he hints at a connection of religio with the practice of taboo. With some of his conclusions, however, I cannot agree. The same explanation of the origin of religio, i.e. in an age of taboo, has also been suggested since my lecture was written by Maximilianus Kobbert, De verborum "religio atque religiosus" usu apud Romanos, p. 31 (Königsberg, 1910).

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