ANCIENT ROMAN TEMPLES, PRIESTS AND VESTAL VIRGINS

ROME’S FIRST TEMPLE: FOR JUPITER, JUNO, AND MINERVA


Temples on Capitoline Hill

Harold Whetstone Johnston wrote in “The Private Life of the Romans”: “ The first temple at Rome was built by the Etruscans on the Capitoline Hill, for Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. Jupiter (Iuppiter), Diovis Pater, was the light-father, worshiped on hilltops, whom men called to witness their agreements. Minerva had come in from Falerii as patron of craftsmen and their guilds, and had also her own temple on the Aventine. [Source: “The Private Life of the Romans” by Harold Whetstone Johnston, Revised by Mary Johnston, Scott, Foresman and Company (1903, 1932) forumromanum.org |+|]

Dr Nigel Pollard of Swansea University wrote for the BBC: “At a relatively early date, the sky-god Jupiter (generally equated with the Greek god Zeus) took on great importance in the Roman state religion. His main temple in Rome, that of Jupiter Optimus Maximus ('The Best and Greatest') was established on the Capitoline Hill in 509 B.C. at the beginning of the Roman Republic, and was rebuilt several times throughout Roman history. [Source: Dr Nigel Pollard of Swansea University, BBC, March 29, 2011 |::|]

“The interior of the temple was divided into three rooms, dedicated not only to Jupiter but also to his consort Juno and the goddess Minerva. Collectively they are known as the Capitoline Triad, and when Roman power had expanded to encompass an empire, the central temple of many Roman cities - in Italy and further afield - was often dedicated to this Capitoline Triad. |::|

Websites on Ancient Greece and Rome: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Greece sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Hellenistic World sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; BBC Ancient Greeks bbc.co.uk/history/; Canadian Museum of History historymuseum.ca; Perseus Project - Tufts University; perseus.tufts.edu ; ; Gutenberg.org gutenberg.org; British Museum ancientgreece.co.uk; Illustrated Greek History, Dr. Janice Siegel, Department of Classics, Hampden–Sydney College, Virginia hsc.edu/drjclassics ; The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization pbs.org/empires/thegreeks ; Oxford Classical Art Research Center: The Beazley Archive beazley.ox.ac.uk ; Ancient-Greek.org ancientgreece.com; Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org/about-the-met/curatorial-departments/greek-and-roman-art; The Ancient City of Athens stoa.org/athens; The Internet Classics Archive kchanson.com ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Rome sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Late Antiquity sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Forum Romanum forumromanum.org ; “Outlines of Roman History” forumromanum.org; “The Private Life of the Romans” forumromanum.org|; BBC Ancient Rome bbc.co.uk/history; The Roman Empire in the 1st Century pbs.org/empires/romans; The Internet Classics Archive classics.mit.edu ; Bryn Mawr Classical Review bmcr.brynmawr.edu; De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors roman-emperors.org; Cambridge Classics External Gateway to Humanities Resources web.archive.org/web; Ancient Rome resources for students from the Courtenay Middle School Library web.archive.org ; History of ancient Rome OpenCourseWare from the University of Notre Dame /web.archive.org ; United Nations of Roma Victrix (UNRV) History unrv.com

Temple of Vesta and Early Roman Rituals

Vesta was the spirit of the hearth. The temple that honored her was one of the most important in Rome. The famed Vestal Virgins tended her shrine The six virgins who watched the eternal flame of Rome, which burned for more than a thousand years, were ordained at the age of seven and lived in pampered but secluded luxury. As long as they remained pure, they were among the most respected women in Rome.

The Upper Forum in Rome (Colosseum-side entrance of the Forum) contains the House of Vestal Virgins, The Temple of Vesta the Temple of Antonius and Fustina (near the Basilica of Maxentius. The House of Vestal Virgins (near Palantine Hill, next to the Temple of Castor and Pollex) is a sprawling 55-room complex with statues of virgin priestess. The statue whose name has been scratched is believed to belong to a virgin who converted to Christianity. The Temple of Vesta (Temple of the Vestal Virgins) is a restored circular buildings where vestal virgins performed rituals and tended Rome's eternal flame for more than a thousand years. Across the square from the temple is the Regia, where Rome's highest priest had his office.


ruins of the Temple of the Vesta in the Roman Forum

Dr Nigel Pollard of Swansea University wrote for the BBC: “One of the most important of the old cults was that of Vesta, the goddess of the household hearth. From quite an early date her cult became a state one, and her circular temple in the Roman Forum contained a fire that represented the collective hearth of the Roman state. This was tended by Vestal Virgins, six women chosen in childhood and bound to the cult for 30 years each. They lived in a communal house next to the temple. The courtyard of this house contained statues of some of the chief Vestal Virgins.” [Source: Dr Nigel Pollard of Swansea University, BBC, March 29, 2011 |::|]

Plutarch wrote in “Life of Numa”: “The original constitution of the priests, called Pontifices, is ascribed unto Numa, and he himself was, it is said, the first of them; and that they have the name of Pontifices from pons ["bridge"], or, thus, "bridge-makers." The sacrifices performed on the bridge were among the most sacred and ancient, and the keeping and repairing of the bridge attached, like any other public sacred office, to the priesthood. It was accounted not simply unlawful, but a positive sacrilege, to pull down the wooden bridge; which moreover is said, in obedience to an oracle, to have been built entirely of timber and fastened with wooden pins, without nails or cramps of iron.

“After Numa had in this manner instituted these several orders of priests, he erected, near the temple of Vesta, what is called to this day the Regia, or king's house, where he spent the most part of his time, performing divine service, instructing the priests, or conversing with them on sacred subjects. He had another house upon the Mount Quirinalis, the site of which they show to this day. In all public processions and solemn prayers, criers were sent before to give notice to the people that they should forbear their work, and rest [The people were not bound to stop working on religious holidays; but the priests must not see them work. Therefore, the crier was sent ahead when the priests passed to warn the people to cease their labor just for the moment. Anyone beheld working by the priest was subject to a fine]. [Source: Plutarch (A.D. 45-127) “Lives”, written A.D. 75, translated by John Dryden]

“Numa ordered that fish which have no scales, except the scar, should not be offered to the gods. He ordered each person to draw a line around his own real property and to set stones on the boundaries, such stones being consecrated to Jupiter Terminus. But if anyone destroyed or displaced the boundary stones, the person who had done this would be sacrificed to the god. He ordained that the funeral pyre should not be sprinkled with wine, not that libations be made to the gods with wine from unpruned vines. Among other laws he made: A concubine shall not touch the Altar of Juno, and if she does, she shall sacrifice, with her hair unbound, a ewe lamb to Juno; If a man is killed by lightning, the proper burial rite shall not be performed--those who disobey this will be sacrificed to Jupiter; Priests should have their hair cut with only bronze shears.

“January was so called from [the god] Janus, and precedence given to it by Numa before March, which was dedicated to the god Mars; because, as I conceive, he wished to take every opportunity of intimating that the arts and studies of peace are to be preferred before those of war. For this Janus, whether in remote antiquity he were a demi-god or a king, was certainly a great lover of civil and social unity, and one who reclaimed men from brutal and savage living; for which reason they figure him with two faces, to represent the two states and conditions out of the one of which he brought mankind to lead them into the other. His temple at Rome has two gates, which they call the Gates of War, because they stand open in the time of war, and shut in the times of peace; of which latter there was very seldom an example, for, as the Roman state was enlarged and extended, it was so encompassed with barbarous nations and enemies to be resisted that it was seldom or never at peace. Only in the time of Augustus Caesar, after he had overcome Antony, this temple was shut; as likewise once before, when Marcus Atilius and Titus Manlius were consuls [Davis: in 235 B.C., shortly after the close of the First Punic War]; but then it was not long before, wars breaking out, the gates were again opened. But, during the reign of Numa, those gates were never seen open a single day, but continued constantly shut for a space of forty-three years together; such an entire and universal cessation of war existed “

Temples in the Roman Forum


Capitoline temples of Minerva (left), Jupiter (center), Juno (right) in Sbeitla, Tunisia

The Lower Forum (below Palantine Hill on the Capitoline Hill side of the Forum) is the home of the Temple of Saturn, Temple of Castor and Pollex, the Arch of Augustus and the Temple of Deified Julius. Temple of Saturn (below Palantine Hill on the Capitoline Hill side of the Forum) is a structure with eight standing columns where wild orgies honoring the god Saturn were held.

The Temple of Castor and Pollex (next to the Basilica Julia) honors the Gemini twins, the equivalent of patron saints for armies and commanders. According legend they appeared at the Basin of Juturna at the temple and helped the Romans defeat the Etruscans at a pivotal battle in 496 B.C. The most noticeable part of the temple is a group of three connected columns. Down the road from the Temple of Castor and Pollex is the Arch of Augustus and the Temple of Deified Julius, which Augustus built to honor his father. Behind the Temple of Deified Julius is the Upper Forum.

The Upper Forum in Rome (Colosseum-side entrance of the Forum) contains the House of Vestal Virgins, The Temple of Vesta the Temple of Antonius and Fustina (near the Basilica of Maxentius. The House of Vestal Virgins (near Palantine Hill, next to the Temple of Castor and Pollex) is a sprawling 55-room complex with statues of virgin priestess. The statue whose name has been scratched is believed to belong to a virgin who converted to Christianity. The Temple of Vesta (Temple of the Vestal Virgins) is a restored circular buildings where vestal virgins performed rituals and tended Rome's eternal flame for more than a thousand years. Across the square from the temple is the Regia, where Rome's highest priest had his office.

The Temple of Antonius and Fustina (left of the Basilica of Maxentius) contains a firm foundation and well-preserved ceiling lattice work. Nearby is an ancient necropolis with graves that date back to the 8th century and an ancient drainage sewer that is still in use. The Temple of Romulus contains its original A.D. 4th century bronze doors, which still have a working lock.

Temple Construction Under Augustus

Nina C. Coppolino wrote: ““In 27 B.C. in the Campus Martius Agrippa built the Pantheon, but he was not allowed to fashion it as an overt 'Augusteum'; instead the temple was dedicated to the divine ancestry of Augustus through Venus, Mars, and the deified Julius. In 25-24 B.C. work began on the Temple of Mars Ultor, which Augustus had vowed at the battle of Philippi in vengeance for his father's murder, and which later housed the standards returned by the Parthians. In 22 B.C. the temple of Juppiter Tonans was dedicated on the Capitoline Hill by Augustus who had escaped being struck by lightning during the Spanish campaign. After 20 B.C. the Prima Porta Augustus was commissioned, a statue of the emperor on whose cuirass is depicted the return of the standards by Parthia, in the presence of Mars, Apollo, and Venus. [Source: Nina C. Coppolino, Roman Emperors <=>]


Temple of Jupiter

“In 13 B.C. at the return of Augustus from Spain and Gaul, the senate decreed the Ara Pacis to be built near the Campus Martius. This altar was to be used by magistrates and priests for annual sacrifices. Reliefs on the altar depict the symbols and fruits of peace in juxtaposition with figures of war by which peace was gained, and there are processions perhaps representing the major priesthoods in Rome, with Augustus himself portrayed in religious attire. Near this altar was a sundial associated with Augustus's patron, the sun-god Apollo. In 12 B.C. in the western province of Gaul, Drusus set up an altar at Lugdunum dedicated to Roma and Augustus. <=>

Suetonius wrote: “He built many public works, in particular the following: his forum with the temple of Mars the Avenger [24 B.C.], the temple of Apollo on the Palatine [28 B.C.], and the fane of Jupiter the Thunderer on the Capitol [22 B.C.]. His reason for building the forum was the increase in the number of the people and of cases at law, which seemed to call for a third forum, since two were no longer adequate. Therefore it was opened to the public with some haste, before the temple of Mars was finished, and it was provided that the public prosecutions be held there apart from the rest, as well as the selection of jurors by lot. He had made a vow to build the temple of Mars in the war of Philippi, which he undertook to avenge his father; accordingly he decreed that in it the Senate should consider wars and claims for triumphs, from it those who were on their way to the provinces with military commands should be escorted, and to it victors on their return should bear the tokens of their triumphs. [Source: Suetonius (c.69-after 122 A.D.): “De Vita Caesarum--Divus Augustus” (“The Lives of the Caesars--The Deified Augustus”), written A.D. c. 110, “Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum,” 2 Vols., trans. J. C. Rolfe (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1920), pp. 123-287]

“He reared the temple of Apollo in that part of his house on the Palatine for which the soothsayers declared that the god had shown his desire by striking it with lightning. He joined to it colonnades with Latin and Greek libraries, and when he was getting to be an old man he often held meetings of the Senate there as well, and revised the lists of jurors. He dedicated the shrine to Jupiter the Thunderer because of a narrow escape; for on his Cantabrian expedition during a march by night, a flash of lightning grazed his litter and struck the slave dead who was carrying a torch before him. He constructed some works too in the name of others, his grandsons and nephew to wit, his wife and his sister, such as the colonnade and basilica of Gaius and Lucius [12 B.C.], also the colonnades of Livia and Octavia [33 & 15 B.C.], and the theatre of Marcellus [13 B.C.]. More than that, he often urged other prominent men to adorn the city with new monuments or to restore and embellish old ones, each according to his means. And many such works were built at that time by many men; for example, the temple of Hercules and the Muses by Marcius Philippus, the temple of Diana by Lucius Cornificius, the Hall of Liberty by Asinius Pollio, the temple of Saturn by Munatius Plancus, a theatre by Cornelius Balbus, an amphitheatre by Statilius Taurus, and by Marcus Agrippa in particular many magnificent structures.

Tacitus: Rebuilding the Temple of Jupiter

“In 70 A.D. Vespasian ordered the restoration of the Temple of Jupiter the Best and Greatest on the Capitoline Hill. The event was recorded by Tacitus in an account which gives some idea of the ceremonies of the state religion, and its intense conservatism. Tacitus (b.56/57-after 117 A.D.) wrote in A.D. 70: “The work of rebuilding the Capitol was assigned by him to Lucius Vestinius, a man of the Equestrian order, who, however, for high character and reputation ranked among the nobles. The soothsayers whom he assembled directed that the remains of the old shrine should be removed to the marshes, and the new temple raised on the original site. The Gods, they said, forbade the old form to be changed. [Source: Tacitus: “Histories,” Book 4. liii., Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb. Full text online at classics.mit.edu/Tacitus]

“On the 21st of June, beneath a cloudless sky, the entire space devoted to the sacred enclosure was encompassed with chaplets and garlands. Soldiers, who bore auspicious names, entered the precincts with sacred boughs. Then the vestal virgins, with a troop of boys and girls, whose fathers and mothers were still living, sprinkled the whole space with water drawn from the fountains and rivers. After this, Helvidius Priscus, the praetor, first purified the spot with the usual sacrifice of a sow, a sheep, and a bull, and duly placed the entrails on turf; then, in terms dictated by Publius Aelianus, the high-priest, besought Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, and the tutelary deities of the place, to prosper the undertaking, and to lend their divine help to raise the abodes which the piety of men had founded for them.

“He then touched the wreaths, which were wound round the foundation stone and entwined with the ropes, while at the same moment all the other magistrates of the State, the Priests, the Senators, the Knights, and a number of the citizens, with zeal and joy uniting their efforts, dragged the huge stone along. Contributions of gold and silver and virgin ores, never smelted in the furnace, but still in their natural state, were showered on the foundations. The soothsayers had previously directed that no stone or gold which had been intended for any other purpose should profane the work. Additional height was given to the structure; this was the only variation which religion would permit, and the one feature which had been thought wanting in the splendour of the old temple.”


Temple of Jupiter in Rome


Large Temples of the Roman Near East

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Ancient Near Eastern cities were usually dominated by a single temple complex, which often covered a major part of the settlement. During the first to third centuries A.D., as cities were enriched by the lucrative caravan traffic linking the great empires of Rome and Parthia, some of the most ambitious temples ever constructed were built in the Levant, Syria, and northern Mesopotamia. [Source: Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2003, metmuseum.org \^/]

“The massive scale of these structures is partly a function of the traditional Near Eastern approach to temple design, based on a sanctuary surrounded by an enormous walled temenos, or compound. The sanctuary was the residence of the deity, while the temenos was where sacrifices took place and mass worship was performed by thousands of people. Many compounds had an elaborate monumental gateway (propylaea) approached by stairs. Inside the walls were colonnades and vast altars for animal sacrifice. Although their exteriors often look like Roman temples, the interior layout of sanctuary buildings was actually very Near Eastern, designed as a throne room for a deity, usually with a raised platform approached by stairs. \^/

“Although their exteriors often look like Roman temples, the interior layout of sanctuary buildings was actually very Near Eastern, designed as a throne room for a deity, usually with a raised platform approached by stairs. \^/

“The earliest of these gigantic constructions was the Temple at Jerusalem, begun by Herod in 20 B.C. It was second in scale only to the Temple of the Sun at Hatra. Other immense buildings of this period include the Temple of Dushara and the "Great Temple" at Petra, the Temple of Jupiter-Hadad at Damascus (incorporated in the present Umayyad Mosque), the Temple of Artemis at Jerash, and the Temple of Bel at Palmyra. One of the greatest and most lavishly decorated is the Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek, where stones weighing up to a thousand tons were cut and dragged to create the massive temple platform. \^/ Baalbek

Baalbek

The Baalbek archaeological site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, According to UNESCO: “This Phoenician city, where a triad of deities was worshipped, was known as Heliopolis during the Hellenistic period. It retained its religious function during Roman times, when the sanctuary of the Heliopolitan Jupiter attracted thousands of pilgrims. Baalbek, with its colossal structures, is one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture at its apogee. [Source: UNESCO World Heritage Sites, *=*]


Baalbek Temple


“The complex of temples at Baalbek is located at the foot of the south-west slope of Anti-Lebanon, bordering the fertile plain of the Bekaa at an altitude of 1150 m. The city of Baalbek reached its apogee during Roman times. Its colossal constructions built over a period of more than two centuries, make it one of the most famous sanctuaries of the Roman world and a model of Imperial Roman architecture. Pilgrims thronged to the sanctuary to venerate the three deities, known under the name of the Romanized Triad of Heliopolis, an essentially Phoenician cult (Jupiter, Venus and Mercury). *=*

“The importance of this amalgam of ruins of the Greco-Roman period with even more ancient vestiges of Phoenician tradition, are based on its outstanding artistic and architectural value. The acropolis of Baalbek comprises several temples. The Roman construction was built on top of earlier ruins which were formed into a raised plaza, formed of twenty-four monoliths, the largest weighing over 800 tons. *=*

“The Temple of Jupiter, principal temple of the Baalbek triad, was remarkable for its 20 meters high columns that surrounded the cella, and the gigantic stones of its terrace. The adjacent temple dedicated to Bacchus is exceptional; it is richly and abundantly decorated and of impressive dimensions with its monumental gate sculpted with Bacchic figures. The Round Temple or Temple of Venus differs in its originality of layout as well as its refinement and harmonious forms, in a city where other sanctuaries are marked by monumental structures. The only remaining vestige of the Temple of Mercury located on Cheikh Abdallah Hill, is a stairway carved from the rock. The Odeon, located south of the acropolis in a place known as Boustan el Khan, is also part of the Baalbek site, and considered among the most spectacular archaeological sites of the Near East. *=*

“Baalbek became one of the most celebrated sanctuaries of the ancient world, progressively overlaid with colossal constructions which were built during more than two centuries. Its monumental ensemble is one of the most impressive testimonies of the Roman architecture of the imperial period. *=*

“The archaeological site of Baalbek is important because it represents a religious complex of outstanding artistic value and its majestic monumental ensemble, with its exquisitely detailed stonework, is a unique artistic creation which reflects the amalgamation of Phoenician beliefs with the gods of the Greco-Roman pantheon through an amazing stylistic metamorphosis. The monumental complex of Baalbek is an outstanding example of a Roman sanctuary and one of the most impressive testimonies to the Roman period at its apogee that displays to the full the power and wealth of the Roman Empire. It contains some of the largest Roman temples ever built, and they are among the best preserved. They reflect an extraordinary amalgamation of Roman architecture with local traditions of planning and layout.” *=*

Activities at Greco-Roman Temples


Temple of Jupiter gathering

Pausanias wrote in “Description of Hellas” ( c. A.D. 175): “They say that someone uninvited entered the shrine of Isis at Tithorea and died soon after...I heard the same thing from a Phoenician in regard to a temple of Isis at Coptos. [Source: Pausanias, Pausanias' Description of Greece, translated by A. R. Shilleto, (London: G. Bell, 1900)

Strabo wrote in “Geographia,” (c. 20 A.D.) about Greece around 550 B.C: “And the temple of Aphrodite in Corinth was so rich that it owned more than a thousand temple slaves---prostitutes---whom both free men and women had dedicated to the goddess. And therefore it was also on account of these temple-prostitutes that the city was crowded with people and grew rich; for instance, the ship captains freely squandered their money, and hence the proverb, "Not for every man is the voyage to Corinth."” [Ibid]

Philo Judaeus wrote in “De Providentia” (c. A.D. 20): “At Ascalon, I observed an enormous population of doves in the city-squares and in every house. When I asked the explanation, I was told they belonged to the great temple of Ascalon---where one can also see wild animals of every description, and it was forbidden by the gods to catch them.” [Source: William Stearns Davis, ed. “Readings in Ancient History: Illustrative Extracts from the Sources,” 2 Vols. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1912-1913), Vol. II: Rome and the West, pp. 268, 289]

Plutarch wrote in “Moralia” (c. A.D. 110): “It's not the abundance of wine or the roasting of meat that makes the joy of sharing a table in a temple, but the good hope and belief that the god is present in his kindness and graciously accepts what is offered. [Source: Plutarch, Moralia, translated by Philemon Holland, (London: J.M. Dent, 1912).

1 Corinthians 8 (c. A.D. 56) from the New Testament reads: “So about the eating of meat sacrificed to idols, we know that "there is no idol in the world," and that "there is no God but one." ...But not all have this knowledge. There are some who have been so used to idolatry up until now that, when they eat meat sacrificed to idols, their conscience, which is weak, is defiled.....If someone sees you, with your knowledge, reclining at table in the temple of an idol, may not his conscience, too, weak as it is, be "built up" to eat the meat sacrificed to idols?

Temples were also places that people made wishes and requests to the Gods, and in turn offered thanks if their requests were granted: Some temple inscriptions read:
1) Thanks to Minerva, that she restored my hair.
2) Thanks to Jupiter Leto, that my wife bore a child.
3) Thanks to Zeus Helios the Great Sarapis, Savior and Giver of wealth.
4) Thanks to Silvanus, from a vision, for freedom from slavery.
5) Thanks to Jupiter, that my taxes were lessened.
6) I pray for the safety of my colony and its senate and people, because Jupiter Best and Greatest by his numen tore out and rescued the names of the decurions that had been fixed to monuments by the unspeakable crime of that most wicked city-slave who refused to work. [Source: Oliver J. Thatcher, ed.,”The Library of Original Sources”, (Milwaukee: University Research Extension Co., 1907), Vols. II: The Greek World & III: The Roman World; The Bible (Douai-Rheims Version), (Baltimore: John Murphy Co., 1914)

Sacred Groves

Psudeo -Lucian wrote in “Am” (c. A.D. 85): “Around the sanctuary of Aphrodite at Knidos was an orchard, and under the most deeply-shadowy trees were cheerful picnic places for those who wanted to provide a banquet there; and some of the more well-bred used these, sparingly, but the whole city crowd held festival there, in truly Aphrodisiac fashion. And at Formiae, a benefactor staged each year a ceremony for Jupiter, at which he would distribute 20 sesterces to each of the city senators dining publicly in the grove.


Sacred spring of ancient Dion near Mount Olympus

In the sacred grove and temples of Asclepius at Epidaurus in the northeastern Peloponnese, Pausanias wrote in “Description of Greece”, Book II: Cornith: “The sacred grove of Asclepius is surrounded on all sides by boundary marks. No death or birth takes place within the enclosure the same custom prevails also in the island of Delos. All the offerings, whether the offerer be one of the Epidaurians themselves or a stranger, are entirely consumed within the bounds. At Titane too, I know, there is the same rule. The image of Asclepius is, in size, half as big as the Olympian Zeus at Athens, and is made of ivory and gold. An inscription tells us that the artist was Thrasymedes, a Parian, son of Arignotus. The god is sitting on a seat grasping a staff; the other hand he is holding above the head of the serpent; there is also a figure of a dog lying by his side. On the seat are wrought in relief the exploits of Argive heroes, that of Bellerophontes against the Chimaera, and Perseus, who has cut off the head of Medusa. [Source: Pausanias, “Description of Greece,” with an English Translation by W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D. in 4 Volumes. Volume 1.Attica and Cornith, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd., 1918]

“Over against the temple is the place where the suppliants of the god sleep. Near has been built a circular building of white marble, called Tholos (Round House), which is worth seeing. In it is a picture by Pausias1 representing Love, who has cast aside his bow and arrows, and is carrying instead of them a lyre that he has taken up. Here there is also another work of Pausias, Drunkenness drinking out of a crystal cup. You can see even in the painting a crystal cup and a woman's face through it. Within the enclosure stood slabs; in my time six remained, but of old there were more. On them are inscribed the names of both the men and the women who have been healed by Asclepius, the disease also from which each suffered, and the means of cure. The dialect is Doric. Apart from the others is an old slab, which declares that Hippolytus dedicated twenty horses to the god. The Aricians tell a tale that agrees with the inscription on this slab, that when Hippolytus was killed, owing to the curses of Theseus, Asclepius raised him from the dead. On coming to life again he refused to forgive his father rejecting his prayers, he went to the Aricians in Italy. There he became king and devoted a precinct to Artemis, where down to my time the prize for the victor in single combat was the priesthood of the goddess. The contest was open to no freeman, but only to slaves who had run away from their masters.

“The Epidaurians have a theater within the sanctuary, in my opinion very well worth seeing. For while the Roman theaters are far superior to those anywhere else in their splendor, and the Arcadian theater at Megalopolis is unequalled for size, what architect could seriously rival Polycleitus in symmetry and beauty? For it was Polycleitus1 who built both this theater and the circular building. Within the grove are a temple of Artemis, an image of Epione, a sanctuary of Aphrodite and Themis, a race-course consisting, like most Greek race-courses, of a bank of earth, and a fountain worth seeing for its roof and general splendour. A Roman senator, Antoninus, made in our own day a bath of Asclepius and a sanctuary of the gods they call Bountiful.1 He made also a temple to Health, Asclepius, and Apollo, the last two surnamed Egyptian. He moreover restored the portico that was named the Portico of Cotys, which, as the brick of which it was made had been unburnt, had fallen into utter ruin after it had lost its roof. As the Epidaurians about the sanctuary were in great distress, because their women had no shelter in which to be delivered and the sick breathed their last in the open, he provided a dwelling, so that these grievances also were redressed. Here at last was a place in which without sin a human being could die and a woman be delivered. Above the grove are the Nipple and another mountain called Cynortium; on the latter is a sanctuary of Maleatian Apollo. The sanctuary itself is an ancient one, but among the things Antoninus made for the Epidaurians are various appurtenances for the sanctuary of the Maleatian, including a reservoir into which the rain-water collects for their use.

“The serpents, including a peculiar kind of a yellowish color, are considered sacred to Asclepius, and are tame with men. These are peculiar to Epidauria, and I have noticed that other lands have their peculiar animals. For in Libya only are to be found land crocodiles at least two cubits long; from India alone are brought, among other creatures, parrots. But the big snakes that grow to more than thirty cubits, such as are found in India and in Libya, are said by the Epidaurians not to be serpents, but some other kind of creature. As you go up to Mount Coryphum you see by the road an olive tree called Twisted. It was Heracles who gave it this shape by bending it round with his hand, but I cannot say whether he set it to be a boundary mark against the Asinaeans in Argolis, since in no land, which has been depopulated, is it easy to discover the truth about the boundaries. On the Top of the mountain there is a sanctuary of Artemis Coryphaea (of the Peak), of which Telesilla made mention in an ode.”

Priests in Ancient Rome


priest

The king or emperor was the supreme religious officer of the state; but he was assisted by other persons, whom he appointed for special religious duties. To each of the three great national gods—Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus—was assigned a special priest, called a flamen. To keep the fires of Vesta always burning, there were appointed six vestal virgins, who were regarded as the consecrated daughters of the state. Special pontiffs, under the charge of a pontifex maximus, had charge of the religious festivals and ceremonies; and the fetiales were intrusted with the formality of declaring war. [Source: “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\]

Dr Nigel Pollard of Swansea University wrote for the BBC: “Religious activities of the Roman state religion were overseen and presided over by priests. They were drawn from members of the ruling class of Rome, and were organised in 'colleges' and sub-groups with particular functions. For example, there were pontifices (pontiffs), augurs (associated with interpretation of auspices - signs given by the gods through the flight of birds, thunder, lightning, and other natural phenomena), haruspices (originally of Etruscan origin, consulted about prodigies), flamines or individual gods, and fetiales, associated with the declaration of war. |The chief priest was known as the pontifex maximus, a title that was subsequently used by Roman Catholic popes. In the Republican period of Roman history, the priests typically were also politicians, and religious rituals could be - and were - exploited for political advantage. [Source: Dr Nigel Pollard of Swansea University, BBC, March 29, 2011 |::|]

“Religious revival was one of the most important policies pursued by Augustus, the first Roman emperor. In 12 B.C. he took the office of pontifex maximus for himself, and it remained a prerogative of the emperor, emphasising the link between politics and state religion, until Christianity became the official religion of the Roman empire. |::|

Nina C. Coppolino wrote: “After Actium, when Augustus was given the power of creating new patricians, the supply of men for priesthoods was increased. Augustus himself became a member of the Fratres Arvales, an elite fraternity which performed time-honored, public sacrifices for the prosperity of the state- family. In 12 B.C. Augustus became pontifex maximus; in 11 B.C. , a new high priest of Jupiter, the flamen dialis, was appointed. When Augustus in 8 B.C. divided Rome into fourteen regions, the humble worship by the poor of the gods of the crossroads, the Lares Compitales, was elevated to official stature; this worship was promoted throughout the regions of Rome and Italy in association with the worship of the genius of Augustus. At this time the genius of Augustus was probably included in official oaths. [Source: Nina C. Coppolino, Roman Emperors <=>]

Early Roman Priests

Harold Whetstone Johnston wrote in “The Private Life of the Romans”: “The Salii, or dancing priests, were priests of an old and famous college who worshiped Mars, the god of war. A similar college, the Salii Collini, was in charge of the worship of Quirinus. The pontifices were in charge of the calendar. The augures interpreted the will of the gods as shown when the auspices were taken by the magistrates before any public occasion or action. Among other official colleges were the quindecemviri, in charge of the famous Sibylline Books. Unofficial or private associations or colleges carried on the worship of various gods. In this connection might be mentioned the burial societies, ostensibly organized to further the worship of some god. [Source: “The Private Life of the Romans” by Harold Whetstone Johnston, Revised by Mary Johnston, Scott, Foresman and Company (1903, 1932) forumromanum.org |+|]


priest checking for bird omens

On Numa and the founding of Rome’s religion institutions, Plutarch wrote in “Life of Numa,” ix and x: “The original constitution of the priests, called Pontifices, is ascribed unto Numa, and he himself was, it is said, the first of them; and that they have the name of Pontifices from potens, powerful, because they attend the service of the gods, who have power and command over all. The most common opinion is the most absurd, which derives this word from pons, and assigns the priests the title of "bridge-makerrs" [Source: Plutarch (A.D. 45-127) “Lives”, written A.D. 75, translated by John Dryden]

The Pontifices are said to have had the making or maintenance of the Sublician bridge built over the Tiber by Ancus Marcius]. The sacrifices performed on the bridge were amongst the most sacred and ancient, and the keeping and repairing of the bridge attached, like any other public sacred office, to the priesthood. It was accounted not simply unlawful, but a positive sacrilege, to pull down the wooden bridge; which moreover is said, in obedience to an oracle, to have been built entirely of timber and fastened with wooden pins, without nails or cramps of iron. The stone bridge was built a very long time after, when Aemilius was quaestor, and they do, indeed, say also that the wooden bridge was not so old as Numa's time. . . .

“The office of Pontifex Maximus, or chief priest, was to declare and interpret the divine law . . . he not only prescribed rules for public ceremony, but regulated the sacrifices of private persons, not suffering them to vary from established custom, and giving information to everyone of what was requisite for purposes of worship or supplication. He was also guardian of the vestal virgins, the institution of whom, and of their perpetual fire, was attributed to Numa, who, perhaps, fancied the charge of pure and uncorrupted flames would be fitly entrusted to chaste and unpolluted persons, or that fire, which consumes but produces nothing, bears an analogy to the virgin estate.”

From Numa's day also were dated twelve sacred targets of bronze, said to have the virtue of guarding the city from pestilence. Plutarch wrote in “Life of Numa,” xix-xx: “The keeping of these targets was committed to the charge of certain priests, called Salii, who received their name from that jumping dance which the Salii themselves use, when in the month of March they carry the sacred targets through the city; at which procession they are habited in short frocks of purple, girt with a broad belt studded with brass; on their heads they wear a brass helmet, and carry in their hands short daggers, which they clash every now and then against the targets. But the chief thing is the dance itself. They move with much grace, performing, in quick time and close order, various intricate figures, with a great display of strength and agility. The targets are not made round, nor like proper targets, of a complete circumference, but are cut out into a wavy line, the ends of which are rounded off and turned in at the thickest part towards each other.

Priest of Jupiter

On The Flamen Dialis, Cicero wrote (c. 50 B.C.): “A great many ceremonies are imposed upon the Flamen Dialis [the priest of Jupiter], and also many restraints, about which we read in the books On The Public Priesthoods and also in Book I of Fabius Pictor's work. Among them I recall the following: 1) It is forbidden the Flamen Dialis to ride a horse; 2) It is likewise forbidden him to view the classes arrayed outside the pomerium [the sacred boundary of Rome], i.e., armed and in battle order---hence only rarely is the Flamen Dialis made a Consul, since the conduct of wars is entrusted to the Consuls; 3) It is likewise forbidden for him ever to take an oath by Jupiter; 4) Iit is likewise forbidden for him to wear a ring, unless it is cut through and empty; 5) It is also forbidden to carry out fire from the flaminia, i.e., the Flamen Dialis' house, except for a sacral purpose; 6) if a prisoner in chains enters the house he must be released and the chains must be carried up through the opening in the roof above the atrium or living room onto the roof tiles and dropped down from there into the street; [Source: William Stearns Davis, ed., “Readings in Ancient History, 2 Vols. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1912-13), Vol. II, pp. 9-15; 289]


“7) He must have no knot in his head gear or in his girdle or in any other part of his attire; 8) If anyone is being led away to be flogged and falls at his feet as a suppliant, it is forbidden to flog him that day; 9) The hair of the Flamen Dialis is not to be cut, except by a freeman; 10) It is customary for the Flamen neither to touch nor even to name a female goat, or raw meat, ivy, or beans; 11) He must not walk under a trellis for vines; 12) The feet of the bed on which he lies must have a thin coating of clay, and he must not be away from this bed for three successive nights, nor is it lawful for anyone else to sleep in this bed; 13) At the foot of his bed there must be a box containing a little pile of sacrificial cakes; 14) The nail trimmings and hair of the Dialis must be buried in the ground beneath a healthy tree; 15) Every day is a holy day for the Dialis; 16) He must not go outdoors without a head-covering---this is now allowed indoors, but only recently by decree of the pontiffs, as Masurius Sabinus has stated; it is also said that some of the other ceremonies have been remitted and cancelled; 17) It is not lawful for him to touch bread made with yeast; 18) His underwear cannot be taken off except in covered places, lest he appear nude under the open sky, which is the same as under the eye of Jove; 19) No one else outranks him in the seating at a banquet except the Rex Sacrorum; 20) If he loses his wife, he must resign his office; 21) His marriage cannot be dissolved except by death; 21) He never enters a burying ground, he never touches a corpse---he is, however, permitted to attend a funeral.

“Almost the same ceremonial rules belong to the Flaminica Dialis [i.e., his wife ]. They say that she observes certain other and different ones, for example, that she wears a dyed gown, and that she has a twig from a fruitful tree tucked in her veil, and that it is forbidden for her to ascend more than three rungs of a ladder and even that when she goes to the Argei Festival [when twenty-four puppets were thrown into the Tiber] she must neither comb her head nor arrange her hair.

Livy wrote in “History of Rome” (c. A.D. 10): “There is an ancient instruction written in archaic letters which runs: "Let him who is the Praetor Maximus fasten a nail on the Ides of September." This notice was fastened up on the right side of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, next to the chapel of Minerva. This nail is said to have marked the number of the year--written records being scarce in those days--and was for that reason placed under the protection of Minerva because she was the inventor of numbers. Cincius, a careful student of monuments of this kind, asserts that at Volsinii also nails were fastened in the Temple of Nortia, an Etruscan goddess, to indicate the number of the year. It was in accordance with this direction that the consul Horatius dedicated the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus in the year following the expulsion of the kings; from the Consuls the ceremony of fastening the nails passed to the Dictators, because they possessed greater authority. As the custom had been subsequently dropped, it was felt to be of sufficient importance to require the appointment of a Dictator. L. Manlius was accordingly nominated, but, regarding his appointment as due to political rather than to religious reasons and eager to command in the war with the Hernici, he caused a very angry feeling among the men liable to serve by the inconsiderate way in which he conducted the enrolment. At last, in consequence of the unanimous resistance offered by the tribunes of the plebs, he gave way, either voluntarily or through compulsion, and laid down his Dictatorship. Since then, this rite has been performed by the Rex Sacrorum. [Source: Livy, “The History of Rome,” by Titus Livius, translated by D. Spillan and Cyrus Edmonds, (New York: G. Bell & Sons, 1892)]

Ceremonies Performed by the Priest of Jupiter and His Wife


priest performing a sacrifice

Aulus Gellius (A.D. 130-180) wrote in “Attic Nights,” book 10, chapter 15: “Ceremonies in great number are imposed upon the priest of Jupiter and also many abstentions, of which we read in the books written On the Public Priests; and they are also recorded in the first book of Fabius Pictor. Of these the following are in general what I remember: It is unlawful for the priest of Jupiter to ride upon a horse; it is also unlawful for him to see the “classes arrayed” outside the pomerium, that is, the army in battle array; hence the priest of Jupiter is rarely made consul, since wars were entrusted to the consuls; also it is always unlawful for the priest to take an oath; likewise to wear a ring, unless it be perforated and without a gem. It is against the law for fire to be taken from the flaminia, that is, from the home of the flamen Dialis, except for a sacred rite; if a person in fetters enter his house, he must be loosed, the bonds must be drawn up through the impluvium to the roof and from there let down into the street. He has no knot in his head-dress, girdle, or any other part of his dress; if anyone is being taken to be flogged and falls at his feet as a suppliant, it is unlawful for the man to be flogged on that day. Only a free man may cut the hair of the Dialis. It is not customary for the Dialis to touch, or even name, a she-goat, raw flesh, ivy, and beans. [Source: Aulus Gellius (A.D. 130-180) Attic Nights, book 10, chapter 15, Loeb Classics translation]

“The priest of Jupiter must not pass under an arbour of vines. The feet of the couch on which he sleeps must be smeared with a thin coating of clay, and he must not sleep away from this bed for three nights in succession, and no other person must sleep in that bed. At the foot of his bed there should be a box with sacrificial cakes. The cuttings of the nails and hair of the Dialis must be buried in the earth under a fruitful tree. Every day is a holy day for the Dialis. He must not be in the open air without his cap; that he might go without it in the house has only recently been decided by the pontiffs, so Masurius Sabinus wrote, and it is said that some other ceremonies have been remitted and he has been excused from observing them.

““The priest of Jupiter” must not touch any bread fermented with yeast. He does not lay off his inner tunic except under cover, in order that he may not be naked in the open air, as it were under the eye of Jupiter. No other has a place at table above the flamen Dialis, except the rex sacrificulus. If the Dialis has lost his wife he abdicates his office. The marriage of the priest cannot be dissolved except by death. He never enters a place of burial, he never touches a dead body; but he is not forbidden to attend a funeral.

“The ceremonies of the priestess of Jupiter are about the same; they say that she observes other separate ones: for example, that she wears a dyed robe, that she has a twig from a fruitful tree in her head-dress, that it is forbidden for her to go up more than three rounds of a ladder, except the so called Greek ladders; also, when she goes to the Argei, that she neither combs her head nor dresses her hair.”

Vestal Virgins

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Vestal Virgin Invocation
by Leighton Frederic
The six Vestal Virgins tended shrine for the household goddess Vesta at the Vesta Temple in Rome and watched the eternal flame of Rome there, which burned for more than a thousand years, were ordained at the age of seven and lived in pampered but secluded luxury. As long as they remained pure, they were among the most respected women in Rome. They could walk unaccompanied and had the power to pardon prisoners. If they lost they virginity, however they were buried alive with a burning candle and bread so they could stay alive long enough to contemplate their sins. Under Augustus they were rewarded with the best seats at gladiator contests, exclusive parties and feasts with sow's bladder and thrushes.

The Upper Forum in Rome (Colosseum-side entrance of the Forum) contains the House of Vestal Virgins, The Temple of Vesta the Temple of Antonius and Fustina (near the Basilica of Maxentius. The House of Vestal Virgins (near Palantine Hill, next to the Temple of Castor and Pollex) is a sprawling 55-room complex with statues of virgin priestess. The statue whose name has been scratched is believed to belong to a virgin who converted to Christianity. The Temple of Vesta (Temple of the Vestal Virgins) is a restored circular buildings where vestal virgins performed rituals and tended Rome's eternal flame for more than a thousand years. Across the square from the temple is the Regia, where Rome's highest priest had his office.

Harold Whetstone Johnston wrote in ““One of the oldest and most famous colleges was that of Vesta, whose worship was in care of the six Virgines Vestales. The sacred fire upon the altar of the Aedes Vestae symbolized the continuity of the life of the State. There was no statue of the goddess in the temple. The temple itself was round and had a pointed roof, and even in its latest development of marble and bronze had not gone far in shape and size from the round hut of poles and clay and thatch in which village girls had tended the fire whose maintenance was necessary for the primitive community. To light a fire then had been a toilsome business of rubbing wood on wood, or later striking flint on steel to get the precious spark. But the modern invention of flint and steel was never used to rekindle the sacred fire. Ritual demanded the use of friction. [Source: “The Private Life of the Romans” by Harold Whetstone Johnston, Revised by Mary Johnston, Scott, Foresman and Company (1903, 1932) forumromanum.org |+|]

“Each Vestal must serve thirty years. Any vacancy in the Order must be filled promptly by the appointment of a girl of suitable family, not less than six years old nor more than ten, physically perfect, of unblemished character, and with both parents living. Ten years were spent by the Vestals in learning their duties, ten in performing those duties, and ten in training the younger Vestals. In addition to the care of the fire the Vestals had a part in most of the festivals of the old calendar. They lived in the Atrium Vestae beside the temple of Vesta in the Forum. At the end of her service a Vesta; might return to private life, but such were the privileges and the dignity of the Order that this rarely occurred. A Vestal was freed from her father’s potestas.” |+|

Plutarch on the Vestal Virgins

Plutarch wrote in “Life of Numa,” xi-xiv: The chief priest “was also guardian of the vestal virgins, the institution of whom, and of their perpetual fire, was attributed to Numa, who, perhaps, fancied the charge of pure and uncorrupted flames would be fitly entrusted to chaste and unpolluted persons, or that fire, which consumes but produces nothing, bears an analogy to the virgin estate. Some are of opinion that these vestals had no other business than the preservation of this fire; but others conceive that they were keepers of other divine secrets, concealed from all but themselves. Gegania and Verenia, it is recorded, were the names of the first two virgins consecrated and ordained by Numa; Canuleia and Tarpeia succeeded; Servius Tullius afterwards added two, and the number of four has been continued to the present time. [Source: Plutarch (A.D. 45-127) “Lives”, written A.D. 75, translated by John Dryden]


statue of a vestal virgin

“The statutes prescribed by Numa for the vestals were these: that they should take a vow of virginity for the space of thirty years, the first ten of which they were to spend in learning their duties, the second ten in performing them, and the remaining ten in teaching and instructing others. Thus the whole term being completed, it was lawful for them to marry, and leaving the sacred order, to choose any condition of life that pleased them. But, of this permission, few, as they say, made use; and in cases where they did so, it was observed that their change was not a happy one, but accompanied ever after with regret and melancholy; so that the greater number, from religious fears and scruples forbore, and continued to old age and death in the strict observance of a single life.

“For this condition he compensated by great privileges and prerogatives; as that they had power to make a will in the lifetime of their father; that they had a free administration of their own affairs without guardian or tutor, which was the privilege of women who were the mothers of three children; when they go abroad, they have the fasces carried before them; and if in their walks they chance to meet a criminal on his way to execution, it saves his life, upon oath being made that the meeting was accidental, and not concerted or of set purpose. Any one who presses upon the chair on which they are carried is put to death.

“If these vestals commit any minor fault, they are punishable by the Pontifex Maximus only, who scourges the offender, sometimes with her clothes off, in a dark place, with a curtain drawn between; but she that has broken her vow is buried alive near the gate called Collina, where a little mound of earth stands inside the city reaching some little distance, called in Latin agger; under it a narrow room is constructed, to which a descent is made by stairs; here they prepare a bed, and light a lamp, and leave a small quantity of victuals, such as bread, water, a pail of milk, and some oil; that so that body which had been consecrated and devoted to the most sacred service of religion might not be said to perish by such a death as famine. The culprit herself is put in a litter, which they cover over, and tie her down with cords on it, so that nothing she utters may be heard. They then take her to the forum; all people silently go out of the way as she passes, and such as follow accompany the bier with solemn and speechless sorrow; and, indeed, there is not any spectacle more appalling, nor any day observed by the city with greater appearance of gloom and sadness. When they come to the place of execution, the officers loose the cords, and then the Pontifex Maximus, lifting his hands to heaven, pronounces certain prayers to himself before the act; then he brings out the prisoner, being still covered, and placing her upon the steps that lead down to the cell, turns away his face with the rest of the priests; the stairs are drawn up after she has gone down, and a quantity of earth is heaped up over the entrance to the cell, so as to prevent it from being distinguished from the rest of the mound. This is the punishment of those who break their vow of virginity.”

Household Shrines and Family Worship in Ancient Rome

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House of the Vestal Virgins in Rome
Harold Whetstone Johnston wrote in “The Private Life of the Romans”: “The pater familias was the household priest and in charge of the family worship; he was assisted by his wife and children. The Lar Familiaris was the protecting spirit of the household in town and country. In the country, too, the Lares were the guardian spirits of the fields and were worshiped at the crossroads (compita) by the owners and tenants of the lands that met there. In town, too, the Lares Compitales were worshiped at street-corner shrines in the various vici or precincts. For the single Lar of the Republican period we later find two. Pompeian household shrines show frequent examples of this. They are represented as boys dressed in belted tunics, stepping lightly as if in dance, a bowl in the right hand, a jug upraised in the left. In place of the old Penates, the protecting spirits of the store-closet, these shrines show images of such of the great gods as each family chose to honor in its private devotions. The Genius of the pater familias may be represented in such shrines as a man with the toga drawn over his head as for worship. Often, however, at Pompeii the Genius is represented by a serpent. In such shrines we find two, one bearded, for the Genius of the father, the other for the Iuno of the wife. Vesta was worshiped at the hearth as the spirit of the fire that was necessary for man’s existence. [Source: “The Private Life of the Romans” by Harold Whetstone Johnston, Revised by Mary Johnston, Scott, Foresman and Company (1903, 1932) forumromanum.org |+|]

“The shrine, originally in the atrium when that was the room where the household lived and worked, followed the hearth to the separate kitchen, though examples of shrines are found in the garden or peristyle and occasion ally in the atrium or other rooms. |+|

“The devout prayed and sacrificed every morning, but the usual time for the family devotions was the pause at the cena before the secunda mensa, when offerings to the household gods were made.The Kalends, Nones, and Ides were sacred to the Lares. On these days garlands were hung over the hearth, the Lares were crowned with garlands, and simple offerings were made. Incense and wine were usual offerings; a pig was sacrificed when possible. Horace has a pretty picture of the “rustic Phidyle” who crowns her little Lares with rosemary and myrtle, and offers incense, new grain, and a “greedy pig.” The family were also bound to keep up the rites in honor of the dead. All family occasions from birth to death were accompanied by the proper rites. Strong religious feeling clung to the family rites and country festivals even when the state religion had stiffened into formalism and many Romans were reaching after strange gods. |+|

“The gens or clan of which the family formed a part had its own rites. The maintenance of these sacra was considered necessary not merely for the clan itself, but for the welfare of the State, which might suffer from the god’s displeasure if the rites should be neglected.” |+|

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Rome sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Late Antiquity sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Forum Romanum forumromanum.org ; “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\; “The Private Life of the Romans” by Harold Whetstone Johnston, Revised by Mary Johnston, Scott, Foresman and Company (1903, 1932) forumromanum.org |+|; BBC Ancient Rome bbc.co.uk/history/ ; Perseus Project - Tufts University; perseus.tufts.edu ; MIT, Online Library of Liberty, oll.libertyfund.org ; Gutenberg.org gutenberg.org Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Live Science, Discover magazine, Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, Encyclopædia Britannica, "The Discoverers" [∞] and "The Creators" [μ]" by Daniel Boorstin. "Greek and Roman Life" by Ian Jenkins from the British Museum.Time, Newsweek, Wikipedia, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, World Religions edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); History of Warfare by John Keegan (Vintage Books); History of Art by H.W. Janson Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.), Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated October 2018

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