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In reference to the remedies derived from man, there arises first of all one question, of the greatest importance and always attended with the same uncertainty, whether words, charms, and incantations, are of any efficacy or not?1 For if such is the case, it will be only proper to ascribe this efficacy to man himself;2 though the wisest of our fellow-men, I should remark, taken individually, refuse to place the slightest faith in these opinions. And yet, in our every-day life, we practically show, each passing hour, that we do entertain this belief, though at the moment we are not sensible of it. Thus, for instance, it is a general belief that without a certain form of prayer3 it would be useless to immolate a victim, and that, with such an informality, the gods would be consulted to little purpose. And then besides, there are different forms of address to the deities, one form for entreating,4 another form for averting their ire, and another for commendation.

We see too, how that our supreme magistrates use certain formulæ for their prayers: that not a single word may be omitted or pronounced out of its place, it is the duty of one person to precede the dignitary by reading the formula before him from a written ritual, of another, to keep watch upon every word, and of a third to see that5 silence is not ominously broken; while a musician, in the meantime, is performing on the flute to prevent any other words being heard.6 Indeed, there are memorable instances recorded in our Annals, of cases where either the sacrifice has been interrupted, and so blemished, by imprecations, or a mistake has been made in the utterance of the prayer; the result being that the lobe of the liver or the heart has disappeared in a moment, or has been doubled,7 while the victim stood before the altar. There is still in existence a most remarkable testimony,8 in the formula which the Decii, father and son, pronounced on the occasions when they devoted themselves.9 There is also preserved the prayer uttered by the Vestal Tuccia,10 when, upon being accused of incest, she carried water in a sieve—an event which took place in the year of the City 609. Our own age even has seen a man and a woman buried alive in the Ox Market,11 Greeks by birth, or else natives of some other12 country with which we were at war at the time. The prayer used upon the occasion of this ceremonial, and which is usually pronounced first by the Master of the College of the Quindecimviri,13 if read by a person, must assuredly force him to admit the potency of formulæ; when it is recollected that it has been proved to be effectual by the experience of eight hundred and thirty years.

At the present day, too, it is a general belief, that our Vestal virgins have the power, by uttering a certain prayer, to arrest the flight of runaway slaves, and to rivet them to the spot, provided they have not gone beyond the precincts of the City. If then these opinions be once received as truth, and if it be admitted that the gods do listen to certain prayers, or are influenced by set forms of words, we are bound to conclude in the affirmative upon the whole question. Our ancestors, no doubt, always entertained such a belief, and have even assured us, a thing by far the most difficult of all, that it is possible by such means to bring down lightning from heaven, as already14 mentioned on a more appropriate occasion.

1 Whether or not, they cannot, as Ajasson remarks, be regarded as remedies derived from the human body, being no part of the human body.

2 "Homini acceptun fieri oportere conveniat." This passage is pro- bably corrupt.

3 Beginning with an address to Janus and Vesta, imploring their intercession with the other divinities, and concluding with an appeal to Janus.

4 "Impetritis."

5 "Qui favere linguis jubeat." "Favete linguis" were the words used in enjoining strict silence.

6 By him who is offering up the prayer.

7 A trick adroitly performed by the priests, no doubt.

8 Given by Livy, in Books viii. and x.

9 To death, in battle, for the good of their country.

10 Preserved by Valerius Maximus, B. viii. c. 1. Tertullian and Saint Augustin doubt the authenticity of the story. She is said to have carried water in a sieve from the river Tiber to the temple of Vesta.

11 "Forum Boarium;" in the Eighth Region of the City.

12 Of Gaul, as Plutarch informs us, who mentions also the Greek victims. The immolation of the Gauls is supposed to have happened in the beginning of the reign of Vespasian.

13 Originally the "Decemviri Sacris Faciundis," whose number was increased by Sylla to fifteen. They had the management of the Games of Apollo, and the Secular Games.

14 In B. ii. c. 54.

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