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Fanum

Any locality consecrated by the pontiffs—a word derived by the ancients from fari, because the pontifices in sacrando fati sunt finem (Varr. L. L. vi. 54; Fest. pp. 88, Fest. 93). It was a consecrated spot, whether a building was erected upon it or not. The consecrated places in the Forum, where the couches of the gods were placed in the lectisternium (q. v.), were also called fana, in reference to which the phrase fana sistere was used ( Fest. p. 351). Even a tree struck by lightning was deemed a fanum ( Fest. p. 92). Everything not consecrated—that is, not a fanum—was considered profanum; and a res fanatica might, in accordance with the pontifical law, be again made into a res profana by certain ceremonies (Macrob. Sat. iii. 3, 4).

Fanatici, properly speaking persons belonging to a fanum, were more specifically priests of the goddess of Comana in Cappadocia, whose worship was introduced into Rome under the name of Bellona. They performed the worship with wild and frantic rites, whence the word fanaticus obtained its secondary meaning, and has passed into modern languages. They were also called Bellonarii (Acro ad Hor. Sat. ii. 3, 223). In celebrating the festival of the goddess they marched through the city in dark clothes, with wild cries, blowing trumpets, beating cymbals and drums, and in the temple inflicting wounds upon themselves, the blood from which they poured out as an offering to the goddess (Tibull. i. 6, 43 foll.; Hor. Sat. ii. 3, 223; Juv. vi. 511; Mart.xi. 84, 3Mart., xii. 57, 11; Lucan, i. 565; Lamprid. Commod. 9). Fanatici was also the name given to the priests of Isis (C. I. L. vi. n. 2234) and Cybelé (Juv. ii. 122; Prudent. Perist. x. 1061).

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