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SUOVETAURI´LIA the triple sacrifice of bull, sheep, and pig, in the old Italian ritual of lustration [see LUSTRATIO, AMBARVALIA]. The word solitaurilia is also found, and was explained at length by Verrius Flaccus (Festus, 293 a) as having the same meaning; see on this question Jordan in Preller's Rom. Myth. 1.421. This sacrifice was doubtless of great antiquity in Italy, the three animals representing the most [p. 2.726]valuable stock of the old Italian farmer. We find it in what was probably its original form in Cato's treatise on Husbandry, where the ritual is given for the lustration of the farm; the animals were driven three times round the fields, and sacrificed with a prayer to Mars. Here we find not only the sacrifice of the three animals when full-grown (majora), but also of their young (lactentia or minora; cf. Henzen, Acta Fratr. Arv. p. 143). Next we have the same ritual applied to towns, as in the Amburbia and Ambarvalia, and to the lustration of the people after the census; thus Livy, describing the census of Servius Tullius (1.44), says, “Ibi (in Campo Martio) exercitum omnem suovetaurilibus lustravit; idque conditum lustrum appellatum, quia is censendo finis erat.” The victims were here driven round the host before sacrifice, as in the country round the farm. In each case the ideas lying at the root of the ritual were expiation and purification; the two being inseparable in the old Italian mind, which seems also to have conceived of these religious performances as not only effective in doing away with evil in the past, but as at the same time protective against evil in the future.

The same ritual of the triple sacrifice was applied (in later times only, we may suppose) to other religious ceremonies besides the formal lustration. Thus, in Liv. 8.10, we find it in the devotio of Decius; it is here still in close connexion with Mars, in whose worship it certainly originated (see Cato, l.c.). So also, in the sacrifices after the winning of the spolia opima (Fest. 189), it is mentioned as taking place in the Campus Martins, and at the altar of Mars. But the connexion with the religion of war gradually extended its use to the worship of other deities in particular aspects: thus we find it in the triumph, offered to Jupiter and other deities (Serv. ad Aen. 9.627; cf. the triumphal sacrifice on the Column of Trajan). It was indeed contrary to the old jus pontificium to sacrifice the suovetaurilia to Jupiter (so expressly Ateius Capito in Macrob. 3.10, 3); and Servius (l.c.) mentions the triumph as the only exception to the rule. At the laying of the foundation-stone of the Capitol in Vespasian's reign (Tac. Hist. 4.53) the site of the temple which was to be dedicated to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, was previously lustrated by the suovetaurilia; but it does not appear certain that this sacrifice had any direct reference to those deities.

It may be noted that the history of this rite runs in exactly parallel lines with that of the deity with whom it was originally and at all

Suovetaurilia. (Relief in the Louvre.)

times specially connected. As Mars, the agricultural deity, developed a warlike aspect which eventually became the one by which he was best known; so the suovetaurilia, beginning as an agricultural rite, was later applied, to warlike purposes. And as Mars gradually gave way to Jupiter and the Capitoline deities, so his ancient sacrifice came to be transferred to their worship.

The accompanying cut is from a fine relief now in the Louvre, formerly in Venice. The suovetaurilia is also represented on many other monuments and triumphal arches.


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