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SACELLUM a diminutive of sacer, signifies a small place consecrated to a deity with an altar in it (Trebon. ap. Gel. 7.12). Festus further defines it as being without a roof (p. 318). Often besides the altar there was a shrine [AEDICULA], as in the line “aram constitui signaque parva deum” (Ov. Fast. 5.130), whence the whole would ordinarily be spoken of as a sacellum, though in Fast. 1.275 the ara and sacellum are distinguished. The sacred spot, whether it contained merely an altar or an altar and a shrine, was often, and probably most usually, protected by a fence: “uti locus ante eam aram . . . . stipitibus robustis saepiatur” (C. I. L. 11.1420; cf. 9.5019). This fence was called cancelli (ib. 7.83), concameratio ferrea (ib. 6.543), maceria (ib. 10.20066), according to the material of the fence. The word caulae, properly used of sheep-hurdles, is used often as a general term for this fence, as of Janus: “quia bello caulae ejus patent” (Macrob. Saturn. 1.9, and similarly in Serv. ad Aen. 7.610), whence, in Serv. ad Aen. 9.60, “in sacris aedibus et in tribunalibus saepta quae turbas prohibent, aulas vocamus,” is, no doubt rightly, altered to caulas. The Greek term for this fence is μάνδραι (Charis. p. 549), or simply περίβολος. These sacella, if they were publicly consecrated, were strictly distinguished as sacella publica--we find “curator sacellorum publicorum” (Ephem. Ep. 4.863; cf. MAGISTER VICORUM, p. 110 b)--and, with luci and delubra, were included under the general term fana [FANUM]. Such was the sacellum of Hercules in the Forum Boarium, of the Lares (Tac. Ann. 12.24), of Naenia (Fest. p. 161), Pudicitia (Liv. 10.23), Ruminae (Varro, R. R. 2.11), and we may suppose that they represent the oldest kind of consecrated spots before the more costly aedes or templum was built, though many such smaller shrines were of recent construction also. The Romans dedicated also privata sacella on their own properties, regarding which Festus (p. 321) quotes Gallus Aelius as saying, “quod privati suae religionis causa deo dedicent, id pontifices Romanos non existimare sacrum.” That is to say, its sanctity would derive from the feeling of those who instituted it and would not depend on any state law of religion: hence that which Cicero dedicated to his daughter was not really consecratum, but only so regarded by him--“quantum fieri poterat” (Cic. Att. 12.1. 8). (See also Marquardt, Staatsverw. iii.2 152.)

[L.S] [G.E.M]

hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Tacitus, Annales, 12.24
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 10, 23
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 7.12
    • Ovid, Fasti, 5
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