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[17arg] Of the origin of the term ager Vaticanus.
WE had been told that the ager Vaticanus, or “Vatican region,” and the presiding deity of the same place, took their names from the vaticinia, or [p. 187] “prophecies,” which were wont to be made in that region through the power and inspiration of that god. But in addition to that reason Marcus Varro, in his Antiquities of the Gods, states 1 that there is another explanation of the name: For, “says he, just as Aius was called a god and the altar was erected in his honour which stands at the bottom of the Nova Via, because in that place a voice from heaven was heard, so that god was called Vaticanus who controls the beginnings of human speech, since children, as soon as they are born, first utter the sound which forms the first syllable of Vaticanus; hence the word vagire ('cry'), which represents the sound of a new-born infant's voice.”
1 Frag. 20b, Agahd.
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