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[15arg] Of the ceremonies of the priest and priestess of Jupiter; and words quoted from the praetor's edict, in which he declares that he will not compel either the Vestal virgins or the priest of Jupiter to take oath.

CEREMONIES in great number are imposed upon the priest of Jupiter 1 and also many abstentions, of which we read in the books written On the Public Priests; and they are also recorded in the first book of Fabius Pictor. 2 Of these the following are in general what I remember: It is unlawful for the priest of Jupiter to ride upon a horse; it is also unlawful for him to see the “classes 3 arrayed” outside the pomerium, 4 that is, the army in battle array; hence the priest of Jupiter is rarely made consul, since wars were entrusted to the consuls; also it is always unlawful for the priest to take an oath; likewise to wear a ring, unless it be perforated and without a gem. It is against the law for fire to be taken from the flaminia, that is, from the home of the flamen [p. 251] Dialis, except for a sacred rite; if a person in fetters enter his house, he must be loosed, the bonds must be drawn up through the impluvium 5 to the roof and from there let down into the street. He has no knot in his head-dress, girdle, or any other part of his dress; if anyone is being taken to be flogged and falls at his feet as a suppliant, it is unlawful for the man to be flogged on that day. Only a free man may cut the hair of the Dialis. It is not customary for the Dialis to touch, or even name, a she-goat, raw flesh, ivy, and beans.

The priest of Jupiter must not pass under an arbour of vines. The feet of the couch on which he sleeps must be smeared with a thin coating of clay, and he must not sleep away from this bed for three nights in succession, and no other person must sleep in that bed. At the foot of his bed there should be a box with sacrificial cakes. The cuttings of the nails and hair of the Dialis must be buried in the earth under a fruitful tree. Every day is a holy day for the Dialis. He must not be in the open air without his cap; that he might go without it in the house has only recently been decided by the pontiffs, so Masurius Sabinus wrote, 6 and it is said that some other ceremonies have been remitted and he has been excused from observing them.

“The priest of Jupiter” must not touch any bread fermented with yeast. He does not lay off his inner tunic except under cover, in order that he may not be naked in the open air, as it were under the eye of Jupiter. No other has a place at table above the flamen Dialis, except the rex sacrificulus. 7 If the [p. 253] Dialis has lost his wife he abdicates his office. The marriage of the priest cannot be dissolved except by death. He never enters a place of burial, he never touches a dead body; but he is not forbidden to attend a funeral.

The ceremonies of the priestess of Jupiter are about the same; they say that she observes other separate ones: for example, that she wears a dyed robe, that she has a twig from a fruitful tree in her head-dress, that it is forbidden for her to go up more than three rounds of a ladder, except the so called Greek ladders; 8 also, when she goes to the Argei, 9 that she neither combs her head nor dresses her hair.

I have added the words of the praetor in his standing edict concerning the flamen Dialis and the priestess of Vesta: 10 “In the whole of my jurisdiction I will not compel the flamen of Jupiter or a priestess of Vesta to take an oath.” The words of Marcus Varro about the flamen Dialis, in the second book of his Divine Antiquities, are as follows: 11 “He alone has a white cap, either because he is the greatest of priests, or because a white victim should be sacrificed to Jupiter.” 12

[p. 255]

1 The flamen was the special priest of an individual deity. There were three flamines maiores—of Jupiter (Dialis), Mars and Quirinus—and twelve flamines minores. For “taboos” imposed on priests see Frazer, Golden Bough, ch. 2.

2 Fr. 19, 24, 35, 46, R. Peter; fr. 3, Huschke; id. Bremer (i, p. 10).

3 Classis originally meant one of the classes into which the citizens were divided by the Servian constitution, then, collectively, the army composed of the classes.

4 The pomerium was the religious boundary of the city; see xiii. 14.

5 The opening in the roof of the atrium or main room of a Roman house.

6 Fr. 28, Huschke; Memor. 16, Bremer (ii, p. 372).

7 The priest who succeeded the kings, after their expulsion, in presiding over the sacrifices. Although he nominally outranked the flamens and the pontifex maximus, the office was unimportant.

8 What these were is uncertain. Probably they offered less exposure of the person than an ordinary ladder.

9 The term Argei was applied to twenty-four chapels distributed among the four regions of early Rome, and also called Sacella Argeiorum and Argea. It also designated the same number of puppets, or bundles of straw in the shape of men, which were thrown from the Pons Sublicius into the Tiber by the Vestal virgins on the Ides of May. See Fowler, Roman Festivals, pp. 111 ff. and Thes. Ling. Lat. s.v. Argei.

10 Fontes Jur. Rom., p. 197.

11 Fr. 4, p. cxiii, Merkel.

12 White was emblematic of royalty. Cf. Suetonius Jul. Ixxix, I.

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hide References (20 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (16):
    • Harper's, Apex
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), AGRICULTU´RA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), APEX
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), ARGE´I
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), COMIT´IA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), DIVO´RTIUM
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), FLAMEN
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), JUSJURANDUM
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), LEMU´RIA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PO´NTIFEX
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), REX SACRO´RUM
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), SCALAE
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), VESTA´LES
    • Smith's Bio, Pictor
    • Smith's Bio, Pictor
    • Smith's Bio, Sabi'nus, Massu'rius
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (4):
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