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[10arg] The meaning of favisae Capitolinae; and what Marcus Varro replied to Servius Sulpicius, who asked him about that term.

SERVIUS SULPICIUS, an authority on civil law and a man well versed in letters, wrote 1 to Marcus Varro and asked him to explain the meaning of a term which was used in the records of the censors; the term in question was favisae Capitolinae. Varro wrote in reply 2 that he recalled that Quintus Catulus, when in charge of the restoration of the Capitol, 3 had said that it had been his desire to lower the area Capitolina, 4 in order that the ascent to the temple might have more steps and that the podium might be higher, to correspond with the elevation and size of the pediment 5 ; but that he had been unable to carry out his plan because the favisae had prevented. These, he said, were certain underground chambers and cisterns in the area, in which [p. 153] it was the custom to store ancient statues that had fallen from the temple, and some other consecrated objects from among the votive offerings. And then Varro goes on to say in the same letter, that he had never found any explanation of the term favisae in literature, but that Quintus Valerius Soranus used to assert that what we called by their Greek name thesauri (treasuries) the early Latins termed favisae, their reason being that there was deposited in them, not uncoined copper and silver, but stamped and minted money. His theory therefore was, he said, that the second letter had dropped out of the word flavisae, and that certain chambers and pits, which the attendants of the Capitol used for the preservation of old and sacred objects, were called favisae. 6

1 p. 140, Bremer.

2 p. 199, Bipont.

3 After the destruction of the temple by fire in 83 B.C. In spite of Caesar's opposition (Suet. Jul. xv), Catulus dedicated the new temple in 69 B. C.

4 The open space in front of and around the temple of Jupiter.

5 Sulla and Catulus in their restorations of the Capitoline temple used columns that were taller than those of the earlier building. Catulus wished to make the podium (or elevated platform) higher, to correspond with the greater elevation and size of the pediment (or gable). This he could have done most easily by lowering the area about the temple.

6 For original flavisae, from flare. Minted or coined money had to be softened or melted before being cast or struck, and for this process the word isflare; hence the directors of the mint were called Triumviri Auro Argento Aere Flando Feriundo, where aere is of course an old dative. Favisa is apparently for *fovisa and cognate with forea, “pit.”

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load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
load focus Latin (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
hide References (6 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (4):
    • Harper's, Paradīsus
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), AUCTOR
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), DONA´RIA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), LEX
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (2):
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