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Pinaria Gens

One of the most ancient patrician gentes at Rome, tracing its origin to a time long previous to the foundation of the city. The legend related that when Hercules came into Italy he was hospitably received, on the spot where Rome was afterwards built, by the Potitii and the Pinarii, two of the most distinguished families in the country. The hero, in return, taught them the way in which he was to be worshipped; but as the Pinarii were not at hand when the sacrificial banquet was ready, and did not come till the entrails of the victim were eaten, Hercules, in anger, determined that the Pinarii should, in all future time, be excluded from partaking of the entrails of the victims, and that in all matters relating to his worship should be inferior to the Potitii (Livy, i. 7; Dionys. i. 40; Macrob. iii. 6, 12). These two families continued to be the hereditary priests of Hercules till the censorship of Appius Claudius (B.C. 312), who purchased from the Potitii the knowledge of the sacred rites, and intrusted them to public slaves; whereat the god was so angry that the whole Potitia gens, containing twelve families and thirty grown-up men, perished within a year, or, according to other accounts, within thirty days, and Appius himself became blind (Livy, ix. 29). The Pinarii did not share in the guilt of communicating the sacred knowledge, and therefore did not receive the same punishment as the Potitii, but continued in existence to the latest times. It appears that the worship of Hercules by the Potitii and Pinarii was a sacrum gentilicium belonging to these gentes, and that in the time of Appius Claudius these sacra privata were made sacra publica. The Pinarii were divided into the families of Mamercinus, Natta, Posca, Rusca, and Scarpus, but none of them obtained sufficient importance to require a separate notice.

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 9, 29
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 7
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