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ARGE´I We learn from Livy (1.21) that Numa consecrated places for the celebration of religious services which were called by the pontifices Argei. Varro calls them the chapels (sacella) of the Argei, and says they were twenty-seven in number, distributed in the different districts of the city (L. L. 5.45). The number 27 appears to be a copyist's mistake for 24, the number implied by Varro himself in another passage (7.44), i. e. six for each of the four ancient regions of Rome. They seem also to have been the depositories of topographical records. Thus we read in Varro,--In sacreis Argeorum scripture est sic: Oppius mons princeps, &c., which is followed by a description of the neighbourhood. They were said to be named from the chieftains who came with Hercules, the Argive, to Rome, and occupied the Capitoline or, as it was anciently called, Saturnian hill. These Argives, according to the legend, either cast themselves, or directed that their dead bodies should be cast, into the Tiber, in the hope of being carried down to Argolis. In this latter part of the story we may probably recognise an attempt to explain the ceremony of the Ides (15th) of May, when certain osier figures of men called argei were thrown into the Tiber from the pons Sublicius by the Vestals, as a reminiscence (not, as is most likely the truth, of human sacrifices to indigenous ancient divinities, but) of that early connexion of the Greek Heracles with the fortunes of Rome which Roman writers so generally sought to establish. Dionysius of Halicarnassus seems to mix up both explanations in his statement that the custom, continuing to his times, was instituted by Hercules to satisfy the scruples of the natives when he abolished the human sacrifices formerly made to Saturn. He gives the number of images as 30: Varro speaks of 24, which, if we read xxiiii for xxvii, as suggested above, in 5.45, makes one victim for each of the Argei. Whether, finally, the name Argei originally belonged to deities themselves, and passed from them to their shrines and their victims, must remain undecided: that the cultus associated with the name was archaic, analogous to that of the Lares, and involving human sacrifices, seems clearly deducible from our documents. The subject has been specially treated by Liebrecht in Philologus, xxiii. pp. 679 ff., and Bouché--Leclercq, Les Pontifes de l'ancienne Rome, pp. 268 ff.: cf. Jordan, Topogr. d. Stadt Rom, ii. p. 236; Burn, Rome, p. 39; Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Geogr. ii. p. 733 foll. The chief classical sources are Varro, L. L. 5.45, 7.44; Ov. Fast. 5.621 ff.; Gellius, 10.15; Dionys. Halic. 1.38; Macrob. 1.2.47.

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