is properly any stem, stalk, straw or haulm
of corn, or blade of grass (Varr. L. L.
homo in pratis per fenisecta festucas
corradit” ). In two passages it is generally explained as a
synonym of the praetor's rod (vindicta
upon the slave's head in MANUMISSIO
(Plaut. Mil. Glor.
“Quid? ea ingenuane an festuca facta e serva libera est?”
Pers. 5.175, “non in festuca, lictor quam jactat ineptus” ).
But Conington on the latter passage has pointed out that the ordinary use of
would suit these two places equally
well ; so that after all the traditional rendering may be a mistake, though
a very early one (the Schol. has “virga
qua a lictore percutitur” ). Plutarch says that one of the
lictors threw stubble (κάρφος
) on the
manumitted slave (de Ser. Num. Vind.
p. 550 B); and the words
seem to imply something of
this kind rather than touching with a staff. Probably both ceremonies
accompanied the act of manumission, the praetor applying the vindicta
with his own hand, the lictor throwing the
stubble. Persius clearly had the passage of Horace in his mind (Sat.
2.7, 76, “quem ter vindicta quaterque
Imposita haud unquam misera formidine privet” ), but may have
chosen the other part of the ceremony for his illustration. The confusion
between the two may be as old as Gellius (20.10.10
); for the explanation of the phrase vis
see under DEDUCTOR. A
glossary quoted by Conington gives both meanings: “Festuca, κάρφος: ῥάβδος.
” Cf. also Gaius,