previous next

FESTU´CA

FESTU´CA is properly any stem, stalk, straw or haulm of corn, or blade of grass (Varr. L. L. 5.31.38, “qui homo in pratis per fenisecta festucas corradit” ). In two passages it is generally explained as a synonym of the praetor's rod (vindicta) laid upon the slave's head in MANUMISSIO (Plaut. Mil. Glor. 4.1, 15, “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 festuca 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 lictor jactat 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 festucaria, see under DEDUCTOR. A glossary quoted by Conington gives both meanings: “Festuca, κάρφος: ῥάβδος.” Cf. also Gaius, Inst. 4.16.

[W.W]

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: