an erection on a spot where lightning had fallen. The
name is derived from the sacrifice of a young sheep (bidens
) by the haruspices
place. Sometimes, from the resemblance of the structure to the mouth of a
well, it was called puteal,
as in the case of
the puteal Libonis
at the eastern end of the Forum Romanum (Hor. Ep. 1.19
2.6, 35; Pers. 4.49), and
another in the Comitium (Cic. de
Div. 1.1. 7
; Liv. 1.36
lightning had struck a spot, it was held necessary condere fulgur,
according to the nature of the
place. If a man had been killed by the lightning, it was not lawful to burn
the corpse, but he was buried on the spot. (Plin.
.) Everything which had been scorched or scattered by
the lightning was solemnly collected by the pontiff (who was at a later date
assisted by the haruspices
) and piled up with a
low muttered prayer. (Schol. on Juv. 6.587
; Acron. on Hor. A.
471.) A bidens
was offered, and a
small enclosure, neither paved nor covered, was built around the heap, and
was further surrounded by an exterior wall, bearing the legend fulgur conditum.
Many inscriptions of this kind are
still extant, and at Pompeii a bidental has been discovered, of which the
outer protection is formed by eight Doric columns. (Mazois, Ruines de
t. iv., pl. ii. iii.) It was not allowed to
tread this locus religiosus,
or even to look
into it. (Schol. Pers. 5.27; Amm. Marc. 23.5
From Horace (A. P.
471) it appears to have been believed that
a person who was guilty of profaning a bidental would be punished by the
gods with frenzy. (Cf. Marquardt, Röm. Staatsverw.