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ARVA´LES FRATRES

ARVA´LES FRATRES The Fratres Arvales formed a college or company of priests, twelve in number, and were so called, according to Varro (de Ling. Lat. 5.85, Müller), from offering public sacrifices for the fertility of the fields. That they were of extreme antiquity is proved by the legend which refers their institution to Romulus, of whom it is said that when his nurse Acca Larentia lost one of her twelve sons, he allowed himself to be adopted by her in his place, and called himself and the remaining eleven “Fratres Arvales.” (Gel. 6.7, quoting Masurius Sabinus, a writer of the age of Tiberius.) We also find a college called the Sodales Titii; and as the latter were confessedly of Sabine origin, and instituted for the purpose of keeping up the Sabine religious rites (Tac. Ann. 1.53), there is some plausibility in the supposition of Niebuhr (Rom. Hist. 1.303), that these colleges corresponded one to the other; the Fratres Arvales' being connected with the Latin, and the Sodales Titii with the Sabine element of the Roman state, just as there were two colleges of the Luperci,--namely, the Fabii and the Quinctilii, the former of whom seem to have belonged to the Sabines. But too little is really known of the Sodales Titii to warrant us in assuming this parallelism; and against it are the title Fratres borne by the Arvales alone among Roman priesthoods, the obvious connexion of their name with the tillage of the soil, and the absence of any gentile or tribal associations. Accordingly, Niebuhr's conjecture has been silently dropped by the latest authorities on the subject (Rein, ap. Pauly, i.2 s.v. De la Berge, ap. D. and S.; Marquardt, 6.427).

The office of the Fratres Arvales was for life, and was not taken away even from an exile or captive. They wore, as a badge of office, a chaplet of ears of corn (spicea corona) fastened on their heads with a white band (infula). (Plin. Nat. 18.6.) These passages, with a single reference in Minucius Felix (Oct. 100.25), comprise all the extant notices of the Fratres Arvales in the ancient writers; and the name of the Dea Dia whom they worshipped is not even mentioned. But the fortunate discovery of a large number of inscriptions has placed the locality of their sanctuary beyond a doubt, and has thrown a flood of light on their constitution and ceremonial as well as on that of other Roman priesthoods. In the Vigna Ceccarelli, at a place quaintly called Affoga l'Asino, a little beyond the fifth milestone on the Via Portuensis, inscriptions upon stone tablets have been found at intervals from 1570 to the present time, which sufficiently identify that spot as the grove of the Dea Dia where the chief festival of the Arvales was held. By the end of the last century, sixty-seven documents had been recovered, and these were published with a valuable commentary, not yet superseded as a store-house of knowledge on Roman antiquities, by Gaetano Marini, Rome, 1795, 2 vols. 4to. In 1867 more systematic excavations were undertaken with the aid of funds supplied by the King and Queen of Prussia, and the results were given to the world by Henzen, the continuator of Orelli's Inscriptions, in the works mentioned at the end of this article. We have now the acta or protocols of ninety-six annual meetings of the college, ranging in date from A.D. 14, the last year of Augustus, to 241, in the reign of Gordian; besides a number of fragments found at various times in Rome itself. From these we are able to form a clear idea of the officers of the college, the ceremonies they performed, and the mode of filling up vacancies in their body. Some of these minutes of proceedings, as they may be called, are much fuller than others, the most important being that of 218, the first year of Elagabalus, which includes the celebrated Hymn. The passage in Varro being the only mention of the Arvales that dates from republican times, it is a highly probable conjecture that this may have been one of the obsolete or half-forgotten cults, several of which, we know, were revived by Augustus. It has further been suggested that the absence of all records, either in literature or inscriptions, later than the age of Gordian, points to a sudden suppression of the college about the middle of the third century. This was the opinion of Marini, favoured by Sig. de' Rossi and M. de la Berge (ap. D. and S.): Marquardt, on the contrary, thinks that it shared in the gradual extinction of the pagan rites and died out about the end of the fourth century. The sacrificium Deae Diae in luco is named in the law of Constantius and Constans, about 346, which, in the interest of the public amusements, provided for the maintenance of such temples as had games connected with them. In 382, by a decree of Gratian, the disestablishment of all pagan worships was completed, and their remaining endowments confiscated.

The regular number of brethren was twelve, as the legend indicates; the attendance at the annual meetings, as shown by the inscriptions, varies between three and nine. An exception occurs early in the reign of Nero; in the year 57 twelve fratres met, exclusive of the emperor, who was also a member according to the invariable practice, and in this instance, it would appear, a supernumerary. From the time of Augustus it had become usual to appoint princes of the imperial family as extra members of the most dignified priestly colleges (D. C. 51.20). Vacancies as they occurred were filled up by cooptation, originally free, but under the empire usually controlled by an imperial rescript indicating the person to be elected, like the congé d‘élire of modern times. Thus under Hadrian we find the formula, in the acta of the years 118 and 120, ex litteris imperatoris fratrem Arvalem cooptarunt. For the purpose of an election the brethren met on the summons of the, magister in the Regia, the temple of Jupiter Stator, that of Divus Julius, or latterly in the temple of Concord; and the votes were given in writing (per tabellas). The newly elected member [p. 1.199]was solemnly “admitted” by the magister, for which the phrase used is ad sacra vocat.

Like most Roman collegia, the Arvales had their presiding officer called magister, elected annually in the grove of the Dea Dia on the second or great day of the May festival, but not coming into office until the 17th of December following: a Saturnalibus primis ad Saturnalia secunda is the oft-recurring formula. The promagister, who acted in the absence of the magister (vice fungens magistri), appears to have been nominated by him for an indefinite period, and was not a regularly elected officer of the college. Next in importance to the magister was the flamen, elected annually upon the same occasion to assist in the sacrifices; he could also be represented by a proflamen, or by a member without that title qui vice flaminis fungebatur. Either of these dignities was often conferred by way of compliment on the emperor, who usually discharged its duties by deputy; and either might be re-elected, in consecutive years or after an interval. There were, besides, four pueri ingenui patrimi et matrimi, senatorum filii (called also CAMILLI), who waited on the brethren during the sacrificial feast, and shared it themselves sitting on cathedrae, while their elders of course reclined. The names of these also are found to be the same in successive lists; and it seems that, when once appointed, they retained the post until they assumed the toga virilis or lost one of their parents. The college had also its staff of servants; some servi publici, assigned to its use by the emperor and reckoned as belonging to his familia, an aedituus in charge of the sacred precinct, and lastly the calatores. To this last office each member of the college appointed one of his own freedmen, and they paid, or their patrons paid for them, an entrance fee or fine on admission; but it was ruled that this payment was not to be exacted more than once from any member, if he had occasion to appoint a fresh attendant (placuit, ut cum calator accessio sit sacerdotis, semel ob introitum inferri debere, licet alius calator ab eodem sacerdote substitueretur, year 120). These details, proved by the extant inscriptions, afford some curious points of resemblance to mediaeval and modern collegiate organisations.

The principal duty of the Arvales was to celebrate a three days' festival in honour of the Dea Dia, formerly supposed to be Ceres (Marini), but now more correctly identified with Ops; the divinity of Ceres, as Marquardt observes, not forming a part of the old Roman worship. This festival was sometimes held on the XVI., XIV. and XIII., sometimes on the VI., IV. and III. Kal. Jun., i. e. on the 17th, 19th, and 20th, or the 27th, 29th, and 30th of May; in either instance, it will be seen, with a bye-day between the first and second feast days, while the third immediately followed the second. The precise time was fixed in the January of each year, and solemnly proclaimed by the magister or his deputy from the temple of Concord on the Clivus Capitolinus. A rule of choosing the two dates alternately has been inferred from the extant acta, but there are many exceptions, and the festival undoubtedly belonged to the order of feriae conceptivae, or those fixed by proclamation. On the first and last of the three days the college met in Rome, usually at the house of the magister, but sometimes also in Palatio in templo Divorum; offered fruits, incense, and wine at sunrise to the Dea Dia; anointed her statue; bathed, and changed the praetexta in which they had sacrificed for a white dinner-dress (album cenatorium; cf. SYNTHESIS). Between dinner and dessert (mensa prima and mensa secunda bellariorum) they rose from table, reclined on more magnificent couches than those of the triclinium (toralibus segmentatis), repeated the offerings of wine, incense, and first-fruits (fruges libatae); then divided the bellaria, and received each man a sportula or perquisite for attendance. This in the period from Trajan to the Antonines amounted to 100 denarii, the boys receiving 25; in the impoverished times of the third century it was reduced to 25 denarii for members of the college. The acta of the year 218 describe each change of seats and vestments, each washing of the hands, with extraordinary minuteness; and, as has been seen, give the clearest insight, of all ancient (documents, into the peculiarly ceremonial character of the Roman religion: the details are here necessarily abridged. Whether the panes laureati “touched” (i. e. consecrated) by the fratres were common loaves entwined with laurel or a special kind of fancy bread, is uncertain.

On the second day of the feast, which was the most important of the three, the Arvales assembled in the grove of Dea Dia already described. The acta of the year 224 contain the curious expression in luco Deae ]Diae via Campana apud lapidem V.: whereas there is no road known as the via Campana, and the road on which the spot is actually situated leads to the mouth of the Tiber, and not into Campania. The phrase, which is doubtless of great antiquity, probably means “country road” (Feldstrasse: Preller, Röm. Myth. p. 425); and may contain a trace of the process by which the district round Rome has come to be known as the Campagna. The grove included a circus for games and several temples, among which the Caesareum or aedicula of deified emperors and the Tetrastylum are mentioned; we find also the pavilion or tent (papilio) of the master, probably erected for the occasion. The sacrifices were begun early in the day by the magister or his deputy, acting alone; he first offered two young pigs in order to expiate the unavoidable desecration of the sacred grove by the use of the axe in pruning and felling it1 (porcilias piaculares ii. luci coinquiendi et operis faciundi), then a white heifer (vacca honoraria) as a victim to the Dea Dia herself. In the forenoon he was joined by his colleagues, who breakfasted on the offerings already made, and then proceeded to fresh ceremonies. They sacrificed a fat lamb; made an offering, not further described, with earthenware pots placed on a table (in mensa sacrum fecerunt ollis); sent out two of their number to collect grains of corn, probably from the crowd collected at the temple doors, passed them on to one another, receiving them in the left hand and giving with the right, and finally handed them to the attendants (publici, sc. servi); placed the ollae on the altar, and then threw them away that they might not be used again (this is the probable [p. 1.200]explanation of the obscure phrase ollas precati sunt et ostiis apertis per clivum jactaverunt); and shared panes laureati, followed by turnips and another vegetable mysteriously described (lumemulia cum rapinis). The images were now anointed (the plural dens is used here only, and seems to refer to Acca Larentia and the Dea Dia as separate divinities); the temple was cleared of all but the priests, and the doors shut; and with their tunics tucked up for the dance, taking written copies of the formula from their attendants, and dividing right and left into two bodies, they proceeded to recite the hymn which has made the name of Fratres Arvales so interesting to philologers (ibi sacerdotes clusi succincti, libellis acceptis, carmen descindentes tripodaverunt in verba haec).

The text here given is that of Mommsen (Hist. 1.231, E. T.), with which those of Preller (Röm. Myth. p. 428) and Marquardt, after Bücheler (Index schol. Bonnens. aest. 1876), agree in the main. Another interpretation, embodying some rather fanciful notions of previous scholars, will be found in Donaldson's Varronianus, ch. 6.2. A rude Saturnian metre is traceable in the hymn:

Enos, Lases, iuvate,
Neve lue rue, Marmar, sins incurrere in pleores.
Satur fu, fere Mars! limen sali! sta! berber!
Semunis alternei advocapit conctos.
Enos Marmar iuvato. Triumpe.
In Mommsen's rendering:

To the gods--
Nos, Lares, iuvate,
Neve luem ruem (= ruinam) sinas incurrere in plures.
Satur esto, fere Mars.
To the individual brethren--
In limen insili! sta! verbera (limen?)!
To all the brethren--
Semones alterni advocate cunctos.
To the god--
Nos, Mamers, iuvato!
To the individual brethren--Tripudia.
Each of the first five lines was repeated thrice, triumpe five times in the inscription, but probably six were intended. There are, as will be seen, other indications of mistakes on the part of the stonecutter.

Very few points in Mommsen's explanation need be regarded as doubtful. Preller writes E nos as two words, taking e as equivalent to age or eia: the rest with more probability make enos a form of nos, comparing German uns. The most difficult words are those which appear in the inscription as NEVELVAERVE: Mommsen's view is simple and probable, and it is easy to suppose the a in luae a stonecutter's blunder; while Bücheler's nevel=ne and vaerve=verber is far-fetched, especially as berber in the next line undoubtedly represents verber. In the following line the expressions limen sali! sta! berber! are much better taken as addressed to the brethren (Mommsen) than as by the others to Mars, “retire into thy temple, stop thy scourge;” Bücheler and Marquardt making sta transitive = siste, Preller rendering sta verbere), “desist from.” In this line the lapidary has, doubtless by mistake, given once FVRERE, twice FVFERE; and Preller adopts this reading as satur furere, the rest much better satur fu, fere Mars, making fu an imperative. The phrase. may have suggested Horace's heu nimis longo satiate ludo (I. Od. 2.37), which, however, will suit either reading. For semones = semihomines, anciently homönes, compare Priscian, p. 683 Putsch; Paul. Diac. s. v. Hemona. The connexion of triumphus with tripudium, rather than with θρίαμβος, is now generally accepted.

After the recitation the doors were thrownr open and the service-books handed back to the attendants (publici introierunt et libellos receperunt); and the brethren now proceeded to the election of a Magister and a Flamen for the ensuing year, followed by the distribution of the sportula and of roses. Next came races in the circus of the grove, in which bigae, quadrigae, and desultores are mentioned: the Magister or his deputy presided at the games, habited in the ricinium [RICINIUM], and gave away the prizes. The brethren then returned to Rome and dined together in the house of the Magister: this seems to have been the usual practice, but we also find in some of the acta a dinner on the spot, in the Tetrastylum (year 219).

Of the other functions of the Fratres Arvales a short account will be sufficient. Whenever iron was brought into the grove, as for cutting the inscriptions for the acta, or the lopping and felling of the trees (already mentioned), there--were sacrifices ob ferrum illatum, and, when the work was done, ob ferrum elatum. When the trees fell from decay or, worse still, were struck by lightning, and when replanting was under-taken, still more solemn sacrifices (suovetaurilia majora) were offered on the spot. The Arvales. met at Rome, in the Capitol and elsewhere, for elections and the indictio of the annual festival, as has been seen. They also met for the nuncupatio or solemn pronouncing of vows for important events in the imperial family,--the birth-day, marriage, illness or recovery of the emperor, his setting out for or returning from serious undertakings, the accouchement of an empress &c. The Ambarvalia, according to the most probable opinion, were entirely separate from the functions of the Fratres Arvales [AMBARVALIA]. (Marini, Atti e Monumenti dei Fratelli Arvali, Rome, 1795; Henzen, Scavi nel Bosco Sacro dei Fratelli Arvali, Rome, 1868, and Acta Fratrum Arvalium, Berlin, 1874; C. I. L. vi. No. 2023-2119; Burn, Rome and the Campagna, p. 440; Mommsen, R. H. 1.175 ff., 231; Preller, Röm. Myth. pp. 422-430; and especially Marquardt, 6.428-443.)

1 Coinquire, to lop trees, seems connected with inquinare.

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