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Properly any stem, stalk, or straw of grain, or blade of grass (Varr. L. L. v. 31.38). 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. iv. 1, 15; Pers. v. 175). 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. 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 iactat seem to imply something of this kind rather than touching with a staff. Possibly both ceremonies accompanied the act of manumission, the praetor applying the vindicta with his own hand, the lictor throwing the stubble. See Manumissio.

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    • Persius, Saturae, 5
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