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On this page: Festus – Fetiales



had three lives, and had to be slain three times by Evander in consequence.

Fescenninl (ludf). Rural festivals, of great antiquity, held by the population of Etruria and Latium, and named, from some cause which cannot now be ascertained, from Fescennium in South Etruria. At harvest festivals, at the feast of Silvanus, and others of the kind, and at weddings, the young men would appear in rough masks or with faces painted with vermilion, bantering each other for the amusement of the spectators in rude and indecent jests. These were thrown into a rough kind of metre, originally no doubt the Saturnian. The Italians had at all times a keen sense of the ridiculous, and a love for personal attack; tendencies which were much encouraged by their gift for improvi-zatiou, and pointed repartee. In Rome these games were taken up by the young men at public festivals, and combined with a comic imitation of the religious dances introduced from Etruria in 390 b.c. to avert a pestilence. In this form they are supposed to have given birth to the dramatic s&tura. (See satuba.) The license of personal abuse ended by going so far that it had to be restrained by a law of the Twelve Tables. The Fescenninl versus were gradually restricted to weddings, and the word came to mean the merry songs sung when the bride was brought home.

Festus. (1) Sextus Pompeius Festus ; a Roman scholar, who probably nourished in the 2nd century a.d. He made an abridg­ment of the great lexical work of Verrius Flaccus, De VerbBrum Significant, using at the same time other works of the same author. The abridgment, arranged in alpha­betical order, and containing twenty books, superseded its original. Of Festus' own work we have only the second half (the letters M-V) in a very imperfect state. The rest is preserved in a meagre epitome made by the priest Panlus, in the age of Charles the Great. Slight as are these remains of the original work of Verrius, they are very valuable for the fulness of select grammatical and antiquarian notices which they contain.

(2) A Roman historian, who about 369 a.d. wrote an abridgment of Roman history (BrEvmrium Eerum GesUirum POpUli Romanl) founded partly on EutrOplus, partly on Florus, and dedicated to the emperor Valens.

Fetlales (Latin). A body of men whose business it was to maintain the forms

j of international relationship. The institu­tion was universal in Italy. In Rome ita introduction was ascribed to Numa or Ancus Martius. Here the fetiales formed a collegium of twenty members elected for life, and filled up vacancies in their body by co-optation. They were in early times exclusively patricians, but at all times it was necessary that they should belong to the highest classes. Their duties were, in case of conflicts arising with other nations, to give an opinion, based on the merits of the case, upon the question of war or peace; to give, or to demand in person, satisfaction by delivering up the guilty individual, to declare war or conclude peace, and to give the sanction of religion to both acts. On all these occasions they went out wearing their sacerdotal dress, and the insignia of their office. Before them one of the members of the collegium carried the sacred plants which they had gathered on the Capitol after asking per­mission of the magistrate on whose com­mission they were acting, king, consul, or praetor. If satisfaction was to be demanded from another nation, a number of fetiales was sent under the "leadership of a speaker, the pater patratus, with the forms of a special ceremonial. Supposing satisfaction given, they took the offender with them, and parted in peace ; if the other party asked for time to consider the matter, this was granted to ten days and extended to thirty. If, after this, satisfaction were not given, the speaker made a solemn protest, adding that the Roman people would now take the matter into its own hands. Supposing now that war were decided on, the speaker, in presence of at least three witnesses, uttered the solemn declaration, and threw a bloody lance into the enemy's territory. After the war with Pyrrhus this ceremony was performed at the Column of War near the temple of Bellona, and the declaration of war was carried to the general in cornr mand according to the form prescribed by the law of the fetiales. If it was in con­templation to bring the war to a close, and the enemy had not made an unconditional surrender, the fetiales, with the authority of a slnatus consuttum, and in the name of the State, either concluded a truce for a definite number of years, or a formal alliance. The general, if he made peace without the consent of the Roman people, did so on his own responsibility and with­out binding the State. If the people were dissatisfied with the terms, the fetia.Ua

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