The Ancient Library

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On this page: Primipilus – Princeps



prominent place. The most important priesthoods which originated in the time of the kings were the Fldmlnis, the • Auyures, the Vcstales, the Salii, the Fctmles, the, the Luperci, the Fratrgs Arvales, and the Curlones. Be­sides these, in course of time there arose the Rex Sacrorum to offer certain sacri­fices originally offered by the king, the custodians of the Sibylline oracles, the Epulonls to discharge a part of the pon­tifical duties, the priests of the new cults gradually introduced, and lastly the priests of the deified emperors, e.g. the SSdales Augustales. A number of State cults were handed over to individual clans (gentes) and associations. (See, sodalitas.)

After the establishment of the Republic, a distinguished position was attained by the college of the pontiflcls, who, like the king in earlier times, superintended the entire ritual. They were the technical advisers of the Senate on an}- new questions that arose in regard to it. Next to them in importance were the augurs and the custodians of the Sibylline oracles. These priesthoods, together with that of the epulones, were styled the four great colleges (quattuor summa collegia), and an equal honour was afterwards given to that of the societies Augustales.

The appointment of the priests, for whom the same qualifications were required as among the Greeks, proceeded in various j ways, by nomination, co-optation, and election. They entered on office by in­auguration, an act in which the chief pontiff, acting through the augurs, in­quired of the god concerned whether the new priest was acceptable to him. His reception into the college was accompanied by a banquet given by the new priest, which became proverbial for its luxury.

When officially engaged all State priests (apart from their peculiar insignia) wore iheprcp.texta, the purple-edged robe of Roman magistrates. They also enjoyed the distinc­tion of a seat of honour at festivals and games, and exemption from military service, from the duties of citizens, and from taxa­tion. The great priesthoods were posts of honour, and, like the political offices, were without remuneration. On the other hand, some priests and priestesses (e.g. the Vestal Virgins and the augurs), besides the use of the sacred or public lands belonging to their temples, received a regular annual salary. The cost of the establishment was defrayed from several sources. The priests

had under their management a fund which was maintained from landed property and current receipts (including fees for admis­sion to the temple and for the offering of the sacrifice). They also had a claim to cer­tain parts of the victim, and other perqui­sites; besides this, they all, especially the e.uriones (see curia), and those associa­tions to which State cults were entrusted, received the necessary money from the public chest. The cost of repairing the temples and of all sacrifices and festivals especially ordered by the State was defrayed from the same source. Similarly the State pro­vided the priests either with public slaves or with free and salaried servants, to wait upon them. (For a particular kind of priests' assistants, see camilli.) All State temples did not have particular priests assigned them; temples without priests of their own were under the superintendence of a sacristan (cedltuus); and it was usually only once in the year that sacrifice was offered at the great festival of such temples by a State priest specially appointed for the purpose. No priest could be called to account by any civil magistrate except the censor. The pontifex maxlmus had the power of punishing the other priests. The position of a priest of a cult not recog­nised by the State, but merely tolerated, was naturally different. With regard to their maintenance, they were themselves, like the sanctuaries they superintended, sup­ported by the contributions of the votaries of their own cult.

Primlpllus. See centuriones Princeps. The Latin word for "achief," "a leader," "the foremost person." Thus, in the Roman constitution,princeps SSnntus is the senator who was placed first on the roll of the Senate drawn up by the censors. When the Senate was voting, if no consuls-designate were present, he was asked for his opinion by the presiding magistrate before any one else. Just as under the Republic the leading men in the State were called prin&pes, Augustus, the founder of the Monarchy, took with general consent the title of princeps. This was quite in harmony with the old constitution, and at the same time recognised his equality with the other citizens. For the same reason his successor, Tiberius, set special store on the title of princeps. As the monarchical power became consolidated, and the old republican ideas disappeared, the consciousness of the original meaning of the title disappeared with them. Princeps came to be equiva-

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