The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Sicinnis – Side – Sidonius Apollinaris – Sieges




Apollo on the Palatine, after they had been examined and copied ; here they remained until about 405 a.d. They are said to have been burnt by StllJcho. The use of these oracles was from the outset reserved for the State, and they were not consulted for the foretelling of future events, but on the occasion of remarkable calamities, such as pestilence, earthquake, and as a means of ex­piating portents. It was only the rites of expiation prescribed by the Sibylline books that were communicated to the public, and not the oracles themselves. As these books recognised the gods worshipped, and the rites observed, in the neighbourhood of Troy, they were the principal cause of the introduction of a series of foreign deities and religious rites into the Roman State worship, of the amalgamation of national deities with the corresponding deities of Greece, and a general modification of the Roman religion after the Greek type.

Tarquinius is said to have entrusted the care of the books to a special college of two men of patrician rank. After 367 B.C. their number was increased to ten, half patrician and half plebeians; and in the 1st century b.c., probably in the time of Sulla, five more were added. These officials were entitled respectively duumviri, d&cemviri, and quindecimviri sacrta faclundls. They were usually ex-consuls or ex-praetors. They held office for life, and were exempt from all other public duties. They had the responsibility of keeping the books in safety and secrecy, of consulting them at the order of the Senate, of interpreting the utterances they found therein, and of causing the measures thus enjoined to be carried out; in particular, they had the superintendence of the worship of Apollo, the Magna Mater, and Ceres, which had been introduced by the Sibylline books.

These Sibylline books have no connexion with a collection of Sibylline Oracles in twelve books, written in Greek hexameters, which have come down to us. The latter contain a medley of pretended prophecies by various authors and of very various dates, from the middle of the 2nd century B.C. to the 5th century a.d. They were composed partly by Alexandrine Jews, partly by Christians, in the interests of their respective religions; and in part they refer to events of the later Empire.

SIcinnis. The wild choral dance of the Greek satyric drama (q,v.). See also chorus.

Side. The wife of Orion (q.v.); she was thrown into Hades by Hera for venturing

to compare herself with her in point of beauty.

SidSnlus Apolllnarls (Gains Sollius). A Roman author, born about 430 a.d. at Lug-dunum (Lyons). He belonged to one of the most prominent Christian families in Gaul. He married the daughter of the future emperor Avitus. Under Anthemius, in 467 he was prcp.fectits urbi at Rome, and in 472 he became bishop of Clermont, in Auvergne, and in that capacity headed the resistance against the Western Goths. He died in 483. He was distinguished among his contemporaries for learning and culture, and for a knowledge of ancient literature which was rare in that age. Of his works we possess twenty-four poems, among which are three panegyrics on the emperors Avitus, Majorian, and Anthemius, and two epithd-lamla, which are somewhat clever in form; they are, however, as bombastic and as destitute of thought and taste as his nine books of Letters, modelled on those of Pliny and Symmachus. His writings are never­theless not without value, owing to the light they throw on the history and the general circumstances of his time.

NG RAM (AKf&3).

Sieges. If an immediate attack by filling up the trenches, beating in the gates, and scaling the walls failed or promised to be useless, the siege was carried on partly by blockade, partly by attack in form. In the first case the besiegers were content with surrounding the town with an inner and outer wall. The latter was intended as a protection against attack on the part

of a relieving force. The besiegers then waited till the besieged were forced to capitulate. In other cases they attempted to make a breach in the wall with a batter­ing ram (fig. 1); to undermine the wall, and so overthrow it; to make a way under by mines into the city; or to raise a mound level with the wall, and so get to the top. The process of undermining the walls was carried on by soldiers, who tore up the foundations with the aid of various mining tools. This was done under the protection of the tcstudo, a wooden erection in the form of a slanting desk. This was carried by hand or wheeled close up to the wall with its open front towards it. Like all machines

About | First | Index



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.