The Ancient Library

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On this page: Volturnus – Vopiscus – Vota – Vulcanus – Vulcatius – War Dance – Warfare



Venus, who is identified with Aphrfidite, was regarded as his wife. Among his shrines in Rome the most noteworthy is that called Volcanal, a level space raised above the surface of the Comltlum, and serving as the hearth of the spot where the citizens' assemblies were held. His chief festival, the Volcanalia, was kept on August 23rd, when certain fish were thrown into the fire on the hearth, and races were held in the Circus Flamlnius. Sacrifices were offered to him as god of metal-work­ing on May 23rd, the day appointed for a cleansing of the trumpets used in worship (tubilustrium). As lord of fire he was also the god of conflagrations; hence his temples were built outside the city, while his temple in Rome was situated in the Campus Martins. Juturna (q.v.) and Stata Mater, who causes fires to cease, were wor­shipped with him as goddesses who protect from fires, and a public sacrifice was offered to them and him at the festival of the Volcanalia. (Cp. heph.estus.)

VoltnrniiB. See tiberinus.

Vopiscus. A Roman historian. (See scriptores historic augusts.)

Vota. Religious vows were extraordi­narily common among the Romans both in public and private life. Public vows (vota puWca) were sometimes extraordinary, sometimes ordinary. As regards the former, a religious vow was uttered in times of need, in the name of the State, to the effect that, if the gods averted the danger, and caused the prosperity of the State to remain unimpaired for the next five or ten years, a special thank-offering would be paid them, consisting of presents of cattle, large sacrifices, banquets (lectisternia), a tithe of the booty, a temple, games, etc. In older times a vSr sacrum (q.v.) was also promised. These vows were drawn up in writing tinder the direction of the ponti-fices, recited by the pontifex maximus, and privately rehearsed after him by a consul or praetor. The pontifex then put

away the document in the presence of wit­nesses, for purposes of reference when the vow was executed. Ordinary vows for the good of the State were offered on the

i Capitol by the higher officials on entering office (the consuls on January 1st) and on leaving for their province. This was called the votorum nuncupdtio. After 30 B.C. a special votum was offered up for the welfare of the emperor and his family, on

i January 3rd. Down to the 7th century a.d., both in Rome and throughout the Empire, this day, which was itself called votum, was kept as a holiday by all bodies both civil and religious.

Under the Empire vows were regularly made for longer periods of time (five, ten, fifteen, twenty years, vota quinquennalia, dScennalia, quindecennalia, vlcennalia). Besides these there were extraordinary vota for the return and safety of the emperor, the accouchement of the empress, the birthday and accession day of the emperor, and the like: Private vows (vota prlvata) were

' made on the most varied occasions. They might be solemnly offered in a temple, or made suddenly in times of momentary peril. In the former case a sealed writing containing the vow was fastened to the knees of the god's image, and then taken by the priest of the temple into his keeping, to be opened at the proper time. In the latter case, if the prayer was ful-

i filled, the vow had to be most scrupulously executed. The offering was generally ac­companied by a votive tablet, which was placed on the walls of the temple, and contained an inscription or a relief or e picture relating to the vow. Thus ship­wrecked mariners offered painted repre­sentations of the wreck in the temples of Neptune or Isis [Horace, Odes i 5, 13-16; Persius, i 90],

Vulcanus. See volcanus. Vnlcatlus Galllcanus. A Roman his­torian. (See scriptores historic august.*.)


War Dance. See pyrrhic dance.

Warfare. (1) Greek. The distinctively warlike people among the Greeks were the Spartans, whose whole life from early youth to advanced age was spent in the continual practice of martial exercises. Even the meals shared in common by all Spartans who had attained the full rights

of citizens, were arranged with reference to military service. (See syssitia.) Owing to constant practice in military exercises of every possible kind, the Spartan army possessed a dexterity in the handling of weapons, and a tactical education, which, combined with their lofty sentiment of military honour, for a long period ensured

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