The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.


pollute the sacred season the rex sacrorum and the flamines were not even allowed to behold any work being done during the feriae ; hence, when they went out, they were preceded by their heralds (praeciae, praeclamitatores, or ealatores), who en­joined the people to abstain from working, that the sanctity of the day might not be polluted by the priests seeing persons at work. (Fest. s. v. Praecia; Macrob. L c. ; compare Serv. ad Virg. Georg. v. 268 ; Pint. Numa, c. 14.) Those who neglected this admonition were not only liable to a fine, but in case their disobedience was intentional, their crime was considered to be beyond the power of any atonement ; whereas those who had unconsci­ously continued their work, might atone for their transgression by offering a pig. It seems that doubts as to what kinds of work might be done at public feriae were not unfrequent. and we possess some curious and interesting decisions given by Roman pontiffs on this subject. One Umbro de­clared it to be no violation of the feriae,,. if a person did such work as had reference to the gods, or was connected with the offering of sacrifices ; all work, lie moreover declared, was allowed which was ne­cessary to supply the urgent wants of human life. The pontiff Scaevola, when asked what kind of work might be done on a dies feriatus, answered that any work might be done, if any suffering oiv injury should be the result of neglect or deLiy, e.g. if an ox should fall into a pit, the owner might employ workmen to lift it out ; or if a house threatened to fall down, the inhabitants might take such measures as would prevent its falling, without polluting the feriae. (Macrob. /. c. and iii. 3 ; Virg. Georg. i. 270, with the remarks of J. H.Voss; Cato, de Re Rust. 2 ; Columella, ii. 22 ; compare Math. xii. 11 ; Luke xiv. 5,) Respecting the va­rious kinds of legal affairs which might be brought before the praetor on days of public feriae, see Digest. 2. tit. 12, s. 2.

It seems to have been owing to the immense in­crease of the Roman republic and of the accumula­tion of business arising therefrom, that some of the feriae such as the Compitalia and Lupercalia, in the course of time ceased to be observed, until they were restored by Augustus, who revived many of the ancient religious rites and ceremonies. (Suet. Aug. 31.) Marcus Antoninus again increased the number of days of business (dies fasti) to 230, and the remaining days were feriae. (Capitol. M. Anton. PML c. 10.) After the introduction of Christi­anity in the Roman empire, the old feriae were abolished, and the Sabbath, together with the Christian festivals, were substituted ; but the man­ner in which they were kept was nearly the same as that in which the feriae had been observed. Law-suits were accordingly illegal on Sundays and holidays, though a master might emancipate his slave if he liked. (Cod. 3. tit. 12.) All work and all political as well as judicial proceedings, were suspended ; but the country people were al­lowed freely and unrestrainedly to apply them­selves to their agricultural labours, which seem at all times to have been distinguished from and thought superior to all other kinds of work ; for, as mentioned below, certain feriae were instituted merely for the purpose of enabling _the country people to follow their rural occupations without being interrupted by law-suits and other public transactions.

After this general view of the Roman feriae, we



shall proceed tu give a short account of thuse festi­vals and holidays which were designated by the name of feriae.

Feriae, Latinae^ or simply Latinae (the original name ywas Latiar, Macrob. /. c. ; Cic. ad Quint. Frat. ii. 4), had, according to the Roman legends, been instituted by the last Tarquin in commemo­ration of the alliance between the Romans and Latins. (Dionys. Hal. iv. p. 250. Sylb.) Bufr Niebuhr (Hist, of Rome, ii. p. 34) has shown that the festival, which was originally a panegyris of the Latins, is of much higher antiquity ; for we find it stated that the towns of the Priscans and Latins received their shares of the sacrifice on the Alban mount—which was the place of its celebration — along with the Albans and the thirty towns of the Alban commonwealth. All that the last Tarquin did was to convert the original Latin festival into a Pvoman one, and to make it the means of hallowing and cementing the alliance between the two nations. Before the union, the chief magistrate of the Latins had presided at the festival ; but Tarquin now assumed this distinc­tion, which subsequently, after the destruction of the Latin commonwealth, remained with the chief magistrates of Rome. (Liv. v. 17.) The object of this panegyris on the Alban mount was the worship of Jupiter Latiaris, and, at least as long as the Latin republic existed, to deliberate and decide on matters of the confederacy, and to settle any disputes which might have arisen among its members. As the feriae Latinae belonged to the conceptivae, the time of their celebration greatly depended on the state of affairs at Rome, as the consuls were never allowed to take the field until they had held the Latinae. (Liv. xxi. 63, xxii. 1, xxv. 12.) This festival was u great engine in the hands of the magistrates, who had to appoint the time of its celebration (concipere, edicere, or indieere Latinas)', as it might often suit their purpose either to hold the festival at a particular time or to delay it, in order to prevent or delay such pub­lic proceedings as seemed injurious and pernicious, and to promote others to which they were favour­ably disposed. This feature, however, the feriae Latinae had in common with all other feriae con­ceptivae. Whenever any of the forms or cere­monies customary at the Latinae had been neglected, the consuls had the right to propose to the senate, or the college of pontiffs, that their celebration should be repeated (instaurari, Cic. ad Quint. Frat. ii. 6 ; Liv. xxii. 1, xli. 16), Respecting the duration of the feriae Latinae, the common opinion formerly was, that at first they only lasted for one day, to which subsequently a second, a third, and a fourth were added (Dionys. Hal. vi. p. 415. Sylb.) ; but it is clear that this suppo­sition was founded on a confusion of the feriae Latinae with the Ludi Maximi, and that they lasted for six days; one for each decury of the • Alban and Latin towns. (Niebuhr, Hist, of Rome, ii. p. 35 ; comp. Liv. vi. 42 ; Plut. CamilL 42.) The festive season was attended by a sacred truce, and no battle was allowed to be fought during those days. (Dionys. Hal. iv. p. 250, Sylb. ; Macrob. L c.) In early times, during the alliance of the Romans and Latins, the chief magistrates of both nations met on the Alban mount, and conducted the solemnities, at which the Romans, however, had the presidency. But afterwards the Romans alone conducted the celebration, and offered the

m M

About | First | English Index | Classified Index | Latin Index | Greek Index



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of