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possible to perform sacrifices on each side of the Tiber. (Varro, de Ling. Led. v. 83, ed. Miiller ; Dionys. ii. 73.) This statement is, however, contradicted by the tradition which ascribes the building of the pons sublicius to Ancus Martins (Liv. i. S3), at a time when the pontiffs had long existed and borne this name. Gottling (Gesch. d. Rom. Staatsv. p. 173) thinks that pontifex is only another form for pompifex, which would characterise the pontiffs only as the managers and conductors of public processions and solemnities. But it seems far more probable that the word is formed from pons and facere (in the signification of the Greek f>G^€Lv, to perform a sacrifice), and that consequently it signifies the priests who offered sacrifices upon the bridge. The ancient sacrifice to which the name thus alludes, is that of the Argeans on the sacred or sublician bridge, which is described by Dionysius (i. 38; compare argei). Greek writers, moreover, sometimes translate the word pontiffs by
The Roman pontiffs formed the most illustrious among the great colleges of priests. Their institution, like that of all important matters of religion, was ascribed to Numa, (Liv. i. 20 ; Dionys. ii. 73.) The number of pontiffs appointed by this king was four (Liv. x. 6), and at their head was the pontifex maximus, who is generally not included when the number of pontiffs is mentioned. Cicero (de Re Publ. ii. 14), however, includes the pontifex maximus when he says that Numa appointed five pontiffs. Niebuhr (Hist, of Rome, i. p. 302, &c. ; compare iii. p. 410 ; Liv. x. 6 ; Cic. de Re Publ. ii. 9) supposes with great 'probability, that the original number of four pontiffs .(not including the pontifex maximus) had reference to the two earliest tribes of the Romans, the Ramnes and Tities, so that each tribe was represented by two pontiffs. In the year b. c. 300, the Ogulnian law raised the number of pontiffs to eight, or, including the pontifex maximus, to nine, and four of them were to be plebeians. (Liv. x. 6.) The pontifex maximus, however, continued to be a patrician down to the year b. c. 254, when Tib. Coruncanius was the first
plebeian who was invested with this dignity. (Liv. Epit. 18.) This number of pontiffs remained for a long time unaltered, until in 81 b. c. the dictator Sulla increased it to fifteen (Liv. Epit. 89), and J. Caesar to sixteen. (Dion Cass. xlii. 51.) In both these changes the pontifex maximus is included in the number. During the empire the number varied, though on the whole fifteen appears to have been the regular number.
The mode of appointing the pontiffs was also different at different times. It appears that after their institution by Numa, the college had the right of co-optation, that is, if a member of the college died (for all the pontiffs held their office for life), the members met and elected a successor, who after his election was inaugurated by the augurs. (Dionys. ii. 22, 73.) This election was sometimes called captio. (Gellius, i. 12.) In the year 212 B. c. Livy (xxv. 5) speaks of the election of a pontifex maximus in the comitia (probably the comitia tributa) as the ordinary mode of appointing this high-priest. But in relating the events of the year 181 b.c. he again states that the appointment of the chief pontiff took place by the co-optation of the college. (Liv. xl. 42t) PIoiv these anomalies arose (unless Livy expresses him-eelf carelessly) is uncertain (see Gottling, I. c. p.
375) ; for, as far as we know, the first attempt to deprive the college of its right of co-optation, and to transfer the power of election to the people, was not made until the year B. c. 145, by the tribune C. Licinius Crassus ; but it was frustrated by the praetor C. Laelius. (Cic. de Am. 25, Brut. 21, de Nat. Deor. iii. 2.) In 104 b.c. the attempt was successfully repeated by the tribune Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus: and a law (Lex Domitia) was then passed, which transferred the right of electing the members of the great colleges of priests to the people (probably in the comitia tributa) ; that is, the people elected a candidate, who was then made a member of the college by the co-optatio of the priests themselves, so that the co-optatio, although still necessary, became a mere matter of form. (Cic. de Leg. Agr. ii. 7, Epist. ad Brut. i. 5 ; Veil. Pat. ii. 12 ; Sueton. Nero., 2.) The lex Domitia was repealed by Sulla in a lex Cornelia de Sacer-dotiis (81 b. c.), which restored to the great priestly colleges their full right of co-optatio. (Liv, Epit.. 89 ; Pseudo-Ascon. in Divinat. p. 102, ed. Orelli ; Dion Cass. xxxvii. 37.) In the j^ear 63 b. c. the law of Sulla was abolished, and the Domitian law was restored, but not in its full extent ; for it was now determined, that in case of a vacancy the college itself should nominate two candidates, and the people elect one of them. This mode of proceeding is expressly mentioned in regard to the appointment of augurs, and was, no doubt, the same in that of the pontiffs. (Cic. Philip, ii. 2.) Julius Caesar did not alter this modified lex Domitia, but M. Antonius again restored the right of co-optatio to the college. (Dion Cass. xliv. 53.)
The college of pontiffs had the supreme superintendence of all matters of religion, and of things and persons connected with public as well as private worship. A general outline of their rights and functions is given by Livy (i. 20) and Dionysius (ii. 73). This power is said to have been given to them by Numa ; and he also entrusted to their keeping the books containing the ritual ordinances, together with the obligation to give information to any one who might consult them on matters of religion. They had to guard against any irregularity in the observance of religious rites that might arise from a neglect of the ancient customs, or from the introduction of foreign rites. They had not only to determine in what manner the heavenly gods should be worshipped, but also the proper form of burials, and how the souls of the departed (manes) were to be appeased ; in like manner what signs either in lightning or other phenomena were to be received and attended to. They had the judicial decision in all matters of religion, whether private persons, magistrates, or priests were concerned, and in cases where the existing laws or customs were found defective or insufficient, they made new laws and regulations (decreta pontificuni) in which they always followed their own judgment as to what was consistent with the existing customs and usages. (Gell. ii. 28, x. 15.) They watched over the conduct of all persons who had anything to do with the sacrifices or the worship of the gods, that is, over all the priests and their servants. The forms of worship and of sacrificing were determined by the pontiffs, and whoever refused to obey their injunc-. tions was punished by them, for they were " rerum quae ad sacra et religiones pertinent, judices et vindices." (Fest. s. v. Maximus pontifex ; compare