The Ancient Library

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Cic. de Leg. ii. 8, 12.) The pontiffs themselves were not subject to any court of law or punish­ment, and were not responsible either to the senate or to the people. The details of these duties and functions were contained in books called libri pontificii or pontificales, commentarii sacrorum or sacrorum pontificalium (Fest. s. v. Aliuta and Occisum), which they were said to have received from Numa, and which were sanctioned by Ancus Martius. This king is said to have made public that part of these regulations which had reference to the sacra publica (Liv. i. 32) ; and when at the commencement of the republic the wooden tables on which these published regulations were written had fallen into decay, they were restored by the pontifex maximus C. Papirius. (Dionys. iii. 36.) One part of these libri pontificales was called Indi-gitamenta., and contained the names of the gods as well as the manner in which these names were to be used in public worship. (Serv. ad Virg. Georg. i. 21.) A second part must have contained the formulas of the jus pontificium. (Cic. de Re Pu'bl. ii. 31.) The original laws and regulations con­tained in these books were in the course of time increased and more accurately defined by the de­crees of the pontiffs, whence perhaps their name commentarii. (Plin. //. N. xviii. 3 ; Liv. iv. 3 ; Cic. Brut. 14.) Another tradition concerning these books stated that Numa communicated to the pontiffs their duties and rights merely by word of mouth, and that he had buried the books in a stone chest on the Janiculum. (Pint, Num. 22 ; Plin. II. N. xiii. 27 ; Val. Max. i. 1. 12 ; August. de Oivit. Dei, vii. 34.) These books were found in 1(31 b.c., and one half of them contained ritual regulations and the jus pontificium, and the other half philosophical inquiries on the same subjects, and were written in the Greek language. The books were brought to the praetor urbanus Q. Petilius, and the senate ordered the latter half to be burnt, while the former was carefully preserved. Respecting the nature and authenticity of this story, see Hartung, Die Relig. d. Rom. i. p. 214. The annales maximi were records of the events of each year kept by the pontifex maximus, from the commencement of the state to the time of the pontifex maximus, P. Mucius Scaevola, b. c. 133.

As to the rights and duties of the pontiff's, it must first of all be borne in mind that the pontiffs were not priests of any particular divinity, but a college which stood above all other priests, and superin­tended the whole external worship of the gods. (Cic. de Leg.ii. 8.) One of their principal duties was the regulation of the sacra both publica and privata, and to watch that they were observed at the proper times (for which purpose the pontiffs originally had the whole regulation of the calendar*, see calsndarium, p. 230, &c.), and in their proper form. In the management of the sacra publica they were in later times assisted in .certain per­formances by the triumviri epulones [epulones], and had in their keeping the funds from which the expences of the sacra publica were defrayed. [sacra.]

The pontiffs convoked the assembly of the curies (comitia calata or curiata) in cases where priests were to be appointed, and namines or a rex sacro­rum were to be inaugurated ; also when wills were to be received, and when a detestatio sacrorum and adoption by adrogatio took place. (Gell. y0 L9j


xv. 27 ; adoptio.) Whether the presence of the pontiffs together with that of the augurs and two flamines was necessary in the comitia curiata also in cases when other matters were transacted, as Niebuhr thinks (i. p. 342, ii. p. 223), does not appear to .be quite certain. The curious circum­stance that on one occasion the pontifex maximus was commanded by the senate to preside at the election of tribunes of the people, is explained by Niebuhr (ii. p. 359, &c.).

As regards the jurisdiction of the pontiffs, magistrates and priests as well as private indivi­duals were bound to submit to their sentence, pro­vided it had the sanction of three members of the college. (Cic. de Harusp. Resp. 6.) In most cases the sentence of the pontiffs only inflicted a fine upon the offenders (Cic. Philip, xi. 8 ; Liv. xxxvii. 51, xl. 42), but the person fined had a right to appeal to the people, who might release him from the fine. In regard to the Vestal virgins and the persons who committed incest with them, the pontiffs had criminal jurisdiction and might pro­nounce the sentence of death. (Dionys. ix. 40 j Liv. xxii. 57 j Fest. s. v. Probrum.} A man who had violated a Vestal virgin was according to an ancient law scourged to death by the pontifex maximus in the comitium, and it appears that originally neither the Vestal virgins nor the male offenders in such a case had any right of appeal. Gbttling (p. 185) considers that they had the right of appeal, but the passage of Cicero (de Re Publ. ii. 31) to which he refers, does not support his opinion. Incest in general belonged to the jurisdiction of the pontiffs, and might be punished with death. (Cic. de Leg. ii. 19.) In later times-we find that even in the case of the pontiffs having passed sentence upon Vestal virgins, a tribune in­terfered and induced the people to appoint a, quaestor for the purpose of making a fresh inquiry into the case ; and it sometimes happened that after this new trial the sentence of the pontiffs was modified or annulled. (Ascon. ad Milan, p. 46, ed. Orelli.) Such cases, however, seem to have been mere irregularities founded upon an abuse of the tribunitian power. In the early times the pontiffs were in the exclusive possession of the civil as well as religious law, until the former was made public by C. Flavius. [AcTio.] The regu­lations which served as a guide to the pontiffs in their judicial proceedings, formed a large collection of laws, which was called the jus pontificium, and formed part of the libri pontificii. (Cic. de Orat. i. 43, iii. 33, pro Domo, 13 ; compare Jus, pp. 656, 657.) The new decrees which the pontiffs made either on the proposal of the senate, or in cases belonging to the sacra privata, or that of private individuals, were, as Livy (xxxix. 16) says, in­numerable. (Compare Cic. de Leg. ii. 23 ; Ma-crob. Sat. iii. 3 ; Dionys. ii. 73.)

The meetings of the college of pontiffs, to which in some instances the flamines and the rex sa­crorum were summoned (Cic. de Harusp. Resp. 6), were held in the curia regia on the Via Sacra, to which was attached the residence of the pontifex maximus and of the rex sacrorum. (Suet. Caes. 46 ; Serv. ad Aen. viii. 363 ; Plin. Epist. iv. 11.) As the chief pontiff was obliged to live in a domus publica, Augustus, when he assumed this dignity, changed part of his own house into a domus pub­lica. (Dion Cass. liv. 27.) All the pontiffs were in their appearance distinguished by the conic cap

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