The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.


as the Vestal virgins,"or. boys, with regard to whom it was alwa}Ts requisite that their fathers and mothers should be alive (patrimi et matrimi). As all the different kinds of priests are treated of separately in this work, it is only necessary here to make some general remarks.

In comparison with the civil magistrates all priests at Rome were regarded as homines privati (Cic. c. Catil. i. 1, de Off. i. 22, ad Ait. iv. 2, Philip, v. 17), though all of them as priests were sacerdotes publici, in as far as their office (sacerdo^-thini) was connected with any worship recognised by the state. The appellation of saeevdos publiats was however given principally to the chief-pontiff and the flamen dialis (Cic. de Leg. ii. 9 ; Serv. ad Aen. xii. 534), who were at the same time the only priests who were members of the senate by virtue of their office. All priestly offices or sacer-dotia were held for life without responsibility to any civil magistrate. A priest was generally al­lowed to hold any other civil or military office be­sides his priestly dignity (Liv. xxxviii. 47, xxxix. 45 ; Epit. 19, xl. 45, Epit. 59, &c.) ; some priests however formed an exception, for the duumviri, the rex sacrorum and the flamen dialis were not allowed to hold any state office, and were also exempt from service in the armies. (Dionys. i>v. 8.) Their priestly character wais, generally speaking, insepa­rable from their person, as long as they lived (Plin. Epist. iv. 8) : hence the augurs and fratres arvales retained their character even when sent into exile, or when they were taken prisoners, (Plm. H. AT.. xviii. 2 ; Pint. Qitaest. Rom. 99.) I?t also occurs that one and the same person held two or three priestly offices at a time. Thus we find the three dignities of pontifex maximus, augur, and decemvir sacrorum united in one individual. (Liv. xl. 42i) But two persons belonging to the same ger>-s were not allowed to be members of the same college of priests. This regulation however was in later times often violated or evaded by adoptions. (Serv. ad Aen. vii. 303; Dion Cass. xxxix. 17.) Bodily defects rendered, at Rome as among all ancient nations, a person unfit for holding any priestly office. (Dionys. ii. 21; Senec. Co?itro-v. iv. 2 ; Plut. Qtiae'st. Rom. 73 ; Plin.//. N. vii. 29.)

All priests were originally patricians, but from the year b. c. 367 the plebeians also began to take part in the sacerdotia [plebes, p. 927], and those priestly offices which down to the latest times re­mained in the hands of the patricians alone, such us that of the rex sacrorum, the flamines, salii and others, had no influence upon the affairs of the state.

As regards the appointment of priests, the an­cients unanimously state that at first they were appointed by the kings (Dionys. ii. 23, &c. 73 ; Liv. i. 20), but after the sacerdotia were once in­stituted, each college of priests — for nearly all priests constituted certain corporations called col­legia —- had the right of filling up the occurring va­cancies by cooptatio. [pontifex, p. 940.] Other priests, on the contrary, such as the Vestal virgins and the flamines, were appointed (capiebantur) by the pontifex maximus, a rule which appears to have been observed down to the latest times; others again, such as the duumviri sacrorum, were elected by the people (Dionys. iv. 62), or by the curiae, as the curiones. But in whatever manner they were appointed, all priests after their appoint • ineut required to be inaugurated by the pontiffs



and the augurs, or by the latter alone. (Dionys. ii. 22.) Those priests who formed colleges had ori-, ginally, as we have already observed, the right of cooptatio ; but in the course of time they were deprived of this right, or at least the cooptatio was: reduced to a mere form, by several leges, called leges de sacerdotiis, such as the lex Domitia. Cor­nelia, and Julia ; their nature is -described in the article pontifex, p. 940, &c., and what is there said in regard to the appointment^ of pontiffs ap­plies equally to all the other colleges. The leges annales, which fixed the age at which persons be­came eligible to the different magistracies, had no reference to priestly offices ; and on the whole it seems that the- pubertas was regarded as the time after whieh a person might be appointed to a sa-eerdotium. (Liv. xlii. 28 ; Plat. Tib. Graccli. 4.) .

All priests had some external distinction, as the apex, tutulus, or gal ems. the toga praetexta, as well as honorary seats in the. theatres, circuses and amphitheatres. They appear however to have been obliged to pay taxes like all other citizens, but seem occasionally to have tried to obtain ex­emption. See the case related in Lhy, xxxiii. 42.

Two interesting questions yet remain to­swered :• first whether the priests at Rome were paid for their services, and secondly whether they instructed the young, or the people in general, in. the principles of their religion. As regards the first question, we read that in the time of Romulus lands were assigned to each temple and college of priests (Dionys, ii. 7), and when Festtis (s. v. Osettm.} states that the Roman augurs had the enjoyment (frui solebanf) of a district in the terri­tory of Veii, we may infer that all priests had the nsus of the sacred lands belonging to their respec­tive colleges or divinities. This supposition is strengthened by th« fact that such was actually, the case in the Roman colonies, where, besides the lots assigned to the coloni, pieces of land are men-, tioned which belonged to the colleges of priests, who made iise of them by letting them out to farm. (Siculus Flaccus, de co%>dit. agrov. p. 23, ed. Goes.; Hyginus, de Limit* Constit. p. 205, e<l. Goes.) It appears however that we must distinguish between such lands as were sacred to the gods themselves and could not be token from them except by exau.-; guratio, and such* as were merely given to the priests as possession and formed part of the ager publicus. Of the'latter the state remained the owner, and might take them, from the priests in any case of necessity. (Dion Cass. xliii. 47 ; Oros. v. 18 ; Appian, de Bell. Mithr. .22.) Besides the use of such sacred or public lands some priests also had a regular annual salary (stipmdiuni), which was paid to them from the public tifeasiny. This is ex­pressly stated in regard to the Vestal virgins (Liv. ,i> 20), the augurs (Dionys. ii. 6), and the curiones (Fest. s. v. Curionium), and may therefore be sup­posed to have been the case with other priests also, The pontifex maximus, the rex sacrorum, and the. Vestal virgins had moreover a doraus publica as, their place of residence. In the time of the empe­rors the income of the priests, especially of the; Vestal virgins, was increased. (Suet. Aug. 31 ;. Tacit. Annal. iv. 1.6.)

As regards the second question, we do not hear, either in Greece or at Rome of any class of priests on whom it was incumbent to instruct the people respecting the nature and principles of religion. Of preaching there is not the slightest trace, Reli*

3 s 3

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