The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Sicarius – Sicilicus – Sigillaria – Sigma – Signa Militaria


SIBYLLINI LIBRI. Div. i. 43 ; Liv. xxii. 57). They were consulted in the case of prodigies and calamities, Ibut it is difficult to ascertain whether they contained .predictions, or merely directions as to what was to be done for conciliating or appeasing the gods, in consequence of the mystery which enveloped them -from the time that one of their keepers was put to death for divulging their secrets. (Dionys. /. c.; Valer. Max. i. 1. § 13.) Niebuhr remarks from the instances in Livy, that the original books were not consulted, as the Greek oracles were, for the purpose of getting light concerning future events ; but to learn what worship was required by the gods, when they had manifested their wrath by national calamities or prodigies. Accordingly we find that the instruction they give is in the same spirit $ prescribing what honour was to be paid to the deities already recognized, or what new ones were to be imported from abroad. They were pro­bably written on palm-leaves (Serv. ad Virg. Aen. i\i. 444, vi. 74), and it is not unlikely that the leaves of the Cumaean Sibyl described by Virgil were designed as an allusion to the form of the Sibylline books. Their nature being such, Niebuhr supposes that they were referred to in the same way as Eastern nations refer to the Koran and to Hafiz : they did not search for a passage and apply it, but probably only shuffled the palm leaves and then drew one.

When the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus was burnt in b. c. 82, the Sibylline books perished in the fire ; and in order to restore them, ambassadors were sent to various towns in Italy, Greece, and

«/ " "

Asia Minor, to make fresh collections, which on the rebuilding of the temple were deposited in the same place that the former had occupied. (Dionys. /. c.) But as a great many prophetic books, many of them pretending to be Sibylline, oracles, had got into general circulation at Rome, Augustus com­manded that all such books should be delivered up to the praetor urbanus by a certain day and burnt, and that in future none should be kept by any private person. More than 2000 prophetic books were thus delivered up and burnt, and those which were considered genuine and were in the custody of the state were deposited in two gilt cases at the base of the statue of Apollo, in the temple of that god on the Palatine, and were entrusted as before to the Quindecemvi. (Suet. ^.hw/. 31 ; Tacit. Ann. vi. 12.) The writing of those belonging to the state had faded by time, and Augustus com­manded the priests to write them over again. (Dion Cass. liv. 17.) A fresh examination of the Sibylline books was again made by Tiberius, and many rejected, which were considered spurious. (Dion Cass. Ivii. 18.) A few years afterwards, also in the reign of Tiberius, it was proposed to add a new volume of Sibylline oracles to the re­ceived collection. (Tacit. £. c»)

The Christian writers frequently appeal to the Sibylline verses as containing prophecies of the Messiah ; but these in most cases are clearly forgeries. A complete collection of Sibylline ora­cles was published by Gallaeus, Amst. 1689 : frag­ments of' them have also been published by Mai, Milan 1817, and Struve, Regiomont. 1818. (Com­pare Heidbreede, de Sifyllis Disserted.^ Berol 1835.)

The Sibylline books were also called Fata Sibyl-Una (Cic. Cat. iii. 4), and Libri Fatales. (Liv. v. 15, xxii. 57.) Those that were collected after


the burning of the temple on the Capitol, wero undoubtedly written in Greek verses, and were acrostics (a/cpoaTi%i?, Cic. de Div. ii. 54,; Dionys. I. c.}. Along with the Sibylline books were pre­served under the guard of the same officers the books of the two prophetic brothers, the Marcii (Serv. ad Virg. Aen. -vi. 72 ; Cic. de Div. i. 40, ii. 55), the Etruscan prophecies of the nymph Bygoe, and those of Albuna or Albunea of Tibur. (Lactant. i. 6.) Those of the Marcii, which had not been placed there at the time of the battle of Cannae, were written in Latin: a few remains of them have come down to us in Livy (xxv. 12) and Macrobius (Sat. i. 17). See Niebuhr, vol. i. p. 507 ; Gottling, Gesck. d. Rom. Staatsv. p. 213 ; Hartung, Die Religion d. Romer, vol. i. p. 129, &.c.

SIC A., dim. SICILA, whence the English sickle, and SICILICULA (Plant. Rud. iv. 4. 125), a curved dagger, adapted by its form to be .concealed under the clothes, and therefore carried by robbers and murderers. [AciNACES.] (Cic. Cat. iii. 3.) Sicct may be translated a scimitar to distinguish it from pugio, which denoted a dagger of the common kind. Sicarius^ though properly meaning one who murdered with the sica, was applied to murderers in general. (Quintil. x. i. § 12.) Hence the forms de sicariis and inter sicarios were used in the criminal courts in reference to murder. Thus judicium inter sicarios, "a trial for murder1' (Cic. pro Rose. 5) ; defendere inter sicarios., " to defend against a charge of murder " (Phil. ii. 4). [J. Y.].

SICARIUS, [SicA ; lex cornelia, p. 687.1

SICILICUS. [scrupulum ; uncia.]

SIGILLARIA. [saturnalia.]

SIGMA. [mensa.]

SIGNA MILITARIA (cr^eTa, o^a/at)* military ensigns or standards. The most ancient standard employed by the Romans is stiid to have been a handful of straw fixed to the top of a spear or pole. Hence the company of soldiers, belonging to it, was called Manipulus. [exercitus, p.. 500, b.] The bundle of hay or fern was soon suc­ceeded by the figures of animals, of which Pliny (H.N. x. 4. s. 5) enumerates five, viz. the eagle,, the wolf, the minotaur (Festus, s. v. Minotaur.\ the horse, arid the boar. In the second consulship of Mar ins, b. c. 104, the four quadrupeds were en-: tirely laid aside as standards, the eagle being alone retained. It was made of silver, or bronze, and with expanded wings, but was probably of a small, size, since a standard-bearer (signifer) under Julius Caesar is said in circumstances of danger to have, wrenched the eagle from its staff and concealed it in the folds of his girdle. (Flor. iv. 12.)

Under the later emperors the eagle was carried, as it had been for many centuries, with the legion, a legion being on that account sometimes called; aquila (Hirt. Bell, flisp. 39), and at the same time each cohort had for its own ensign the serpent or dragon (draco, Spa/cow), which was woven on a square piece of cloth (textilis anguis, Sidon. ApolL Carm. v. 409), elevated on a gilt staff, to which a cross-bar was adapted for the purpose (Themist.--Oral. \. p. 1, xviii. p. 26'7, ed. Dindorf; Clau-dian, iv. Cons. Honor. 546 ; vi. Cons. Honor. 566), and carried by the draconarius. (Veget. de Re Mil. ii. 13 ; compare Tac. Ann. i. 18.)

Another figure used in the standards was a ball (pila), supposed to have been emblematic of the dominion of Rome over the world (Isid. Orig.. xviii. 3) ; and for the same reason a bronze figure

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