[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

This webpage reproduces an article in the
Journal of Roman Studies
Vol. 6 (1916), pp170‑184

The text is in the public domain:
J. S. Reid died in 1926.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

p170 Roman Ideas of Deity.
By J. S. Reid.

The notes which follow, on topics connected with Roman religion, have been put together from old note-books of mine in the course of reading with care Mr. W. Warde Fowler's work which bears the title given above. Needless to say, it is always a pleasure to greet him afresh in his peculiar domain. Although the themes with which he deals are much the same as those treated in his Gifford Lectures, entitled 'The Religious Experience of the Roman People,' much will be found in the later volume which is fresh or freshly put. Of course the mode of presentation is excellent, and equally of course, bright as the writing is, there is no straining after novelty, such as has often led inquirers in the same field far beyond the bounds of sober judgment. Many obiter dicta are striking and are the ready fruit of long familiarity with the subject. It bristles with difficulties, and at many points there has been great diversity of opinion. The remarks I wish to make are only in part directed to Mr. Fowler's own special views. They mainly concern opinions which have been widely accepted, and yet seem to stand in need of some correction.

The volume comprises six lectures, given at Oxford and dealing principally with the late Republican and early Imperial age. The first is introductory and presents a general sketch, with an account of the 'domestic deities' of Rome. I should myself regard the culture of Rome in its relation to religion, during the period which is treated, from a somewhat different angle. Mr. Fowler feels, as every one must, the lack of originality as well as the want of depth in all Roman writings about religion, looked at from the point of view of philosophy. But, in common with many scholars, he does not fully appreciate the fact that, in this respect, the Romans did not greatly differ from the Greeks of the same age. There had been in both peoples for some generations an axiomatic assumption that independent investigation of matters philosophic (apart from the natural sciences) had exhausted its possibilities, and that it only remained to criticise or to re-combine principles already enunciated. If real originality had actually presented itself, it would in all probably in that age have been greeted merely as eccentricity. The domination of old authority was therefore almost unbroken. Sometimes there was avowed syncretism, as with Panaetius and Posidonius, sometimes unavowed, of which Antiochus of Ascalon is a notable example. Orthodoxy was strongly buttressed by the permanent foundations of the schools at Athens, and even among the p171philosophic groups whose initiative was not sterilised quite in the same manner, those for instance who called themselves Pythagoreans and Sceptics, traditionalism was nearly as powerful. Varro, whom Mr. Fowler finds to be 'less of an amateur' than Cicero, was in truth one of the most barren and pedantic of traditionalists, in his following of Antiochus. In his matter, Lucretius was no whit more of an original thinker than the rest in his age. In the fervour of his belief, he was unapproached in his time; and this was the only distinction in a later age of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius among Stoics, as indeed it had been of Cleanthes when he wrote his celebrated hymn to Zeus.

In the case of Cicero, to whom in this lecture Mr. Fowler naturally gives much attention, there is no possibility of extracting from his philosophical writings a rounded scheme of thought on religion. He was a New Academic and was therefore bound to forswear dogma and system. His object was to familiarise educated Romans with different phases of Greek thought, and with the chief points in those philosophic controversies which interested the age. At that time direct study and criticism of the greatest writers, Plato and Aristotle, hardly existed. The deepest speculation of the Greeks had long ceased to attract any but a few bookworms, excepting at second hand. As to Cicero, one can only say that his thoughts on religion, like those of nearly all cultivated men of his time, tended to approximate to those of the Stoic teachers. The complaint of Mr. Fowler that Cicero's thinking 'was not rooted in the life of the world around' and that it did not deal with 'the problems of life,' is one that has often been brought against the more abstract philosophies of modern as well as ancient times. The Stoics and Epicureans, who are so largely represented in the writings of Cicero and other Romans, would have repudiated the charge. But they treated all φυσικὰ and λογικὰ from a predominantly ethical point of view and so had narrowed indefinitely the field of their vision.

Mr. Fowler's second lecture, on 'Jupiter and the tendency to Monotheism,' contains much that is interesting. The view that the flamen Dialis was originally the chief of the state is deduced from the remarkable taboos by which he was beset. The opinion is one with which many scholars would incline to agree. I venture to think that there is much in the history of Rome which runs counter to it. There was a time when the view of Rubino, that the earliest government of Rome was theocratic in character, received considerable support. But the whole drift of tradition at Rome exhibits the priests as subordinated to the secular power. If this flamen ever was even the nominal head of the Roman community there must have been an authority who played in face of him the part of a Maire du Palais, or that of an old Japanese Tycoon in face of the Mikado.

p172 On p42 it is rightly insisted that 'the Romans had a more lively sense of the sanctity of an oath than is vouchsafed to most peoples.' In no other history, indeed, has this feeling been so potent a factor. It lies behind the imperial system, which might never have come into existence but for the fact that the Roman soldier of the Republic took an oath of allegiance, not to his country, but to his general. It is a remarkable feature of the movement to establish the 'imperium Galliarum' that allegiance was sworn to the cause and not to its leaders (Tac. Hist. IV.58: sacramentum Galliarum; ib. 59: iuravere qui aderant, pro imperio Galliarum). The gradual growth of the imperial power was greatly furthered by the oath, annually taken, to treat all the emperor's acta as valid. The oath by his 'genius' became customary and afforded him much support. It may be noted in connexion with the new imperial theory of maiestas, that it led to the introduction of a truly penal treatment of perjury, which in the Republican age had led to infamia or to the censoria nota at the worst. The words of Cicero quoted on p42, viz. 'periuri poena divina exitium, humana dedecus,' do not indicate the punishment of death, as inflicted by secular authority. If the statements concerning the taking of life for perjury in primitive Rome are true, it is probable that the perjurer, in the common vague way of early times, was pronounced sacer. The late arrival in Roman legal history of a real criminal treatment of perjury has a parallel in our own records. Selden in his 'Table Talk' comments on the fact that, down to the reign of Elizabeth, perjury was only punishable as an offence against ecclesiastical law. Tiberius, on a well-known occasion, ruled that offences against the gods should be left to the vengeance of the gods themselves.

Mr. Fowler (p40) accepts the view that in the formulae used by the Fetiales, of which the oath is a conspicuous part, the words iustum and iniustum, applied to war, have an ethical, rather than a legal content. At this point I cannot follow him. Iustus here indicates what accords with ius, not with mores. The expressions used by the Fetiales are intensely legal, and resemble greatly those employed in the legis actio sacramento. These priests acted mechanically at the instigation of the government and had no voice concerning policy. It is surprising that the old error of treating them as exponents of 'international law' should still survive. There is no record of their ever having advised against a war, or even of their ever having been asked to advise about a war. If correctness in relation to war was to be considered anywhere in ancient Rome, it would have been in the Senate, and there, when war was declared, flimsy pretexts were sufficient, as they have been all along the ages.a1

'Cosmic Ideas of Deity' is the heading of the third lecture. In the course of it, the elusive notions that lie behind the titles p173fortuna and τύχη are considered. When Panaetius (p67) spoke of this power as mere hazard, he was turning his back on pure Stoic teaching. In that doctrine the term Fortuna is nothing but a confession of human inability to penetrate to the divine order which lies behind the apparent confusion of phenomena. Fortuna or τύχη, like εἱμαρμένη, is only one of many names which denote the Pantheistic God. Fortuna is therefore, in the Stoic definition, merely 'αἰτία ἄδηλος ἀνθρωπίνῳ λογισμῷ.' It is in this sense that τύχη is employed by Polybius. Even in popular language, fate and fortune do not differ greatly. Petronius (29.6) very naturally associates Fortuna with the Tres Parcae. It may be remarked that the striking phrase of Lucretius, 'fortuna gubernans,' is one that might consistently be used by a genuine Stoic. In the Stoic system there is no such thing as 'fortune' in its popular acceptation. With the Epicureans, chance operates only once, in the clashing of the atoms; thereafter, as Lucretius preaches, law reigns as in the philosophy of other schools. As to Varro (p82), he was a close follower of Antiochus, who was 'Stoicus si perpauca mutavisset,' as Cicero described him.

'The Idea of the Man-God' is the theme of the fourth lecture. An excellent sketch is given of the different streams of tendency which made this conception possible of acceptance at Rome. Mr. Fowler is in my view right in treating it as inherently foreign to the Roman and Italic nature, and in rejecting as Greek inventions the stories which Sir James Frazier has woven into his delightful speculations about the 'Rex Nemorensis.'

The fifth lecture, on 'The Deification of Caesar,' traverses difficult ground, and I find in it some opinions from which I must dissent. It seems to me to minimise unduly the evidence that Caesar readily accepted, if he did not invite, the bestowal of recognised symbols of superhumanity. Let us think of the many practices, previously associated with divinity only, which met the eye of the ordinary citizen and inevitably carried his thoughts in that direction. On the coins that came into his hand he would see the dynast's features, where only divine faces had previously appeared, or at most those of dead men.1 He saw at the games the statue of the ruler fetched from the temple of Quirinus, where he was 'temple-fellow' (σύνναος) with the god, and conveyed on the ferculum in the procession (pompa) along with divine effigies, and there would pass him Caesar's tensa, a sort of palanquin which carried, as Festus tells us, the exuviae deorum. Mr. Fowler describes the use of the ferculum as 'an extension of a Roman custom,' but it was a custom with which previously mortals had had nothing to do. The citizen would also observe the fastigium attached to Caesar's house, hitherto an p174unfailing sign of a temple. There was again the pulvinar, an appanage of the divine beings, and a flamen Iulianus, who could not fail to be compared with the flamen of Mars and the flamen Dialis, and must have had a significance like that which appertained later to the flamen Augustalis, or Claudialis or Flavialis. It may be noted that the pulvinar, the fastigium and the flamen are reckoned among the acta Caesaris by Cicero (Philipp. 2.111); also that in the context of the passage the phrase divus Iulius is applied to Caesar in connexion with the appointment of a flamen during his lifetime. The institution of the Luperci Iulii was doubtless offensive to many but, looked at in a true light, it only placed the family of the Iulii on a level with the old Fabii and the Quinctii as the guardians of a cult.

There is of course no doubt that Dio, Appian and other late writers greatly exaggerate the superhuman honours which were conferred upon Caesar. The accounts given in ancient authorities of the famous funeral speech of Antony are very various, and late writers insert much that is outrageously incredible. Thus Dio (44.49) makes Antony speak of Caesar thus: 'οὗτος ὁ πατήρ, οὗτος ὁ ἀρχιερεύς, — ὁ ἄσυλος, ὁ ἥρως, ὁ θεὸς τέθνηκεν.' But the distinctions on which I have insisted above are well attested. It is true, as Mr. Fowler urges, that in the epitome of Livy, and in the writings of a number of authors near the time, there is no record of the exaltation of Caesar beyond human measure. The epitomator of Livy, however, made his selections capriciously and has omitted matters far more momentous than these. According to Plutarch (Caes. 63), the fastigium at least was mentioned by Livy. Other epitomators, Florus, Eutropius and the like, hardly come into the account, from their extreme brevity. Valerius Maximus had no reason, in the scheme of his work, to trace the steps by which the recognition of Caesar as more than human was fully reached. The points which he selects are those which lend themselves to his anecdotal method. He has many fervent references to Caesar's divinity, but found no occasion to distinguish periods. I do not know why Sallust, Cornelius Nepos and the Caesarean military writers should have been expected to notice tendencies to divinise the dynast. As to Velleius, he is most capricious in his choice of material. All that he has to say about the establishment of the imperial system by Augustus is that he restored the Republic, merely adding two praetors to the roll of magistrates! Altogether, Mr. Fowler's argument from the silence of these writers seems to have little force.

The question whether any one can have taken Caesar's divinity seriously, which is discussed by Mr. Fowler and others, appears unnecessary. No men of culture, and of the emperors only crazy men like Gaius and Elagabalus, regarded the superhuman honours as anything but accompaniments and attestations of power. Vitelliusb was not the only emperor who made the matter the subject of a jest. p175With the vulgar, it was probably often different. Appian tells (II.148) how the mob desired to carry Caesar's body to the Capitol and burn it there, 'because it would be a pious act to conduct his obsequies in a sacred spot and to place him in death among the gods.' Being prevented by the priests, they did homage to his soul at a pillar erected on the spot where his body was actually burnt in the forum. The veneration offered to the spirits of the Gracchi by the populace was strikingly similar (Plutarch, C. Gracch. 18). In both cases the feeling was the common apprehension of the departed spirit as exalted above humanity, only intensified by the greatness of these particular dead men.

No Roman or Italian precedents can have guided the senate in honouring Caesar as of more than mortal mould. The partial precedents which are quoted by many writers on the subject tend to melt away on close examination. The tale about Scipio's bust having been placed in the temple of Capitoline Iuppiter after his death rests on no strong evidence. It is a suspicious circumstance that Livy narrates how Scipio refused the offer of this distinction among others (38.15.6). The belief that his bust was placed in the cella Iovis after his death rests mainly on a statement by Appian (Ib. 23), who says that in his time it was brought from the Capitol in the processions (ἐν ταῖς πομπαῖς). A variant of this story is given by Valerius Maximus, who declares (8.15.1) that it was fetched from the cella Iovis for the funerals of members of the Cornelian family. Is this practice conceivable in the Republican age? The use of imagines from the family armarium is far different. If the writer derived this story from Livy, it must have been told in one of the lost books; a highly improbable supposition, in the circumstances. Elsewhere Valerius (4.1.6) copies closely Livy's account of Scipio's refusal to accept a number of distinctions which were offered to him, including the statua in cella Iovis. The whole idea of the acceptance is a late development of the great Scipionic legend. It is hardly possible to read consecutively Livy, 26, c. 19, Polybius, 10, cc. 1‑3, and Cicero, De Officiis 3, §2, without arriving at this conclusion. Another fine specimen of late mythology will be found in Valerius Maximus, 2.10.2. The argumentum ab silentio is often of little worth, and I have just been contending against it, but it is remarkable that the only reference to the unparalleled honour of the statua in cella Iovis which is to be found in any but late literature negatives the idea of its bestowal. Mommsen found a confirmation of the tale in a coin of Cn. Cornelius Blasio, struck about 104 B.C.; but the supposition has no real basis.

There is also an account which Macrobius quotes from Sallust, of Metellus (the 'old woman' of Sertorius' jest). His young officers, on his return to Farther Spain after a year's absence, received him, it would seem, with mock distinction. The whole narration reads p176like an elaborate practical joke. They burned incense and lighted candles before him. The cerei were not necessarily a sign of superhumanity. They were carried before magistrates, and Duilius, the admiral who beat the Carthaginians, was allowed this distinction all the rest of his life in honour of his victory. A theatre was run up as part of the rejoicing on the return of Metellus, and the passage of Sallust, as reported by Macrobius, ends remarkably with the words 'croco sparsa humus et alia in modum celeberrimi templi.' Is it possible that Sallust can have written this? Saffron was, indeed, used in temples, but quite as commonly in theatres, and it is connected with a theatre here. The addition 'et alia in modum celeberrimi templi' is therefore quite senseless. The story told by Sallust leads to the idea that the friends of Metellus were imitating the forms of a triumph, when he returned after a year's absence, and a great victory (magna victoria). If we remove the more than suspicious words, and leave out of consideration what is not necessarily connected with divinity, we have only the incense left. And even the incense has a connexion with the triumph; for it was burnt on all the altars in the streets along which the triumphal procession passed. The extravagant exaggerations of Plutarch (Sertorius, c. 22) and others referring to the behaviour of Metellus may fairly be compared with those which were woven round Scipio's name, and round Antony's funeral speech for Caesar, as mentioned above.2

While speaking of the deification of Augustus in its relation to Roman and Italian feeling, Mr. Fowler says (p125) 'Augustus never appeared as deity in his lifetime, except here and there in private worship.' We have, however, good evidence that about ten Italian towns erected temples and instituted priests to the emperor before his death, and we must suppose that much similar evidence in regard to other places has perished.3 Doubtless Augustus was sufficiently powerful to achieve what General Nicholson failed to accomplish in India, the prevention of worship paid to himself. But on the other hand there was no reason why, excepting in Rome, he should interfere; in Rome prudence kept him in mind of his predecessor's fate. We may remember too that the principle of municipal autonomy permitted each community to choose its own gods. Excepting on account of danger to public peace or morals, the government had no tradition of intervention in such local affairs. There is no ground for supposing that in most cases the permission of the emperor was even asked. The creation of temples and priesthoods went far beyond the dedication of a mere altar, such as the one p177in Tarraco, about which Augustus cracked a joke (Quintilian, 6.3.77) and those at Lugdunum and Narbo. The ara was often erected in honour of things quite impersonal, as ara adoptionis, ultionis, amicitiae (all in Tacitus). Even inscriptions on private tombs often describe the monument as an ara. Mr. Fowler's conclusion (p126) that 'during his long reign Augustus enforced the principle that the worship of a living man was a thing impossible in Roman law' is then, it seems to me, not strictly maintainable in face of the facts.

On p130 the feelings of the Greeks towards the goddess Roma are admirably described. It may perhaps be added that the similarity of Roma and ῥώμη was present to the Greek mind in what was, in its essence, a worship of Power, which the Germans are teaching us to write with a capital letter.a2

I will conclude this article with some remarks on matters cognate with Mr. Fowler's subject, though not all discussed by him. In the first place, I wish (bold as it may be thought) to challenge the view, generally current, and accepted by him, that the triumphator on the day of his triumph personated the great god Iuppiter of the Capitol. The evidence for this opinion has long seemed to me to be very inadequate. It is singular that so momentous an elevation of a mortal, even though transitory, should have received no attention from Roman writers, so far as is known, although there was much temptation for some of them to dwell upon it. Three accompaniments of the display seems to have been the chief supports of the common view, viz. the white horses that drew the chariot, the dress worn by the general, with the scipio eburneus, and the golden crown which the slave, posted behind him on the chariot, held over his head. When these matters are closely examined, their supposed significance fades away. As to the white horses, they form part of the tale of Camillus, who offended the gods by using them.4 Two features of this story deserve notice. It is late, of course, but those who put it into circulation did not imagine these horses to be a peculiar appanage of Iuppiter. This ὕβρις of Camillus wounded the feelings of Sol also, i.e. of Apollo. Further, if the framers of the tale in its form as given by Livy had been aware that it was the function of the triumphator to figure as the great Capitoline god, they could hardly have constructed the account at all. When Caesar used the albi equi, he did so in pursuance of a resolution of the senate, and after his time the practice became customary.5

The talk in late writers of 'Iovis ornatus'6 'tunica Iovis'7 and 'Iovis insignia'8 can count for little when it is brought to the test p178of known facts. In the historic age these garments were treated as pertaining to the magistrates, and the temple of Iuppiter was only a place of deposit, just as the temple of Vesta was the place of deposit for the ancilia and the hastae Martis. The fact that the priests in their processions took these emblems from the temple of Vesta argues no clear connexion of the priests with the goddess; and in the same way we cannot infer any connexion of the triumpher with Iuppiter merely because he wore decorations whose place of custody was the temple of the god. Those who had enjoyed a triumph were permitted to wear the insignia again on festal occasions. All 'ludi' were preceded by a pompa, in which the exhibitors dressed like the triumphator, when they conducted the tensa of the gods. This was the case not only with the ludi Romani, which had a connexion with Iuppiter, but also with the festivals of later institution. When Juvenal spoke of the 'tunic of Jove' he had in view not the triumphing general, but the praetors who were 'domini ludorum'. They were even permitted to display the corona aurea.9 The triumphal car was not granted to the tribunes of the commons when, early in the reign of Tiberius, they were allowed to disport themselves in the toga picta and tunica palmata, as conductors of the Augustalia.10 Pompey was given the right to appear in triumphal guise at the 'ludi circenses' even when not a magistrate, and on days of scenic exhibitions in the toga praetexta and the aurea corona. According to Velleius, he availed himself of the privilege only once,11 but this is incompatible with a well-known jest of Cicero.12 Moreover, all the insignia of the triumpher were occasionally presented to foreign potentates, and were treated exactly like the gifts of the sella curulis and other marks of office. There is a legendary tale of such gifts being sent to Porsena. In 210 B.C. Syphax, and also the then Ptolemy of Egypt, received the 'toga et tunica purpurea', along with a 'sella eburnea,' while Ptolemy's queen Cleopatra received a 'palla picta' and an 'amiculum purpureum.'13 After the Second Punic War all the triumphal honours were bestowed upon Masinissa.14 And Ptolemy of Mauretania received them also.15 In none of these instances are the trappings in any way connected with Iuppiter. If that connexion had existed in the minds of the historians who relate the facts, it is hardly conceivable that it should not have found mention. And the connexion, had it been real, would have been a great joy to the African princes, whom it was customary in their dominions to treat as gods.16

p179 If we turn to the corona aurea we may find similar reasons for doubting whether it was worn by the triumphing general as a representative of Iuppiter. Pliny (N.H. 16.7) assumes that in old days no corona was award to any one but a god. But we may note several points in his detailed account of various coronae. When he speaks of those which were given for military distinction, he never treats those which were bestowed on the general as differing in kind from those conferred on the ordinary soldier. Indeed he places the aurea corona on a lower level of distinction than the civica and the graminea. Again Pliny, who has more references to the details of the triumphus than any other ancient writer, never connects this golden chaplet or any other part of the triumphal guise with the insignia of Iuppiter. This treatment of the corona aurea as merely one of the coronae awarded for military valour is clear evidence that he did not regard any of them as distinctive of the supreme god of the state, or as other than secular adornments. And the actual historic records of the golden crown point in the same direction. Scipio had in his mind no idea of its being a divine appanage when he bestowed it on Laelius (Livy, 30.15). We do not even find that the corona aurea was taken from Jove's treasure-house to be worn on the day of triumph. At the end of the day it was dedicated to the god as a thank-offering, not from the individual, but from the country (cf. Plin. 16.9). The army of Camillus subscribed to make the gift (Livy 5.23). Later on, the triumphing general received numerous aureae coronae from grateful communities, Italian and provincial, and from allied sovereigns. Then he ceased to dedicate them to Iuppiter, and treated them as treasure, belonging to the exchequer, like the booty taken in war. Finally, instead of the coronae, money was contributed called aurum coronarium, and what had been given as a matter of generosity became an oppressive form of taxation, resembling the 'benevolences' of Henry VIII. It would appear that the description 'die goldene Krone des Iuppiter' (Marquardt-Mommsen, 5, p567) is without authority. It was not Iuppiter's property before the triumph took place, but was surrendered by the triumphator to Iuppiter, probably to avert the invidia which might, if care were not taken, attend on the triumpher's good fortune.

I have remarked on the noteworthy silence of Pliny about the supposed representation of Iuppiter by a mortal. Perhaps stranger still is the unconsciousness of any such representation which is betrayed by Tertullian in his tract 'De Corona Militis,' where he had every temptation to speak of such monstrous presumption, as it would have seemed to him. The treatise does actually touch on the connexion of coronae in general with the heathen deities, among whom Iuppiter is mentioned (c. 7). But when Tertullian specially speaks of the corona aurea, he merely says, like Pliny (16, § 9), that it came from Etruria, and even corona Etrusca (c. 13) is not p180connected by him with the triumphus. The information came from an elaborate treatise on 'coronae' by Claudius Saturnius, a jurist of the age of Antoninus Pius. This writer can hardly have passed by the remarkable 'aurea corona' of the triumphator. If he had regarded it as worn by the triumphing general for the reason that Iuppiter wore it, Tertullian would not have failed to use material so eminently suited to the purpose of his treatise. It would have been, to quote Macbeth's vision, 'a dagger with handle toward his hand.'

One peculiar detail of the triumph which has received but little attention is the dressing of the statue of Hercules 'vestitu triumphali.'17 When we recall the great antiquity of the 'ara Herculis' at Rome, its position within the pomoerium, though the god came from abroad, also the fact that a tithe of the spoils taken in war was assigned to him down to the time of the later Republic, it is tempting to make the suggestion that originally at Rome other gods than Iuppiter were honoured on the home-coming of the army, and that the limitation was relatively late in time.18 The clothing of the statue appears to have been an act of dedication similar to the deposit of the triumphal robes in the Capitoline temple.19 In passing, we may notice the curious absence of any connexion between the triumphus and Mars; perhaps the triumph originated before Mars had definitely become the god of war. Spoils were sometimes dedicated to Iuppiter Victor (Livy, 10.29, etc.) but he is not otherwise connected with the triumph. The tithe given to Hercules may have come down from the Hellenic origin of the triumphal procession.

I can find nothing in the evidence which will support a notion which has been often held, that the insignia of the triumphator were once royal and descended to the imperator from the monarchical period. The whole idea lying behind these emblems seems to be that they are rewards of valorous conduct which issue from the army itself. Even in passages in which the customs are said to have been imported from Etruria, they are not declared to have been distinctive of the Etruscan kings as kings.20 They are classed with the toga praetexta, sella curulis, the paludamentum and other appanages of the magistrates21 in peace and war. Some ancients traced the triumphal usages back not to Etruria, but to Greece.

It is not immaterial to my subject to draw attention to the anxiety shown in some of the details of the triumph, to avoid punishment p181which the gods may deem due to the ὕβρις involved in the display of exceptional good fortune. The words of Pliny22 have often been quoted: 'fascinus . . . currus triumphantium sub his pendens defendit medicus invidiae, iubetque . . . similis medicina linguae ut sit exorata a tergo Fortuna gloriae carnufex.' The 'medicina linguae' was studied by the ribald songs of the soldiers marching behind the chariot, who cast depreciatory jests at their commander. Ultimately connected with this passage of Pliny and arising, as I believe, out of a misinterpretation of it, is a pretty fable of late origin which has figured as truth in many books and sermons. It is to the effect that the slave who held over the head of the triumphator the 'corona aurea,' kept courage out to him 'look back,' as though to remind him of his mortality. This interpretation of the slave's function has no extant early authority. It rests on a passage of Zonaras (7.20) who borrowed from Dio Cassius. And even Zonaras gives a different turn to the 'ὀπίσω βλέπε.' The great man was not to feel humbled by the companionship of the slave. The slave is a monitor who is warning him to look to events that may be following him in life, and so not to be exalted into pride by his present prosperity. Dio or some authority of his seems to have been rendering the Latin 'respice,' and to have misunderstood the words 'medicina linguae,' being partly misled by the words a tergo23 which were referred to the slave instead of to the events which might be following.

It is noticeable that Dio's explanation had reference to the great legend of the triumph of Camillus.24 No support is to be found for Dio in any earlier writer. Pliny's one reference to the slave in the triumphal car occurs in a remark that, in early days, only iron rings were worn, and that probably the triumphing general and the slave both wore rings of that metal.25 It is extraordinary that Seneca, in the numerous sermons that he preaches on the vanity of greatness, with many allusions to the triumph itself, never refers to the slave, or the bell or the scourge, though they would have supplied texts made to his hand.26 The interpretation given by Zonaras to the slave's presence in the car can hardly have come into view at the time, and the other two accompaniments must have been unknown. Perhaps we may find the germ of Dio's misinterpretation in the familiar passage of Juvenal,27 in which he describes p182the praetor in the 'pompa circensis,' and then suddenly introduces the consul, who is accompanied by the 'servus publicus' to keep him from pride (sibi ne placeat).

It may be added that the whole idea of a mortal 'personating' a divinity seems to be un-Roman and un-Italic, and to be only in accord with Greek and Oriental habits. The tales of such personation by Romans appear to begin with the notorious pranks played by Antony at Athens and Alexandria. The cognate notion of a mortal as a reincarnation of a divinity is equally un-Roman. When the poets speak of Augustus as Mercury or Iuppiter re-born, they are talking Hellenistically, not Romanly.28

One small detail connected with the triumph remains seem to be mentioned. Pliny29 tells us that Verrius Flaccus, 'relying on numerous authorities whom we must needs believe,' asserted it to have once been the custom for the face of the triumphator to be smeared with red paint (minium): 'sic Camillum triumphasse.' Little attention has been paid to this curious story: at first sight it might seem to make against my main contention. Verrius Flaccus and his authorities would appear to have inferred a general practice from a detail in the whole legend of the ὕβρις of Camillus, a detail to be ranged with the white horses and the bronze doors to his house, which were a reproach to him.30 The minium was of course put to sacred uses, and on festal occasions, as Verrius notices, the face of Jove's statue received a coat of it. But it was not a distinction special to Jove among the gods, and minium had its secular uses, like modern rouge. Verrius went on to say that in his day the minium was added 'in unguenta cenae triumphalis,' a very odd application to make of it. The practice (if it ever existed) had clearly ceased before Pliny wrote. He quotes the example of the Aethiopians, where the chiefs and the images of the gods were painted red, probably with a view to striking awe into the spectators. The practice is common enough in savage tribes, ancient and modern, but that it ever existed at Rome is probably a myth, an outgrowth of fables that surrounded the dim figure of Camillus.

To turn to another matter, very little is to be found in books about religion in the imperial age concerning the combination of the Augustan title with the names of divinities in 'Hercules Augustus,' 'Minerva Augusta,' and the like. The number of inscriptions of the kind is very great, and all sorts of divinities, even the most barbaric, are subjected to the treatment.31 What was in the minds of those who made the dedications? Votive inscriptions to Augustus and Roma are easily interpreted; whatever divinity attached to Roma p183was recognised as appertaining to the emperor also. Apart from Roma, the number of dedications of this type is quite inconsiderable. The ideas behind expressions of the other form must have been various and vague. In some cases the dedicant meant no more than that the emperor was devoted to the divinity, in others that the divinity favoured him, in most perhaps there was a nebulous admission of superhumanity for the emperor.32 Parallels where the name of a private person takes the place of the imperial title are to be found. Thus we have 'Fortuna Crassiana',33 'Hercules Romilianus',34 'aedituus Dianae Cornificianae',35 'Hercules Iulianus' and 'Iuppiter Caelius',36 'Diana Cariciana',37 'Liber Kallinicianus',38 'Hercules Aelianus',39 'Silvanus Pegasianus',40 'Fortuna Iuveniana Lampadiana',41 'Fortune Pientiana',42 'Venus Vera' in a dedication by a father to a daughter.43 These inscriptions enable us to correct a supposition that has sometimes been made, that there was a temple of Apollo at Rome called 'templum Apollinis Sosianum,' built or restored by Sosius, friend of Antony. No sacred erection was ever called thus by the name of its builder.44 Pliny says that there was at Rome, 'in a shrine,' a statue of Apollo made of cedar-wood brought from Seleucia. This statue he calls by the name 'Apollo Sosianus.' In another passage he mentions a 'templum Apollinis Sosiani' which contained a group of Niobe and her children, attributed by some to Scopas, by others to Praxiteles. His words indicate that this temple existed still in his day. It cannot have been an edifice consecrated by authority of the state, but must have been one of the shrines of private erection. According to Asconius45 the only 'aedes' of Apollo in Rome, before Augustus dedicated his famous temple of Apollo Actiacus, was the ancient fane outside the Porta Carmentalis, between the Forum holitorium and the Circus Flaminius.46 A vicus in Rome was called 'vicus Statae Siccianae,' evidently from a shrine erected to Stata Mater by a private man called Siccius.47 Similar must have been the 'aedes Bellonae Rupiliae' mentioned in an inscription.48 The example of the 'vicus Statae Siccianae' shows that the vicus Bellonae may possibly have p184taken its name from this shrine.49 Again, there was a 'templum Fortunae Tullianae,'50 and a 'templum Fortunae Seiae.' This latter Pliny supposed to have been dedicated by Servius Tullius; a patent absurdity.51 There was also 'aedes Herculis Pompeiani,' by the Circus Maximus.52 Compare, too, 'aedes Honoris et Virtutis Marianae.'53

Mr. Fowler is a most accurate investigator, and this is shown by the fact that there is only one statement in the volume which looks like a slip. I merely mention it because I have met with it elsewhere. The words 'adsisto divinis' in Horace (Sat. I.6.14) can have no reference to any religious service. The poet represents himself as frequently strolling around the 'fallacem Circum,' and the Forum with its evening throng. He idly asks the price of vegetables and grain, and looks on at the humbugs who profess to forecast the future. Such a person was the 'divina mota anus urna' of Sat. I.9.30. The word 'divinus' as a substantive in this sense is common. Of course public religious services for the multitude were not everyday occurrences in antiquity. A misconception of the kind found a place in a play put upon the London stage, a good many years ago, which professed to picture ancient life, and there was in it a temple misrepresented as in constant use for divine service, like a modern church or a mosque. Temples were, of course, rarely open to the Roman public. Hence the joy of the supplicatio, when the treasures of every temple could be inspected without the intervention of the aedituus.

The Author's Notes:

1 I do not quite know what Mr. Fowler has in view when he says that there was abundant precedent for the appearance of Caesar's effigy on the coins. Surely not those struck at Rome or in Italy. And the case of the gold coins emitted by Flamininus abroad is a solitary one.

2 The tus and cerei offered at the statues of Marius Gratidianus may have been regarded as marks of respect for his genius.

3 Hence the statement of Dio, 51.20 is false. Mommsen (Staatsrecht, II3, pp755)º speaks of the worship as universal during the lifetime of Augustus, not only in the Greek East, but in Italian communities. This is exaggerated.

4 Livy 5.23. Repeated by later writers.

5 I cannot agree with E. Pais, who thinks others before Caesar had assumed the privilege (Storia di Roma, I, 2, p29). If so, what need of the Senatus consultum?

6 Livy, 10.7.

7 Juvenal, 10.38.

8 Servius on Virgil's Ecl. 10.27.

9 Called by Martial, 8.33.1, praetoricia corona.

10 Tacitus, Annals, 1.15; Dio Cassius, 56.46. The corona aurea is not mentioned.

11 2.40.4.

12 Att. 1.18.6.

13 Livy, 27.4.

14 Livy, 30.15.12. Even the scipio eburneus.

15 Tacitus, Annals, 4.26.

16 Dessau, 4489 (Hiempsal); 4490 (Juba); Tertullian, apol. 24; Minucius Felix, 23; Lactantius, Inst. 1.15. No importance can be attached to the statement in the Vita Alex. Severi, 40 § 7, that all such robes as the toga picta were taken from the Capitoline temple; nor to what is said in Vit. Gord. 4 § 4, that Gordianus I was the first to possess a private set of triumphal garments, not drawn from the temple.

17 Plin. N.H. 34.33.

18 In the legend of Camillus, the tithe is dedicated to Apollo, perhaps a sign of a Greek hand in the story.

19 Some relation with the army is indicated by the earliest title of the Roman Hercules, viz. Invictus, with tis later equivalent Victor; see Wissowa, Rel. u. Kultus der Römer, p221.

20 Excepting once or twice in Dion. Halic. and other late writers. Appian, Pun. 66, describing elaborately somewhat anachronistically the triumph of Scipio Africanus, calls it Τυρρηνικὴ πομπή.

21 Verrius Flaccus said that Tarquinius Priscus triumphed 'tunica aurea.' See Plin. N.H. 36.112. Pliny never connects corona aurea with Greece or with Iuppiter specially (cf. XVI.9 sq.).

22 28, § 39. Compare Macrob. I.6.9 on the bulla.

23 Tertull. Apol. 33: Hominem se esse etiam triumphans in illo sublimissimo curru admonetur. Suggeritur enim ei a tergo: respice post te, hominem memento te. Arrian, Diss. III.24.85: οἷον οἱ τοῖς θριαμβεύουσιν ἐφεστῶτες ὄπισθεν καὶ ὑπομιμνήσκοντες ὅτι ἄνθρωποὶ εἰσι.

24 The κώδων and the μάστιξ hanging from the chariot are mentioned by Zosimus only, and are treated by him as connected with men condemned to death. These details are not credible, for the earlier time at least.

25 33, § 11.

26 No parallels to the passage of Zonaras are to be found in Dion. Halic. in his references to the triumph and the pompa circensis, nor in the elaborate description of the triumph in Appian, Pun. 66. But see Arrian above; Hieron. ad Paulam, 4, p55, ed. Bened., quoted by Mayor on Juv. X.41, where see Jahn's failure to understand Zonaras.

27 10.36, 59. As there is no mention of a triumph, we must suppose that the consul is regarded as dominus ludorum; as he was in the imperial age. See Marquardt-Mommsen, 6, 466.

28 Only in the East do we find such things as Nero described as νέος Ἥλιος, or Drusilla as νέα Ἀφροδίτη.

29 33, § 111, 112.

30 Plin. 34, § 13.

31 Even groups of gods; e.g. Dessau, 4763, Comedovis Augustis; dis parentibus Augustis, ib. 5541.

32 Wissowa, 22, regards this usage as 'individualising' the god as protector of a single person.

33 Dessau, 3714.

34 ibid. 3468.

35 ibid. 1732.

36 ibid. 3080.

37 ibid. 3253.

38 ibid. 3358.

39 ibid. 3444.

40 ibid. 3539.

41 ibid. 3715.

42 ibid. 3716.

43 ibid. 5449. See also 'Augustus' in the Thes. ling. Lat.

44 The curia at Rome is hardly an exception, nor the rostra. Both are technically templa, but are for secular use. The 'aedes Iovis Mariana' in Val. Max. 1.7.5 is a figment, as a reference to Cic. Ad senatum § 38 and Ad Quir. § 10, and Velleius 2.21 will show.

45 p80 .

46 I do not know what is Mr. Richmond's authority for assuming 'an old Apollo temple at the foot of the Capitol, which he supposes to have been reconstructed by Sosius and (J.R.S. 4, 205) destroyed by Augustus.' There can have been no state temple of Apollo within the pomoerium before the time of Augustus, and Pliny shows that the 'templum Apollinis Sosiani' was not pulled down.

47 Dessau, 6073.

48 CIL 6.2235; cf. 36742.

49 Aliter Wissowa, Rel. u. Kultus d. Römer, p291 n.

50 Dessau, 3717.

51 36, § 163. Possibly we may compare the 'lucus deae Satrianae,' see CIL 6.114, and add. 30695. The 'sacellum deae Neniae' is less likely to be a parallel. Not unlike is the 'Nymphaeum Flavi Philippi' (CIL 6.1728).

52 Vitruvius, 3.2.5; less correctly described by Pliny 34.57, as aedes Pompei Magni.

53 Vitruvius, VII, praef. § 17.

Thayer's Notes:

a1 a2 Reid is writing during the Great War.

b A slip: not Vitellius, but Vespasian (Suet. Vesp. 23.4).

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 5 Nov 11