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p1013 Secespita

Unsigned article on p1013 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

SECESPITA, an instrument used by the Roman priests in killing the victims at sacrifices (Suet. Tib. 25). According to the definition of Antistius Labeo, preserved by Festus (p348, ed. Müller) and Servius (ad Virg. Aen. IV.262), it was a long iron knife (culter) with an ivory handle, used by the Flamines, Flaminicae Virgines, and Pontifices. Paulus, however, and his epitome of Festus (p336) says that some think it to be an axe (securis), others a dolabra, and others again a knife (culter). On Roman coins representing sacrificial emblems we see an axe, which modern writers call a secespita, though we do not know on what authority, except the doubtful statement of Paulus. See the annexed coin of the Sulpicia Gens, the obverse of which is supposed to represent a culter, a simpuvium, and a secespita.


[image ALT: An engraving of a box with carved side panels and four legs in the shape of lion's paws. It is a depiction of an ancient Roman incense box.]


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