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p1079 Supplicatio

Unsigned article on p1079 of

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

SUPPLICATIO was a solemn thanksgiving or supplication to the gods decreed by the senate, when all the temples were opened, and the statues of the gods frequently placed in public upon couches (pulvinaria), to which the people offered up their thanksgivings and prayers (ad omnia pulvinaria supplicatio decreta est, Cic. in Catil. III.10). [Lectisternium.] A Supplicatio was decreed for two different reasons.

I. As a thanksgiving, when a great victory had been gained: it was usually decreed as soon as official intelligence of the victory had been received by a letter from the general in command. The number of days during which it was to last was proportioned to the importance of the victory. Sometimes it was decreed for only one day (Liv. III.63), but more commonly for three or five days. A supplication of ten days was first decreed in honour of Pompey at the conclusion of the war with Mithridates (Cic. de Prov. Cons. 11), and one of fifteen days after the victory over the Belgae by Caesar, an honour which Caesar himself says (B. G. II.35) had never been granted to any one before (compare Cic. l.c.).a Subsequently a supplicatio of twenty days was decreed after his conquest of Vercingetorix (Caes. B. G. VII.90). From this time the senate seems to have frequently increased the number of days out of mere compliment to the general. We thus find mention of thanksgivings for forty days (Dion Cass. XLIII.14), fifty days (Id. XLIII.42, and Cic. Phil. XIV.14), and even sixty (Dion Cass. XL.50). A supplicatio was usually regarded as a prelude to a triumph, but it was not always followed by one, as Cato reminds Cicero, to whose honour a supplicatio had been decreed (Cic. ad Fam. XV.5). This honour was conferred upon Cicero on account of his suppression of the conspiracy of Catiline, which had never been decreed to any one before in a civil capacity (togatus), as he frequently takes occasion to mention (In Catil. III.6, 10, in Pis. 3, Phil. II.6).

II. A Supplicatio, a solemn supplication and humiliation, was also decreed in times of public danger and distress, and on account of prodigies to avert the anger of the gods (Liv. III.7, X.23, XXXI.9, XXXVII.3).

Thayer's Note:

a See also Plutarch, Caes. 21.1.

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