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This webpage reproduces a portion of
Roman Questions


published in Vol. IV
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1936

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
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(Vol. IV) Plutarch, Moralia

 p7  Roman Questions

(Part 1 of 5 on this website)

1 263 Why do they bid the bride touch efire and water?

Is it that of these two, being reckoned as elements or first principles, fire is masculine and water feminine,​1 and fire supplies the beginnings of motion and water the function of the subsistent element or the material?

Or is it because fire purifies and water cleanses, and a married woman must remain pure and clean?

Or is it that, just as fire without moisture is unsustaining and arid, and water without heat is unproductive and inactive,​2 so also male and female apart from each other are inert, but their union in marriage produces the perfection of their life together?

Or is it that they must not desert each other, but must share together every sort of fortune, feven if they are destined to have nothing other than fire and water to share with each other?

2 1   Why in the marriage rites do they light five torches, neither more nor less, which they call cereones?

 p9  Is it, as Varro has stated, that while the praetors use three, the aediles have a right​3 to more, and it is from the aediles that the wedding party light their torches?

264Or is it because in their use of several numbers the odd number was considered better and more perfect for various purposes and also better adapted to marriage? For the even number admits division and its equality of division suggests strife and opposition; the odd number, however, cannot be divided into equal parts at all, but whenever it is divided it always leaves behind a remainder of the same nature as itself. Now, of the odd numbers, five is above all the nuptial number; for three is the first odd number, and two is the first even number, and five is composed of the union of these two, as it were of male and female.​4

bOr is it rather that, since light is the symbol of birth, and women in general are enabled by nature to bear, at the most, five children at one birth,​5 the wedding company makes use of exactly that number of torches?

Or is it because they think that the nuptial pair has need of five deities: Zeus Teleios, Hera Teleia, Aphrodite, Peitho, and finally Artemis, whom women in child-birth and travail are wont to invoke?

3 c Why is it that, although there are many shrines of Diana in Rome, the only one into which men may not enter is the shrine in the so‑called Vicus Patricius?

 p11  Is it because of the current legend? For a man attempted to violate a woman who was here worshipping the goddess, and was torn to pieces by the dogs; and men do not enter because of the superstitious fear that arose from this occurrence.

4 1   Why do they, as might be expected, nail up stags' horns in all the other shrines of Diana, but in the shrine on the Aventine nail up horns of cattle?

Is it because they remember the ancient occurrence?​6 For the tale is told that among the Sabines in the herds of Antro Curiatius was born a heifer excelling all the others in appearance and size. When a certain soothsayer told him that the city of the man who should sacrifice that heifer to Diana on the Aventine was destined to become the mightiest city and to rule all Italy, dthe man came to Rome with intent to sacrifice his heifer. But a servant of his secretly told the prophecy to the king Servius, who told Cornelius the priest, and Cornelius gave instructions to Antro to bathe in the Tiber before the sacrifice; for this, said he, was the custom of those whose sacrifice was to be acceptable. Accordingly Antro went away and bathed, but Servius sacrificed the heifer to Diana before Antro could return, and nailed the horns to the shrine. This tale both Juba​7 and Varro have recorded, except that Varro has not noted the name of Antro; and he says that the Sabine was cozened, not by Cornelius the priest, but by the keeper of the temple.

5 1   Why is it that those who are falsely reported to  p13 have died in a foreign country, eeven if they return, men do not admit by the door, but mount upon the roof-tiles and let them down inside?

Varro gives an explanation of the cause that is quite fabulous. For he says that in the Sicilian war there was a great naval battle, and in the case of many men a false report spread that they were dead. But, when they had returned home, in a short time they all came to their end except one who, when he tried to enter, found the doors shutting against him of their own accord, nor did they yield when he strove to open them. The man fell asleep there before his threshold and in his sleep saw a vision, fwhich instructed him to climb upon the roof and let himself down into the house. When he had done so, he prospered and lived to an advanced age; and from this occurrence the custom became established for succeeding generations.

But consider if this be not in some wise similar to Greek customs; for the Greeks did not consider pure, nor admit to familiar intercourse, nor suffer to approach the temples any person for whom a funeral had been held and a tomb constructed on the assumption that they were dead. The tale is told that Aristinus, a victim of this superstition, sent to Delphi and besought the god to release him from the difficulties in which he was involved because of the custom; and the prophetic priestess gave response:

265All that a woman in childbed does at the birth of her baby,

When this again thou hast done, to the blessed gods sacrifice offer.

Aristinus, accordingly, chose the part of wisdom and  p15 delivered himself like a new-born babe into the hands of women to be washed, and to be wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and to be suckled;​a and all other men in such plight do likewise and they are called "Men of Later Fate." But some will have it that this was done in the case of such persons even before Aristinus, and that the custom is ancient. Hence it is nothing surprising if the Romans also did not think it right to admit by the door, bthrough which they go out to sacrifice and come in from sacrificing, those who are thought to have been buried once and for all and to belong to the company of the departed, but bade them descend from the open air above into that portion of the house which is exposed to the sky. And with good reason, for, naturally, they perform all their rites of purification under the open sky.

6 1   Why do the women kiss their kinsmen on the lips?

Is it, as most authorities believe, that the drinking of wine was forbidden to women,​8 and therefore, so that women who had drunk wine should not escape detection, but should be detected when they chanced to meet men of their household, the custom of kissing was established?

Or is it for the reason which Aristotle​9 the philosopher has recorded? For that far-famed deed, the scene of which is laid in many different places,​10 cwas dared, it appears, by the Trojan women, even on the very shores of Italy. For when they had reached the coast, and the men had disembarked, the women set fire to the ships, since, at all hazards, they desired to be quit of their wanderings and their sea-faring.  p17 But they were afraid of their husbands, and greeted with a kiss and a warm embrace such of their kinsmen and members of their household as they encountered; and when the men had ceased from their wrath and had become reconciled, the women continued thereafter as well to employ this mark of affection towards them.

dOr was this rather bestowed upon the women as a privilege that should bring them both honour and power if they should be seen to have many good men among their kinsmen and in their household?

Or is it that, since it is not the custom for men to marry blood relations,​11 affection proceeded only so far as a kiss, and this alone remained as a token of kinship and a participation therein? For formerly men did not marry women related to them by ties of blood, just as even now they do not marry their aunts or their sisters;​12 but after a long time they made the concession of allowing wedlock with cousins for the following reason: a man possessed of no property, but otherwise of excellent character and more satisfactory to the people than other public men, had as wife his cousin, an heiress, and was thought to be growing rich from her estate. eHe was accused on this ground, but the people would not even try the case and dismissed the charge, enacting a decree that all might marry cousins or more distant relatives; but marriage with nearer kin was prohibited.

7 1   Why is it forbidden for a men to receive a gift from his wife or a wife to receive a gift from her husband?​13

 p19  Is it that, Solon having promulgated a law​14 that the bequests of the deceased should be valid unless a man were constrained by force or persuaded by his wife, whereby he excepted force as overriding the free will, fand pleasure as misleading the judgement, in this way the bequests of wives and husbands became suspect?

Or did they regard giving as an utterly worthless token of affection (for even strangers and persons with no kindly feelings give gifts), and so deprived the marriage relation­ship of this mode of giving pleasure, that mutual affection might be unbought and free, existing for its own sake and for no other reason?

Or is it that women are most likely to be seduced and welcome strangers because of gifts they receive from them; and thus it is seen to be dignified for them to love their own husbands even though their husbands give them no gifts?

Or is it rather that both the husbands' property should be held in common with their wives and the wives' with their husbands? 266For anyone who accepts what is given learns to regard what is not given to him as belonging to another, with the result that by giving a little to each other they deprive each other of all else that they own.

8 1   Why among the Romans is it forbidden to receive a gift from a son-in‑law or from a father-in‑law?

Is the father-in‑law prevented from receiving a gift from his son-in‑law, in order that the gift may not appear ultimately to reach the wife through her father? And is the son-in‑law similarly prevented, since it is obviously just that he who may not give shall also not receive?

 p21  b 9 1   Why is it that, when men who have wives at home are returning either from the country or from abroad, they send ahead to tell their wives that they are coming?

Is it because this is the mark of a man who is confident that his wife is not up to any mischief, whereas coming suddenly and unexpectedly is, as it were, an arrival by stratagem and unfair vigilance; and are they eager to send good tidings about themselves to their wives as if they felt certain that their wives would be longing for them and expecting them?

Or is it rather that the men themselves long to hear news of their wives, if they shall find them safe at home and longing for their husbands?

Or is it because during their husbands' absence the wives have more household duties and occasions, and also dissensions and outbursts against those of the household? Therefore the notice is given in advance that the wife may rid herself of these matters and make for her husband his welcome home undisturbed and pleasant.

c 10 1   Why is it that when they worship the gods, they cover their heads, but when they meet any of their fellow-men worthy of honour, if they happen to have the toga over the head, they uncover?15

This second fact seems to intensify the difficulty of the first. If, then, the tale told of Aeneas​16 is true, that, when Diomedes passed by, he covered his head and completed the sacrifice, it is reasonable and consistent with the covering of one's head in the presence of an enemy that men who meet good  p23 men and their friends should uncover. In fact, the behaviour in regard to the gods is not properly related to this custom, but accidentally resembles it; and its observance has persisted since the days of Aeneas.

But if there is anything else to be said, consider whether it be not true that there is only one matter that needs investigation: why men cover their heads when they worship the gods; and the other follows from this. dFor they uncover their heads in the presence of men more influential than they: it is not to invest these men with additional honour, but rather to avert from them the jealousy of the gods, that these men may not seem to demand the same honours as the gods, nor to tolerate an attention like that bestowed on the gods, nor to rejoice therein. But they thus worshipped the gods, either humbling themselves by concealing the head, or rather by pulling the toga over their ears as a precaution lest any ill-omened and baleful sound from without should reach them while they were praying. That they were mightily vigilant in this matter is obvious from the fact that when they went forth for purposes of divination, they surrounded themselves with the clashing of bronze.

eOr, as Castor​17 states when he is trying to bring Roman customs into relation with Pythagorean doctrines: the Spirit within us entreats and supplicates the gods without, and thus he symbolizes by the covering of the head the covering and concealment of the soul by the body.

11 Why do they sacrifice to Saturn with the head uncovered?

 p25  Is it because Aeneas instituted the custom of covering the head, and the sacrifice to Saturn dates from long before that time?

Or is it that they cover the head before the heavenly deities, but they consider Saturn a god whose realm is beneath the earth? Or is it that no part of Truth is covered or overshadowed, and the Romans consider Saturn father of Truth?

12 1   And why do they consider Saturn father of Truth?

Is it that they think, as do certain philosophers,​18 fthat Saturn (Kronos) is Time (Chronos), and Time discovers the truth? Or because it is likely that the fabled Age of Saturn, if it was an age of the greatest righteousness, participated most largely in truth?

13 1   Why do they also sacrifice to the god called "Honor" with the head uncovered? One might translate Honor as "renown" or "honour."

Is it because renown is a brilliant thing, conspicuous, and widespread, and for the reason that they uncover in the presence of good and honoured men, 267is it for the same reason that they also worship the god who is named for "honour"?

14 1   Why do sons cover their heads when they escort their parents to the grave, while daughters go with uncovered heads and hair unbound?

Is it because fathers should be honoured as gods  p27 by their male offspring, but mourned as dead by their daughters, that custom has assigned to each sex its proper part and has produced a fitting result from both?

Or is it that the unusual is proper in mourning, and it is more usual for women to go forth in public with their heads covered band men with their heads uncovered? So in Greece, whenever any misfortune comes, the women cut off their hair and the men let it grow, for it is usual for men to have their hair cut and for women to let it grow.

Or is it that it has become customary for sons to cover their heads for the reason already given?​19 For they turn about at the graves, as Varro relates, thus honouring the tombs of their fathers even as they do the shrines of the gods; and when they have cremated their parents, they declare that the dead person has become a god at the moment when first they find a bone.​20

But formerly women were not allowed to cover the head at all. At least it is recorded cthat Spurius Carvilius​21 was the first man to divorce his wife and the reason was her barrenness; the second was Sulpicius Gallus, because he saw his wife pull her cloak over her head; and the third was Publius Sempronius, because his wife had been present as a spectator at funeral games.22

15 1   Why is it that they were wont to sacrifice no living creature to Terminus,​23 in whose honour they held the Terminalia, although they regard him as a god?

 p29  Is it that Romulus placed no boundary-stones for his country, so that Romans might go forth, seize land, and regard all as theirs, as the Spartan said,​24 which their spears could reach; whereas Numa Pompilius,​25 a just man and a statesman, who had become versed in philosophy, marked out the boundaries between Rome and her neighbours, and, when on the boundary-stones he had formally installed Terminus as overseer and guardian of friendship and peace, he thought that Terminus should be kept pure and undefiled from blood and gore?

d 16 1   Why is it that it is forbidden to slave-women to set foot in the shrine of Matuta, and why do the women bring in one slave-woman only and slap her on the head and beat her?26

Is the beating of this slave but a symbol of the prohibition, and do they prevent the others from entering because of the legend? For Ino​27 is said to have become madly jealous of a slave-woman on her husband's account, and to have vented her madness on her son. The Greeks relate that the slave was an Aetolian by birth and that her name was Antiphera. Wherefore also in my native town, Chaeroneia, the temple-guardian stands before the precinct of Leucothea and, taking a whip in his hand, makes proclamation: "Let no slave enter, nor any Aetolian, man or woman!"

e 17 1   Why is it that in the shrine of this goddess they do not pray for blessings on their own children, but only on their sisters' children?28

 p31  Is it because Ino was fond of her sister and suckled her sister's son also, but was herself unfortunate in her own children? Or is it that, quite apart from this reason, the custom is morally excellent and produces much goodwill among kindred?

18 1   Why was it the custom for many of the wealthy to give a tithe of their property to Hercules?29

Is it because he also sacrificed a tithe of Geryon's cattle in Rome? fOr because he freed the Romans from paying a tithe to the Etruscans?

Or have these tales no historical foundation worthy of credence, but the Romans were wont to sacrifice lavishly and abundantly to Hercules as to an insatiable eater and a good trencher-man?

Or was it rather in curtailing their excessive wealth, since it was odious to their fellow-citizens, and in doing away with some of it, as from a lusty bodily vigour that had reached its culmination,​30 did they think that thus Hercules would be especially honoured and pleased by such a way of using up and reducing overabundance, since in his own life he was frugal, self-sufficient, and free from extravagance?

19 1   Why do they adopt the month of January as the beginning of the new year?31

268The fact is that, in ancient days, March was counted before January, as is clear from many different proofs, and particularly from the fact that the fifth month from March is called Quintilis, the sixth Sextilis, and  p33 so on to the last, which they call December, since it is the tenth in order from March. Wherefore it has also naturally occurred to some to believe and to maintain that the ancient Romans completed their year, not in twelve months, but in ten, by adding more days than thirty to some of the months. bOthers state that December is the tenth from March, January the eleventh, and February the twelfth; and in this month they perform rites of purification and make offerings to the dead, since it is the end of the year. But the order of these months was altered, so they say, and January was put first because in this month on the day of the new moon, which they call the Kalends of January, the first consuls entered office after the kings had been expelled.

But more worthy of credence are they who maintain that it was because Romulus was a warrior and a lover of battle, and was thought to be a son of Mars, that he placed first the month which bore Mars' name. But Numa, in turn, who was a lover of peace, cand whose ambition it was to turn the city towards husbandry and to divert it from war, gave the precedence to January and advanced the god Janus to great honours, since Janus​32 was a statesman and a husbandman rather than a warrior. But consider whether Numa may not have adopted as the beginning of the year that which conforms to our conception of the natural beginning. Speaking generally, to be sure, there is not naturally either last or first in a cycle; dand it is by custom that some adopt one beginning of this period and others another. They do best, however, who adopt the beginning  p35 after the winter solstice, when the sun has ceased to advance, and turns about and retraces his course toward us. For this beginning of the year is in a certain way natural to mankind, since it increases the amount of light that we receive and decreases the amount of darkness, and brings nearer to us the lord and leader of all mobile matter.

20 1   Why is it that the women, when they adorn in their houses a shrine to the women's goddess, whom they call Bona Dea,​33 bring in no myrtle, although they are very eager to make use of all manner of growing and blooming plants?

Was this goddess, as the mythologists relate, the wife of the seer Faunus; and was she secretly addicted to wine,​34 ebut did not escape detection and was beaten by her husband with myrtle rods, and is this the reason why they do not bring in myrtle and, when they make libations of wine to her, call it milk?

Or is it because they remain pure from many things, particularly from venery, when they perform this holy service? For they not only exclude their husbands, but they also drive everything male out of the house​35 whenever they conduct the customary ceremonies in honour of the goddess. So, because the myrtle is sacred to Venus, they religiously exclude it. For she whom they now call Venus Murcia, in ancient days, it seems, they styled Myrtia.

21 1   Why do the Latins revere the woodpecker and all strictly abstain​36 from it?

 p37  fIs it because, as they tell the tale, Picus,​37 transformed by his wife's magic drugs, became a woodpecker and in that form gives oracles and prophecies to those who consult him?

Or is this wholly incredible and monstrous, and is that other tale​38 more credible which relates that when Romulus and Remus were exposed, not only did a she-wolf suckle them, but also a certain woodpecker came continually to visit them and bring them scraps of food? For generally, even to this day, in foot-hills and thickly wooded places what the woodpecker is found, there also is found the wolf, as Nigidius records.

Or is it rather because they regard this bird as sacred to Mars, even as other birds to other gods? For it is a courageous and spirited bird 269and has a beak so strong that it can overturn oaks by pecking them until it has reached the inmost part of the tree.

22 1   Why do they suppose Janus to have been two-faced and so represent him in painting and sculpture?

Is it because, as they relate, he was by birth a Greek from Perrhaebia, and, when he had crossed to Italy and had settled among the savages there, he changed both his speech and his habits? Or is it rather because he changed the people of Italy to another manner and form of life by persuading a people which had formerly made use of wild plants and lawless customs to till the soil and to live under organized government?39

 p39  23 1   Why do they sell articles for funerals in the precinct of Libitina, bwhom they identify with Venus?40

Is this also one of the philosophic devices of king Numa, that they should learn not to feel repugnance at such things nor shun them as a pollution?

Or is it rather a reminder that whatever is born must die, since one goddess presides over births and deaths? For in Delphi there is a little statue of Aphrodite of the Tomb, to which they summon the departed to come forth for the libations.

24 1   Why have they in the month three beginnings or fixed points, and do not adopt the same interval of days between them?

cIs it, as Juba​41 and his followers relate, that on the Kalends the officials used to call​42 the people and announce the Nones for the fifth day thereafter, regarding the Ides as a holy day?

Or is it rather because, since they measured time by the phases of the moon, they observed that in each month the moon undergoes three very important changes: first, when she is hidden by her conjunction with the sun; second, when she has escaped the sun's rays and becomes visible for the first time at sunset; and third, at the full moon, when her orb is completely round? dThe disappearance and concealment of the moon they call Kalendae, for everything  p41 concealed or secret is clam, and "to be concealed" is celari.​43 The first appearance of the moon they call Nones, the most accurate since it is the new moon: for their word for "new" and "novel" is the same as ours.​44 They name the Ides as they do either because of the beauty and form (eidos) of the full-orbed moon, or by derivation from a title of Jupiter.​45 But we must not follow out the most exact calculation of the number of days nor cast aspersions on approximate reckoning; since even now, when astronomy has made so much progress, the irregularity of the moon's movements is still beyond the skill of mathematicians, and continues to elude their calculations.46

The Editor's Notes:

1 Cf. Varro, de Lingua Latina, V.61. The genders are those of ignis and aqua, not those of the Greek words.

2 Cf. Moralia, 650B; Servius on Virgil, Aeneid, iv.167; Lactantius, Institutiones Divinae, II.92.1.

3 Cf. the Lex Coloniae Genetivae, column 62 (CIL I2.594 = II.5439), where it is specified that the aediles shall have the right and power to possess, among other things, "cereos".

4 Cf. Moralia, 288D-E, infra, 374A, 429A, and 388A with the note on the last passage; Lydus, De Mensibus, II.4.

5 Cf. Moralia, 429F. A few authenticated cases of sextuplets have occurred since Plutarch's day. See also the passages of Aulus Gellius and Aristotle quoted in Classical Journal, XXX. p493.

6 Cf. Livy I.45; Valerius Maximus, VII.3.1.

7 Müller, Frag. Hist. Graec. III. p470.

8 Cf.  Comparison of Lycurgus and Numa, chap. iii (77B); Polybius, VI.11a.4; Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities, II.25.6; Cicero, De Republica, IV.6; Valerius Maximus II.1.5; VI.3.9; Pliny Natural History, XIV.13 (89); Aulus Gellius, X.23.1; Tertullian, Apol. VI.

9 Frag. 609 (ed. V. Rose).

10 Cf. Moralia, 243E and the note ad loc. (Vol. III, p480).

11 Hatzidakis objects to the form συγγενίδας; but the very fact that Pollux, III.30, characterizes it as ἐσχάτως βάρβαρον proved (as do inscriptions also) that it was in use.

12 Cf. Tacitus, Annals, XII.5‑7.

13 Cf. Moralia, 143A.

14 Cf. Life of Solon, chap. xxi (90A); [Demosthenes] xlvi.14; Hypereides, Against Athenogenes, 17, 18.

15 Cf. Pliny, Natural History, xxviii.17 (60).

16 Cf. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities, xii.16.

17 Cf. Jacoby, Frag. der griech. Hist. 250, Frag. 15.

18 Cf. Moralia, 363D; Aristotle, De Mundo, chap. vii ad init. (401 A15); Cornutus, chap. vi (p7 ed. Lang); Macrobius, Saturnalia, I.8.7.

19 The first reason above: The father should be honoured as a god.

20 Cf. Cicero, De Legibus, ii.22 (57).

21 Cf. 278E, infra; Comparison of Lycurgus and Numa, iii (77C); Comparison of Theseus and Romulus, vi (39B); Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities, II.25.7; Valerius Maximus II.1.4; Aulus Gellius, IV.2; XVII.21.44; Tertullian, Apol. VI, De MonogamiaIX.

22 Cf. Valerius Maximus VI.3.10.

23 This is certainly not true of later times; cf. for example, Horace, Epodes, 2.59.

24 Cf. Moralia, 210E with the note (Vol. III p257).

25 Cf. Life of Numa, xvi (70F); Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities, II.74.2 ff.

26 Cf. Life of Camillus, v (131B-C); Ovid, Fasti, vi.551 ff. with Frazer's note.

27 Ino is the Greek name for the Greek goddess Leucothea (p29)before her violent death and deification; Matuta is the supposed Roman equivalent of both Greek names.

28 Cf. Moralia, 492D.

29 Cf. Life of Sulla, chap. xxxv (474A); Life of Crassus, ii (543D), xii (550D).

30 Probably an allusion to the Hippocratic maxim quoted in Moralia, 682E, 1090B, and often by Galen.

31 Cf. Life of Numa, xviii, xix (71E ff.); Lucian, Pseudologista, 8; Varro, De Lingua Latina, VI.33; Ovid, Fasti, III.99‑166.

32 Cf. 269A, infra.

33 Cf. Macrobius, Saturnalia, I.12.21‑28.

34 Cf. 265B, supra.

35 Cf. Life of Caesar, ix (711E), Life of Cicero, xix (870B); Juvenal, VI.339.

36 No doubt this means "from eating it" since they used to eat all small birds.

37 Cf. Ovid, Metamorphoses, XIV.320 ff.

38 Cf. 278C, 320D, infra; Life of Romulus, iv (19E), vii (21C).

39 Cf. 274F, infra; Life of Numa, xix (72F); Athenaeus, 692D; Lydus, De Mensibus, IV.2; Macrobius, Saturnalia I.7.21, and I.9.

40 Cf. Life of Numa, xii (67E); Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities, IV.15.5; Varro, De Lingua Latina, VI.47.

41 Müller, Frag. Hist. Graec. III. p470.

42 Cf. Old Latin calare, equated with Greek καλεῖν by Plutarch and by other writers.

43 Much is made of Plutarch's mistake in equating celare (MSS.) with λανθάνειν rather than with κρύπτειν, but the mistake is more likely that of a scribe.

44 This is true etymologically; but is Plutarch thinking of the syllable nou in νουμηνία and nouus?

45 Cf. Macrobius, Saturnalia, I.15.14, where it is stated that Idus is derived from the Etruscan Itis, said to mean "Iovis fiducia."

46 Cf. Life of Aristides, chap. xix (331A).

Thayer's Note:

a The oracle required him to do all that the woman does at the birth of her baby; yet such, apparently, was the stigma of assuming the feminine rôle, that he chose to play the part of the infant, instead. In fact what we have here is a remnant of the very ancient practice of couvade, common the world over among primitive peoples.

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