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 p631  Inauguratio

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh
on pp631‑632 of

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

INAUGURA′TIO was in general the ceremony by which the augurs obtained, or endeavoured to obtain, the sanction of the gods to something which had been decreed by man; in particular, however, it was the ceremony by which things or persons were consecrated to the gods, whence the terms dedicatio and consecratio were sometimes used as synonyms with inauguratio (Liv. I.44, 55; Flor. I.7, 8; Plin. Ep. IX.39, X.58, 59, 76; Cic. in Catil. IV.1). The ceremony of inauguratio was as follows:— After it had been decreed that something should be set apart for the service of the gods, or that a certain person should be appointed priest, a prayer was addressed to the gods by the augurs or other priests, soliciting them to declare by signs whether the decree of men was agreeable to the will of the gods (Liv. I.18). If the signs observed by the inaugurating priest were thought favourable, the decree of men had the sanction of the gods, and the inauguratio was completed. The inauguratio was, in early times, always performed by the augurs; but subsequently we find that  p632 inauguratio, especially that of the rex sacrificulus and of the flamines, was sometimes performed by the college of pontiffs in the comitia calata (Gell. XV.27). But all other priests, as well as new members of the college of augurs, continued to be inaugurated by the augurs, or sometimes by the augurs in conjunction with some of the pontiffs (Liv. XXVII.8, XL.42); the chief pontiff had the right to enforce the inauguratio, if it was refused by the augurs, and if he considered that there was no sufficient ground for refusing it. Sometimes one augur alone performed the rite of inauguratio, as in the case of Numa Pompilius (Liv. I.18, compare Cic. Brut. 1; Macrob. Sat. II.9); and it would seem that in some cases a newly appointed priest might himself not only fix upon the day, but also upon the particular augur by whom he desired to be inaugurated (Cic. l.c.; and Philip. II.43).

During the kingly period of Rome the inauguration of persons was not confined to actual priests; but the kings, after their election by the populus, were inaugurated by the augurs, and thus became the high-priests of their people. After the civil and military power of the kings had been conferred upon the consuls, and the office of high-priest was given to a distinct person, the rex sacrorum, he was, as stated above, inaugurated by the pontiffs in the comitia calata, in which the chief pontiff presided. But the high republican magistrates, nevertheless, likewise continued to be inaugurated (Dionys. II.6), and for this purpose they were summoned by the augurs (condictio, denunciatio) to appear on the capitol on the third day after their election (Serv. ad Virg. Aen. III.117). This inauguratio conferred no priestly dignity upon the magistrates, but was merely a method of obtaining the sanction of the gods to their election, and gave them the right to take the auspicia; and on important emergencies it was their duty to make use of this privilege. At the time of Cicero, however, this duty was scarcely ever observed (Cic. de Divin. II.36). As nothing of any importance was ever introduced or instituted at Rome without consulting the pleasure of the gods by augury, we read of the inauguratio of the tribes, &c.

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Page updated: 18 Oct 08