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 p1002  Sagmina

Unsigned article on p1002 of

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

SAG′MINA were the same as the Verbenae, namely, herbs torn up by their roots from within the inclosure of the Capitol, which were always carried by the Fetiales or ambassadors, when they went to a foreign people to demand restitution for wrongs committed against the Romans, or to make a treaty. [Fetiales.] They served to mark the sacred character of the ambassadors, and answered the same purpose as the Greek κηρύκεια (Plin. H. N. XXII.2 s3; Liv. I.24, XXX.43; Dig. 1 tit. 8 s8). Pliny (l.c.) also says that sagmina were used in remediis publicis, by which we must understand expiations and lustrations. The word Verbena seems to have been applied to any kind of tree, gathered from a pure or sacred place (Serv. ad Virg. Aen. XII.120).

According to Festus (s.v.), the verbenae were called sagmina, that is, pure herbs, because they were taken by the consul or the praetor from a sacred (sancto) place, to give to legati when setting out to make a treaty or declare war. He connects it with the words sanctus and sancire, and it is not at all impossible that it may contain the same root, which appears in a simpler form in sac‑er (sag‑men, sa(n)c‑tus): Marcian (Dig. l.c.) however makes a ridiculous mistake, when he derives sanctus from sagmina.

Müller (ad Festum, p32) thinks, that samentum is the same word as sagmen, although used respecting another thing by the Anagnienses (M. Aurelius, in Epist. ad Fronton. IV.4).

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Page updated: 7 Sep 06