Homer Hesiod Hymns Tragedy Remythologizing Tools Blackboard Info
Browse the Dictionary
 
VARIUS RUFUS A celebrated Roman poet. His poetical career began in the later days of the Republic. Like his younger friend Vergil, he was much honoured and appreciated by Augustus and Maecenas, to whom he also introduced his friend Horace. Vergil, at his death, in 19 B.C., left him and Plotius Tucea his literary remains, and Augustus entrusted to them the revision and publication. He died before the yeir 12 B.C. At the opening of the Augustan era he was the most conspicuous of the Latin epic poets; but he obtained his greatest reputation by his tragedy Thyestes, which, with the Medea of Ovid, was considered the greatest effort of Roman literature in this department. The work was brought out at the gaines held in honour of the victory at Actium 29 B.C., and was rewarded by Augustus with a honorarimn of a million sesterces (£8,750). Of this, as of his epic poems (on the death of Caesar and panegyric on Augustus), only a few verses survive.
VASES Vases of Greek origin, may be classified under four heads, with several subdivisions in each: (I) archaic vases, (II) those with black figures, (III) those with red figures, and (IV) those of the decadence.
VECTIGALIA The Roman term originally denoting only the revenues flowing into the State chest from the State domains, and for the most part collected by contract. (See PUBLICANI.) The domains consisted of cultivated grounds, the rent of which was paid in money or kind; of pastures and meadows, for the use of which a payment (scriptura) was made; of forests, from which revenue was derived mainly by the letting of pitch huts; of lakes and rivers let for fishing; and of mines and salt-works. With a view to protecting the citizens from exorbitant prices, the sale of salt had already been made a State monopoly in the earliest years of the Republic, and it remained such till late into the times of the Empire. In letting salt mines the price of the salt was fixed in the contract, as was also the case with many articles produced from mines. The term vectigal also includes the rent paid for buildings, shops, booths and baths erected on public sites; the payment for the use of bridges and roads, of public water-ways, and sewers in cases where private properties drained into them; export and import tells (see PORTORIUM), as well as all other indirect taxes. Such was the tax which was introduced into Rome in 357 B.C., and under the emperors was levied throughout the whole empire, the vicesima libertatis or manumissionis; a tax of 5 per cent. paid on every manumitted slave, either by himself or his master. To these were added under Augustus the centesima rerum venalium, a tax of 1 per cent. on all articles sold at auctions; the quinta et vicesima mancipiorum, a tax of 4 per cent. on every slave sold; and the vicesima hereditatum et legatorum, a tax of 5 per cent. on all inheritances over 100,000 sesterces £875), and on all legacies not falling to the next of kin. This impost, with the increase of celibacy and the custom of leaving complimentary legacies to the whole circle of one's friends, proved exceedingly productive, and, though originally limited to Roman citizens, was, with the franchise, extended by Caracalla to all the inhabitants of the Empire, and at the same time raised to 10 per cent.
VEGETIUS Publius Vegetius. A writer of a somewhat later date than (1), who composed an extensive work on veterinary science (especially on the treatment of horses and mules, and hence entitled Mulomedicina).
VEGETIUS Flavius Vegetius Ranatus. A Roman writer on military affairs, who, under a commission from Theodosius I, composed, between 384 and 395 A.D., a work in four books on military affairs (Epitome Rei Militaris) consisting of extracts from earlier writers on this subject (especially Cato, Celsus, and Frontinus). He raises no claim to personal knowledge or to stylistic merits, but only to a recognition of his industry. Although it is on the whole an arid and uncritical compilation, the book is valuable for the light it throws on the Roman military system.
VEIOVIS An old Italian deity whose peculiar attributes were early forgotten. At Rome he had a famous shrine in the depression between the two peaks of the Capitoline Hill, the Capitol and the Arx. There lay his asylum and afterwards his temple, between two sacred groves. His statue, by the side of which stood a goat as a symbol, had a youthful, beardless head, and carried a bundle of arrows in its right hand; it was therefore supposed that he was the same as the Greek Apollo. Others saw in him a youthful Jupiter; while at a later date he was identified with Dis, the god of the world below. He was probably a god of expiation, and hence at the same time the protector of runaway criminals. The goat, which was sacrificed to him annually on the 7th of March, appears elsewhere in the Roman cult as an expiatory sacrifice.
VELITES The name given in the old Roman legion to the 1,200 citizens of the lowest class in the census, who were distributed among the sixty centuries; they differed from the other soldiers in having lighter armour. (See LEGION.) When Marius introduced a uniform type of armour throughout all the ranks, this distinction disappeared.
VELIUS LONGUS A Latin grammarian of the first half of the 2nd century A.D.; the composer of a work, De Orthographia, which is still extant.
VELLEIUS PATERCULUS A Roman historian born about 19 B.C. He entered the army early, and from 4 A.D., partly as an officer in the cavalry, and partly as a legate, he accompanied Tiberius for eight years on all his campaigns into Germany, Pannonia, and Dalmatia. In 15 A.D.he held the praetorship, for which he was warmly recommended by Augustus and Tiberius. In 29-30 A.D. he composed in a few months a short sketch of Roman history in two books (Historioe Romanoe, libri duo) which he dedicated to his patron Vinicius, one of the consuls for the year 30. The work has come down to us in a very confused and fragmentary condition. Only a few chapters remain of the first book, which ends with the destruction of Carthage. Whether considered as a historian or as a stylist, he is a dilettante. He had no special call to be a historian, and was destitute of any more than ordinary knowledge or appropriate preparation, although not devoid of imagination and genius. His brochure was composed with extreme haste, and merely consists of a number of items of information hurriedly put together. Hence its superficial execution and its numerous mistakes. After the manner of annalists, his work becomes more diffuse the nearer he approaches his own time. It ends with a panegyric on the imperial house, and especially on Tiberius, inflated with fulsome flatteries and high-sounding phraseology. According to him, the fortune of Rome, which had declined after the destruction of Carthage, and had been rising again from the time of Augustus, had reached its culminating point under Tiberius. He may be identified as the inventor of the courtly style of writing history. He does not linger long over facts, but prefers to dwell on the portrayal of the various characters that present themselves in the course of the history. His language is sometimes careless and commonplace, sometimes ornate and affected, with all manner of poetical expressions. His fancy for composing striking sentences and his undue predilection for antithesis have an unfortunate effect on his style.
VENANTIUS FORTUNATUS A Latin poet, born about 535 A.D. at Tarvisium (Treviso) in North Italy. After a learned education in Ravenna, he proceeded, about 560, to Gaul, where he became an ecclesiastic at Poitiers, and died as bishop about 600. Among his works, we possess an epic poem on St. Martin, as well as a collection of 300 poems in eleven books, of very various kinds, including panegyrics, epigrams, letters, elegies, hymns; and hence called Miscellanea. These poems, which are mostly elegiac, are not unsuccessful in form, and are of great value for the history of the time. One of the most interesting is the companion piece to the Mosella of Ausonius, the description of a journey by the Moselle and Rhine from Metz to Andernach (De Navigio suo).
VENATIONES The contests of beasts with one another, or of men with beasts, that formed part of the shows of which the Romans were passionately fond. They were first introduced at the games of Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, 116 B.C. Those who took part in these contests were called bestiarii. They were either criminals and prisoners of war, who were poorly armed or completely unarmed, pitted against wild beasts which had previously been made furious by hunger, branding, and goading; or else hired men who, like gladiators, were trained in special schools and fully armed. Even in the last century of the Republic, and still more under the Empire, incredible expenses were incurred in the collection of the rarest animals from the remotest quarters of the globe, and in the other arrangements for their baiting. Thus Pompey provided a show of 500 lions, 18 elephants, and 410 other African animals; and Caligula caused 400 bears and the same number of animals from Africa to tear each other to pieces. Occasionally at these combats with wild beasts the man condemned to death was attired in an appropriate costume, so as to represent a sanguinary scene from mythology or history, as, for example, Orpheus being torn to pieces by bears. Down to the end of the Republic these shows took place in the Circus, and the greater exhibitions were held there even after that time, until the amphitheatres became the usual places of performance; and indeed, when they were combined with the gladiatorial exhibitions, they took place in the early morning before them. [The repugnance of some of the more cultivated Romans for these exhibitions is shown in a letter of Cicero's, Ad Fam. vii 1 § 3.] They were continued down to the 6th century. Among the Greeks, especially the Athenians, cock-fights and quail-fights were very popular. At Athens cock-fights were held once a year in the theatres at the public expense. The training of fighting cocks was conducted with great care. Certain places, such as Tanagra in Boeotia, Rhodes, and Delos, had the reputation of producing the largest and strongest. To whet their eagerness for the combat, they were previously fed with garlic. Their legs were armed with brass spurs, and they were set opposite to each other on tables furnished with raised edges. Bets, often to an enormous amount, were laid on the fights by the gamesters, as well as by the spectators.
VENUS Originally a Latin goddess of spring, presiding over flower-gardens and vines, and as such worshipped by gardeners, husbandmen, florists, and vine-dressers. At Lavinium there was an ancient sanctuary dedicated to her by the Latins; on the other hand, in Rome, she had in olden times no State worship, at least under this name. Her earliest Roman name appears to have been Murcia, which was interpreted later on as Myrtea, goddess of myrtles. How she came to be identified with the Greek love-goddess Aphrodite is not clear. The oldest historical mention of her worship in this character is in 217 B.C., when, by the order of the Sibylline books, after the disaster at Lake Trasimene, a temple dedicated to the Venus of Mount Eryx in Sicily, an ancient and well known place for the worship of Aphrodite Urania, was built on the Capitol. Besides the various forms of worship which she enjoyed, corresponding to the Greek cult of Aphrodite, Venus had a special significance as Genetrix, or mother of the Roman people through her son Aeneas. She was especially worshipped as mother of the race of the Julii, which claimed descent from her grandson Iulus, the son of Aeneas. It was on this aecount that Caesar, in the Forum built by him in 46 B.C., erected a magnificent temple in her honour as Genetrix, in which games were annually held for eleven days. To her, as mother of the whole Roman race, as well as to Roma, the personification of Rome, Hadrian dedicated a splendid double temple, completed 135 A.D., the ruins of which can still be seen in the neighbourhood of the Coliseum. In later times it was called templum urbis. (See ARCHITECTURE, fig. 13.) The 1st of April was sacred to Venus as the day on which she was worshipped by the Roman matrons, together with Fortuna Virilis, the goddess of prosperity in the intercourse of men and women, and also with Concordia, as Verticordia, the goddess who turns the hearts of women to chastity and modesty. Other holidays were kept to her in the same month as goddess of prostitution. (See also VENUS LIBITINA. On the types of Venus in works of art, cp.APHRODITE.)
VER SACRUM A dedication practised by the Italian tribes, whereby, in times of severe hardship, all the products of the succeeding spring, i.e. the months of March and April, were conserated to the gods. All the fruits and cattle were actually offered up in sacrifice; while the children that were then born, as soon as they were grown up, were driven out of the country as forfeited to heaven, and required to seek a new home. Whole generations in this way left their country, those of the Sabine stock being led by the animals sacred to Mars-a bull, a woodpecker, or a wolf. In Rome, whose origin is traced back by many to a ver sacrum, the pontifices superintended the vow and its fulfilment. The ver sacrum was vowed for the last time in the econd Punic War. [B.C. 217, Livy xxii 10; but the vow was not fulfilled until twenty-one years afterwards, B.C. 195 and 194, ib. xxxiii 44 and xxxiv 44].
VERGIL The famous Roman poet, born 15th October, 70 B.C. at Andes, a village near Mantua, on the Mincius, where his father possessed a small estate. After receiving his early education at Cremona and (after assuming in 55 B.C. the toga of manhood) at Milan, he proceeded in 53 to Rome, where he devoted himself to rhetorical, philosophical, and physical studies. Prevented by weakness of health and bashfulness of manner from looking forward to any success as a pleader or in the service of the State, he returned home, and in the quiet of the country devoted himself to the study of the Greek poets. His meeting with the refined and poetically gifted Asinius Pollio, who in 43 took command of Transpadane Gaul as lieutenant of Antony, appears to have given him his first impetus to poetic composition. His earliest publication, his ten Eclogues, which were written in the years 43-37, were afterwards collected under the title of Bucolica ("Pastoral Poems"). These are imitations of the idyls of Theocritus ; they are, however, less natural, the pictures of country and shepherd life being interspersed throughout with references to contemporary events, to his own fortunes, and to important persons such as Octavianus, Pollio, and Cornelius Gallus, to whom the poet wished either to commend himself or to show his gratitude by his complimentary allusions. He had on several occasions been compelled by the force of circumstances to appeal to the protection and help of influential men. For instance, at the distribution of land to the veterans in 41 B.C. his own estate was appropriated, and it was only the advocacy of Pollio and of Cornelius Gallus which enabled him to recover it. In the following year, when Pollio was obliged to give place to Alfenus Varus, his property was again threatened; but by the influence of Maecenas, to whom Pollio had recommended him, amends were made him by the presentation of another estate. His fame as a poet was established by the Eclogues. Henceforward, by the liberality of noble friends, especially Octavianus and Maecenas, whom he won not merely by his art, but, like all with whom he came into contact, by his modesty and good nature, he was enabled to devote himself to his studies without fear of interruption. He lived in turns in Rome (where he possessed a house), or on his estate at Nola, or in Naples, where he mainly resided, owing to his weak health. Here, in 30 B.C. he completed the didactic poem in four books begun seven years previously, entitled the Georgics (Georgica, on agriculture), which he dedicated to Maecenas. In this, the first Latin poem of this kind, we have a masterpiece of Latin poetry. The author treats of Roman husbandry under its four chief branches, tillage (book i), horticulture (ii), the breeding of cattle (iii), the keeping of bees (iv); and handles a prosaic theme with thorough knowledge and consummate art, together with a loving enthusiasm and a fine sympathy for nature. [The work was founded mainly on the poems of Hesiod and Aratus, but also gives evidence of familiarity with writers on agriculture, as well as of independent agricultural knowledge.] Immediately after finishing the Georgics he began the epic poem of the Aeneid, which he had already promised to Octavianus. Its appearance was looked forward to by all educated Rome with extraordinary anticipation. After eleven years of unremitting labour (for to him composition in general was a laborious task) he was ready with a rough draft of the whole, and determined on a journey to Greece and Asia, intending to spend three years there in polishing his work and afterwards to devote himself entirely to philosophy. At Athens he met Octavianus (who had received in B.C. 27 the title of Augustus). The latter induced him to return home with him. Vergil consented, but fell ill, apparently from a sunstroke, at Megara. On the sea voyage his condition grew worse, and soon after landing he died at Brundisium, 21st September, 19 B.C. His remains were buried at Naples. It was the poet's original intention that, in the event of his dying before his work was completed, the twelve books of the Aeneid should be consigned to the flames. In the end, however, he bequeathed it to his friends and companions in art Varius Rufus and Plotius Tucca, on condition that they should not publish any part of it. But, by the command of Augustus, they gave it to the world, after submitting the work to a careful revision, and only removing what was superfluous, while refraining from all additions of their own. In spite of its incomplete form, the work was enthusiastically welcomed on its first appearance, which had excited the highest anticipations, as a national epic of equal worth with the poems of Homer. This approval was due to its national purpose, the poetic glorification of the origin of the Roman people in the adventures of Aeneas, the founder of the Romans through his descendant Romulus, and in particular the ancestor of the imperial house of the Julii through his son Ascanius, or Iulus. In view of its purpose, little notice was taken of the weak points in the poem, which can only in part be excused by the fact that it lacks the author's finishing touches. We may, indeed, admire the art which the poet has shown in moulding together the vast mass of material collected with so much effort from the poetic and prose writings of Greeks and Romans, the excellences of the language and of the metrical form, and the beauty of many individual portions; but it cannot be denied that in artistic completeness and originality the Aeneid falls far below the Georgics. In particular, the endeavour to pourtray a real hero was beyond the capacity of the gentle, almost womanly, character of the poet; Aeneas is a true hero neither in endurance nor in action. Further, the endeavour to rival Homer is mainly limited to imitation. This is apparent not only in countless single instances, but also in the plot of the whole poem. Vergil obviously wished to unite the excellences of the Odyssey and Iliad in one work by describing in the first six books the wanderings of Aeneas, and in the last six his conflicts for the throne of Latium. In spite of many faults, which were noticed even in ancient times, Vergil has remained the most widely read, the most admired, and the most popular poet of his nation, and no other writer has exercised such an influence on the subsequent development of the Roman literature and language. This remark applies to prose as well as poetry. As was the case with the poems of Homer among the Greeks, Vergil's works, and especially the Aeneid as a national epic, were used down to the latest times for school teaching and as a basis of school grammar. They were imitated by authors, particularly by epic and didactic poets. In later times single verses and parts of verses (see CENTO) were used to compose new poems of the most varying contents; and finally the most famous scholars made them the object of their studies both in verbal and in general interpretation. Some relics of their labours are preserved in the different collections of scholia, especially in that comprehensive commentary on his collected poems which bears the name of Servius Honoratus. Of smaller value are the commentaries of the pseudo-Probus on the Bucolics and Georgics, and of Tiberius Donatus on the Aeneid. The name of Vergil was also borne in ancient times by a number of poems, which passed as the works of his youth, but can hardly any of them have been his compositions: (1) the Catalecta [or more correctly Catalepton], fourteen small poems in ambic and elegiac metre. (2) Culex ("the midge"), supposed to have been written by Vergil in his sixteenth year, a most insipid poem. (3) The Ciris, the story of the transformation of Scylla, the daughter of the Megarian king, into the bird Ciris (see NISUS), obviously composed by an imitator of Vergil and Catullus. (4) The Diroe, two bucolic poems; (a) the Diroe properly so called, imprecations on account of the loss of an estate consequent on the proscription of A.D. 41; and (b) the Lydia, lament for a lost love, both of which have as little claim to be the writings of Vergil as of the grammarian Valerius Cato, to whom also they have been ascribed. (5) The Moretum, so called from the salad which the peasant Simylus prepares in the early morning for the day's repast, a character sketch as diverting and lifelike as (6) a poem deriving its title from the Copa, or hostess, who dances and sings before her inn, inviting the passers by to enter. This last poem is in elegiac metre. [Vergil's life was written by Suetonius from earlier memoirs and memoranda. See Prof. Nettleship's Ancient Lives of Vergil, Clarendon Press, 1879.]
VERRIUS FLACCUS A Roman freedman, "who obtained renown chiefly by his method of teaching. To exercise the wits of his pupils, says Suetonius, he used to pit against each other those of the same age, give them a subject to write upon, and reward the winner with a prize, generally in the shape of a fine or rare copy of some ancient author" (Prof. Nettleship's Essays, p. 203). He educated the grandsons of Augustus and died under Tiberius. He devoted himself to literary and antiquarian studies resembling those of the learned Varro. Thus, he wrote books De Orthographia and Rerum Memoria Dignarum; but his most important work was entitled De Verborum Significatu. This may claim to be the first Latin lexicon ever written. It was arranged alphabetically; it gave interpretations of obsolete words, and explained the meaning of the oldest institutions of the State, including its religious customs, etc. We only possess fragments of an abridgment made by Festus (q.v.), and a further abridgment of the latter, dedicated to Charlemagne, by Paulus. A calendar of Roman festivals drawn up by him was set up in marble at Praeneste, near Rome; of this there are some fragments still preserved containing the months of January to April inclusive and December. These fragments are known as the Fasti Proenestini [Corpus Inscr. Lat. i, p. 311]. [In the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, there is a slab of stone bearing the name VERRIVS FLACCVS, probably the lexicographer's epitaph. See also Prof. Nettleship's Lectures and Essays, pp. 201-247.]
VERTUMNUS An Italian god of fruits, who presided over the changing year, especially over the fruits of the earth, whether in orchards or in gardens. Hence he was generally represented as a gardener and a cultivator of the soil, with fruits in his lap and a pruning knife in his hand, and was honoured by the country folk with the produce of their orchards, etc. In the belief of the people, he possessed the faculty of changing himself into all possible shapes, and they related how by one of his transformations he won Pomona for his wife. In Rome his statue of bronze stood in the Tuscan quarter, where a considerable trade went on; he was on this aecount regarded as the protector of business and exchange. Sacrifice was offered to him in his chapel on the Aventine on August 13th. [Propertius, iv 2.]
VESSELS An immense number of vessels for different purposes is mentioned by the ancients. It is impossible within the present limits to speak of more than a certain number of the most important. In ordinary life much use was made of pottery, which was sometimes ornamented with paintings. (See POTTERY and VASES.) Next to clay, bronze was the favourite material. The precious metals, marble, and other stones, such as porphyry, travertine, alabaster, and onyx, were also used, and the vessels made of these and of bronze were often adorned with carved work. On the employment of glass for this purpose, see GLASS. (Cp. also MURRINA.) It can hardly be said that wood was much in use. Vessels intended to hold wine, oil, salt meat, salt fish, olives, corn, and the like, were generally of clay. The largest of them was the pithos (Gr.) or dolium (Lat.), a butt in the form of a gourd, used for storing oil and wine. This vessel, which was lined with pitch, was often so large that a man could easily get inside it. It was one of these butts in which Diogenes made his abode. They were generally let into the floor of the cellar, and counted as immovable furniture. The Greek bikos and the Roman seria were smaller vats of the same kind, used for storing salt-meats, figs, corn, etc. For purposes of sale and of use, the wine and oil were passed from the dolium into the amphora (Gr. amphoreus), and the cadus (Gr. kados). These were vessels with two handles, and a slim body pointed at the foot. They were either buried up to the middle in the ground, or set up slanting against the wall (fig. 1, nos. 20-23; fig. 2 a, b). The cadi were specially used by the Romans for the storage of Greek wines. Wine and oil were also, especially in the country, put into leather bags (Gr. askos; Lat. uter), as is the case now in the East and in the south of Europe. The bag was made by sewing a number of skins together, and was tapped by untying one of the legs. For drawing and holding water they used the hydria, or kalpis (Lat. urna), carried on the head or shoulders. This was a vessel, with a short neck and large body, often with three handles, two smaller ones for carrying, and one behind for drawing and pouring out (fig. 1, nos. 16, 17). The lagynos (Lat. lagona or lagoena) was a wine-jar. It had a narrow neck, rather a wide mouth, and a handle (fig. 1, no. 34). It was hung up as a sign in front of wine shops, and was put before the guests at table. The lekythos or ampulla was used for oil (fig. 1, no. 33); the alabastron or alabaston (fig. 1, no. 35) for fragrant ointments. This vessel was named from the material of which it was usually made. Both the lekythos and alabastron had narrow necks, so that the liquid ran out in drops. The alabastron was round at the foot, and therefore required a stand to support it. The general term krater (Lat. cratera or creterra) was used to denote the vessels in which wine was mixed with water at mealtimes (fig. 1, no. 25; cp. HILDESHEIM, THE TREASURE OF). They were moderately large, with wide necks and bodies, and two handles. Sometimes they had a pedestal, sometimes they were pointed or round beneath, in which case they required a support (hypokraterion). For ladling and pouring out the wine, spoons were used (trua, trulla, fig. 3), as well as various sorts of cups (cyathus, fig. 1, nos. 10, 13-15). These resembled our tea and coffee cups, but had a much higher handle, rising far above the rim, and contained a definite measure. Drinking-vessels were made in the form of bowls, beakers, and horns. To the first class belonged the flat phiale, or saucer without handle or base, corresponding to the Roman patera generally used in sacrifices (fig. 1, nos. 1, 2); the kymbion, a long deep vessel without handles, so called from its likeness to a boat; and the kylix (Lat. calix) with handle and base (fig. 1, nos. 3 and 8). Among the beakers may be mentioned the skyphos (Lat. scyphus) attributed to Heracles (fig. 1, nos. 4-7). This was a large cup originally of wood, and used by shepherds, sometimes with a round, sometimes with a flat bottom. Another was the kantharos (cantharus) peculiar to Dionysus (fig. 1, no. 12), with a high base and projecting handles. The karchesion (carchesium, fig. 1, no. 11) was tall, slightly contracted at its sides, and with slender handles reaching from the rim to the foot [Macrobius, Saturnalia v 21]: the kiborion (ciborium) resembled the husks of the Egyptian bean. The class of drinking horns included the rhyton (fig. 4), with its mouth shaped like the head of an animal. As may be seen from the names, the Romans borrowed most of their drinking vessels from the Greeks. They were generally fitted with silver; and, during the imperial times often ornamented with finely cut gems. It is unnecessary to enumerate the various vessels used for washing, cooking, and eating, the characteristics of which were not strikingly different from our own. But we may observe that for domestic purposes of all kinds the ancients used basket work of canes, rushes, straw, and leaves, especially palm leaves. The kalathos, made in the form of a lily (fig.5, a and b), was used for holding the wool used in weaving and embroidery: the low kaneon, or basket of round or oval shape (fig. 5, c), for bread and fruit. The Athenian maidens carried kanea on their heads at the Panathenaic procession. (See CANEPHORI.) For baskets of other shapes, see fig. 5, d, e, f.
VESTA The Italian, particularly the Latin, goddess of the hearth and of its fire, corresponding in her name, as well as in her nature, to the Greek HESTIA(q.v.) Like Vesta, besides her special cult on the hearth of every home, she was also worshipped by the State. This worship was introduced by Numa from Lavinium, whither Aeneas had brought the Penates and the sacred fire from Troy. Hence it was that Roman consuls and dictators, on taking up and laying down their office sacrificed in the temple of Vesta at Lavinium. It was customary in Italy as in Greece for the colonies to kindle the fire of their own Vesta at the hearth of the mother city. The ancient round temple of Vesta, which served as the central point of the city, was built by Numa. In its neighbourhood was the so called atrium of Vesta, the abode of the virgin priestesses of the goddess, the Vestals (excavated in 1883-4; Middleton's Remains of Ancient Rome, i 307-329]. Here the goddess was worshipped not in the form of a statue, but under the symbol of the eternal fire, which it was the chief duty of the Vestals to keep alight. On every 1st March it was renewed. If it went out of itself, a great national disaster was held to have occurred, and the guilty Vestal was scourged by the pontifex. The fire could only be rekindled by a burning glass, or by the primitive method of friction by boring a piece of wood from a fruit tree. Corresponding to the lares and penates of the domestic hearth, there were, according to later usage, the penates of the State in the temple of Vesta; and similarly, on the temple-hearth, a sacrifice was offered daily, consisting of the plainest form of food in a simple vessel of clay. The daily purifications could only be made with flowing water, which the Vestals carried in pitchers upon their heads from the fountain of Egeria, or of the Muses. By day every one had the right of admission to all the temple, save only that part in which the palladium and other mystic relics were kept, where the Vestals alone had the right to enter. It was only by night that men were excluded. As goddess of the sacred fire of the hearth in every house, and for the city in general, Vesta was also the goddess of every sacrificial fire. Hence she was worshipped with Janus at every religion service, Janus being invoked at the opening, Vesta at the close. Her own festival, the Vestalia, was kept on July 9th. The matrons of the town walked barefooted in procession to her temple, to implore tba blessing of the goddess for their households, and to offer sacrifice to her in rude dishes, in remembrance of the time when the hearth served generally for the baking of bread. The millers and bakers also kept holiday. The mills were crowned, and the asses employed in them had garlands and loaves suspended about their necks. The worship of Vesta survived to the last days of paganism, and was abolished by Gratian in 382 A.D. Although there was no image of the goddess in the actual temples, her statues were not uncommon at Rome in later times. Like the Greek Hestia, she was represented sometimes as standing, sometimes as sitting, completely clothed and veiled, with chalice torch, sceptre, and palladium. For cut, see HESTIA.
VESTALS The priestesses of Vesta. At Rome their number was at first four, but had already been increased to six during the last years of the kings. Every girl possessing the necessary qualification was liable to be called on to undertake the duty, and no exemption was granted, except upon very strict conditions. The office was confined to girls of not less than six and not more than ten years of age, without personal blemish, of free, respectable families, whose parents were still alive and resident in Italy. The choice was made by lot out of a number of twenty, nominated by the pontifex. The virgin appointed to the priestly office immediately quitted her father's authority and entered that of the goddess. After her inauguration by the pontifex, she was taken into the atrium of Vesta, her future place of abode, was duly attired, and shorn of her hair. The time of service was by law thirty years, ten of which were set apart for learning, ten for performing and ten for teaching the duties. At the end of this time leave was granted to the Vestals to lay aside their priesthood, return into private life, and marry. They seldom took advantage of this permission. They were under the control of the pontifex, who, in the name of the goddess, exercised over them paternal authority. He administered corporal chastisement if they neglected their duties, more particularly if they allowed the sacred fire to go out; and, if any one of them violated her vow of chastity, he had her carried on a bier to the campus sceleratus (the field of transgression), near the Colline Gate, beaten with rods and immured alive. Her seducer was scourged to death. No man was allowed to enter their apartments. Their service consisted in maintaining and keeping pure the eternal fire in the temple of Vesta, watching the sacred shrines, performing the sacrifices, offering the daily and, when necessary, the special prayers for the welfare of the nation, and taking part in the feasts of Vesta, Tellus, and Bona Dea. They were dressed entirely in white, with a coronet-shaped head-band (infula), and ornamented with ribands (vittoe) suspended from it, and at a sacrifice covered with a white veil [called the suffibulum. This was a sort of hood made of a piece of white woollen cloth with a purple border, rectangular in form. It was folded over the head and fastened in front below the throat by a fibula (Festus, p. 340, ed. (Muller, quoted in Middleton's Rome, i 320)]. The chief part in the sacrifices was taken by the eldest, the virgo vestalis maxima. The Vestal Virgins enjoyed various distinctions and privileges. When they went out, they were accompanied by a lictor, to whom even the consul gave place; at public games they had a place of honour; they were under a guardian, and were free to dispose of their property; they gave evidence without the customary oath; they were, on account of their incorruptible character, entrusted with important wills and public treaties; death was the penalty for injuring their person; those whom they escorted were thereby protected from any assault. To meet them by chance saved the criminal who was being led away to punishment; and to them, as to men of distinguished merit, was assigned the honour of burial in the Forum.
VESTIBULUM An entrance-court before a Roman house. (see HOUSE.)
VETERANI [A Latin word properly meaning old soldiers.] During the later Republican period and under the Empire the term was applied to those who at the end of their time of service retired from the legion. They were kept with the army under the standard, under which they were taken to the military colonies appointed for them, and again served there for an indefinite period. (Cp.VEXILLARII.)
VEXILLARII Roman veterans who, at the end of their period of service, retired from the legion, but were kept together under a standard (vexillum) up to the time of their final dismissal. They formed, by the side of the legion, a select corps like the evocati of earlier times. They were exempt from ordinary service, and only bound to take part in actual fighting. [They may be briefly described as the oldest class of veterani, and the last to be summoned to take the field.]
VIATOR A subordinate official (see APPARITOR), employed by the Roman magistrates for sending a message or a summons, or for executing an arrest. The consuls and praetors had probably three decurioe of viatores; the tribunes had a special decuria, as also had the quoestores oerarii, and the officers who took their place under the Empire, viz. the proefecti oerarii; also the aediles, the tresviri capitales, and the quattuorviri viis purgandis. They also appear in connexion with provincial governors and sacerdotal bodies.
VICTORINUS A Latin rhetorician, born in Africa, who, about the middle of the 4th century A.D. taught at Rome, where St. Jerome enjoyed his instruction. In his old age he became a convert to Christianity, and served its cause by his writings. Besides numerous theological works, he is the author of a comprehensive treatise mainly on metres, called Ars Grammatica, in four books. His name is also given to some other grammatical writings, as well as some poems on biblical subjects; but it is doubtful whether they are from his hand. A commentary on Cicero's work De Inventione, which used to be ascribed to him, was more probably composed by one Fabius Marina Victorinus.
VICUS A Latin word originally meaning a house, and afterwards a collection of houses. In a town, vicus was a street or section of the town; in the country, a rural community composed of farms lying close together, with temples and altars of its own, a common chest and annually elected overseers (magistri, or oediles), to whom was assigned the care of the cult, buildings, and local police. The religious centre of the separate townships or vici was the compitum (crossway), with the chapel of the lares compitales erected there, in whose honour was annually held the festival of the Compitalia. Augustus divided Rome into fourteen districts and 265 vici, and ordained that four magistrates should be chosen annually from every vicus, partly to superintend the cult of the lares, partly to perform the official duties of citizens. This arrangement survived with a few changes till the decline of the Empire.
VIGILES An organized military body of seven cohorts, each of 1,000 men, appointed by Augustus to superintend the firemen and night-police of Rome. (See COHORS.)
VIGILIAE The name given at Rome to the four divisions of the night (generally from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and to the night-guards of four men each, who relieved one another every watch. In camp the beginning of the night-watch was signalled by a blast blown before the general's tent (proetarium) by all the buglers; and further, at the end of every night-watch, the duration of which was reckoned by the water-clock, a bugler gave the signal for the relief.
VIGINTISEXVIRI The collective name given at Rome to twenty-six officers of lower rank (magistrutus minores). They were divided into six different offices, and were originally nominated by the higher officers to be their assistants, but were subsequently chosen by the people at the comitia tributa, and it was by this appointment that they first became magistrates proper. The term included (1) Iudices decemviri (ten-men judges), or decemviri (st)litibus iudicandis (ten-men for the decision of disputed suits), originally named by the tribunes to inquire into those civil suits in which their assistance had been invoked in certain appeals from the decision of the consuls. Afterwards the decision of such cases was left to them by the consuls from the very commencement. In time their relations with the tribunes grew less close, and they became judicial magistrates, who were probably chosen in the comitia tributa, under the presidency of the proetor urbanus. Of their functions in detail, little more is known from the time of the Republic than that they decided actions for freedom, and that they made the arrangements for the trials heard before the court of the centumviri. This latter duty they lost in the last days of the Republic, but it was restored to them by Augustus. (2) Quattuorviri iuri dicundo (four men for pronouncing judgment), whose duty it was to pronounce judgment at law in the ten towns of Campania, like the proefecti iuri dicundo, who were nominated by the praetor in the other municipalities; they survived only till the time of Augustus. (3) Tresviri nocturni (three men for night-service), originally servants of the consuls, who were responsible for the peace and safety of Rome by night, especially in respect of danger by fire. When to this duty was added that of investigating criminal charges, they became regular magistrates under the title tresviri capitales. In this capacity they had. to track out escaped criminals, to examine prisoners under the authorization of the higher magistrates, to inspect the public, prison, and to superintend the carrying out of capital sentences and of corporal punishments. Hence prison-warders and executioners were placed under them. Under the Empire it was also their duty to burn offensive books. 1 (4) Tresviri monetales (three men for the mint), who had, under the Republic, the superintendence of the coinage of gold and silver, under the Empire that of the copper currency only. (5) Quattuorviri viis in urbe purgandis (four men for cleansing the streers in the city). And (6) Duoviri viis extra urbem purgandis (two for cleansing the streets outside the city), who were under the direction of the aediles. Under Augustus the duoviri last named disappeared as well as the quattuorviri iuri dicundo, and the collective name for the under - magistrates became vigintiviri (twenty men). These were chosen from the knights, and the office of the vigintivirate served as the preliminary step to the quaestorship.
VILICUS The Latin term for the steward of an estate. (See VILLA and SLAVES.)
VILLA A Latin word signifying a property in the country, consisting of a block of buildings for habitation and for domestic purposes. With the decline of agriculture and with the growing preference in favour of country-houses, there arose he distinction between villa rustica and villa urbana. The former served for agricultural purposes; the latter, so called because built in the town style of architecture, only for pleasure. Many villas were designed only for one of the two objects, others were built for both. The villa rustica included apartments for the vilicus, or steward (a trustworthy slave or freedman, who had to superintend money-matters), the book-keeper (actor), and the slaves, stalls, and store-rooms. In the erection of the villa urbana, efforts were made to unite the charm of beautiful landscape with the greatest comfort and convenience, and to procure advantages which a house in the town hemmed in on all sides by other houses could not always afford. It contained separate rooms and colonnades for summer and winter, the former facing the north, the latter the south; baths, rooms set apart for physical exercises, library, and art collections. Outside were parks, preserves, fish-ponds, aviaries, etc. Towards the end of the Republic, and still more under the Empire, luxury in such establishments reached its highest point. [In Pliny's Letters, v 6, we have an elaborate description of his Tuscan villa; and, in ii 17, a minute account of his villa at Laurentum, on the coast of Latium. The accompanying cuts give a view of a villa marina (fig. 1) and a ground-plan of a villa suburbana (fig. 2)].
VINALIA A wine festival kept by the Romans in honour of Jupiter twice every year: (1) on April 23rd (Vinalia priora), when the wine of the previous year was broached, and a libation from it poured on the sod; and (2) on August 19th (Vinalia rustica, the country festival of wine), when sacrifice was made for the ripening grapes. With both festivals was associated the worship of Venus, who, as goddess of gardens, had vineyards also under her protection.
VINEA A shed used by besieging armies to protect themselves against the missiles of the enemy. (See SIEGES.)
VIRBIUS An Italian god, identified with Hippolytus, who was raised to life by Asclepius, and worshipped together with Diana as presiding genius of the wood and the chase. (Cp.DIANA and HIPPOLYTUS.)
VIRTUS The Roman personification of bravery in war. (See HONOS.)
VIS The Roman legal term for acts of violence. In earlier times offences of this kind were included under the head of perduellio (q.v.) and high treason (see MAIESTAS). A special offence termed vis, including disturbances of the peace, violent attacks upon the magistrates and the Senate, and the illegal use of weapons, was first taken cognisance of by the law of Plautius, 89 B.C., and a special standing court established to deal with it. (See QUAeSTIO.) The penalty was proscription (interdictio aquoe et ignis). Afterwards more serious cases of vis, which had meanwhile become subject to civil process, came to be considered as criminal offences, and were punished with confiscation of the third part of one's property and disqualification for public offices. Under the Empire the penalties were increased to death or exile.
VITRUVIUS POLLIO A military engineer who flourished in the time of Julius Caesar and Augustus. In his old age Octavia, the sister of Augustus, procured him a pension. The leisure thus acquired he employed in composing a work on architecture in ten books (De Architectura), drawn from Greek sources and from his own experience. This work, the only one of the kind which has come down to us from ancient times, was composed between 16-14 B.C. and dedicated to Augustus. The first seven books treat of architecture proper (i, architecture in general; ii, building-materials; iii, temple-building; iv, orders of architecture; v, public buildings; vi, private buildings in town and in the country; vii, ornamentation of buildings); book viii, of water and waterways; ix, of the construction of water-clocks; x, of machines. Although the author is proud of his accomplishments, they do not include a capacity for giving his subject a scientific treatment. His method of expression is not seldom obscure and unintelligible; sometimes it is artificial and distorted; sometimes vulgar. An anonymous excerpt from the work is still preserved under the title De Diversis Fabricis Architectonicoe.
VOLCANUS The Italian god of fire and of the art of forging and smelting; corresponding to, and identified with, the Greek Hephaestus. As god of the forge, he also bears the name Mulciber, the softener or smelter of metal. As a beneficent god of nature, who ripens the fruit by his warmth, he is the husband of the Italian goddess of spring, Maia or Maiesta, who shared the sacrifices offered by his priest, the flamen Volcanalis, after he had become identified with Hephaestus. Venus, who is identified with Aphrodite, was regarded as his wife. Among his shrines in Rome the most noteworthy is that called Volcanal, a level space raised above the surface of the Comitium, and serving as the hearth of the spot where the citizens' assemblies were held. His chief festival, the Volcanalia, was kept on August 23rd, when certain fish were thrown into the fire on the hearth, and races were held in the Circus Flaminius. Sacrifices were offered to him as god of metal-working on May 23rd, the day appointed for a cleansing of the trumpets used in worship (tubilustrium). As lord of fire he was also the god of conflagrations; hence his temples were built outside the city, while his temple in Rome was situated in the Campus Martius. Juturna (q.v.) and Stata Mater, who causes fires to cease, were worshipped with him as goddesses who protect from fires, and a public sacrifice was offered to them and him at the festival of the Volcanalia. (Cp. HEPHAeSTUS.)
VOPISCUS A Roman historian. (See SCRIPTORES HISTORIAe AUGUSTAe.)
VOTA Religious vows were extraordinarily common among the Romans both in public and private life. Public vows (vota publica) were sometimes extraordinary, sometimes ordinary. As regards the former, a religious vow was uttered in times of need, in the name of the State, to the effect that, if the gods averted the danger, and caused the prosperity of the State to remain unimpaired for the next five or ten years, a special thank-offering would be paid them, consisting of presents of cattle, large sacrifices, banquets (lectisternia), a tithe of the booty, a temple, games, etc. In older times a ver sacrum (q.v.) was also promised. These vows were drawn up in writing under the direction of the pontifices, recited by the pontifex maximus, and privately rehearsed after him by a consul or praetor. The pontifex then put away the document in the presence of witnesses, for purposes of reference when the, vow was executed. Ordinary vows for the good of the State were offered on the Capitol by the higher officials on entering office (the consuls on January 1st) and on leaving for their province. This was called the votorum nuncupatio. After 30 B.C. a special votum was offered up for the, welfare of the emperor and his family, on January 3rd. Down to the 7th century A.D., both in Rome and throughout the Empire, this day, which was itself called votum, was kept as a holiday by all bodies both civil and religious. Under the Empire vows were regularly made for longer periods of time (five, ten, fifteen, twenty years, vota quinquennalia, decennalia, quindecennalia, vicennalia). Besides these there were extraordinary vota for the return and safety of the emperor, the accouchement of the empress, the birthday and accession day of the emperor, and the like: Private vows (vota privata) were made on the most varied occasions. They might be solemnly offered in a temple, or made suddenly in times of momentary peril. In the former case a sealed writing containing the vow was fastened to the knees of the god's image, and then taken by the priest of the temple into his keeping, to be opened at the proper time. In the latter case, if the prayer was fulfilled, the vow had to be most scrupulously executed. The offering was generally accompanied by a votive tablet, which was placed on the walls of the temple, and contained an inscription or a relief or a picture relating to the vow. Thus ship-wrecked mariners offered painted representations of the wreck in the temples of Neptune or Isis [Horace, Odes i 5, 13-16; Persius, i 90].
VULCATIUS GALLICANUS A Roman historian. (See SCRIPTORES HISTORIAe AUGUSTAe.)
Back to Dictionary Browse
 
gutter splint
gutter splint
PLACE HOLDER FOR COUNTER
gutter splint