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Form: "dancers"
An old Italian college of priests of Mars; said to have been introduced at Rome by Numa and doubled by Tullus Hostilius. The earlier college was called the Salii Palatini, and the later the Salii Agonales or Collini. The former derived their name from their curia on the Palatine Hill; the latter, from the Colline Gate, near which stood their sanctuary on the Quirinal. Both colleges consisted of twelve life-members of patrician family, and recruited their numbers from young men, whose parents were required to be still living; at their head was a magister, a praesul (leader in the dance), and a vates (leader in the song). The cult of the Palatine Salii had to do with Mars, that of the Colline with Quirnus; but the chief connexion of both was with the holy shields, ancilia. (See ANCILE with cut.) The chief business of the Salii fell in March, the beginning of the campaigning season. On March 1st they began a procession through the city, each of them dressed in an embroidered tunic, a bronze breastplate, and a peaked helmet, girt about with a sword, with one of the holy shields on the left arm, and in the right hand a staff, while trumpeters walked in front of them. At all the altars and temples they made a halt, and, under the conduct of the two leaders, danced the war-dance in three measures, from which they take their name of Salii or "dancers," accompanying it by singing certain lays, beating their shields meanwhile with the staves. Every day the procession came to an end at certain appointed stations, where the shields were kept over the night in special houses, and the Salii themselves partook of a meal proverbial for its magnificence [Horace, Odes i 37, 2]. Until March 24th the ancilia were in motion; within this time some special festivities, were also held, in which the Salii took part. On March 11th there was a chariot-race in honour of Mars (Equiria) and a sacrificial feast in honour of the supposed fabricator of the shields, Mamurius Veturius; on the 19th was the ceremony of the cleansing of the shields, and on the 23rd the cleansing of the holy trumpets (tubae) of the priests, called the tubilustrium. The days on which the ancilia were in motion were accounted solemn (religiosi), and on these days men avoided marching out to war, offering battle, and concluding a marriage. In October, the close of the campaigning season, the ancilia were once more brought out, in order to be cleansed in the Campus Martins. The lays of the Salii, called aoeamenta, were referred to Numa, and were written in the archaic Saturnian verse, and in such primitive language, that they were scarcely intelligible even to the priests themselves, and as early as the beginning of the 1st century B.C. were the object of learned interpretation. [Quintilian i 6 § 40. Two or three connected bits of these lays have come down to us (Allen's Remnants of Early Latin, p. 74). The most intelligible is the following, in a rude Saturnian measure: ¦ Cumé tonds, Leucésie, + prae tet tremónti, ¦ Quom tiibei cúnei + déxtumúm tondront; ¦ i.e. Cum tonas, Lucetie (thou god of light), prae te tremunt, cum tibi cunei (bolts of lightning) a dextra tonuerunt.] Besides Mars, other deities, such as Janus, Jupiter, and Minerva, were invoked in them; the invocation of Mamurius Veturius formed the close [Ovid, Fasti, iii 260 ff.]. After the time of Augustus the names of individual emperors were also inserted in the lays
Type: Standard
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