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Roman. At Rome, the State religion was under the management of a number of priesthoods, which, by the order of the State, performed the regularly prescribed sacred rites or those specially decreed by the State on their recommendation. In the time of the kings the superintendence of the entire ritual belonged to the kings, among whom Numa, as the founder of an organized worship of the gods, holds a prominent place. The most important priesthoods which originated in the time of the kings were the Flamines, the Augures, the Vestales, the Salii, the Fetiales, the Pontifices, the Luperci, the Fratres Arvales, and the Curiones. Besides these, in course of time there arose the Rex Sacrorum to offer certain sacrifices originally offered by the king, the custodians of the Sibylline oracles, the Epulones to discharge a part of the pontifical duties, the priests of the new cults gradually introduced, and lastly the priests of the deified emperors, e.g. the Sodales Augustales. A number of State cults were handed over to individual clans (gentes) and associations. (See SODALITAS.) After the establishment of the Republic, a distinguished position was attained by the college of the pontifices, who, like the king in earlier times, superintended the entire ritual. They were the technical advisers of the Senate on any new questions that arose in regard to it. Next to them in importance were the augurs and the custodians of the Sibylline oracles. These priesthoods, together with that of the epulones, were styled the four great colleges (quattuor summa collegia), and an equal honour was afterwards given to that of the sodales Augustales. The appointment of the priests, for whom the same qualifications were required as among the Greeks, proceeded in various ways, by nomination, co-optation, and election. They entered on office by inauguration, an act in which the chief pontiff, acting through the augurs, inquired of the god concerned whether the new priest was acceptable to him. His reception into the college was accompanied by a banquet given by the new priest, which became proverbial for its luxury. When officially engaged all State priests (apart from their peculiar insignia ) wore the proetexta, the purple-edged robe of Roman magistrates. They also enjoyed the distinction of a seat of honour at festivals and games, and exemption from military service, from the duties of citizens, and from taxation. The great priesthoods were posts of honour, and, like the political offices, were without remuneration. On the other hand, some priests and riestesses (e.g. the Vestal Virgins and the augurs), besides the use of the sacred or public lands belonging to their temples, received a regular annual salary. The cost of the establishment was defrayed from several sources. The priests had under their management a fund which was maintained from landed property and current receipts (including fees for admission to the temple and for the offering of the sacrifice). They also had a claim to certain parts of the victim, and other perquisites; besides this, they all, especially the curiones (see CURIA), and those associations to which State cults were entrusted, received the necessary money from the public chest. The cost of repairing the temples and of all sacrifices and festivals especially ordered by the State was defrayed from the same source. Similarly the State provided the priests either with public slaves or with free and salaried servants, to wait upon them. (For a particular kind of priests' assistants, See CAMILLI.) All State temples did not have particular priests assigned them; temples without priests of their own were under the superintendence of a sacristan (oedituus); and it was usually only once in the year that sacrifice was offered at the great festival of such temples by a State priest specially appointed for the purpose. No priest could be called to account by any civil magistrate except the censor. The pontifex maximus had the power of punishing the other priests. The position of a priest of a cult not recognised by the State, but merely tolerated, was naturally different. With regard to their maintenance, they were themselves, like the sanctuaries they superintended, supported by the contributions of the votaries of their own cult.
Type: Standard
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