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A festival of Greek origin, first ordered by the Sibylline books in 399 B.C. It was held on exceptional occasions, particularly in times of great distress. Images of the gods (probably portable figures of wood draped with robes, and with their heads made of marble, clay, or wax) were laid on a couch (called the lectus or pulvinar). A table was placed before them, on which was laid out a meal, always a free-will offering. At the first Lectisternia, there were three lecti arranged for three pairs of non-Roman divinities; Apollo and Latona, Heracles and Artemis (Diana), Hermes (Mercurius) and Poseidon (Neptune). Afterwards this sacrifice was offered to the six pairs oi Roman gods, who corresponded to the twelve great gods of the Greeks: Jupiter, Juno, Neptune, Minerva, Mars, Venus, Apollo, Diana, Vulcan, Vesta, Mercury, and Ceres. These banquets to the gods generally took place at festivals of prayer and thanksgiving, which were called Supplicationes (q.v.), and were per formed in the market-places or at appointed temples, in which arrangements for the purpose were on a permanent footing. It was customary to have connected with this a domestic feast, to which both strangers and friends were invited, and in which even those imprisoned for debt were allowed to participate. From the commencement of the 3rd century B.C. a banquet was regularly given to the three Capitoline divinities, Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, on every 13th of November, in conjunction with the plebeian games. Under the Empire the celebration was on the 13th of September, and was associated with the Roman games. From B.C. 196 it was pro vided by the College of Epulones (q.v.). The images of the three gods were decked with curls, anointed, and tricked out with colours. Jupiter was placed reclining on a cushion, with a goddess on each side of him seated on a chair; and the divinities were invited to a banquet, in which the whole senate participated.
Type: Standard
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