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AUSPICIA 100.00%
In its proper sense the word means the watching of signs given by birds. But it was also applied to other signs, the observation of which was not intended to obtain answers about future events, but only to ascertain whether a particular proceeding was or was not acceptable to the deity concerned. It must be remembered that, according to Roman ideas, Jupiter gave men signs of his approval or disapproval in every undertaking; signs which qualified persons could read and understand. Any private individual was free to ask for, and to interpret, such signs for his own needs. But to ask for signs on behalf of the State was only allowed to the representatives of the community. The auspicia publica populi Romani, or system of public auspicia, were under the superintendence of the college of augurs. (See AUGUR.) This body alone possessed the traditional knowledge of the ceremonial, and held the key to the correct interpretation of the signs. The signs from heaven might be asked for, or they might present themselves unasked. They fell into five classes: (1) Signs given by birds (signa ex avibus). These, as the name auspicia shows, were originally the commonest sort, but had become obsolete as early as the 1st century B.C. (For the ceremonial connected with them, see AUGUR.) (2) Signs in the sky (ex coelo). The most important and decisive were thunder and lightning. Lightning was a favourable omen if it appeared to the left of the augur, and flashed to the right; unfavourable, if it flashed from right to left. (See AUGUR.) In certain cases, as, for example, that of the assembling of the comitia, a storm was taken as an absolute prohibition of the meeting. (3) Signs from the behaviour of chickens while eating. It was a good omen if the chicken rushed eagerly out of its cage at its food and dropped a bit out of its beak; an unfavourable omen if it was unwilling, or refused altogether, to leave its cage, or flew away, or declined its food. This clear and simple method of getting omens was generally adopted by armies in the field, the chickens being taken about in charge of a special functionary (pullarius). (4) Signs given by the cries or motion of animals, as reptiles and quadrupeds, in their course over a given piece of ground (signa pedestria or ex quadrupedibus). (5) Signs given by phenomena of terror (signa ex diris). These might consist in disturbances of the act of auspicatio, such as the falling of an object, a noise, a stumble, a slip in the recitation of the formula; or a disturbance occurring in the course of public business, such as, for instance, an epileptic seizure taking place in the public assembly; an event which broke up the meeting. The two last-mentioned classes of signs were generally not asked for, because the former were usually, the latter always, unlucky. If they made their appearance unasked, they could not be passed over, if the observer saw them or wished to see them. Every official was expected to take auspices on entering upon his office, and on every occasion of performing an official act. Thus the words imperium and auspicium were often virtually synonymous. The auspicia were further divided, according to the dignity of the magistrate, into maxima ("greatest") and minora ("less"). The greatest auspicia were those which weretaken by the king, dictator, consuls, praetors, and censors; the lesser were taken by aediles and quaestors. If two magistrates, though collegoe (colleagues) were of unequal dignity-supposing, for instance, that a consul and praetor were in the same camp-the higher officer alone had the right of taking the auspices. If the collegoe were equal, the auspices passed from one to the other at stated times. No public act, whether of peace or war (crossing a river, for instance, or fighting a battle), could be undertaken without auspices. They were specially necessary at the election of all officials, the entry upon all offices, at all comitia, and at the departure of a general for war. They had, further, to be taken on the actual day and at the actual place of the given undertaking. The whole proceeding was so abused that in time it sank into a mere form. This remark applies even to the auspices taken from lightning, the most important sign of all. For the flash of lightning, which was in later times regularly supposed to appear when a magistrate entered upon office, was always (after the necessary formalities) set down as appearing on the left side. Moreover, the mere assertion of a magistrate who, had the right of auspicium that he had taken observations on a particular day, and seen a flash of lightning, was constitutionally unassailable; and was consequently often used to put off a meeting of the comitia fixed for the clay in question. Augustus, it is true, tried to rehabilitate, the auspicia, but their supposed religious foundation had been so thoroughly shaken, that they had lost all serious significance.
JUPITER 12.17%
In the Italian mythology, the highest god in heaven, corresponding to the Greek Zeus (q.v.), with whom he was identical, not only in his nature, but also in his name. For Jupiter is compounded of Iovis (an older form is Diovis) and pater; Zeus stands for Dieus (Indian Diaus- "the bright heaven"). As in course of time the Italian god became identified with the Greek, he was regarded as a son of Saturn and of Ops, the deities deemed to correspond to the Greek Uranus and Rhea respectively. From Jupiter comes all that appears in the heavens. As Lucetius (from lux, "light") he is the bringer of light, the cause of the dawn of day, as well as of the full moon at night. Just as the calends (1st) of each month are sacred to Juno, so the ides (13th or 15th), which are full-moon days, are sacred to Jupiter. On these his special priest, the flamen dialis, offers him the Idulia, a sacrifice of a white lamb. While he watches over fair weather, he also controls all other weather; as Fulgurator and Fulminator ("flasher of lightning") and as Tonans or Tonitrualis ("thunderer") he brings down those fearful storms which were familiar to Rome; as Pluvius he sends a fertilizing rain. Any place, or thing, struck by lightning was supposed to be sacred to Jupiter as having been taken possession of by him, and thus it needed a particular dedication. (See PUTEAL.) As the god of rain, there was instituted in his honour at Rome a festival of supplication, called aquoelicium. In this the pontifices brought into Rome from the temple of Mars outside the Porta Capena a cylindrical stone called the lapis manalis (rain-stone), while the matrons followed the procession with bare feet, as did also the magistrates, unaccompanied by their insignia. In the same character he was appealed to by the country-folk, before sowing time and in the spring and autumn, when a sacrificial feast was offered to him. He and Juno were worshipped before the commencement of the harvest, even before any sacrifice to Ceres. Throughout all Latium, the feast of the Vinalia (q.v.) was celebrated in his honour as the giver of wine; and at the commencement of the vintage season he was offered a lamb by the flamen Dialis. He was honoured in all Italy, after Mars, as the decider of battles and giver of victory; this was specially the case at Rome, where, as early as the days of Romulus, shrines were founded to him as Stator ("he who stays flight ") and Feretrius (to whom the spoils taken by a Roman general in the field from a hostile general were offered. See SPOLIA). He watches over justice and truth, and is therefore the most ancient and most important god of oaths; he was specially called on by the fetiales (q.v.) as a witness at the ceremonies connected with treaties of peace. Not only the law of nations, but also the law of hospitality, is under his special protection, and while he causes his blessing to fall on the whole country, he is also the god of good fortune and blessing to the family. His gracious power does not confine itself to the present alone; by means of signs comprehensible to experts, he reveals the future (see AUSPICIA) and shows his approval or disapproval of a contemplated undertaking. He was worshipped of old on the Alban Hill, by the Latin people, as their ancestral god, under the name of Iuppiter Latiaris (or Latialis); at the formation of the Latin league he was honoured as the god of the league by a sacrificial feast, which they all held in common; even after its dissolution the sacrifice was continued under the superintendence of the consuls. (See FERIAe.) The chief seat of his worship in Rome was the Capitol, where he was honoured as the ideal head of the State, as the Increaser and Preserver of Roman might and power, under the name of Iuppiter Optimus Maximus ("Best and Greatest"). It was there that his earthenware image was enthroned, with the thunderbolt in its right hand. It stood in the centre of the temple begun by Tarquinius Superbus, the last of the kings, and finished and dedicated in the first year of the Republic. In the pediment of the temple was the quadriga, the attribute of the god of thunder, while the chambers to the left and right were dedicated to Juno and to Minerva respectively. Here the consuls, at their entry into office and their departure to war, made their solemn vows; hither came the triumphal procession of the victor, who was clad in the festal garb of the god, and who, before offering to Jupiter the customary thank-offering of white oxen, prayed to his image and placed in his lap the laurel-wreath of victory bound about the fasces. Hither poured in, to adorn the temple and to fill its treasures, countless multitudes of costly votive offerings from the State, from generals and private citizens, and from foreign kings and nations. When, after its existence for 400 years, the ancient temple was destroyed by fire in B.C. 83, it was rebuilt on its original plan but with increased magnificence (B.C. 78). The image of the god was a copy in gold and ivory of the Olympian Zeus (q.v.). The temple was burnt down again A.D. 70, and Vespasian had scarcely restored it when a fresh fire burnt it down A.D. 80, whereupon Domitian in A.D. 82 erected the temple which continued to stand as late as the 9th century. As was natural for the most exalted god of the Roman State, he had the most splendid festivals in his honour. Amongst the greatest of these were the ludi Romani, the ludi magni, and the ludi plebeii. (See GAMES.) Under the Empire the Capitoline Jupiter was recognised as the loftiest representative of the Roman name and State, whose vicegerent on earth was the emperor. As his worship gradually spread over the whole empire, he finally became the representative of the pagan world in general. He was often identified with the native gods of the provinces, including the sun-god of Heliopolis and Doliche in Syria, who, from the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D., Was worshipped far and wide under the name of Iuppiter Heliopolitanus and Dolichenus. Antoninus built for the former the magnificent temple of Heliopolis, or Baalbec. He was similarly identified with various Celtic and German gods, especially those who were worshipped on Alpine mountain-tops as protectors of travellers. As an example of the latter we have Iuppiter Optimus Maximus Poeninus, whose seat was on the Great St. Bernard.
AUGURES 10.20%
[not probably, from avis, a bird, but from a lost word, aug-o, to tell; so "declarers" or "tellers"]. A priestly collegium at Rome, the establishment of which was traditionally ascribed to Romulus. Its members were in possession of the knowledge necessary to make the arrangements for taking the auspices, and for their interpretation when taken. Their assistance was called in on all those occasions on which the State had to assure itself, through auspices, of the approval of the gods. The collegium originally consisted of three Patricians, of whom the king was one. During the regal period the number was doubled; in B.C. 300 it was raised to nine (four Patricians and five Plebeians); and in the last century of the Republic, under Sulla, to fifteen, and finally by Julius Caesar to sixteen, a number which continued unaltered under the Empire. It can be shown that the college of augurs continued to exist until the end of the 4th century A.D. The office was, on account of its political importance, much sought after, and only filled by persons of high birth and distinguished merit. It was held for life, an augur not being precluded from holding other temporal or spiritual dignities. Vacancies in the collegium were originally filled up by cooptation; but after 104 B.C. the office was elective, the tribes choosing one of the candidates previously nominated. An augurium had to be taken before the augur entered upon his duties. In all probability the augurs ranked according to seniority, and the senior augur presided over the business of the collegium. The insignia of the office were the trabea, a state dress with a purple border, and the lituus, a staff without knots and curved at the top. The science of Roman augury was based chiefly on written tradition. This was contained partly in the Libri Augurales, the oldest manual of technical practice, partly in the Commentarii Augurales, a collection of answers given in certain cases to the enquiries of the senate. In ancient times the chief duty of the augurs was to observe, when commissioned by a magistrate do so, the omens given by birds, and to mark out the templum or consecrated space within which the observation took place. The proceeding was as follows. Immediately after midnight, or at the dawn of the day on which the official act was to take place, the augur, in the presence of the magistrate, selected an elevated spot with as wide a view as was obtainable. Taking his station here, he drew with his staff two straight lines cutting one another, the one from north to south, the other from east to west. Then to each of these straight lines he drew two parallel lines, thus forming a rectangular figure, which he consecrated according to a prescribed form of words. This space, as well as the space corresponding to it in the sky, was called a templum. At the point of intersection in the centre of the rectangle, was erected the tabernaculum. This was a square tent, with its entrance looking south. Here the augur sat down, asked the gods for a sign according to a prescribed formula, and waited for the answer. Complete quiet, a clear sky, and an absence of wind were necessary conditions of the observation. The least noise was sufficient to disturb it, unless indeed the noise was occasioned by omens of terror (diroe), supposing the augur to have observed them or to intend doing so. As he looked south, the augur had the east on his left, the west on his right. Accordingly, the Romans regarded signs on the left side as of prosperous omen, signs on the right side as unlucky; the east being deemed the region of light, the west that of darkness. The reverse was the case in ancient Greece, where the observer looked northwards. In his observation of birds, the augur did not confine himself to noticing their flight. The birds were distinguished as alites and oscines. The alites included birds like eagles and vultures, which gave signs by their manner of flying. The oscines were birds which gave signs by their cry as well as their flight, such as ravens, owls, and crows. There were also birds which were held sacred to particular gods, and the mere appearance of which was an omen of good or evil. The augur's report was expressed in the words aves admittunt, "the birds allow it"; or alio die, "on another day," i.e. "the augury is postponed." The magistrate was bound by this report. The science of augury included other kinds of auspices besides the observation of birds, a cumbrous process which had dropped out of use in the Ciceronian age. (See AUSPICIA.) The augurs always continued in possession of important functions. In certain places in the city, for instance on the arx, and at the meeting place of the comitia, there were permanent posts of observation for taking the regular auspices. These places were put under the care of the augurs. Their boundaries might not be altered, nor the view which they commanded interfered with. The augurs had authority to prevent the erection of buildings which would do this. They had also the power of consecrating priests, as well as of inaugurating a part of the localities intended for religious purposes, and the places where public business was carried on. They were always present at the comitia, and were authorized, if the signs which they saw or which were reported to them justified the proceeding, to announce the fact and postpone the business. If the constitutional character of a public act was called in question, the college of augurs had the exclusive power of deciding whether there was a flaw (vitium) in it, or not. If there were, the act was necessarily annulled. By the end of the republican period the augurs, and the whole business of the auspices, had ceased to be regarded as deserving serious attention.
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