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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXII Chapter 10: Many vows made to the gods[217 BC]
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|These decrees of the senate having been passed, Lucius Cornelius Lentulus, pontifex maximus, the college of praetors consulting with him, gives his opinion that, first of all, the people should be consulted respecting a sacred spring: that it could not be without the order of the people. The people having been asked according to this form: Do ye will and order that this thing should be performed in this manner? If the republic of the Roman people, the Quirites, shall be safe and preserved as I wish it may, from these wars for the next five years, the war which is between the Roman people and the Carthaginian, and the wars which are with the Cisalpine Gauls), the Roman people, the Quirites, shall present whatsoever the spring shall produce from herds of swine, sheep, goats, oxen and which shall not have been consecrated, to be sacrificed to Jupiter, from the day which the senate and people shall appoint. Let him who shall make an offering do it when he please, and in what manner he please; in whatsoever manner he does it, let it be considered duly done. If that which ought to be sacrificed die, let it be unconsecrated, and let no guilt attach; if any one unwittingly wound or kill it, let it be no injury to him; if any one shall steal it, let no guilt attach to the people or to him from whom it was stolen; if any one shall unwittingly offer it on a forbidden day, let it be esteemed duly offered; also whether by night or day, whether slave or free man perform it. If the senate and people shall order it to be offered sooner than any person shall offer it, let the people being acquitted of it be free. On the same account great games were vowed, at an expense of three hundred and thirty-three thousand three hundred and thirty-three asses and a third; moreover, it was decreed that sacrifice should be done to Jupiter with three hundred oxen, to many other deities with white oxen and the other victims. The vows being duly made, a supplication was proclaimed; and not only the inhabitants of the city went with their wives and children, but such of the rustics also as, possessing any property themselves, were interested in the welfare of the state. Then a lectisternium was celebrated for three days, the decemviri for sacred things superintending. Six couches were seen, for Jupiter and Juno one, for Neptune and Minerva another, for Mars and Venus a third, for Apollo and Diana a fourth, for Vulcan and Vesta a fifth, for Mercury and Ceres a sixth. Then temples were vowed. To Venus Erycina, Quintus Fabius Maximus vowed a temple; for so it was delivered from the prophetic books, that he should vow it who held the highest authority in the state. Titus Otacilius, the praetor vowed a temple to Mens.||
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Pontifex Maximus:Head of the college of State priests
Great Games:Were celebrated in honour of a God, usually in fulfilment of a vow made by the commander-in-chief at the commencement of a war, or as an act of thanksgiving at deliverance of the City from some great danger.
Lectisternium:It was essentially a banquet of the gods; richly covered couches were placed round tables which were loaded with offerings from the sacrifices which were going on in the temples and in private houses throughout the City. On these couches were laid either the emblems of the particular deity of draped wax effigies. Whether it was an importation from Greece or an old Italian rite seems doubtful.