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Augustus, Chapter 31: Religious measures.
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The office of Pontifex Maximus, of which he [Note 1] could not decently deprive Lepidus as long as he lived, he assumed as soon as he was dead. He then caused all prophetical books, both in Latin and Greek, the authors of which were either unknown, or of no great authority, to be brought in; and the whole collection, amounting to upwards of two thousand volumes, he committed to the flames, preserving only the Sibylline oracles; but not even those without a strict examination, to ascertain which were genuine. This being done, he deposited them in two gilt coffers, under the pedestal of the statue of the Palatine Apollo. He restored the calendar, which had been corrected by Julius Caesar, but through negligence was again fallen into confusion, to its former regularity; and upon that occasion, called the month Sextilis, by his own name, August, rather than September, in which he was born; because in it he had obtained his first consulship, and all his most considerable victories. He increased the number, dignity, and revenues of the priests, and especially those of the Vestal Virgins. And when, upon the death of one of them, a new one was to be taken, and many persons made interest that their daughters' names might be omitted in the lists for election, he replied with an oath, If either of my own grand-daughters were old enough, I would have proposed her. He likewise revived some old religious customs, which had become obsolete; as the augury of public health, the office of high priest of Jupiter, the religious solemnity of the Lupercalia, with the Secular games, and Gompitalian Games. He prohibited young boys from running in the Lupercalia; and in respect of the Secular games, issued an order, that no young persons of either sex should appear at any public diversions in the night-time, unless in the company of some elderly relation. He ordered the household gods to be decked twice a year with spring and summer flowers, in the Compitalian Festival. Next to the immortal gods, he paid the highest honours to the memory of those generals who had raised the Roman state from its low origin to the highest pitch of grandeur. He accordingly repaired or rebuilt the public edifices erected by them; preserving the former inscriptions, and placing statues of them all, with triumphal emblems, in both the porticos of his forum, issuing an edict on the occasion, in which he made the following declaration: My design in so doing is, that the Roman people may require from me, and all succeeding princes, a conformity to those illustrious examples. He likewise removed the statue of Pompey from the senate-house, in which Julius Caesar had been killed, and placed it under a marble arch, fronting the palace attached to the theatre of Pompey. |
Note 1: he = Augustus
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Pontifex Maximus:Head of the college of State priests
Triumph:The highest honour to a general: clad like Jupiter he drove in a chariot drawn by four white horses. Before him walked the prisoners taken in the war, and the spoils of the captured cities, and in later times pictures of the conquered territories were carried before the general's chariot. He was followed by his troops, who sung songs, often extempore effusions, in honour of their commander.