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heaven, and skilled interpreters must piece them all together. Yet some recurring portents were met always with like forms of ceremonial (procuratio). A shower of stones called for a nine days' holiday, from the days of old king Tullus (mansit solemne ut quandoque idem prodigium nuntiaretur, feria per novem dies agerentur Livy 1. 31.3). If a bull was heard to speak with human sounds, a meeting of the Senate was called in open air (Pliny VIII. 70), in memory of the time perhaps when Latin farmers met among their herds to discuss in conclave the affairs of state.
When the scene of the portent was a shrine, or any clue was given to the Power which sent the warning, the College knew what offerings were likely to find favour, prescribed in some cases the hostiæ majores, the full-grown animals, confused in later days with the beasts of larger size, while in other cases they could tell that tender sucklings (hostie lactantes) would find most favour on the altars. Costly gifts could seldom come amiss, as tokens of the votaries' submission, so weighty offerings of gold or silver plate were stored up in the temple treasuries, or the choicest works of art in marble or in bronze were called in to represent the objects of popular gratitude or fear. In default of any special clue to the nature of the offence, or of the offended power, it might at least be well to have recourse to the ancient usage of lus. tration, to clear away the stains of possible pollution. The sin-offerings of the boar, the ram, the bull were duly made (suovetaurilia); the priestly train moved round the city walls (amburvium), or round the fields (ambarvalia), sprinkling the consecrated drops upon the bounds, and going through the long round of the traditional prayer, some passages of which Cato wrote out for like use among his country friends (De Re Rustica 141).
If the experience of the Pontifices was at fault, other advisers were called in. The haruspices especially were skilled in the Etruscan love of divination. They knew the language of the lightning, they could read strange characters scored upon the slaughtered victims, and to them therefore were referred the questions of the mysterious portents in the sky, or in animals of monstrous birth.
If the prodigies were fearful (tætra) and took the form of pestilence, or earthquake, or the like, and the need seemed very urgent, a newer fashion sometimes superseded the old machinery of the State Religion.
The Sibylline books had made their way to Rome, if we may trust tradition, as early as the period of the Tarquins. Borne to Rome by a wave of Hellenic influence which passed from the coast of Asia Minor along the Greek cities of Campania, the prophetic utterances gained a sanction from the State, and a College of Interpreters to unfold or to apply their meaning (decemviri sacris faciundis). The frugal Senate was chary indeed of such appeals, for experience had proved that the Sibyll sold her advice dearly, and never spared the public purse. Now she recommended a costly deputation to beg some foreign deity to consent to house himself in Rome ; sometimes a new temple must be built to lodge more worthily a recent visitor from Olympus; sometimes stately ceremonies might be enough if they were only of the newest fashion, but in each case we may note that some forward steps were taken in naturalizing the Greek Pantheon on Italian soil. So one after another the familiar forms of Greek mythology were recognized in the religion of the State, sometimes thinly disguised in Latin dress, more often with names and attributes almost unchanged, while the arrival of each upon the scene was marked by some enduring festival or shrine. To the same source may also be assigned the imposing ceremonies which were for the most part of foreign growth.
The lectisternium, first heard of in the year 399 B.C., (Livy v. 13. 6,) but often repeated later, agreed with some features of old Latin usage, but was specially connected with the characteristic forms of the Apollo-worship (Theoxenia). All was made ready for a costly banquet, and on each couch (pulvinaria) were laid the symbols of the deities to be appeased, while the viands from the feast, or offerings from the altars, were laid in solemn state before them. With these were commonly connected supplicationes, a form of General Litany or Processional Service, in which young and old, citizens and country folks, moved in long lines through all the streets to offer prayers in every temple where the pulvinaria were laid out to view. These in their details, as also in the occasions when we hear of them, remind us of the solemn Pæans by which Apollo was approached in times of thanksgiving or intercession. The Sibylline books did not fail also to encourage the system of vows (vota) which Roman usage had long sanctioned. Often in the crisis of the battle, or some time of urgent risk, magistrates had promised temples or costly offerings to their guardian powers, if only the tide of danger would be rolled away. And so when prodigies were rife, and panic spread, the advisers of the State appealed to the efficacy of solemn vows, One such may seem to call for special mention, as recorded in archaic language by the historian of the 2nd Punic war.
It had been an old Italian custom to promise to the gods in times of crisis the produce of the coming spring (ver sacrum), and the custom may have dated from the days of human sacrifice. For among the earli ries of tribal movements in Central Italy, we read that in days of famine such a ver sacrum had been vowed among the Sabine kills, and that when the young of that spring reached man's estate they were sent forth in search of some new homes, and that guided on their several paths by animals sacred to the Italian Mars, they made their way into Samnium and Picenum, and to other lands, where they accepted henceforth as their national symbols, the bull in Samnium, the woodpecker (picus) in Picenum, and the wolf for the Hirpini, whose forefathers had been led by it to their new homes. In the case above referred to the senate gave its sanction to the vow, but the Chief Pontiff was aware that ancient usage required the consent of the whole people, and a bill was drawn up by his instructions, to be submitted to the vote in the comitia. It was drawn up with scrupulous care that no little flaw, or unforeseen neglect, might vitiate the people's form of intercession, and indeed it was expressly stipulated that no sacrifice should lose its value if offered unwittingly upon a day of evil omen (si atro die faxit insciens).
ON THE CHARACTER OF C. FLAMINIUS.
It is commonly believed that the memory of Flaminius has suffered grievous wrong from the hatred of the nobles of his day, which is reflected even in the narrative of Livy, and it may therefore be convenient to put together the little that is definitely told us of his life and doings. He came of a plebeian family, which had won as yet no curule honours, and he showed as tribune that he had the interests of the poorer citizens at heart. As a partial remedy for the economic evils of his times he proposed in an agrarian bill—the first after the Licinian laws—to divide among the needy much of the state domain available in Cisalpine Gaul (B.C. 231). The nobles in the senate stoutly opposed the measure, which was carried through the comitia in spite of their resistance.
The sanction of the senate was not technically needed to give a plebiscitum force of law, and the egotism of the governing classes may have justified this bold innovation of Flami. nius, but it was a violent blow against the representative power in the state, and as such was noted by Polybius (11. 21) as the first ominous sign of constitutional decline. The aristocracy submitted with ill grace, and hampered him in his work of colonial distribution with ineffectual delays. Shortly after
wards the government of Sicily fell to his lot as Prætor, and there is reason to believe that he endeared himself to the provincials by clean-handed justice (Livy xxxIII. 42). His promotion to the consulship did not follow till 222, when he endeavoured to crush the Cisalpine Gauls, already defeated at L. Telamon, by invading the country of the Insubres. In the only account of the campaign which we possess (Polyb. 11. 32) he appears to have been wanting in good faith towards thé Gauls, and by the neglect of the common rules of strategy to . have risked probable disaster, from which he was saved only by the steady valour of the legionaries and the forethought of the military tribunes.
Before the campaign was over he was summoned by the senate to resign his office, on the ground of some technical flaw in his election, but he would not open the despatch till the victory was won, and on his return persisted in entering Rome in forms of triumph, despite the refusal of the senate.
The resentment of the nobles was intense, and they forced a dictator to resign, who had been bold enough to name Flaminius as his Master of the Horse. But it is to the credit of the latter, that in his censorship of 219 he did not stoop to any petty jealousies of rival parties, only linking the memories of that high office with the Circus, and the great Highway which bore his name in after ages.
But it was partly due to his support that the bill of Claudius was passed, which forbade the Senatorian families to own merchant vessels, a law which rested no doubt in part on the aristocratic prejudice of old societies, but aimed also at protecting the provincials from sinister action on the part of Roman governors in the interest of Roman traders. If his generalship really was so questionable in the Gallic war, it is strange that he should have been re-elected to the consulship after the disaster of the Trebia.
There are reasons too for doubting the account of Livy which makes him leave Rome and enter office at Ariminum in contempt of all customary scruples, though military needs might well excuse neglect of purely formal duties. But Polybius is quite silent on the subject, though his informants had no love for Flaminius, and a legal measure, called probably Lex Flaminia minus solvendi, seems to point to the presence of the consul in the capital, although the evidence is not conclusive. The financial policy which it suggests accords indeed with his other measures in favour of the poorer classes, at the expense also of the wealthier.
The position of Flaminius at Arretium seems to have been well chosen for defence, and his plans were probably suggested by the campaign against the Gauls in 224. He must have heard of Hannibal's advance, and have shown no wish to C. L,