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  1. Ecce sacerdos magnus
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Homer, as we saw, describes them as honoured by the people like gods Il. When Cleomenes insulted a priest at Argos, he was considered mad Hdt. When Alexander sold the Thebans into slavery, he excepted the priests only Aelian, Ael.

Ecce sacerdos magnus

VH At Athens, where we know most about their position, they were reckoned as equal to the magistrates, accompanied them in public processions, and had seats of honour with them at the dramatic representations C. Decrees of special honours awarded them are not uncommon in inscriptions C. In many cases they enjoyed a house adjoining the temple Od.

Lastly, they had certain perquisites arising from sacrifices, which must have formed a considerable source of income. These are described in many inscriptions from various parts of Greece, and show a great variety of usage in respect of the portion of the victim which fell to the priest; generally, however, these were the skin and legs, and often the tongue Dittenb.

These perquisites were apparently universal in the case of private sacrifices, and fees paid on these occasions are also mentioned C. Appendix viii. In some few cases, but apparently only in later times, they were empowered to collect money Dittenb. They must, therefore, have had ample means of amassing wealth; and this is confirmed both by the monetary value of priesthoods noticed above, by the competition for them, and by the evidence we possess from inscriptions of valuable endowments presented by some of them to their temples Newton, p.

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In conformity with their general character as a part of the community, and not distinct from it, the Greek priests wore no dress that can be called distinctive. The wreath on the head, with which the priest always appears in vase-paintings and sculptures, was worn by all persons when sacrificing, and was as much the mark of the magistrate as the priest. On the monuments priests generally appear in a long chiton, of the old-fashioned kind discarded by the Athenians in the Periclean age; so the priest and priestess of Athene appear in the frieze of the Parthenon.

Such a chiton would seem also to have been worn by the Pythia of Delphi, as appears from a vase-painting of which a cut is given in Baumeister's Denkm. These garments were certainly as a rule white. This is what Plato enjoins in the Laws A ; and it is also enjoined on the initiated in the mysteries of Andania Dittenberger, , A more ornamental dress, both as to colour and adornment, seems to have been occasionally worn in later times, e.

But in most cases where the dress is peculiar, we may suspect that the priest or priestess is personating the deity to whom sacrifices are offered. This may be so in the case of Iphigeneia as priestess of Artemis represented on a vase Baumeister, p. The [p. For this class of practices, which in some cases seems to have a totemistic origin, see F.

Back, de Graecorum caerimoniis in quibus homines deorum vice fungebantur , Berlin, ; Hermann, Gr. There remains the question whether the Greek priest was consecrated to the service of his deity by any kind of ceremony.

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If such ceremony existed, we hear nothing certain of it. In the earliest times it is probable that the Roman idea of a priest and his duties differed but little from that of the Greeks; he was assigned to the worship of a particular god and exercised no direct political influence. The general name for such priests was flamen i. But their influence was steadily overshadowed by that of those great colleges which we always associate with religious government in Roman antiquity, especially the pontifices and augurs; and thus a new element was introduced which is quite foreign to anything we have met with in Greece.

It is a curious fact that at the very time the end of the monarchy and first age of the Republic when Rome was becoming penetrated by Greek religious ideas, the simple and unpolitical priestly system which survived in Greece was giving way to a new development which was distinctly Roman and political. It is the history of this change which we must be content to trace here. Period of the Monarchy. Every Roman was the priest of his own household [ SACRA ], and every action of the household had its religious aspect.

In the state we see the same leading feature, that the rex was priest for the whole people. This is sufficiently proved 1 by the appointment of the rex sacrorum when the monarchy came to an end, in order to keep up the virtue of certain sacrifices which had been performed by the king; 2 by the position of the pontifex maximus from the outset of the Republic: his office was in the king's house [ REGIA ], the flamens and vestals were in his patria potestas , and it was he who succeeded the rex in most of his religious functions.

To maintain, then, the full rights of the god as against the state, i. The gods are always in direct relation to the state and to its magistrates. They are regarded as interested in the state as a state, and as calling for the fulfilment of duty from the state in the person of its appointed rulers. This point may be illustrated by reference to the significant fact that the property belonging to the temples was not managed by the priests, but by the magistrates. See Mommsen, Staatsrecht, ii.

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In the earliest form of the state the king and his household may have sufficed for the performance of these duties. His unmarried daughters were the vestals who attended to the sacred fire of the state in the king's house Frazer, Journal of Philology, vol. Such at least is a fair inference from the fact that, as was mentioned above, both flamens and vestals were in the patria potestas of the rex, as afterwards of the pontifex maximus.

This was the earliest form of state worship so far as we can guess it; for further details as to the religious duties of the king, see REX It is obvious that as the state increased in size and began to come into collision with its neighbours, i.

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Thus already in the regal period we hear of the introduction, generally ascribed to Numa by the Romans themselves, of certain colleges of priests besides the vestals and flamens. Dionysius 2. None of these priesthoods, however, had any great influence on Roman history, or contributed to the great change in the religious system which took place in the period of the Republic.

In order to understand this, we must turn to the Pontifices and the Augurs. It is not possible to determine with certainty what part was played by these two colleges under the monarchy, or to what extent they were, strictly speaking, sacerdotes at all Mommsen, Hist.

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They may have formed bodies of advisers of the king on religious matters of importance; and the king was probably at the head of each of them, and chose them himself from the patrician gentes, to which all priesthoods then and for long afterwards were confined Marquardt, iii. The Augurs, we may presume, advised the king, or acted for him [p. For detailed information about these colleges, references may be made to the separate articles. It is easy to see how with the rapid development of the state under the last two kings, and with the admission of the Plebs to a voice in the government, the increase of territory and the consequent admission of new cults, the administration both of the auspicia and the jus divinum must have tended to pass more and more from the king into the hands of these experts.

And it is in this way that we must explain their rapid rise to power when the Republic came to an end. Period of the Republic. Three great, though gradual, changes are to be noted in this period. The first of these is the natural development of the influence of the Pontifices and Augurs, which was already on the increase towards the close of the Monarchical period, and the corresponding decay of the purely sacrificial priesthoods.

So long as the king was the centre of all state religion, appointing and controlling the priests, and being himself of their number, it had been impossible for them to acquire any overpowering political influence; but when the state came to be governed by yearly elected magistrates, who could not be specially trained in religious law or lore, a great opportunity was offered to the experts both in the jus divinum and in the ritus auspiciorum , of which full advantage was taken.

The Pontifices became the advisers of the republican magistrates on all technical matters relating to religious law, and thus gained a permanent hold on the state machinery as well as on the private life of individuals. Secondly, we have to note the rise to power in this period of a third great priesthood, already instituted by the last king, which henceforth ranked with the Pontifices and Augurs as one of the three great religious collegia,--the decemviri at first duoviri , later quindecimviri sacris faciundis.

So long as the Romans retained something of their native religious feeling, these priesthoods no doubt kept a certain hold on the popular mind; but as new forms of religion came in, as the pontifical theology adapted itself to them, and as Rome advanced in conquest and the absorption of foreigners, they were left, as it were, stranded, and void of meaning.

Towards the close of the Republic they began to disappear altogether, and we have the singular historical phenomenon of obsolete curiosities like the Flamen Dialis and the Fratres Arvales being restored at the beginning of the Empire, when once more the general supervision of the state religion was concentrated in the hands of a monarch.

One only of these priesthoods retained its life and prestige almost undiminished throughout the whole of Roman history--that of the Vestal virgins; a fact that can be explained partly by its feminine character, which kept it out of all competition for political influence, and still more by the nature of the worship of Vesta as the religious focus of the state-life, and the legends which in the popular fancy connected it with the foundation of the city.

There were other changes of a more technical character in this period, besides those which immediately affected the relative importance of the several priesthoods. While the offices of Rex sacrorum and the older sacrificial priesthoods were always confined to patricians, the three great collegia were in course of time thrown open to plebeians also. With the gradual equalisation of the orders, it was found that those had grown too politically important to escape the plebeianising of the secular magistracy.

The democratic changes first in the number of members in these collegia and the admission of plebeians, and secondly in substituting election for the more exclusive cooptation, have been detailed in the articles AUGUR, DECEMVIRI, and PONTIFEX Thus the great Roman priesthoods were in this period steadily carried along by the full force of the political current to which they owed their power, while the more antiquated ones left the centre of the stream and were gradually stranded.

And thus also it came about that the Roman religion and its ministers, though having to deal with matters so technical and a sacred law so minute as apparently to offer every chance for the growth of a powerful priestly caste, never became dissociated from the state, or from the public life and interests of the individual citizen; and Cicero could boast with truth that there was no grander principle in the constitution than that which placed the best men in the state at the head at once of the religious system and of the political machinery de Dom.

And this in spite of the fact that the priesthood and the magistracy were as such entirely dissociated from each other in Roman constitutional law; no priest having by virtue of his office any direct hold upon the state-machinery, and no magistrate having any part in the state's religious functions Mommsen, op. This was the republican theory; and though towards the end of that period there were signs of its collapse as in the details of the new system of election , it maintained itself on the whole until further great changes took place on the establishment of the Empire.

For the relation of the haruspices to the priesthoods during the Republic, see Marquardt, Staatsverw. For what little is known of the municipal priesthoods of Italy in this period, see the same work, pp. Period of the Empire.

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The history of the priesthood under the Empire is a subject of great difficulty, and as yet imperfectly investigated. It must suffice here to give a brief outline, which may partly be filled up from the works of Mommsen and Marquardt already quoted, Henzen's Acta Fratrum Arvalium, and especially from a tract by P. Habel, de pontificum Romanorum inde ab Augusto usque ad Aurelianum condicione publica. Popular accounts of particular aspects will be found in Boissier, Religion Romaine, vol. But no work can be done in this period without constant reference to the Corpus Inscriptionum , and the best works on coins of the period.

The subject falls into three divisions: 1. The union of the existing priesthoods in the person of the emperor; 2. The new priesthoods connected in Italy and the provinces with the worship of the emperors; 3. The priesthoods of the foreign worships introduced in the period. The union of the existing priesthoods in the person of the emperor Julius Caesar was already pont. Augustus waited until the death of Lepidus, who had succeeded Julius, and was not elected till B. Mommsen, p.

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From that time onwards the office was not only an invariable accompaniment of the imperium, but was reckoned at the head of all the other offices Mommsen, Staatsr, 2. With this the emperor also held the augurship, and was a member of the other two great collegia of the quindecimviri and the epulones Marquardt, ; and the same policy was pursued, in a greater or less degree according to the standing of the individual, with regard to his sons or other male relatives Habel, Caesares , p.