as equal to the star of your father and grandfather,2 through whose peerless radiance much far-famed lustre has accrued to our ceremonies. For other gods we have received, the Caesars we have bestowed.3
And since I intend to begin with the worship of the gods, I shall summarily treat of its nature.
1. Of Religion1
Our ancestors decreed that fixed and customary ceremonies2 be managed through the science of Pontiffs, guidance for the good conduct of affairs through the observations of Augurs, Apollo’s prophecies through books of the seers,3 aversion of portents through Etruscan discipline.4 By ancient ordinance also rituals are performed: in commending, by prayer; in demanding, by vow;5 in discharging, by offer of thanks; in enquiring, whether by entrails or lots, by solicitation of response;6 in performing of customary rite, by sacrifice, wherewith also warnings of prodigies or lightnings are expiated.
- 2Augustus was deified by the senate when he died and a senator swore to having seen him ascend to heaven. Coins with his head and a star above it were issued by Tiberius. Julius Caesar was identified with a comet that appeared after his death, Iulium sidus of Hor. Od. 1.12.47.
- 3With videmus (Watt3, improving on vidimus advocated by D. P. Fowler) read for dedimus, the idea already expressed in cetera . . . videtur is repeated out of place; better keep dedimus, showing why Rome can take particular pride in this accession.
- 1The chapter headings may not be original.
- 2The terms are standard. Statae applies to rites fixed by the calendar to particular days, sollemnes probably to those annually recurrent but not so fixed (movable feasts); cf. Ov. Fast. 1.660 quid a fastis non stata sacra petis?
- 3The Sibylline books.
- 4The preceding list comes almost word for word from Cic. Har. resp. 18.
- 5In a vow something was promised in return for the granting of a prayer.
- 6Impetrito, a rare technical term, perhaps denoting a preliminary request by the enquirer for a favourable sign.