HOME

TheInfoList




A (plural ''flamens'' or ''flamines'') was a
priest A priest is a religious leader Clergy are formal leaders within established religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social w ...
of the
ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ethnic religion of Ancient Rome that the ancient Romans, Romans used to define themselves as a people, as well as the religious practices of peoples brought under Roman rule, in so far as they became widel ...
who was assigned to one of eighteen deities with official
cults In modern English, a cult is a social group In the social sciences, a social group can be defined as two or more people who interact with one another, share similar characteristics, and collectively have a sense of unity. Regardless, soci ...
during the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the , run through of the . Beginning with the of the (traditionally dated to 509 BC) and ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the , Rome's control rapidly expanded durin ...
. The most important of these were the three (or "major priests"), who served the important Roman gods
Jupiter Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant A gas giant is a giant planet composed mainly of hydrogen Hydrogen is the chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol H and at ...
,
Mars Mars is the fourth planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to ...
, and
Quirinus In Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of myths Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or ...

Quirinus
. The remaining twelve were the ("lesser priests"). Two of the served deities whose names are now unknown; among the others are deities about whom little is known other than the name. During the
Imperial era
Imperial era
, the cult of a deified emperor () also had a flamen. The fifteen Republican flamens were members of the Pontifical College, who administered state-sponsored religion. When the office of flamen was vacant, a could serve as a temporary replacement, although only the is known to have substituted for the , one of the .


Etymology

The etymology of remains obscure, and perhaps undecidable.
Andrew Sihler Andrew Littleton Sihler (born 25 February 1941 in Seattle Seattle ( ) is a port, seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the county seat, seat of King County, Washington, King County, Washington (state), Washington. Seattl ...
''New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin,''
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press of the University of Oxford. It is the largest university press in the world, and the second oldest after Cambridge University Press. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is g ...

Oxford University Press
1995 p.198:’ That such cases are strictly speaking undecidable, so far from calming debate, has seemed to stimulate bickering in the scholarly literature.’
The term is traditionally connected with the
Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new ...
verb ''*blōtanan'' ("to sacrifice"; cf.
Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, an extinct East Germanic language spoken by the Goths **Crimean Gothic, the Gothic language spoken by ...
''blotan''), by positing a
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
stem ''*bʰleh₂d-m(e)n-'' (or ''*bʰleh₂g-m(e)n-''), which could have originally meant "sacrifice". However, the link remains uncertain since it is impossible to decide whether the Latin form reflects an earlier ''flă-men'', ''flăd-men'' or ''flăg-smen''.
Indo-Europeanist Indo-European studies is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional are ...
Georges Dumézil Georges Edmond Raoul Dumézil (4 March 189811 October 1986) was a French philologist Philology is the study of language in oral and writing, written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, ...
attempted to link the term to the
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
word ''
brahman In Hinduism, ''Brahman'' ( sa, ब्रह्म) connotes the highest universal principle, the ultimate reality ''Ultimate reality'' is "something that is the supreme, final, and fundamental power in all reality". Buddhism In Theravada ...

brahman
''. His etymology has problems in terms of phonological shifts, and modern linguists have generally rejected it.
Andrew Sihler Andrew Littleton Sihler (born 25 February 1941 in Seattle Seattle ( ) is a port, seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the county seat, seat of King County, Washington, King County, Washington (state), Washington. Seattl ...
considers the claim that ''flamen'' might be a
cognate In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
of the Vedic term to be as plausible. He notes that the hypothesis of a connection to Gothic ''blotan'' and via Proto-Indo-European ''*bʰleh₂d-m(e)n-'' is equally plausible.


History

At the time of the religious reformation by
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles througho ...

Augustus
, the origins and functions of many of the long-neglected gods resident in Rome were confusing even to the Romans themselves. The obscurity of some of the deities assigned a ''flamen'' (for example
Falacer Falacer, or more fully ''dīvus pater falacer'', was an ancient Italic god, according to Varro Marcus Terentius Varro (; 116–27 BC) was one of ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the foun ...
,
Palatua Palatua was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testament of the ...
,
Quirinus In Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of myths Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or ...

Quirinus
and
Volturnus The VolturnUS is a floating concrete structure that supports a wind turbine, designed by University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center and deployed by DeepCwind Consortium in 2013. The VolturnUS can support wind turbines in water d ...
) suggests that the office dated back to Archaic Rome. Many scholars assume that the existed at least from the time of the early Roman kings, prior to the establishment of the
Republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...
. The Romans themselves credited the foundation of the priesthood to
Numa Pompilius Numa Pompilius (; 753–673 BC; reigned 715–673 BC) was the legendary second king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest ...

Numa Pompilius
, the second
king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the two different meanings of magistrate have often overlapped and ...
. According to
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a historian. He wrote a monumental history of and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditional founding in 753 BC th ...
, Numa created the offices of the three and assigned them each a fine robe of office and a
curule chair A curule seat is a design of a (usually) foldable and transportable chair One of the basic pieces of furniture Furniture refers to movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating (e.g., chairs, stools, and so ...
. The were circumscribed by many
taboo A taboo is an implicit prohibition on something (usually against an utterance or behavior) based on a cultural sense that it is excessively repulsive or, perhaps, too sacred for ordinary people.''Encyclopædia Britannica Online''.Taboo. Encyclop ...

taboo
s. The ''flamen'' was a sacred position within Roman society; however, it could be used for political purposes. Certain people could be appointed ''flamen'' to stop them from gaining power. For example, ''flamines'' were not allowed to ride a horse; therefore, this would make it extremely difficult for such a person to lead and command an army. By attaining such a position, the ''flamines'' were not permitted to run or hold a political office. There may have been ''flamines'' appointed simply to stop their progression in power and politics for reasons such as making enemies or simply jealousy.


Appointment

The ''flamen'' was a high position within Roman society and religion. Therefore, the selection process was difficult for those wishing to be chosen as ''flamen''. In the case of the ''Flamen Dialis'', they were appointed by the
Pontifex Maximus The (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation w ...
. By the Pontifical College, three nominations were given to the , those whom Romans believed to be the most worthy of such position. The Pontifex Maximus did not just select a new ''Flamen Dialis'', but "scrutinized each candidate's qualifications in order to ensure that he and his wife were fit to serve." After the ''flamen'' and his wife were chosen, they then had to participate in a Roman tradition and ceremony known as ''captio''. This ceremony was performed by an
augur An augur was a priest and official in the classical Roman world. His main role was the practice of augury Augury is the practice from ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religiou ...

augur
. It was the augur's job to make sure the gods would accept the new ''flamen''. This was done by asking for the king of the gods, Jupiter's blessing, and the gods would respond by providing the proper signs to the people. These ceremonies were known as ''
comitia calata The vocabulary of ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion or Belief#Religion, belief associated with a particular ethnic group. Ethnic re ...
'' ("callate assemblies") and they were performed on the
Capitoline Hill The Capitolium or Capitoline Hill ( ; it, Campidoglio ; la, Mons Capitolinus ), between the Forum Forum (plural forums or fora) may refer to: Common uses * Forum (legal), designated space for public expression in the United States *For ...
.


Privileges and disadvantages

Such a position in Roman society came with many privileges which in turn gave ''flamines'' a unique power. In law and criminal courts, the ''flamen'' wielded great power. When a person was deemed a criminal, they could appeal to a ''flamen,'' who had the power of pardoning criminals. There were also several other privileges that the ''flamen'' possessed. According to Cyril Bailey these include: exemption from the ''Patria Potestas'' (lit. power of the father) of his father; the wearing of the ''
toga praetexta The toga (, ), a distinctive garment of ancient Rome, was a roughly semicircular cloth, between in length, draped over the shoulders and around the body. It was usually woven from white wool, and was worn over a tunic. In Roman historiography, R ...

toga praetexta
''; and, the privileges of having a lictor of his own, of sitting on the curule chair, and having an ex officio place in the Senate. During the sack of Rome by the
Gauls The Gauls ( la, Galli; grc, Γαλάται, ''Galátai'') were a group of peoples of in the and the (roughly from the 5th century BC to the 5th century AD). The area they originally inhabited was known as . Their forms the main branch of th ...
in 390 BCE, the ''flamines'' were also given a special task. In an attempt to preserve Roman culture and history, the ''flamines'' and other religious orders such as the
vestals In ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Rom ...
were in charge of the sacred and religious items of Rome. Their objective was to take these treasures out of Rome so they wouldn't be destroyed by the Gauls. Ralph Mathisen writes, "Their sacred cult should not be abandoned as long as a single person survived to observe it". The ''flamines'' were also prohibited from many different actions and rituals. In the case of death, ''flamines'' were in charge of performing ritual sacrificing. However, other than that, contact with anything related to death was prohibited so that the ''flamen'' could part take in his religious duties. One extreme example was in the case of the ''flamen'''s wife (Latin, ''flaminica''). They were not allowed to wear ''Calcei Morticini'', "shoes made from the skin of an animal that had died of natural causes." Since the animal was not part of a religious ritual or offered to the gods, these shoes would be seen as impure and disrespectful to the gods. Another disadvantage for the ''flamines'' was that they "were also forbidden to touch, see, or refer to yeast, raw meat, goats, dogs, ivy, or beans," because it was thought that these could interfere with the ''flamen'''s religious practices. Most of these were associated with unsanitariness or death. When these ''flamines'' would have to perform ritual sacrifices, it was almost impossible for the flamen to avoid contact with raw meat. However, Roman accounts don't include such events in their writings. Another thing ''flamines'' were forbidden from was binding. They could not be bound to anything because it could hinder and jeopardize their position as ''flamen''. Therefore, the only bind they were tied to was their religious position and priesthood.


Marriage

The marriage of a ''flamen'' was extremely important because it was one of the requirements needed to be eligible for the ''flamen'' position. The ''flamen'' and his wife (the ''flaminica'') needed to come from a Patrician background and the parents had to be married through the ancient ceremony of ''
confarreatio In ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a ...
''. This only applied to the ''flamen,'' because when they married his wife would become part of his family. Through the process of ''confarreatio'', the wife would pass from the ''manus'' (hand) of her father to the hand of her husband. This transferred the father's authority to her husband who would also become part of the religious cult. It was necessary for the wife to be a virgin and previously unwed before marriage to a prospective ''flamen''. The position of ''flamen'' was also heavily dependent on the wife because they served together. In the case of either's death, the surviving priest would then step down from their position. It was viewed as unlucky to be widowed. ''The flamen'' and ''flaminica'' could not separate or divorce. The only way to escape a marriage was through death, because, once they attained their positions, they became the property of the deity they were assigned to. Since they ruled together, they were also responsible for performing certain rituals together. During certain practices and rituals, the ''flamen'' and ''flaminica'' had to follow certain rules, such as leaving during purification rituals. Another ritual practiced by the priest and priestess pertained to their bed. Only the ''flamen'' and ''flaminica'' were allowed to sleep in the bed for ritual reasons, and under no circumstance could they spend the night away from the bed for any longer than three days. This was meant to create and ensure a strong relationship between the couple. The end of the bed was lined with "a thin layer of clay."


Garb

The official costume of a ''flamen'', allegedly of great antiquity, was a hat called an ''apex'' and a heavy cloak called a ''laena''. The ''laena'' was a double-thick wool cloak with a fringed edge, and was worn over the flamen's
toga The toga (, ), a distinctive garment of ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest histori ...
with a clasp to hold it around his throat. The ''apex'' was a leather skull-cap with a chin-strap and a point of olive wood on its top, like a spindle, with a little fluff of wool at the base of the spindle. This was the traditional outfit during a ritual or sacrifice performed by the ''flamen''. The ''flamen'' would not wear the ''laena'' on a daily occurrence. The ''flamen'' would also wear special shoes known as ''calcei''. The ''flamen'' dress represented status. Only ''flamines'' were able to wear such a costume. It separated them from average citizens, politicians, and military figures. The responsibility for the creation of such a costume fell in the hands of the ''flaminica''. The costume was handmade and a ritual blade known as ''secespikta'' was used in the process. The ''laena'' had to be made of wool, because wool was seen as pure and the most appropriate clothing to serve the gods.


Duties and obligations

The ''flamen'' and the ''flaminica'' had special roles that could not be done by the other. This position in Roman society was held to a specific standard with strict rules. The ''flamen'' could not perform the duties of the ''flaminica'' and she could not perform the duties of her husband. One example would be the honour killing and sacrifice of a ram, which was known as an offering to Jupiter and could only be done by the ''flaminica'' on market days. The ''flamen'' couldn't perform his sacred duties without the ''flaminica''. These positions of serving the gods were meant to be served together as husband and wife. This was a partnership where each person was dependent on the other. This is why, when one died, the other would have to step down, because they were not allowed to replace their partner or continue by themselves.


Flamines maiores

The three were required to be
patrician Patrician may refer to: * Patrician (ancient Rome), the original aristocratic families of ancient Rome, and a synonym for "aristocratic" in modern English usage * Patrician (post-Roman Europe), the governing elites of cities in parts of medieval a ...
s: *The oversaw the cult of
Jupiter Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant A gas giant is a giant planet composed mainly of hydrogen Hydrogen is the chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol H and at ...
, the sky deity and ruler of the gods. *The oversaw the cult of
Mars Mars is the fourth planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to ...
, the god of war, leading public
rites A rite is an established, Ceremony, ceremonial, usually religious, act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories: * rites of passage, generally changing an individual's social status, such as marriage, adoption, baptism, coming of age ...
on the days sacred to Mars. The sacred
spear A spear is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range and striking pow ...

spear
s of Mars were ritually shaken by the ''Flamen Martialis'' when the were preparing for war. *The oversaw the cult of
Quirinus In Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of myths Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or ...

Quirinus
, who presided over organized Roman social life and was related to the peaceful aspect of Mars. The ''Flamen Quirinalis'' led public
rites A rite is an established, Ceremony, ceremonial, usually religious, act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories: * rites of passage, generally changing an individual's social status, such as marriage, adoption, baptism, coming of age ...
on the days sacred to Quirinus. A fourth was dedicated to
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
as a divinity () of the Roman state. Thereafter, any deceased emperor could be made ''divus'' by vote of the
senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...

senate
and consent of his successor, and as a ''divus'' he would be served by a flamen. The ''flamen'''s role in relation to living emperors is uncertain; no living emperor is known to have received official divine worship; see
Imperial cult An imperial cult is a form of state religion A state religion (also called an established religion or official religion) is a religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations ...
. A ''flamen'' could also be represented by a , or by a member without that title who could act as a substitute for the ''flamen'' (''qui vice flaminis fungebatur'').


Flamines minores

The twelve could be
plebeians In ancient Rome, the plebeians (also called plebs) were the general body of free Roman citizenship, Roman citizens who were not Patrician (ancient Rome), patricians, as determined by the capite censi, census, or in other words "commoners". Both ...
. Some of the deities whose cult they tended were rather obscure, and only ten are known by name: * , the flamen for
Carmentis In ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion or Belief#Religion, belief associated with a particular ethnic group. Ethnic religions are of ...
* , for
Ceres Ceres most commonly refers to: * Ceres (dwarf planet) Ceres (; minor-planet designation: 1 Ceres) is the smallest recognized dwarf planet, the closest dwarf planet to the Sun, and the List of notable asteroids, largest object in the main astero ...
* , for
Falacer Falacer, or more fully ''dīvus pater falacer'', was an ancient Italic god, according to Varro Marcus Terentius Varro (; 116–27 BC) was one of ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the foun ...
* , for
Flora Flora is all the plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, ca ...
* , for Furrina * , for
Palatua Palatua was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testament of the ...
* , for Pomona * , for Portunus * , for
Vulcan Vulcan may refer to: Mythology * Vulcan (mythology), the god of fire, volcanoes, metalworking, and the forge in Roman mythology Arts, entertainment and media Film and television * Vulcan (Star Trek), Vulcan (''Star Trek''), name of a fictional rac ...
* , for
Volturnus The VolturnUS is a floating concrete structure that supports a wind turbine, designed by University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center and deployed by DeepCwind Consortium in 2013. The VolturnUS can support wind turbines in water d ...
There were two other during the Republican period, but the names of the deities they cultivated are unknown. The ''flamines minores'' seem mostly connected to agriculture or local cults. The change to an urban way of life may explain why these deities lost their importance or fell into oblivion. The and are not recorded in calendars as their festivals were moveable. Some information exists for the ritual roles of the in connection with the cult of the god
Quirinus In Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of myths Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or ...

Quirinus
and in connexion with the cult of the goddess
Maia Maia (; Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period (), and the period (). Ancient Gre ...
on the
KalendsThe calends or kalends ( la, kalendae) is the first day of every month in the Roman calendar. The English word ''calendar A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, mo ...
of May. Also preserved is the list of deities invoked by the when he officiated at sacrifices to the goddesses
Ceres Ceres most commonly refers to: * Ceres (dwarf planet) Ceres (; minor-planet designation: 1 Ceres) is the smallest recognized dwarf planet, the closest dwarf planet to the Sun, and the List of notable asteroids, largest object in the main astero ...
and Tellus. Scholars disagree about some differences among and . Some maintain the difference was not substantial. Others, among them Dumézil, believe that inherent differences lay in the right of the '' auspicia maiora'' and the ritual of
inauguration In government and politics, inauguration is the process of Oath of office, swearing a person into Public administration, office and thus making that person the incumbent. Such an inauguration commonly occurs through a formal ceremony or special ev ...
that concerned only the by birth as , that is, as children of parents married through the ritual of ''
confarreatio In ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a ...
'', which was the form of marriage in turn required for . The also had the privilege of having , assistants who carried out day-to-day business.Fest. p. 354 L2;
Jörg RüpkeJörg Rüpke (born December 27, 1962 in Herford Herford () is a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, located in the lowlands between the hill chains of the Wiehen Hills and the Teutoburg Forest. It is the capital of the district of Herford. ...
, ''Religion of the Romans'' (Polity Press, 2007, originally published in German 2001), p. 22
online.
/ref> The difference would thus be akin to that between magistracies with and those with only.


Notes


Citations


Sources


External links



"Flamen" {{Ancient Roman religion horizontal Ancient Roman religious titles Divination