The Ancient Library

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On this page: Epulones – Equirria – Equites



translated Aratus. Columella wrote a poem on gardening; an unknown author (said to be Lucilius), the ^Stna. The 3rd century produced the medical poem of Sammonlcus Sfirenus, and that of Nemesi-anus on hunting. In the 4th we have Ausonlus, much of whose work is didactic ; Palladlus on agriculture; an adaptation of Aratus and of Dlonysius Periegetes by Avlenus, with a description of the sea-coasts of the known world in iambics; in the 6th, besides some of Claudian's pieces, a description by Rutilius Namatlanus in elegiacs of his return home. The book of Dionysius Periegetes was adapted by Pris-cian in the 6th century. A collection of proverbs, bearing the name of Cato, belongs to the 4th century. In most of these com­positions the metrical form is a mere set off; and in the school verses of the gram­marians, as in those by Terentianus Maurus on metres, by an anonymous author on rhetorical figures, and on weights and measures, there is no pretence of poetry at all.

Epulones (Masters of the Feast). The office of epulo was created 196 b.c. to re­lieve the Pontlfices. It was, from the first, open to plebeians, and could be held with the great offices of state. The first duty of the epulones was to provide the banquets (gpulum) of the Capitoline deities {see lectisternium). In later times they had also to provide for and superintend the public entertainments(£pwte)of the people, when the senate dined on the Capitol. Such entertainments were always provided at the games given by private individuals, or by the state, on occasions of religious festivals, dedications of temples, assump­tions of office, triumphs, funerals, birthdays in the imperial household, and the like. The Collegium epulonum consisted origin­ally of three members (trls vlrl epulones) and afterwards of seven (septcm viri epulones), a name which it retained even after Csesar had raised the number to ten. Its existence can be traced down to the end of the 4th century.

Equirrla. See mars and salii.

Equites (horsemen or knights). The Squites were originally a real division of the Roman army. At the beginning of the kingly period they were called clllrls, and their number is said to have been 300, chosen in equal parts from the three tribes of ihe Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres. A hun­dred formed a cent&ria, each centuria being named after the tribe from which it was

taken. Thirty made a turma, and ten were under the command of a decurid, while the whole corps was commanded by the tribttnus celerum. During the course of the kingly period the body of equites was increased to six centuries, and the con­stitution of Servius Tullius finally raised it to eighteen. When the twelve new centuries were formed, consisting of the richest persons in the state, whose income exceeded that of the first class in the census, the corps of equites lost the exclusively patrician char­acter which had hitherto distinguished it. At the same time its military importance was diminished, as it no longer formed the first rank, but took up a position on the wings of the phalanx (see legio). The equites, however, retained both in the state and in the army their personal prestige. In the comUla they voted first, and in centuries of their own. They were the most distinguished troops in the army. No other soldiers were in a position to keep two horses and a groom apiece, a costly luxury, althoiigh they received an allowance for the purchase and keep of their horse. After the introduction of the pay system they received three times as much as the ordinary troops ; on occasion of a triumph three times the ordinary share of booty; and at the foundation of a colony a much larger allotment than the ordinary colonist. The 1,800 equites equo publics, or equites whose horse was purchased and kept by the state, were chosen every five years, at the census. The election was carried out in the republican period originally by the consuls, but in later times by the censors. After the general census was completed, the censors proceeded to review the equites (r&cognitio). They were arranged accord­ing to their tribes, and each of them, lead­ing his horse by the hand, passed before the tribunal of the censors in the forum. All who had served their time, and who were physically incapacitated, received their discharge. If an equls were judged unworthy of his position, he was dismissed with the words : " Sell your horse '' (Vends Iquum). If there were nothing against him, he was passed on with the words Traduc equum (" lead your horse past"). The vacancies were then filled up with suitable candidates, and the new list (album equitum) read aloud. In later times, the eques whose name was first read out was called princeps iuventutis (see princeps).

During their time of service (setat. 17-46) the equites were beund to serve in a number

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