The Ancient Library

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On this page: Sacra – Sacramentum – Sacrarium – Sacrif



fiion with the ancients was a thing which was lianded down by tradition from father to son, and consisted in the proper performance of certain rites and ceremonies. It was respecting these external forms of worship alone that the pontiffs were ob­ liged to give instructions to those who consulted them. [pontifex.] [L.S.]

SACRA. This word in its widest sense ex­presses what we call divine worship. In ancient times the state as well as all its subdivisions had their own peculiar forms of worship, whence at Rome we find sacra of the whole Roman people, of the curies, gentes. families, and even of private in­dividuals. All these sacra, however, were divided into two great classes, the public and private sacra (sacra publica et privata}, that is, they were per­formed either on behalf of the whole nation and at the expense of the state, or on behalf of indi­viduals, families, or gentes, which had also to defray their expenses. (Fest. s. v. Publica sacra ; Liv. i. 20, x. 7 ; Pint. Num. 9 ; Cic. da Harusp. Resp. 7.) This division is ascribed to Numa. All sacra, publica as well as privata, were superintended and regulated by the pontiffs. We shall first speak of the sacra publica.

Sacra Publica. Among the sacra publica the Romans reckoned not only those which were per­formed on behalf of the whole Roman people, but also those performed on behalf of the great subdivi­sions of the people, viz. the tribes and the curiac, which Festus (/. e.) expresses: pro monianis^ pa-flis? curiis, sacellis. (See Dionys. ii. 21,23; Appian, Hist. Rom. viil 138, de Bell. Civ. ii. 106 ; Pint. Quaest. Rom. 89.) The sacra pro montibus ct pagis are undoubtedly the sacra montanalia and paganalia, which although not sacra of the whole Roman people, were yet publica. (Varro, tie Liiui. Lat. vi. 24, &c.; comp. Fest. s. r. Septiniotdhim.} The sacella in the expression of Festus, sacra pro sacellis, appear only to indicate the places where some sacra publica were performed. (Gottling, Gesch. d. Rom. Staatsv, p. 176.) What was com­mon to all sacra pu])lica, is that they were per­formed at the expense of certain public funds, which had to provide the money for victim.1?, liba­tions, incense, and for the building and mainte­nance of those places, where they were performed. (Fest. 1. c. ; Dionys. ii. 23 ; Liv. x. 23, xlii. 3.) The funds set apart for the sacra publica were in the keeping of the pontiffs, and the sacramentum formed a part of them. They were kept in the domus publica of the pontifex maximns, and were called acrarium pontificum. (Varro, de LaL v. 180 ; Gruter, Tnscript. 413. 8, 496. 6, 452. 6.) When these funds did not suffice, the state trea­sury supplied the deficiency. (Fest. s. v. Sacra-mentum.} In the solemnization of the sacra pub-Hca the senate and the whole people took part. (Pint. Num. 2.) This circumstance however is not what constitutes their character as sacra pub­lica, for the sacra popularia (Fest. s. v. Popul. sacr.} in which the whole people took part, might nevertheless be sacra privata, if the expenses were not defraj'ed out of the public funds, but by one or more individuals, or by magistrates. The pon­tiffs in conducting the sacra publica were assisted "by the epulories. [epulones.]

Sacra privata embraced, as we have stated, those which were performed on behalf of a gens, a family, or an individual. The characteristic by which they were distinguished from the sacra


publica, is that they were made at the expense of those persons or person on whose behalf they were performed. Respecting the sacra of a gens, called sacra gentilicia, see gens, p. 568, b. The sacra connected with certain families were, like those of a gens, performed regularly at fixed times, and de­scended as an inheritance from father to son. As they were always connected with expenses, and were also troublesome in other respects, such an inheritance was regarded as a burden rather than anything else. (Macrob. Sat. i. 16.) They may generally have consisted in sacrifices to the Pe­nates, but also to other divinities. They had usually been vowed by some member of a family on some particular occasion, and then continued for ever in that family, the welfare of which was thought to depend upon their regular and proper performance. Besides these periodical sacra of a family there were others, the performance of which must have depended upon the discretion of the heads of families, such as those on the birthday, or on the death of a member of a family. Savigny (Zeitseltrift, vol. ii. p. 3) denies the existence of sacra familiarum.

An individual might perform sacra at any time, and whenever he thought it necessary; but if he vowed such sacra before the pontiffs and wished that they should be continued after his death, his heirs inherited with his property the obligation to perform them, and the pontiffs had to watch that they were performed duly and at their proper time. (Fest. s. t\ Sacer mons ; Cic. pro Dom. 51 ; comp. ad Ait. xii. 19, &c.) Such an obligation was in later times evaded in various ways.

Among the sacra privata were reckoned also the sacra municipalia, that is, such sacra as a commu­nity or town had been accustomed to perform be­fore it had received the Roman franchise. After this event, the Roman pontiffs took care that they were continued in the same manner as before1. (Fest. s. v. Municipalia sacra ; comp. Ambrosch, Stud,, u. Andcut. p. 215.)

(See Gottling, p. 175, &c. ; Walter, Gesch. d, Rom. Re-ants, p. 178 ; Hartung, DieRelig.d. Rom. vol. i. p. 226, &c. ; comp. sacrificium.) [L. S.]

SACRAMENTUM. [jusjuranpum ; vin~


SACRARIUM was, according to the definition of Ulpiau (Dig. 1. tit. 8. s. 9. §2), anyplace in which sacred things were deposited and kept, whe­ther this place was a part of a temple or of a pri­vate house. (Comp. Cic. c. Verr. iv. 2, pro Milon. 31 ; Suet. Tib. 51.) A sacrarium therefore was that part of every house in which the images of the penates were kept. Respecting the sacrarium of the lares see lararium. Public sacrariaat Rome were : one attached to the temple of the Capitoline Jupiter, in which the tensae or chariots for public processions were kept (Suet. Vesp. 5 ; Grat. Falisc 534); the place of the Salii in which the an cilia and the litutis of Romulus were kept (Val. Max. i. 8. 11; Serv. ad Aen. viL 603), and others. In the time of the emperors, the name sacrarium was sometimes applied to a place in which a statue of an emperor was erected. (Tacit. Annal. ii. 41 ; Stat. Sih. v. 1. 240.) Livy (i. 21) uses it as a name for a sacred retired place in general. [L. S.]

SACRIFl'CIUM (iepetov). Sacrifices or offer­ings formed the chief part of the worship of the ancients. They were partly signs of gratitude, partly a means of propitiating the gods, and partly

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