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ROME-RELIGION.

which glowed in the heart of great and cruel Rome.

It will not have escaped the attention of the thoughtful reader of Roman history

that the powers and prerogatives and distinctions of that great citizenship were

all derived. They came from the state. The Roman, according to his own theory,

was not great in himself, but great as a part of Rome. His rank came from Rome.

If a patrician, the senate gave him his prerogatives; if a public officer, he was

so because of election. That massive abstraction-the Roman government-which by

the constitution of the state was able to build the Eternal City, hurl armies

with restless force against the surrounding nations, dominate both sea and land,

and conquer the world, gave to each and all their relative distinctions in the

great fabric of Rome. How unlike the condition of the world since feudalism gave

to man his personal right and individual importance! It thus happened that Rome

gave liberty to the world, and feudalism freedom- liberty being the aggregate

name for the rights of man under a state, and freedom the name of those rights

which are derived from himself.

This general view of the constitution of Roman political society will serve to

explain the non-existence of a religious hierarchy in the state. Priests there

were in abundance, but they were officers of the government. Their right to be

priests was conferred by the state. Their sacred office gave them no power over

society beyond a certain general respect in which all the priests of the world

have had the good fortune to be held by secular society.

The deities of Rome had each a body of priests who served at the altars and

maintained the honor of their respective gods. There was a college of chief

hierarchs called the Pontifices, to whom was committed the general oversight of

the religious ceremonials of the city. Each deity had his own chief priest, known

as the Flamen, whose duty was, as indicated by the name, to kindle and attend the

altar-fires and manage the sacrifices and burnt offering. The great Flamen of

the city was the high-priest of Jupiter. He was called the Dialis, and was held

in the highest honor He and his house were exempt from all public duties, to the

end that his whole life might be devoted to the service of the altars of Jove. He

might not touch any thing unclean, or look upon the dead, or enter a cemetery.

When he passed, the workmen ceased from their toil until he was out of sight. So

great was his sanctity that the culprit who entered his house was free, and the

criminal on his way to execution was pardoned.

After the college of priests, the next body of celebrants was the Vestals. As the

name implies, they were the priestesses of Vesta, the house-goddess of the

Romans. It was their duty to keep burning, forever, the sacred fires on her

altars. They were required to live a life of blameless purity. Their term of

service was thirty years. In case of any lapse from virtue on the part of a

vestal she was walled up alive in a tomb. Like male hierarchs, the priestesses of

Vesta went abroad among the people, and by them were treated with the greatest

respect. In public they were attended by a lictor, and the populace stood in

respectful silence while they passed. To insult a vestal was an offense

punishable with death. At great festivals and celebrations in Rome the vestals

were honored like persons of the highest rank.

The general supervision of the priestesses belonged to the Pontifex Maximus, who

stood at the head of the religious affairs of the state. To him was referred the

decision of all questions relating to the orthodoxy of the national faith. This

high officer was originally the engineer of the city, having charge of the public

works, especially the bridges over the Tiber, and hence his title of pontifex.

The Roman calendar was in his charge, as was also the regulation of the annual

festivals. The public documents of the state were in the keeping of the

pontifices, and they thus became the first annalists or recorders in Rome. It was

their duty to decide in what manner the gods should be consulted and prayed to;

but of this branch of the ceremonial-namely, the consultation of the deities-

another body of the priests, called Augurs, had exclusive jurisdiction; that is,

the actual conduct of the service of augury or divination.

The belief in the possibility of knowing the