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In prayer the Roman stood. If the supernal deities were addressed the hands were

held up, but not in that exalted attitude peculiar to the Greeks. When the

infernal powers were prayed to, the palms were turned down to the earth. The face

was kept to the front; the eyes closed, the head covered with the toga.

The beasts intended for sacrifice were garlanded with flowers. Thus wreathed,

they were led to the altar. The bullock's horns were bound with fillets and the

forehead sprinkled with the mola salsa. The death blow was given with an ax; but

in the case of the smaller victims, life was taken by opening the veins of the

throat. As soon as the animal was struck down, the body was opened and the

entrails taken out and examined by the haruspex. Special attention was given to

the heart, lungs, and liver, and from these organs were gathered the signs which

the priests interpreted. If the indications were regarded as auspicious, the

entrails were sprinkled with wine, and a libation was poured upon the ground.

When this part of the ceremony was completed, the festival was celebrated, in

which the flesh of the victims was eaten by the priests.

The Roman year was divided into a ceremonial calendar, for the sacred feasts-each

at its appointed season-were very numerous. At the opening of the year was the

great festival of the two-faced Janus. On this occasion, in addition to the

regular offerings to the god, gifts were made by friends to each other. The

people exchanged calls and salutations, for it was New-Year's Day-a time to be


In the month of March came the festival of MARS, celebrated by a college of

priests called the Salii, or Leapers, who went in procession through the streets

bearing the sacred shields and other emblems of the War-god. As they went they

danced and chanted archaic hymns, accompanied with the music of flutes. Along the

route of the procession there were stations, at which the Salii halted and


On the 21st of April was celebrated the festival called the Palilia, in honor of

Pales, the goddess of shepherds. This was the anniversary of the founding of

Rome, and was regarded as an occasion of much importance. In this ceremony the

celebrants kindled fires of straw and leaped through the flames, giving

themselves to jocularity and the spirit of sport. In May came the festival of Dea

Dia, the goddess of the fields. The ceremonies in this case were conducted by the

Fratres Arvales, or Field Brethren, who for three days kept up sacrifices and

banquets in honor of the good divinity who gave fertility to the glebe in spring.

The great festival of Flora was celebrated by the women. It was given when the

wheat fields were in bloom, and was conducted with much beautiful display

peculiar to the season of flowers. But the most elaborate of all the celebrations

of Rome was that of Saturn, held at the winter solstice, and afterwards extended

so as to include the twenty-fifth of December.

Saturn was regarded by the Romans as the god of that primitive peace which once

held sway in the world before the age of devastation and war. In that pacific era

all men held the same rank and had their enjoyments in common. It was fitting,

therefore, that in the festival of Saturn-though the world had forgotten the old-

time goodness-all men should be regarded as restored for a brief season to their

primitive equality. So the great and the humble, the rich and the poor, the young

and the old, were all given the license of a common freedom, a common immunity.

The festival was called the Saturnalia. Labor ceased, public business was at an

end, the courts were closed, the schools had holiday. Tables, laden with

bounties, were spread on every hand, and at these all classes for the nonce sat

down together. The master and the slave for the day were equals. It was a time of

gift-giving and innocent abandonment. In the public shops every variety of

present from the simplest to the most costly could be found. Fathers, mothers,

kinspeople, friends, all hurried thither to purchase, according to their fancy,

what things so ever seemed most tasteful and appropriate as presents. The fair of

Rome exhibited in plentiful profusion every variety of articles brought from

every quarter of the world. There were knickknacks for the children, ornaments

for the ladies, little trophies of the toilet, ornamental tapers in wax, and,

indeed, whatever the fancy or caprice of