, , , , ,

Continuing on with the copy/paste from wikipedia. Some terms are likely missing.



The verb effari, past participle effatus, means “to create boundaries (fines) by means of fixed verbal formulas.”[185] Effatio is the abstract noun. It was one of the three parts of the ceremony inaugurating a templum (sacred space), preceded by the consulting of signs and the liberatio which “freed” the space from malign or competing spiritual influences and human effects.[186] A site liberatus et effatus was thus “exorcized and available.”[187] The result was a locus inauguratus (“inaugurated site”), the most common form of which was the templum.[188] The boundaries had permanent markers (cippi or termini), and when these were damaged or removed, their effatio had to be renewed.[189]


Relief (1st century AD) depicting the Palladium atop a column entwined by a snake, to which Victory presents an egg as a warrior attends in a pose of peace

The “calling forth” or “summoning away” of a deity was an evocatio, from evoco, evocare, “summon.” The ritual was conducted in a military setting either as a threat during a siege or as a result of surrender, and aimed at diverting the favor of a tutelary deity from the opposing city to the Roman side, customarily with a promise of better-endowed cult or a more lavish temple.[190] As a tactic of psychological warfare, evocatio undermined the enemy’s sense of security by threatening the sanctity of its city walls (see pomerium) and other forms of divine protection. In practice, evocatio was a way to mitigate otherwise sacrilegious looting of religious images from shrines.[191]

Recorded examples of evocations include the transferral of Juno Regina (“Juno the Queen”, originally Etruscan Uni) from Veii in 396 BC;[192] the ritual performed by Scipio Aemilianus in 146 BC at the defeat of Carthage, involving Tanit (Juno Caelestis);[193] and the dedication of a temple to an unnamed, gender-indeterminate deity at Isaura Vetus in Asia Minor in 75 BC.[194] Some scholars think that Vortumnus (Etruscan Voltumna) was brought by evocation to Rome in 264 BC as a result of M. Fulvius Flaccus‘s defeat of the Volsinii.[195] In Roman myth, a similar concept motivates the transferral of the Palladium from Troy to Rome, where it served as one of the pignora imperii, sacred tokens of Roman sovereignty.[196] Compare invocatio, the “calling on” of a deity.

Formal evocations are known only during the Republic.[197] Other forms of religious assimilation appear from the time of Augustus, often in connection with the establishment of the Imperial cult in the provinces.[198]

Evocatio, “summons“, was also a term of Roman law without evident reference to its magico-religious sense.[199]


A site that had been inaugurated (locus inauguratus), that is, marked out through augural procedure, could not have its purpose changed without a ceremony of reversal.[200] Removing a god from the premises required the correct ceremonial invocations.[201] When Tarquin rebuilt the temple district on the Capitoline, a number of deities were dislodged by exauguratio, though Terminus and Juventas “refused” and were incorporated into the new structure.[202] A distinction between the exauguratio of a deity and an evocatio can be unclear.[203] The procedure was in either case rare, and was required only when a deity had to yield place to another, or when the site was secularized. It was not required when a site was upgraded, for instance, if an open-air altar were to be replaced with a temple building to the same god.[204]

The term could also be used for removing someone from a priestly office (sacerdotium).[205] Compare inauguratio.


An adjective, “choice, select,” used to denote the high quality required of sacrificial victims: “Victims (hostiae) are called ‘select’ (eximiae) because they are selected (eximantur) from the herd and designated for sacrifice, or because they are chosen on account of their choice (eximia) appearance as offerings to divine entities (numinibus).”[206] The adjective here is synoymous with egregius, “chosen from the herd (grex, gregis).”[207] Macrobius says it is specifically a sacerdotal term and not a “poetic epithet(poeticum ἐπίθετον).


The exta were the entrails of a sacrificed animal, comprising in Cicero‘s enumeration the gall bladder (fel), liver (iecur), heart (cor), and lungs (pulmones).[208] The exta were exposed for litation (divine approval) as part of Roman liturgy, but were “read” in the context of the disciplina Etrusca. As a product of Roman sacrifice, the exta and blood are reserved for the gods, while the meat (viscera) is shared among human beings in a communal meal. The exta of bovine victims were usually stewed in a pot (olla or aula), while those of sheep or pigs were grilled on skewers. When the deity’s portion was cooked, it was sprinkled with mola salsa (ritually prepared salted flour) and wine, then placed in the fire on the altar for the offering; the technical verb for this action was porricere.[209]



Fanaticus means “belonging to a fanum,” a shrine or sacred precinct.[210] Fanatici as applied to people refers to temple attendants or devotees of a cult, usually one of the ecstatic or orgiastic religions such as that of Cybele (in reference to the Galli),[211] Bellona-Ma,[212] or perhaps Silvanus.[213] Inscriptions indicate that a person making a dedication might label himself fanaticus, in the neutral sense of “devotee”.[214] Tacitus uses fanaticus to describe the troop of druids who attended on the Icenian queen Boudica.[215] The word was often used disparagingly by ancient Romans in contrasting these more emotive rites to the highly scripted procedures of public religion,[216] and later by early Christians to deprecate religions other than their own; hence the negative connotation of “fanatic” in English.

Festus says that a tree struck by lightning is called fanaticus,[217] a reference to the Romano-Etruscan belief in lightning as a form of divine sign.[218] The Gallic bishop Caesarius of Arles, writing in the 5th century, indicates that such trees retained their sanctity even up to his own time,[219] and urged the Christian faithful to burn down the arbores fanatici. These trees either were located in and marked a fanum or were themselves considered a fanum. Caesarius is somewhat unclear as to whether the devotees regarded the tree itself as divine or whether they thought its destruction would kill the numen housed within it. Either way, even scarcity of firewood would not persuade them to use the sacred wood for fuel, a scruple for which he mocked them.[220]


A fanum is a plot of consecrated ground, a sanctuary,[221] and from that a temple or shrine built there.[222] A fanum may be a traditional sacred space such as the grove (lucus) of Diana Nemorensis, or a sacred space or structure for non-Roman religions, such as an Iseum (temple of Isis) or Mithraeum. Cognates such as Oscan fíísnú,[223] Umbrian fesnaf-e,[224] and Paelignian fesn indicate that the concept is shared by Italic peoples.[225] By the Augustan period, fanum, aedes, templum, and delubrum are scarcely distinguishable in usage,[226] but fanum was a more inclusive and general term.[227]

The fanum or ambulatory temple of Roman Gaul was often built over an originally Celtic religious site, and its plan was influenced by the ritual architecture of earlier Celtic sanctuaries. The masonry temple building of the Gallo-Roman period had a central space (cella) and a peripheral gallery structure, both square.[228] Romano-Celtic fana of this type are found also in Roman Britain.[229][better source needed]

The English word “profane” ultimately derives from Latin pro fano,[230] “before, i.e. outside, the temple”, “In front of the sanctuary,” hence not within sacred ground.

fata deorum

Fata deorum or the contracted form fata deum are the utterances of the gods; that is, prophecies.[231] These were recorded in written form, and conserved by the state priests of Rome for consultation. The fata are both “fate” as known and determined by the gods, or the expression of the divine will in the form of verbal oracles.[232] Fata deum is a theme of the Aeneid, Vergil‘s national epic of Rome.[233]

The Sibylline books (Fata Sibyllina or Libri Fatales), composed in Greek hexameters, are an example of written fata. These were not Roman in origin, but were believed to have been acquired in only partial form by Tarquin. They were guarded by the priesthood of the decemviri sacris faciundis (“ten men for carrying out sacred rites”), later fifteen in number (quindecimviri). No one read the books in their entirety; they were consulted only when needed. A passage was selected at random, and its relevance to the current situation was a matter of expert interpretation.[234] They were thought to contain fata rei publicae aeterna, “prophecies eternally valid for Rome”.[235] They continued to be consulted throughout the Imperial period until the time of Christian hegemony. Augustus installed the Sibylline books in a special golden storage case under the statue of Apollo on the Palatine Hill.[236] The emperor Aurelian chastised the senate for succumbing to Christian influence and not consulting the books.[237] Julian consulted the books regarding his campaign against Persia, but departed before he received the unfavorable response of the college; Julian was killed, and the Palatine Temple of Apollo burned.[238]


Fas is a central concept in Roman religion. Although translated in some contexts as “divine law,”[239] fas is more precisely that which is “religiously legitimate,”[240] or an action that is lawful in the eyes of the gods.[241] In public religion, fas est is declared before announcing an action required or allowed by Roman religious custom and by divine law.[242] Fas is thus both distinguished from and linked to ius (plural iura), “law, lawfulness, justice,” as indicated by Vergil‘s often-cited phrase fas et iura sinunt, “fas and iura allow (it),” which Servius explains as “divine and human laws permit (it), for fas pertains to religion, iura to the human being.”[243]

The Fasti Antiates Maiores, a pre-Julian calendar in a reconstructed drawing

In Roman calendars, days marked F are dies fasti, when it is fas to attend to the concerns of everyday life.[244] In non-specialized usage, fas est may mean generally “it is permissible, it is right.”

The etymology of fas is debated. It is more commonly associated with the semantic field of the verb for, fari, “to speak,”[245] an origin pressed by Varro.[246] In other sources, both ancient and modern, fas is thought to have its origin in an Indo-European root meaning “to establish,” along with fanum and feriae.[247] See also Fasti and nefas.


A record or plan of official and religiously sanctioned events. All state and societal business must be transacted on dies fasti, “allowed days”. The fasti were the records of all details pertaining to these events. The word was used alone in a general sense or qualified by an adjective to mean a specific type of record. Closely associated with the fasti and used to mark time in them were the divisions of the Roman calendar.

The Fasti is also the title of a six-book poem by Ovid based on the Roman religious calendar. It is a major source for Roman religious practice, and was translated into English by J.G. Frazer.


In its religious sense, felix means “blessed, under the protection or favour of the gods; happy.” That which is felix has achieved the pax divom, a state of harmony or peace with the divine world.[248] It is rooted in Indo-European *dhe(i)l, meaning “happy, fruitful, productive, full of nourishment.” Related Latin words include femina, “woman” (a person who provides nourishment or suckles); felo, “to suckle”; and filius, “son” (a person suckled).[249] See also Felicitas, both an abstraction that expressed the quality of being felix and a deity of Roman state religion.


Further information: Roman festivals

A feria on the Roman calendar is a “free day”, that is, a day in which no work was done. No court sessions were held, nor was any public business conducted. Employees were entitled to a day off, and even slaves were not obliged to work. These days were codified into a system of legal public holidays, the feriae publicae, which could be

  • stativae, “stationary, fixed”, holidays which recurred on the same date each year;
  • conceptivae, recurring holidays for which the date depended on some other factor, usually the agrarian cycle. They included Compitalia, Paganalia, Sementivae and Latinae (compare the moveable Christian holiday of Easter);
  • imperativae, one-off holidays ordered to mark a special occasion, established with an act of auctority of a magistrate.

In the Christian Roman Rite a feria is a weekday on which the faithful are required to attend Mass. The custom throughout Europe of holding markets on the same day gave rise to the word “fair” (Spanish Feria, Italian Fiera, Catalan Fira).


In the Roman calendar, a dies festus is a festive or holy day, that is, a day dedicated to a deity or deities. On such days it was forbidden to undertake any profane activity, especially official or public business. All dies festi were thus nefasti. Some days, however, were not festi and yet might not be permissible as business days (fasti) for other reasons. The days on which profane activities were permitted are profesti.[250]


The fetiales, or fetial priests, formed a college whose main responsibilities pertained to Rome’s international affairs. They made formal proclamations of peace and of war, and confirmed treaties. They also served as traveling diplomats or ambassadors. They were said to have been first created by the Aequian king Ferter Resius and introduced to Rome by Ancus Martius.[251]


The finis (limit, border, boundary), plural fines, was an essential concept in augural practice, which was concerned with the definition of the templum. Establishing fines was an important part of a magistrate‘s duties.[252] Most scholars regard the finis as having been defined physically by ropes, trees, stones, or other markers, as were fields and property boundaries in general. It was connected with the god Terminus and his cult.[253]


Flamen wearing the distinctive hat of his office, with the top point missing (3rd century AD)

The fifteen flamines formed part of the College of Pontiffs. Each flamen served as the high priest to one of the official deities of Roman religion, and led the rituals relating to that deity. The flamines were regarded as the most ancient among the sacerdotes, as many of them were assigned to deities who dated back to the prehistory of Latium and whose significance had already become obscure by classical times.

The archaic nature of the flamens is indicated by their presence among Latin tribes. They officiated at ceremonies with their head covered by a velum and always wore a filamen, thread, in contrast to public rituals conducted by Greek rite (ritus graecus) which were established later. Ancient authors derive the word flamen from the custom of covering the head with the filamen, but it may be cognate to Vedic bhraman. The distinctive headgear of the flamen was the apex.

Fratres Arvales

The “Brothers of the Field” were a college of priests whose duties were concerned with agriculture and farming. They were the most ancient religious sodalitas: according to tradition they were created by Romulus, but probably predated the foundation of Rome.[citation needed]



The adjective gabinus describes an element of religion that the Romans attributed to practices from Gabii, a town of Latium with municipal status about 12 miles from Rome. The incorporation of Gabinian traditions indicates their special status under treaty with Rome. See cinctus gabinus and ager gabinus.[83]



Ritual implements

The hostia was the offering, usually an animal, in a sacrifice. The word is used interchangeably with victima by Ovid and others, but some ancient authors attempt to distinguish between the two.[254] Servius says[255] that the hostia is sacrificed before battle, the victima afterward, which accords with Ovid’s etymology in relating the “host” to the “hostiles” or enemy (hostis), and the “victim” to the “victor.”[256]

The difference between the victima and hostia is elsewhere said to be a matter of size, with the hostia smaller (minor).[257] Hostiae were also classified by age: lactentes were young enough to be still taking milk, but had reached the age to be purae; bidentes had reached two years of age[258] or had the two longer (bi-) incisor teeth (dentes) that are an indication of age.[259]

Hostiae could be classified in various ways. A hostia consultatoria was an offering for the purpose of consulting with a deity, that is, in order to know the will of a deity; the hostia animalis, to increase the force (mactare) of the deity.[260]

The victim might also be classified by occasion and timing. The hostia praecidanea was an “anticipatory offering” made the day before a sacrifice.[261] It was an advance atonement “to implore divine indulgence” should an error be committed on the day of the formal sacrifice.[262] A preliminary pig was offered as a praecidanea the day before the harvest began.[263] The hostia praecidanea was offered to Ceres a day in advance of a religious festival (sacrum, before the beginning of the harvest) in expiation for negligences in the duties of piety towards the deceased.[clarification needed] The hostia praesentanaea was a pig offered to Ceres during a part of the funeral rites conducted within sight of the deceased, whose family was thereby ritually absolved.[264] A hostia succidanea was offered at any rite after the first sacrifice had failed owing to a ritual impropriety (vitium).[265] Compare piaculum, an expiatory offering.

Hostia is the origin of the word “host” for the Eucharistic sacrament of the Western Church; see Sacramental bread: Catholic Church. See also votum, a dedication or a vow of an offering to a deity as well as that which fulfilled the vow.



A rite performed by augurs by which the concerned person received the approval of the gods for his appointment or their investiture. The augur would ask for the appearance of certain signs (auspicia impetrativa) while standing beside the appointee on the auguraculum. In the Regal period, inauguratio concerned the king and the major sacerdotes.[266] After the establishment of the Republic, the rex sacrorum,[267] the three flamines maiores,[268] the augurs, and the pontiffs[269] all had to be inaugurated.

The term may also refer to the ritual establishing of the augural templum and the tracing of the wall of a new city.[citation needed]


The indigitamenta were lists of gods maintained by the College of Pontiffs to assure that the correct divine names were invoked for public prayers. It is sometimes unclear whether these names represent distinct minor entities, or epithets pertaining to an aspect of a major deity’s sphere of influence, that is, an indigitation, or name intended to “fix” or focalize the local action of the god so invoked.[270] Varro is assumed to have drawn on direct knowledge of the lists in writing his theological books, as evidenced by the catalogues of minor deities mocked by the Church Fathers who used his work[271] as a reference.[272] Another source is likely to have been the non-extant work De indigitamentis of Granius Flaccus, Varro’s contemporary.[273] Not to be confused with the di indigetes.


The addressing of a deity in a prayer or magic spell is the invocatio, from invoco, invocare, “to call upon” the gods or spirits of the dead.[274] The efficacy of the invocatio depends on the correct naming of the deity, which may include epithets, descriptive phrases, honorifics or titles, and arcane names. The list of names (nomina) is often extensive, particularly in magic spells; many prayers and hymns are composed largely of invocations.[275] The name is invoked in either the vocative[276] or the accusative case.[277] In specialized usage pertaining to augural procedure, invocatio is a synonym for precatio, but specifically aimed at averting mala, evil occurrences.[278] Compare evocatio.

The equivalent term in ancient Greek religion is epiklesis.[279] Pausanias distinguished among the categories of theonym proper, poetic epithet, the epiclesis of local cult, and an epiclesis that might be used universally among the Greeks.[280] Epiclesis remains in use by some Christian churches for the invocation of the Holy Spirit during the Eucharistic prayer.


Ius is the Latin word for justice, right, equity, fairness and all which came to be understood as the sphere of law. It is defined in the opening words of the Digesta with the words of Celsus as “the art of that which is good and fair” and similarly by Paulus as “that which is always just and fair”.[281] The polymath Varro and the jurist Gaius[282] consider the distinction between divine and human ius essential[283] but divine order is the source of all laws, whether natural or human, so the pontifex is considered the final judge (iudex) and arbiter.[284] The jurist Ulpian defines jurisprudence as “the knowledge of human and divine affairs, of what is just and unjust”.[285]

ius divinum

“Sacred law”[286] or “divine law,” particularly in regard to the gods’ rights pertaining to their “property,” that which is rightfully theirs.[287] Recognition of the ius divinum was fundamental to maintaining right relations between human beings and their deities. The concern for law and legal procedure that was characteristic of ancient Roman society was also inherent in Roman religion.[288] See also pax deorum.



The lectisternium was a ceremonial meal offered to deities represented by clothed statues or figures. The word derives from lectum sternere, “to spread (or “drape”) a couch.”


Main article: Roman law

The word lex (plural leges) derives from the Indo-European root *leg, as do the Latin verbs lego, legare, ligo, ligare (“to appoint, bequeath”) and lego, legere (” to gather, choose, select, discern, read”: cf. also Greek verb legein “to collect, tell, speak”), and the abstract noun religio.[289] Parties to legal proceedings and contracts bound themselves to observance by the offer of sacrifice to witnessing deities.[290]

Even though the word lex underwent the frequent semantic shift in Latin towards the legal area, its original meaning of set, formulaic words was preserved in some instances. Some cult formulae are leges: an augur‘s request for particular signs that would betoken divine approval in an augural rite (augurium), or in the inauguration of magistrates and some sacerdotes is named legum dictio.[291] The formula quaqua lege volet (“by whatever lex, i.e. wording he wishes”) allowed a cult performer discretion in his choice of ritual words.[292] The leges templi regulated cult actions at various temples.[293][294]

In civil law, ritualised sets of words and gestures known as legis actiones were in use as a legal procedure in civil cases; they were regulated by custom and tradition (mos maiorum) and were thought to involve protection of the performers from malign or occult influences.[295]

Libatio depicted on a drawing of a coin


Libation (Latin libatio, Greek spondai) was one of the simplest religious acts, regularly performed in daily life. At home, a Roman who was about to drink wine would pour the first few drops onto the household altar.[296] The drink offering might also be poured on the ground or at a public altar. Milk and honey, water, and oil were also used.[297]


The liberatio (from the verb liberare, “to free”) was the “liberating” of a place (locus) from “all unwanted or hostile spirits and of all human influences,” as part of the ceremony inaugurating the templum (sacred space). It was preceded by the consulting of signs and followed by the effatio, the creation of boundaries (fines).[298] A site liberatus et effatus was “exorcized and available” for its sacred purpose.[299]

libri augurales

The augural books (libri augurales) represented the collective, core knowledge of the augural college. Some scholars[300] consider them distinct from the commentarii augurum (commentaries of the augurs) which recorded the collegial acts of the augurs, including the decreta and responsa.[301] The books were central to the practice of augury. They have not survived, but Cicero, who was an augur himself, offers a summary in De Legibus[302] that represents “precise dispositions based certainly on an official collection edited in a professional fashion.”[303]

libri pontificales

The libri pontificales (pontifical books) are core texts in Roman religion, which survive as fragmentary transcripts and commentaries. They may have been partly annalistic, part priestly; different Roman authors refer to them as libri and commentarii (commentaries), described by Livy as incomplete “owing to the long time elapsed and the rare use of writing” and by Quintillian as unintelligibly archaic and obscure. The earliest were credited to Numa, second king of Rome, who was thought to have codified the core texts and principles of Rome’s religious and civil law (ius divinum and ius civile).[304] See also commentarii pontificum.


In animal sacrifice, the litatio followed on the opening up of the body cavity for the inspection of the entrails (inspicere exta). Litatio was not a part of divinatory practice as derived from the Etruscans (see extispicy and Liver of Piacenza), but a certification according to Roman liturgy of the gods’ approval. If the organs were diseased or defective, the procedure had to be restarted with a new victim (hostia). The importance of litatio is illustrated by an incident in 176 BC[305] when the presiding consuls attempted to sacrifice an ox, only to find that its liver had been inexplicably consumed by a wasting disease. After three more oxen failed to pass the test, the senate‘s instructions were to keep sacrificing bigger victims until litatio could be obtained.[306] The point was not that those sacrificing had to make sure that the victim was perfect inside and out; rather, the good internal condition of the animal was evidence of divine acceptance of the offering. The need for the deity to approve and accept (litare) underscores that the reciprocity of sacrifice (do ut des) was not to be taken for granted.[307]


Lituus and jug on the reverse of a coin

The distinctively curved staff of an augur, or a similarly curved war trumpet. On Roman coins, the lituus is frequently accompanied by a ritual jug or pitcher to indicate that either the moneyer or person honored on the obverse was an augur.


In religious usage, a lucus was a grove or small wooded area considered sacred to a divinity. Entrance might be severely restricted: Paulus[308] explains that a capitalis lucus was protected from human access under penalty of death. Leges sacratae (laws for the violation of which the offender is outlawed)[309] concerning sacred groves have been found on cippi at Spoleto in Umbria and Lucera in Apulia.[310] See also nemus.


Ludi were games held as part of religious festivals, and some were originally sacral in nature. These included chariot racing and the venatio, or staged animal-human blood sport that may have had a sacrificial element.


The “wolf priests”, organized into two colleges and later three, who participated in the Lupercalia. The most famous Lupercus was Mark Antony.


A ritual of purification which was held every five years under the jurisdiction of censors in Rome. Its original meaning was purifying by washing in water (Lat. lustrum from verb luo, “I wash in water”). The time elapsing between two subsequent lustrations being of five years the term lustrum took up the meaning of a period of five year.[311]