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To a question of genesis of a pontificate in the Roman religion

UDK 94(371.03


In article archaic sources of institute of pontiffs in the Roman religion are considered. Considerable attention is paid to the analysis of antique tradition concerning emergence of board of pontiffs in ancient Rima. The question of the initial nature of a pontificate is represented very interesting. In work the problems of initial functions of this group of priests, their quantitative and social composition are also considered. The set of problems raises a question of hierarchical structure of submission to pontiffs. Nevertheless, we can speak about concentration of the general highest supervision over the Roman church service in hands of board of pontiffs.

Initial position of the persons executing priestly functions found reflection in a legal status of the latest zhrechestva1. The Roman priests, as well as magistrates, were representatives of the city-gosudarstva2. They had the, strictly certain sphere deyatelnosti3.

Pontiffs, along with augurs and priests of religious rites, were among the most politically significant priestly kollegiy4 what fight of plebeians for admission to them testifies to.

In antique tradition the obshchestvennopolitichesky value of pontiffs and their head during the entire periods Roman istorii5 was extremely highly appreciated.

So, Livy, telling about activity of the second Roman tsar Numa Pompey-liya, speaks about transfer to pontiffs of the controlling functions: "And all other sacrifices, public and private, he subordinated to decisions of the pontiff that the people had whom to address for council, and in the divine right nothing hesitated for a time from neglect by fatherlike ceremonies and assimilation chuzhezemnykh6".

In the same vein also Dionysius of alikarnasskiya speaks at statement of actions of Numa: pontiffs "are heads of the greatest affairs. They manage all religious judicial proceedings for individuals, magistrates and attendants of gods... For individuals who it is not expert in (issues) of honoring of gods or deities they are mentors and interpreters; and if notice that someone does not obey their orders, (then) punish according to offense of everyone and (at the same time) are not responsible neither to the senate, nor to the people for any sentence and punishment, of course, concerning sacred 7".

These authors are echoed by Plutarch in Numa's biography: "He (the Supreme pontiff) supervises not only public ceremonies, but watches also private sacrifices, interfering with violation of the established rules and training everyone as to it to honor or propitiate bogov8".

1 Beard M. Roman Priesthoods//Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean: Greece and Rome. Vol. 1. New York, 1988. P. 23.
2 Rüpke, Jörg. Religion of the Romans. Polity Press, 2007. P. 2.
3 A.I. Nemirovsky. Ideology and culture of early Rome. Voronezh, 1964. Page 120.
4 Scheid, John. An Introduction to Roman Religion. Indiana University Press, 2003.
5 Priestly boards in Early to Rima. To a question of formation of the Roman sacral and public law. M, 2001. Page 100.
6 Livy. 1. 20. 6.
7 Dionysius. II. 73. 2.
8 Plutarch. Numa, 9.





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Similar instructions still Cicero carried to the major foundations Roman religions: "And that all this and in private life, and on behalf of the state was made by rules and customs, ignorant yes study at state zhretsov9", and further - about need of the priestly management of ceremonies private lits10.

Valery tells Maksim11 about the Roman early religion in the I book of "Memorable acts and sayings" much.

The appreciation in no small measure determined by antique authors of the importance of pontifikalny board positions of researchers Roman religii12. Y. Maher-kvardt spoke about transition of management of sacral affairs in the beginning of the Republic from the tsar to the Supreme pontiff, including it the representative of interests of gods. Also highly appreciated a social and political role of this board and its head T. Mommsen. As irresponsible before temporal power in supervision of all cult recognized by the state defined position of pontiffs of L. Lange. K. Lattes and G.Y. Stsemler consider that the Supreme pontiff and the board subordinated to it appeared at the head of the Roman sacral system as a result of peculiar "pontifikalny revolution" of the middle of the 3rd century BC. The instruction for the leading role of pontiffs in the Roman religious system became a platitude in istoriografii13.

According to data of antique written tradition, this priestly dignity was founded by the second Roman tsar Numa Pompiliyem. Their rather initial number is not in tradition accurate and unambiguous instructions. The certificate Libya forces to think of appointment of one person: "Then he (Numa) elected the pontiff - Numa Martion, the son Mark, one of fathers senators, - and charged to it to watch all sacrifices which he painted and appointed... 14". However Dionysius and Plutarch in the story about Numa's reforms write about "pontiffs", i.e. use plural, and Cicero directly mentions five appointed by Numa pontifikov15. Perhaps, Livy speaks only about the head of board, the Supreme pontiff. Plutarch, however, claims that Numa16 was the first head of board, but it also the version Libya does not exclude if to assume that he meant transfer by the tsar of the priestly powers to specially founded deputy.

Communication of number of pontiffs with three most ancient occasional offices testifies in favor of gentilny origin of this hieratic priesthood. Tells about the same also extremely archaic nature of religious rites in which pontiffs participated. All this allows to assume in so-called reform of Numa only reorganization from the arising political power of already existing hieratic priesthood that was expressed in creation of in number limited board connected with this power (acting through the tsar).

To define initial character of pontiffs extremely difficult. A certain contradiction between their leading positions in the religious sphere republican Rima and nazvaniyem17 attracts attention ("bridge builders" on the most acceptable etymology from pons+ facere), reducing their functions to observation of the sacred bridge (pons sublicius). This contradiction induced the researchers to search of others of etymology who were more answering to the importance of pontiffs. It is quite possible that originally their situation was really enough skrom-

9 Cicero. About laws, II. 20.
10 In the same place, II. 30.
11 For more details see: Mueller H. - F. Roman Religion in Valerius Maximus. Routledge, 2002.
12 See: Warrior V.M. Roman Religion. Cambridge, 2006.
13 Priestly boards in Early to Rima. Page 101.
14 Livy. I. 20. 5.
15 Cicero. About the state, II. 26.
16 Plutarch. Numa, 9.
17 Szemler G.J. The Priests of the Republic: A Study of the Interactions between Priesthoods and Magistracies//Collection Latomus. 127. 1972.

also answered with ny to the name "bridge builders": in peculiar priestly "tables of ranks" at the Festival the Supreme pontiff takes the fifth place after the tsar of religious rites and flamin of Jupiter, Mars, Kvirin though these priests submitted to the Supreme pontiff. Thus, the aspiration of tsars to nominate as opposed to the hieratic priesthood connected with the tribal aristocracy, less considerable, and, so more obedient priests-pontiffs can hide behind the eminence of pontifikalny board during the royal period. An indirect argument is the close connection of tsars with this board traced in tradition, and their relations in the image of antique authors are under construction on the basis of the order and podchineniya18.

Nevertheless, we have to consider the fact that construction of bridges through Tiber and other rivers was considered as business which success depended on protection of supernatural forces. Construction of the bridge was connected with overcoming great technical difficulties, than construction of any other objects and bridges were exposed to big dangers of destruction, than, for example, at home. It must be kept in mind that bridges usually conducted on the territory of other community or other tribe and had to be under special protection of deities. It, probably, can explain not only the name, but also the initial nature of board of pontiffs - mostostroiteley19.

Pontiffs were the peculiar Roman "engineers" familiar with the mysteries of a measure and number owing to what the duty to make the state calendar, to announce to the people approach of days of a new moon, full moon and holidays was also assigned to them and to observe that each liturgical action and each legal proceedings were made in appropriate days. As on them supervision of everything lay mainly before all others that concerned a church service, and in cases of marriages, of wills and of adoption previously asked them in case of need a question whether there was a conceived matter in something is discordant with divine laws. Establishment and publication of those general liturgical rules which are known as royal zakonov20 also depended on them. Pontiffs possessed the right to solve, there corresponded the ceremony to a religious practice or not, and if necessary to order to pay fines. Their presence was necessary at some religious rites, for example, at the sacrifices made in honor of gods on behalf of the Roman community at consecration (consecratio) of temples, altars, statues, etc. On them also the duty to prevent consequences of terrible, unusual natural phenomena, i.e. to establish what victims and to what gods to bring in these cases, - duties hard and demanding big knowledge lay. As the distinctive sign of the Supreme pontiff served the white lambskin cap (albogalerus), and a symbol of its rank, as well as other pontiffs, - simpulum.

Board of pontiffs, being the highest guard of the Roman state ceremonies, watched the state religious archive in which chronicles by pontiffs (annales maximi) - autographic records of the Supreme priest about the major religious events, books by pontiffs (libri pontificii) - lists of the most ancient legalized religious customs, and, at last, records about various resolutions of board of pontiffs (commentarii pontificum)21 were stored.

This way they concentrated in the hands the general highest supervision over the Roman church service though, and not in such wide size, as after abolition of throne. At the same time they became the Supreme observers of everything that was in this regard a church service. They defined an essence of the classes slo-

18 Priestly boards in Early to Rima. Page 104.
19 A.I. Nemirovsky. Decree. soch. Page 135.
20 Mommsen T. Istoriya Rima. In 5 vol. T. 1. Prince 1, 2. Before fight at Pidna: The lane with it. M.; Kharkiv, 2001. Page 185.
21 Velishsky F. Istoriya civilization. Life and customs of ancient Greeks and Romans. M, 2000. Page 458.

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you "knowledge of acceptable and human things". In effect this board left rudiments as spiritual and secular jurisprudence, and istoriografii22.

During a royal era of pontiffs, probably, appointed tsar23, as well as other public priests. In the period of the Republic the members of this board got out for life, originally by cooptation, and subsequently (since 104) - in tributny komition. The Supreme pontiff (pontifex maximus) was always elected only in three-butnykh komition.

As the combined place of pontiffs and at the same time the dwelling of the Supreme priest served regia, originally the residence of the Roman tsars. It was located at Palatin's bottom, near a forum and near Vesta's temple (which represented the general center of the Roman state). It was dictated also by the fact that the main duty of the Supreme priest was to watch the ceremonies made in honor of Vesta, in particular behind sacred unquenchable fire.

Thus, pontiffs appear at us heads of all sacral organization Rima, and having some political powers and certain opportunities to influence governing bodies of civitas24.

The question is disputable whether was at the head of this board from the very beginning of pontifex maximus, or chapter it was rex. Tit Livy and some other authors hold the first opinion. Plutarch calls Numa the head of pontiffs. Hardly it is possible to doubt that the position of the great pontiff appeared during the royal period; in the sacral sphere the head of board of pontiffs was only an assistant tsarya25.

Concerning a number of priests the Supreme pontiff had some administrative rights that formed a basis for wide circulation in a historiography of idea of it as about the head of all Roman priestly organization. However it is confidently possible to speak about submission to the Supreme pontiff only of the tsar svyashchennodeystviy26, three great flamin and vestals. Judging by their place in a sacral system, junior pontiffs and flamina had to submit to pontiffs. Supreme pontiff, and irrespective of desire of the persons chosen by it, appointed (capere) to the position of the tsar svyashchennodeystviy27, vestalok28, a flamin of Yupitera29. Same it is possible to assume also rather other flamin both by analogy, and on the basis of one place at Gely: "... komition which occur in the presence of board the pontiff for the sake of an inav-guration or the tsar or flaminov30 are called kalatny". About participation of the Supreme pontiff in appointment of other priests there are no data that corresponds to lack of data and on other forms of dependence on it all priests, except vyshenazvannykh31.

The great pontiff was not the priest of a certain god. Already it allows to consider his position later, than positions of the priests subordinated to him. The only deity with which he was directly connected is Vesta. The fact that the tradition refers creation of board of pontiffs and construction of the temple of Vesta to the same time, will completely be coordinated with the fact that we know of the state cult of Vesty32.

22 T. Mommsen. Decree. soch. Page 185.
23 Livy. I. 20. 5; Dionysius. II. 73. 1.
24 Forsythe G. A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War. University of California Press, 2005. P. 137.
25 A.I. Nemirovsky. Decree. soch. Page 136.
26 Livy. II. 12.
27 Dionysius, 1.4.
28 Svetony. XXXI. 3.
29 Livy. XXVII. 8.
30 Gely Avl. XV. 27. 1.
31 Religion and community in ancient to Rima / Under the editorship of L.L. Kofanov and N.A. Chaplygina. M, 1994. Page 59.
32 A.I. Nemirovsky. Decree. soch. Page 136.

Thus, we can say that the board of pontiffs in ancient to Rima arose on an equal basis with the main social institutes of Latsium, and her archaic character is emphasized with all above-stated data. The value of this board is beyond the sacral sphere as the most ancient was closely connected with religion usual pravo33. And pontiffs were such experts and keepers of rules.


The archaic sources of the pontificate institute in the Roman religion are considered in the article. The significant attention is given to the analysis of the Antique tradition on the question of occurrence of board pontifics in ancient Rome. A very interesting question of the initial pontificate character is also touched upon. The author investigates the problems of initial functions of the given group of priests, their quantitative and social composition as well. The set of censure leads to the question on the hierarchical structure of the pontifics submission. Nevertheless, we can speak about concentration of the general maximum supervision above the Roman divine service in hands of the board pontifics.


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33 Beard M., North J.A., Price S.R.F. Religons of Rome: A History. Cambridge University Press, 1998; Potter D.S. Roman Religion: Ideas and Action//Life, Death, and Entertainment in the Roman Empire. University of Michigan, 1999. P. 139-140; A Companion to Roman Religion. Wiley-Blackwell, 2007 etc.
Dahle Hildur
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