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EXCURSUS XV. CARMEN SECULARE.
The secular festivals (ludi seculares) are said to have originated in some responses of the Sibylline books. When the Romans consulted these books concerning some menacing signs, the following answer is said to have been given: A festival was ordered to be held for three days om the Campus Martius in honour of Pluto (Diti patri) and Proserpina; dark-coloured animals were to be sacrificed to them; and this festival was to be repeated every hundred years; and the fulfilment of these injunctions would secure for the Romans the empire of Latium and Italy. The first secular festival, aceordingly, was celebrated in 245 A. U. c. (509 B. c.) by the consul M. Valerius Poplicola. Others assign a different date to the beginning of this festival. The statements as to the interval which elapsed between one festival to the next equally differ from one amother, some statimg it to have been 100 years, others allowing 110, in accordance with the custom of the Etruscans. Besides, the wars in which the Romans were emgaged in later times seem to have rendered it impossible for them to hold this festival at certain fixed periods (of 100 or 110 years). Thus sometimes 305, 505, 605 (or 608), sometimes 408, 518, and 628, are mentioned as the times when the secular festival was held, from its first institution to its celebration in the time of Augustus.
In the year 737 A. U. c. (17 B. C.) when Augustus, having already held the supreme power for ten years, retained it for other five years, he ordered the celebration of the secular festival, which on this occasion was observed mainly with the view of invoking the favour of the gods for the preservation, welfare, and perpetuity of the Roman empire. (See Argument to this Ode.)
Augustus somewhat changed the character of this festival by consecrating it to all the gods, but more particularly to Apollo and his sister Diana. This deviation from the ancient custom was perhaps owing to the circumstance that Augustus affected to regard Apollo (to whom an obscure myth even traces his descent) as the tutelary god of the Roman empire. A temple had been erected to Apollo as early as the year 324 A. U. C. (430 B. c.), that he might avert the plague from Rome;i but the worship of Apollo was particularly favoured by Augustus, and under the succeeding emperors was at all times observed with ceremonious zeal. The following circumstance may be considered as amother reason for worshipping Apollo and Diana at this season in preference to the other gods. There was a belief in a great mundane year current among the Greeks and Etruscans, and reeorded also in the Sibylline books. This mundane year was divided into tem periods or secula, which were called the months of this great year. The secula, however, were not of equally long duration, as their beginning
1 Liv. iv. 25. Servius Tullius, king of Rome, had built a Temple of Diana, on the Aventime Hill, Liv. i. 45.
was announced at various intervals by miraculous events. When all the ten secula expired, an ávakùkλωσιs or àvdotaaus of all things was to take place. The appearance of a comet on the death of Julius Caesar had been interpreted by the haruspex Volcatius as indicating the end of the ninth and the beginning of the tenth seculum. Each seculum or month of the mundane year was supposed to be ruled by some god. The first was governed by Saturn, the last or tenth by Apollo. Apollo's predecessor seems to have been his sister Diana, fo whom the last month but one of the common year (November) was also consecrated. The Romans, therefore, who happened to live in the beginning of the tenth seculum, celebra*ed the secular festival chiefy in honour of Apollo and his sister Diana, who was so closely allied to him. According to a fragment of the Sibylline books, which has been preserved by the historiam Zosimus, who lived in the latter half of the fifth century of the Christian era), the festival lasted three days and three nights. Before the commencement, lustralia, consisting of torehes, sulphur, and asphaltum, were distributed by the Quindecimviri (the custodiers and interpreters of the Sibylline books) among the freemen (all slaves were excluded from the feast). The distribution of the lustralia is represented om a coin of the Emperor Domitiam (in whose reign the ludi seculares were also celebrated), bearing the inscription: SVF. P. D. (i. e. suffimenta populo data). Frumenta, namely, triticum, hordeum, and fabae, were also distributed among the people before the beginning of the festival. When the games were to commence, a herald publicly invited the people to attend the games, “ quos numquam quisquam spectasset nec spectaturus esset." At sunset, the festival commenced on the Campus Martius, where magnificent sacrifices were offered up to the goddesses of Fate and the Earth. On the following day, Jupiter and Juno were worshipped in the same manner on the Capitolium. Apollo and Diana were then honoured, in their turn, with sacrifices and hymns, whilst the Roman matrons assembled round the altar of Juno. The whole ceremonial terminated with public games in the Circus. The number of boys and girls (twenty-seven) who had to sing the hymns was fixed for these religious ceremonies by ancient custom, Liv. xxvii. 37, &c. ; and the condition that their parents must still l)e living was fixed by the same authority. (See Argument.)
Addressed to Maecenas, and written a short time before the battle of Actium, A. U. c. 723. From the general tenor of the composition, it may be inferred that Octavianus had originally imtended to take Maecenas along with him to the war against Antony and Cleopatra. Proceeding upon this belief, Horace proposes to accompany his patron, and share with him all the hardships and dangers of the expedition. Subsequently, Augustus altered his purpose, and left Maecenas at Rome. to watch over the safety of Italy and of the capital. Maecenas, however, appears to have attended the convention of senators, kmights, and soldiers, held by the Emperor at Brundisium.
An hunc laborem mente laturi, decet
Qua ferre non molles viros?
Feremus et te vel per Alpium juga
Vel Occidentis usque ad ultimum sinum
Non ut juvencis illigata pluribus
Aratra nitantur mea,
Lucana mutet pascuis,
mastically added to utrum (comp. Quintil. Inst. 12, 1, 40 : utrumne salvum eum nolet orator an, &c. ? and in an indirect interrogation even with Cicero, Or. pro Quint. 30, 92: Ea res munc im discrimine versatur, utrum possitne se defendere am, &c.)—jussi, sc. a te, remanere in Italia. 9. laborem, sc. militiae—laturi, sc. sumus. 12. inhospitalem, the same epithet C. 1, 22, 6: iter facturus per inhospitalem Caucasum. 15. roges = quaeres ex me fortasse. 16. imbellis, comp. C. 2, 6, 7: lasso nmaris et viarum Militiaeque — parum firmus, i. e. non optimâ valetudine. 18. qui (sc. metus) major habet (= tenet, occupat) absentes, * which holds
possession of the absent in a greater vxueasure.'
21. timet magis relictis (dative), i. e. she fears more for them, when they are left, whem she has left them alone — ut adsit = licet adsit, * although she be present.' 23. militabitur, sc. a me, * shall be served, undergone by me.' 24. in spem tuae gratiae, i. e. ductus spe atque studio tuae erga me benevolentiae, * for the hope of thy favour.' 26. mitantur, i. e. incumbant in terram proscindendam ; the aratra here poetically treated like living beings, * may labour.' 27. sidus fervidum, i. e. the dog-star. 28. mutet Lucana, i. e. may be sent, in summer-time, from Calabria to the cooler pastures of Lucania. 29. sq. construe: neque ut (mea) candens, (* white,' i. e. of white marble) villa tangat (may touch, may be built
Satis superque me benignitas tua
Quod aut avarus ut Chremes terrâ premam,
Variously dated from A. U. c. 719 to 724. In this epode the poet represents a wealthy usurer, named Alfius, as expatiating with the utmost simcerity om the enjoyments of a country life, and as expressing a resolution to spend the remainder of his days amidst sequestered valleys, green fields, lowing herds, and in the society of simple-hearted shepherds and peasants. But such is the vanity of human wishes and the weakness of human purposes, when they strive with a master passion, that this very Alfius, who had reclaimed and realized all the money he had lent, with the intention of leaving town, and renoumcing the pursuit of gain for ever, in a day or two resumed his former occupation, and proceeded to lay out his wealth at interest with the same desperate cupidity as