Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": A ROMAN HARVEST SACRIFICE


(Cato, 'On Agriculture,' 134)

The offering of a pig preliminary to harvesting crops was perhaps originally Intended to placate the 'Di Manes,' offended by the disturbance of the soil or by some accidental or unintentional wrong committed during the sowing, growth or maturing of the grain. Eventually it was understood to refer solely to the harvest.

Before the harvest the sacrifice of the porca praecidanea must be offered in this manner: Offer a sow as porca praecidanea to Ceres before you harvest spelt, wheat, barley, beans, and rape seed. Offer a prayer, with incense and wine, to Janus, Jupiter and Juno, before offering the sow. Offer a pile of cakes (strues) to Janus, saying, 'Father Janus, in offering these cakes to thee, I humbly pray that thou wilt be propitious and merciful to me and my children, my house and my household.' Then make an offering of cake (fertum) to Jupiter with these words: 'In offering thee this cake, 0 Jupiter, I humbly pray that thou, pleased with this offering, will be propitious and merciful to me and my children, my house and my household.' Then present the wine to Janus, saying: 'Father Janus, as I have prayed humbly in offering thee the cakes, so mayest thou in the same way be honoured by this wine now placed before thee.' Then pray to Jupiter thus: 'Jupiter, mayest thou be honoured in accepting this cake; mayest thou be honoured in accepting the wine placed before thee.' Then sacrifice the Porca praecidanea. When the entrails have been removed, make an offering of cakes to Janus, and pray in the same way as you have Prayed before. Offer a cake to Jupiter, praying just as before. In the same way offer wine to Janus and offer wine to Jupiter, in the same way as before in offering the pile of cakes, and in the consecration of the cake (fertum). Afterward offer the entrails and wine to Ceres.


Translation by Frederick C. Grant, in his Ancient Roman Religion, Library of Religion paperbook series (New York, 1957), PP. 34-5

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