Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": THE FLAMEN DIALIS AND HIS WIFE


A great many ceremonies are imposed upon the Flamen Dialis [the priest of Jupiter], and also many restraints [castus multiplices, taboos], about which we read in the books On The Public Priesthoods and also in Book I of Fabius Pictor's work. Among them I recall the following: it is forbidden [religio est] the Flamen Dialis to ride a horse; it is likewise forbidden him to view the 'classes arrayed' outside the pomerium [the sacred boundary of Rome], i.e., armed and in battle order; hence only rarely is the Flamen Dialis made a consul, since [the conduct of] wars is entrusted to the consuls; it is likewise unlawful [fas numquam est] for him ever to take an oath by Jupiter [jurare dialem]; it is likewise unlawful for him to wear a ring, unless it is cut through and empty [i.e., without a jewel?]. It is also unlawful to carry out fire from the flaminia, i.e., the Flamen Dialis' dwelling, except for a sacral purpose; if a prisoner in chains enters the house he must be released and the chains must be carried up through the impluvium [the opening in the roof above the atrium or living room] onto the roof tiles and dropped down from there into the street. He must have no knot in his head gear or in his girdle or in any other part of his attire. If anyone is being led away to be flogged and falls at his feet as a suppliant, it is unlawful [piaculum est] to flog him that day. The hair of the [Flamen] Dialis is not to be cut, except by a freeman. It is customary [mos est] for the Flamen neither to touch nor even to name a female goat, or raw (?) meat, ivy, or beans.
He must not walk under a trellis for vines. The feet of the bed on which he lies must have a thin coating of clay, and he must not be away from this bed for three successive nights, nor is it lawful for anyone else to sleep in this bed. At the foot of his bed there must be a box containing a little pile of sacrificial cakes. The nail trimmings and hair of the Dialis must be buried in the ground beneath a healthy tree. Every day is a holy day [feriatus est] for the Dialis. He must not go outdoors [sub divo] without a head-covering-this is now allowed indoors, but only recently by decree of the pontiffs, as Masurius Sabinus has stated; it is also said that some of the other ceremonies have been remitted and cancelled.

It is not lawful for him to touch bread made of fermented meal [i.e., with yeast]. His underwear ['inner tunic ] he does not take off except in covered places, lest he appear nude under the open sky, which is the same as under the eye of Jove. No one else outranks him in the seating at a banquet except the Rex sacriftculus. If he loses his wife, he must resign his office. His marriage cannot be dissolved [dirimi ius non est] except by death. He never enters a burying ground, he never touches a corpse. He is, however, permitted [-non est religio] to attend a funeral.

Almost the same ceremonial rules belong to the Flaminica Dialis [i.e., his wife ]. They say that she observes certain other and different ones, for example, that she wears a dyed gown, and that she has a twig from a fruitful tree tucked in her veil [which was worn over her head at a sacrifice], and that it is forbidden [religiosum est] for her to ascend more than three rungs of a ladder (except what the Greeks call 'ladders' [steps? ] ) and even that when she goes to the Argei [when twenty-four puppets were thrown into the Tiber] she must neither comb her head nor arrange her hair.


Translation by Frederick G. Grant, in his Ancient Roman Religion, Library of Religion paperbook series (New York, 1957), PP. 30-2

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