Mystery cults of Dionysos are attested to in Greece from the late Archaic epoch and expanded to Rome in Hellenistic times. They appear in two forms, the group (thíasos) of ecstatic women (mainádes) who celebrate their rituals in the wilderness outside the city and in opposition to the restrictive female city life; and the thíasos of both men and women that constitutes itself as a cultic association and celebrates inside the cities but preserves the ideology of a performance outside the city. The main goal in both types of cult groups was the extraordinary experience of loss of self through drinking wine and dancing; the mixed-gender groups often added eschatological hopes. The purely female thiasoi were led by a priestess of Dionysos, whereas the mixed-gender groups were often led by a male professional initiator. The most conspicuous trace of these initiations are the so-called Orphic gold tablets that attest to the expectations for a better afterlife.
Susan Bilynskyj Dunning
In Roman conceptions of time, the saeculum became the longest fixed interval, calculated as a period of 100 or 110 years (as opposed to, e.g., a lustrum of only five years; cf. “census”). The term originally indicated a “generation” or “lifetime,” but greater significance developed through its association with the Ludi Saeculares (Secular Games), which were performed to celebrate the advent of a new saeculum in Rome. Through the Secular Games, the emperor advertised his role in establishing his dynasty and ushering in an age of peace; emperors who wished to capitalize on this expression of authority made official references to the saeculum in coinage and inscriptions if they were unable to hold the Games during their reigns, thus creating a close link between the saeculum, imperial families, and political control. In Late Antiquity, the Christianization of the empire led to other usages. Because of its association with political power, the saeculum came to signify “the present age of the world,” in contrast with an eternal, heavenly realm; it could also be applied to a new, Christian era.
In the modern use, “bisexuality” refers to sexual object choice, whereas “androgyny” refers to sexual identity. In ancient Greece and Rome, however, these terms sometimes refer to human beings born with characteristics of both sexes, and more frequently to an adult male who plays the role of a woman, or to a woman who has the appearance of a man, both physically and morally. In mythology, having both sexes simultaneously or successively characterises, on the one hand, the first human beings, animals, or even plants from which arose male and female, and on the other, mediators between human beings and gods, the living and the dead, men and women, past and future, and human generations. Thus androgyny and bisexuality were used as a tools to cope with one’s biological, social, and even fictitious environment.
Folktales are traditional fictional stories. Unlike works of original literary fiction, they are normally anonymous narratives that have been transmitted from one teller to another over an uncertain period of time, and have been shaped by multiple narrators into the form and style that are characteristic of oral narratives. The transmission of traditional tales is predominantly oral, but in literate societies such as Greece and Rome, transmission also takes place via written works.
“Folktale” is an umbrella term for a number of subgenres: the wonder tale (commonly known as the fairytale), the religious tale, the novella, the humorous tale (with its subforms the joke and the tall tale), the animal tale, and the fable. Since there was no ancient notion of folktales as such, no compilation of folktales exists from antiquity—only compilations of particular genres of folktales such as the fable and the joke.
Unlike myths and legends, folktales are narrative fictions, make no serious claim to historicity, and are not ordinarily accorded credence. They differ from myths and especially from legends in their handling of the supernatural.
C. Robert Phillips
Herbert Jennings Rose and J. Linderski
Aius locutius (or loquens), the divine voice, ‘sayer and speaker’, that warned of the coming of the Gauls shortly before the battle of the *Allia. The warning was not heeded. As expiation, a precinct (*templum) and *altar (ara) were established near Vesta's shrine, on the via Nova, where the voice was heard.
Frederick Norman Pryce, John Boardman, Antony Spawforth, and J. Linderski
The Latin terms altaria (plur.) and ara (variously explained by Roman antiquarians) derive from the roots denoting ‘burning’ (of sacrificial offerings). Normally of stone, of varying size, from small cippi (stone-markers) to large structures (as the *Ara Pacis), most often quadrangular (occasionally round), and decorated with reliefs, they were dedicated to a particular deity, and stood either separately or in front of temples (inside only for incense and bloodless offerings). A separate category consists of funerary altars (also cinerary urns often had the shape of altars).
C. Robert Phillips
Amburbium, *lustration for Rome, seldom so named (Serv. on Verg. Ecl. 3. 77; SHA Aurel. 20. 3), usually linked with the *Ambarvalia's lustration of the fields (Festus Gloss. Lat. 112; Servius; SHA). Since it appears in no *calendar it may have been a movable festival (L. Delatte, Ant. Class. 1937, 114–17) or, based on the infrequent references, all late, it may have been a rarely performed lustration (cf. Ogilvie on Livy 1. 44. 2, and JRS 1961, 39) which anachronistically received its name by analogy with Ambarvalia. H. Usener placed it (Weihnachtsfest, 2nd edn. (1911), 1. 314–28) on 2 February as ultimately Christianized into Candlemas, unpersuasively despite Wissowa, RK 142 n. 12. Lucan (1. 592–638) describes an amburbium—but clearly an extraordinary ceremony.