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date: 29 September 2023



  • John North


Fetiales, priests of the Latin states, concerned with the procedures and laws of declaring wars and making treaties. Our information comes from Rome, where they formed a college (*collegium) of twenty members, who advised the senate on issues of peace and war, and had their own legal tradition (the ius fetiale). The institution presupposes that similar priests, with whom Roman fetiales interacted, existed in the other Latin states.*Livy gives an account of their ritual (1. 24) in the form of a narrative, no doubt an antiquarian reconstruction, but perhaps based on priestly sources. In making a treaty (*foedus), two fetiales were sent out, who met with fetiales from the other side; one carried herbs (the verbenarius), the other (the pater patratus), having heard the new treaty read out, pronounced a curse that would operate against the Romans, should they be first to break the treaty. The other side did the same. The sacrifice of a pig with a special stone knife (lapis silex) confirmed the transaction.


  • Roman Myth and Religion

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