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date: 06 December 2022



  • C. Robert Phillips


On 16 and 17 March in Rome a procession went to the shrine of the puppets (itur ad Argeos: Ov. Fast. 3. 791), i.e. to the 27 shrines (sacraria) of the Argei (Varro, Ling. 5. 45–54) situated at various points in the four Servian regions of Rome. On 14 May the celebrants hurled the puppets from the pons Sublicius into the Tiber (Ov. Fast. 5. 621 ff.; Varro, Ling. 7. 44). This much is clear, but uncertainty surrounds almost all else. The ancients debated the number of sacraria (27 or 30; cf. A. Momigliano, JRS 1963, 99 ff.), the god involved (if any), and commonly explained the rituals as a surrogate for human sacrifice. Wissowa agreed (RE 2. 689 ff.), seeing a symbolic burial of Rome's then (3rd-cent. bce) enemies, Greeks and Gauls (Livy 22. 57); he dubiously supported it by seeing Greek etymologies. Others suggested a vegetation rite, unlikely because of the number of figures: L. Deubner, ARW 1925, 299 ff.


  • Roman Myth and Religion

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