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Clifford Ando

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780748615650

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748615650.001.0001

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The Ludi Saeculares and the Carmen Saeculare

The Ludi Saeculares and the Carmen Saeculare

(p.106) 5 The Ludi Saeculares and the Carmen Saeculare
Roman Religion

Denis Feeney


This chapter looks in some detail at what is perhaps the most spectacular and systematic exploitation of the categories of Greek and Roman in cult, namely, the ludi saeculares staged by Augustus Caesar in 17 bce. In the Sibylline oracle's prescriptions for the ludi, following the itemising of the sacrifices are prescriptions for paeans sung in Latin, performed by youths and maidens, all with their parents still living, in separate choruses. The Acta record that a carmen was sung twice on the last day, first before Apollo Palatinus and then before Jupiter Optimus Maximus. This carmen of course survives in Horace's corpus, as the Carmen Saeculare, and in it one may trace a poetic engagement with the ritual categories so carefully built and rebuilt by the princeps.

Keywords:   Greek, Roman, cult, ludi saeculares, Augustus Caesar, Sibylline, sacrifices, paeans, Carmen Saeculare

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