<i>The</i> Ludi Saeculares <i>and the</i> Carmen Saeculare<sup>†</sup>

Denis Feeney

in Roman Religion

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780748615650
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748650989 | DOI:
The Ludi Saeculares and the Carmen Saeculare†

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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

Chapter.  4594 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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