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Dioscuri






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DIOSCURI- A name which signifies sons of Jupiter, and which was given in common to Castor and Pollux, who were also sometimes called Tyndarides because their mother, Leda, was the wife of Tyndarus, King of Sparta. There were festivals in their honor, celebrated by the people of Corcyra (Corfu), and chiefly by the Lacedemonians. In Rome, their festival was celebrated on the 28th of January (Ovid, Fasti i. 705), on which day Tiberius consecrated to them a temple, near the lacus Juturnae.

According to Morel (Fam. Rom.) the worship of the Dioscuri, as divinities, had it's origin at Rome, from the victory which the consul Postumius gained, near the lake Regillus, over the Latins and the sons of Tarquinius Superbus (B.C. 493 or 496). It was said that, after that engagement, the Dioscuri appeared in the forum of Rome, wearing conical bonnets, over each of which was a star. They stood resting upon their lances, beside their horses, which were drinking at a fountain. These twin heroes disappeared as soon as they had announced the news of the battle, at a moment when, on account of the distance from the scene of the slaughter, no one could have as yet become acquainted with the event. It is also related that, during the action, two young men, mounted on two white horses, were seen fighting valiantly for the Romans. This legend is alluded toin the type of a consular denarius. See Postumia gens.

It also forms the subject of one of the most spirit-stirring poems in Mr. Macaulay's "Lays of Ancient Rome", under the title of "the Battle of the Lake Regillus, as sung at the feast of Castor and Pollux, on the ides of Quintilis, in the year of the city CCCCLI." (B.C. 303). This characteristic tradition of supernatural powers crowning with victory the arms of the yet young republic, is, by the author's genius and his conversance with classic lore, filled to overflowing with warlike incident, and with patriotic animation. After proclaiming to a great throng of people,

This day by lake Regillus,
Under the Poreian height,
All in the lands of Tusculum,
Was fought a glorious fight,

the two strange horsemen, recognised by their pointed caps, and the stars above them, as the "Great Twin Brethren, to whom the Dorians pray,"

When they drew nigh to Vesta,
They vaulted down amain,
And wash'd their horses in a well,
That springs by Vesta's fane.
And straight again they mounted,
And rode to Vesta's door,
Then like a blast, away they past,
And no man saw them more. (p.137)

On a denarius of the Sulpicia gens, struck in memory of L. Servivs Rvfvs (son of Servius Sulpicius Rufus, a friend of Cicero's), the Dioscuri are represented as two naked men, galeated, standing together, front faced, armed with spears, which they hold transversely, as in the above engraving. On another denarius, they stand holding their spears, with a horse on each side of them, and a star over each of their heads. See Memmia gens.

The Dioscuri most frequently appear, on coins of the Roman Republic, as horsemen galloping, with couched lances, and stars above their pilei. See Atilia (p. 93); Horatia (p. 316); Cordia, conjoined heads of twin brothers (p. 280); the same in Fonteia; Servilia (on horseback, proceding in opposite directions), and many other consular denarii. In the imperial series, this type (which was meant to denote brotherly concord), is of rare occurence. On a brass medallion of Marcus Aurelius, and a second brass of Geta, one of the Dioscuri, holding a spear, stands beside his horse. See Castor (p. 190). On a brass medallion of Maxentius (valued by Mionnet at 100 fr.) they stand each with the pileus on his head, and the pallium hanging behind his back, holding his spear with one hand and his horse's bridle with the other. There is a second brass of the same reign and type, the legend being on both AETERNITAS AVG. N.


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