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Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.
Lectisternium, a species of sacrifice, at which, in times of great public calamity, the gods themselves were invited to a solemn feast. Their statues were taken from their pedestals, and they were laid on pulvinaria, or lecti., that is to say, on beds prepared purposely for their reception in the temples, with pillows under their heads, and in this posture they were each day of the festival served with a magnificent banquet, which the priests never failed to clear away in the evening. There were tables set out in all the different quarters of the city, to which everyone, without distinction, was admitted.

The festival, while it lasted, was a signal for reconciliation, and an occasion of universal good will, in which enemies were treated as friends, and liberty was given to all prisoners and captives. This ceremony was appointed by the order of the magistrates called Quindecemviri sacris faeciendis, and the feast was prepared by those who went under the appelation of Septemviri epulones, or Epulones. The first celebration of the kind was held by Duumvirs, in the year 356 after the foundation of Rome.

Livy (in his xxii book, cap x) gives an account of the most splendid lectisternia, reckoning in them the twelve principal cities. Tum lectisternium, says he, per triduum habitum decemviris sacrorum curantibus; sex pulvinaria in conspectu fuere: Jovi et Junoni unum; alerum Neptuno ac Minervae; tertium Marti et Veneri, quartum Apollini ac Dianae; quintum Vulcano et Vesta; sextum Mercurio et Cereri.

The word lectisternium signifies the act of making or preparing beds. It is derived from lectus, a bed, and sternere, to raise, prepare, and spread. The word also designates sometimes the bed itself, on which is placed the statue of the divinity in honour of whom the above mentioned ceremony of the lectistern was celebrated.

A true representation of a lectisternium, with the recumbent figure of Jupiter upon it, is seen on a denarius of the Coelia family, with the inscription L CALDVS VIIVIR EPVI. Septemvir Epulonum. In further numismatic illustration of this subject, it may be mentioned that a medal of Caracalla 's struck by the colony of Sinope (C I A V SINOP) exhibits Jupiter lying on a lectisternium with a calathus on his head, an eagle on his right hand and a hasta in his left. The same diety is in like manner figured on a coin of Pergamus. By Jupiter 's side a woman is seated, and there is also a young man who seems to wait at table.

Lectisternium - We also see this represented on medals of Marcus Aurelius, Lucilla, Severus Alexander, and Philip I, whereon Fortune, Isis, or some other female figure is seated. On a coin of Nero, there is upon this prepared bed of honour a woman who offers food out of a small vase to a serpent. Some authors consider this figure to be meant for Hygaea; others refer the type to Agrippina Junior, mother of Nero, who was desirous of passing with the Roman people for Hygeia Salutaris (the health giving goddess). On medals on Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, etc., there are lectisterns on which a thunderbolt is placed. Several coins of Faustina Senior present a lectistern, with a peacock having its tail spread, and the hasta pura, or sceptre of divinity. These medals evidently refer to the apotheosis of that empress, the wife of Antoninus Pius, indicated sometimes by the word IVNONI REGINAE, in others by CONSECRATIO.

A coin of Faustina Junior, in first brass, SAECVLI FELICIT S C, has for its type a lectistern, on which are seated two young

children, viz., Commodus and Annius Verus, who were twins. The same legend Saeculi Felicitas (the happiness of the age) occurs also in silver. On a coin of Septimius Severus appear the lectisternium and the corona laurea, both of them insignia of the emperor 's consecration.

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