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Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.
SACER. Sacerdos, Sacerdotes. Priests,
ministers, who, under the Pagan system, were
entrusted with all the affairs, interests, and ceremonies of religion. Amongst the Romans the
sacerdotal institution commenced with their
worship of the gods. Romulus appointed two
persons in each curia, to the priesthood. Numa,
in adding to the number of the deities, increased
also the number of those who were dedicated to
the service of their temples. This important
function was for some ages exclusively confined
to the Patricians and the most illustrious
families, but after a time the Plebeians were
allowed to share every branch of the priesthood
with the nobles. At first, these priests were
chosen by the college in which they entered ;
but in the sequel, after a hard struggle, the
privilege of electing them transfered to the
people, and the colleges retained only the right
of admitting the candidate into their body.
Under Sylla's dictatorship, things resumed their
former state, and the people were deprived of
the privilige they had usurped. But the alteration
was short-lived. Atius Labrinus, a tribune
of the people, carried the revival of the Lex
, which Marc Antony caused to be again
abrogated. At length a monarchical form of
government rose on the ruins of republican
liberty ; and the emperors seized upon the rights
which had so long been the subject of mutual
contention between the priests and the people.
[See the word Pontifex.] Augustus augmented
the number of priests. The emperors
who followed him made a great point of
having those destined to succeed them in the
empire, even boys, admitted into the College of
Priests, which was called cooptari and cooptari
supra numerum
. The case of Nero presents a
flagrant instance of many different sacerdotia
being heaped upon one individual, and he a
&c.]-- The emperors went under the assumed
name of Pontifex Maximus.-- The members of
the pontificial order possessed several privileges;
they could not be deprived of their dignity ;
they were, moreover, exempt from serving in
the army, and from the obligation to discharge
the duties of any civic office. The heathen
priesthood continued to exist some time under
the Christian emperors, and was not wholly
suppressed until the reign of Theodosius, who
expelled from Rome the whole sacerdotal body,
of both sexes, as Zozimus states-- Expellebantur
utriusque sexus Sacerdotes, et fana destituta
sacraficiis omnibus jacebant
.-- The Roman priests may be divided into two classes, viz., those who were attached to the service of no duty in particular, but whose duty was to offer sacrifices to all the gods. Of this class were the Pontiffs, the Augurs, the Decemvirs, the Aruspices, the Curiones, the Septemvirs, named Epulones, the
Feciales, the Rex Sacrificulus.-- The other
priests had each their peculiar divinity, such as
the Flamens, the Salians, the Lupercals, the
Potitii, the Pinarii, the priests (of Cybele)
called Galii, the Vestals. These priests had
assistant ministers to serve them at the sacrifices,
such as the Camilii and Camillae, the
Flamines and Flaminiae, the Cultrarii, the
Popae, the Victimarii, the Fictores, the Praeclamitatores, the Lictors, the Scribes, the attendants on the Aruspices, the Pullarii, the Calatores, &c.

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