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Rogus Funebris

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Rogus Funebris, or funeral pile of the Romans, was a quadrangular kind of scaffold, or compact structure of timber-work, on which the dead bodies of princes and princesses were burnt to ashes.

Vaillant says it was called Rogus because the dii manes, or dieties of the shades below, in eo rogantur, were supplicated, and believed to be propitiated by the ceremonies performed at them.

The rogus, from the reign of Antoninus Pius, is the common type of concecration on coins of Imperial personages of both sexes.

Dion briefly speaks of this pile as in form like a tower of three stories, adorned with ivory, gold, asnd a few statues.

Herodianus gives a fuller description of it, observing that the ground floor of this square building was filled with dry fuel; that on this substructure stood another tier, similar in form and ornament, but narrower, and furnished with open doors; that on these were erected a third and a fourth, still narrower in dimensions, so that the whole work presented the appearance of a pharos; that the corpse being then deposited in the second story, and the accustomed ceremonies being performed, the lighted torch was applied, and the entire mass consumed by fire.

After making these citations from old writers, Eckhel alludes to the abundance of coins, which place before our eyes the form of the rogus, exactly corresponding with their description; and he particularly mentions a medal of Julia Maesa, not long ago found at Rome; the possessor of which, Viscount Ennius, an antiquary of great repute, wrote to Papal Nuncio at Vienna, saying that it was in so beautiful and entire a state of preservation, that, what had never before been observed in these representations of funeral piles, the body of Augusta appeared, placed on a bier in the second story.

As symbols of consecration, these Rogi are seen on coins of Aelius, Antoninus Pius, Faustina Senior, Marcus Aurelius, Faustina Junior, Lucius Verus, Pertinax, Septimius Severus, Caracalla, Julia Maesa, Saloninus, Valerian II, Claudius II Gothicus, Tetricus II, Nigrinian, Constantius I Chlorus. See CONSECRATIO

On the Rogus (says Vaillant, Pr. ii. 293), an eagle was placed at the consecration of the emperors, and a peacock at that of empresses; and when the cord by which it was ties became consumed in the flames, the bird was thus freed, and flying through the air, was popularly believed to carry the spirit of the deified personage up the heaven. This image of consecration was afterwards struck on the imperial medals.

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