The Tribes of Romulus and the Priesthoods of Rome
Keywords:augurs, pontiffs, Vestal Virgins, Romulean tribes, M. Terentius Varro
The early Roman state is widely held to have been organised on the basis of three tribes, the Tities, Ramnes and Luceres. According to some (ancient writers and modern scholars alike), it was from these tribes that various priests were originally recruited. This view, however, is not really supported by the evidence. It is quite clearly an antiquarian reconstruction, and is most likely the work of M. Terentius Varro. Not only is this conclusion in keeping with the argument—sometimes spurned, but largely just ignored—that the Romulean tribes may themselves be an antiquarian reconstruction, but it may also shed some light on Varro’s handling of Rome’s priesthoods in his lost work, the Human and Divine Antiquities. An impartial assessment of the evidence also reveals just how little the Romans actually knew about the early history of even their most important priesthoods.
Copyright (c) 2023 James H. Richardson
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