Roman Control of Foreign Ritual Texts during the War with Hannibal


Dijana Beljan


One of the most turbulent periods in Roman history is certainly the period of the Second Punic War. The years 218 – 215 BC were especially turbulent for the Roman religion. Two traditions stand out among the information offered by ancient authors. The first, from the time of the war with Hannibal, explains the foundation of the celebration of ludi Apollinares in Rome according to the prophecies of the prophet Marcius, and the second, from the period after the war, speaks of the discovery of the books attributed to Numa Pompilius that were found in two stone chests. Both involve the discovery of foreign texts, put under the control of the Roman state which entrusted the decemvirs with the task of examining and making decisions on them. Although they are not the only example of Roman intervention in the unofficial cult, these two traditions are a good example of how ritual texts were treated differently in Rome. The Roman state, hesitating between tradition and innovation, accepted them in one case (carmina Marciana) and destroyed them in the other (Numa’s books). Based on existing sources, the paper will analyse and interpret both traditions noted by Livy. In addition, other antique and late antique historians and lexicographers will be mentioned.


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