Re: ancilae salii and archaic roman religion

From: mrcaws
Message: 17401
Date: 2003-01-05

--- In, CeiSerith@... wrote:
> The fact that the shield(s) of the Salii fell from heaven is, I
> significant. It is my theory the original pairing of a PIE god of
the bright
> sky with a god of the dark (stormy) sky has been broken up in
Greece and
> Rome, so that lightning becomes the weapon of a god who was
originally the
> god of the bright sky. With this, the previous thunder god
dwindles into
> relative insignifance. I suspect that this is what is going on
here, except
> that in Rome the original thunder god (Mars) got to keep his
shields thrown
> from heaven, while in Greece Zeus got them. (Or did he? Could the
> be the mannerbund of the original thunder god protecting the god of
> bright sky?) I think that the equation of Mars with the PIE
thunder god
> clears up the mystery of why he is associated with fertility (cf.
> Indra, and Perkunas), and also sheds light on his role in the the
> Equus, generally considered to be cognate with the Vedic
> originally dedicated to Indra.
> This is a work in progress, but I think it shows some promise.

Interesting-I am also curious about the identity of Mars in
relation to other pantheons. To me he seems to be connected with the
state and kingship(Romulus),warfare, boundaries, agriculture,
fertility. I think that some of these attributes are similar to Zeus
and other thunder gods.

It has been suggested that the birth of the baby god symbolized the
new year itself-Not unlike the modern practice of finding out which
baby was born closest to Midnight on New Year's day. It is also
suggested this was connected with the agriculutral cycle-The "corn
baby" of Frazer, which could explain the fertility aspect of both
Mars and Zeus. Also, Dionysus and Mars were both considered sons of
the thunder god. So was the Anatolian Telepinu, who was directly
related to agricultural fertility. Thunder gods can be seen as the
bringer of fertility indirectly through rain, perhaps their children
were considered as direct manifestations of the fertility.

An explanation proffered by Jane Ellen Harrison compares the myth of
the birth of Zeus to a birth or initiation ritual, and also notes
similarities to the birth of Dionysus. In one version, the Curetes
are unable to protect baby Zeus from the titans and he is devoured-
The reason beign that he was distracted by toys offered to him by the
titans. The baby is then reborn. This could be a symbolic rebirth
i.e. putting childish things away and being reborn as an adult.
Harrison argues the clashing of shields on spears could be an effect
trying to intimidate/impress the child.

March 1 is sacred to Juno Lucina, goddess of childbirth, as well as
Mars. This was one of the occasions in which Roman women let their
hair down. The practice of letting hair down is practiced in some
places in association with circumcision, another initiation ceremony.
The myth, then, could be a reflection or adaptation of such a ritual
in a larger context-Which could be used to re-enforce and explain the
initiation itself, if it was actually practiced on an individual

Cort Williams

> In a message dated 12/31/02 3:43:53 PM Pacific Standard Time,
> MrCaws@... writes:
> > priesthood with associated with both Rhea and
> > the infant Zeus.
> >
> > The Salii also carried the ancilae,or figure eight-shaped shield,
> > similarly beat their swords or spears against them while dancing,
> > playing flutes and singing the hymn "Carmen Saliare". This song
> > in Latin that was considered archaic in Republican times. The
> > were especially associated with Mars and the time of his birth on
> > March 1, also the date of the old Roman new year. The Salii were
> > considered a priesthood, and only patricians could participate.
> > There was an obscure myth about the ancilae invoving King
> > and a shadowy figure called Mamurius, who is thought to be a form
> > Mars or a blacksmith involved in the production of the shields.
> > myth is unclear, but Mamurius apparently constructed 11 ancilae
> > imitating an original shield that fell from heaven, and the real
> > fake shields became confused. There was some ceremony involving
> > flagellation of Mamurius with hide-strips
> >
> > Ceremonial/decorative ancilae were discovered on Minoan Crete in
> > Final Palatical times, associated with the Mycenaean-style
> > graves, as well as being found on mainland Myceneaen Greece. It
> > be worth noting that in Final Palatial Crete there is the first
> > definite evidence for trade with Italy.
> >
> > Both the Salii and Curetes were thus forms of
> > functionaries that carried the ancilae, and beat them with
staves or
> > spears while singing and dancing. Both were also associated with
> > birth of an important god