Ludi Saeculares

Caracalla as Caesar, AR denarius, c204AD - COS.LVDOS SAECVL.FEC - Bacchus, on l., stg. r., hldg. cup and thyrsus; facing him, Hercules on r., std. l., hldg. club and lion-skin; at feet of Bacchus, l., panther. Here displayed are the two attendants at the Emperors (Severus) sacrifice to the Secular games. The great event of 204 was the celebration of the Secular Games, 116 years after the last celebration by Domitian. the native gods of Leptis, Hercules and Bacchus, received a special part in the ritual. Severus in a more formal way than the ordinary, claimed to inaugurate a new age. The 'saeculum' was commonly recond as 110 years and Severus could claim to be following Domitian, with no more than six years delay due to the pressure of Eastern wars.

Basically as described under Ludi previous link but; so called because they were celebrated only once in a century or age, or perhaps because it was scarcely given to a man to see them more than once in his life. They constituted one of the most solemn of the Roman festivals. The origin of the Saeculares is thus, when the kingly government was abolished (Republic), Rome became afflicted with the plague; and Publius Valerius Publicola, then one of the two consuls, sought to stay the vengeance's of the offended deities, by causing sacrifices to be offered on the same altars to Pluto & Proserpine; and, as we are told, the plague ceased. Sixty years afterwards, the same rites were repeated by order of the priests of the Sybilline Oracle, ceremonies were added, as pretended to be prescribed in the sacred books of the Sybills; and then it was ordained that these feasts should take place at the end of each century.

248AD - SAECULARES AVGG - Of Philip I (and family) - Celebrations of the close of one age and inauguration of another. The 'Saeculum' that Philip was celebrating had no close relation to those of Augustus, Domitian and Septimius Severus - all connected with Etruscan 'Saeculum' of 110 years, variously calculated from some date in the past. Claudius had made the 800th anniversary of Rome the occasion of the Games. Antoninus Pius celebrated the 900th year with considerable care and devotion, if not with Saecular games in the stricter sense. Philip took the unique opportunity of the 1000 birthday of Rome to emphasize the eternity of Rome, to delight the populace with a magnificent show, and to glorify his own dynasty as bringer of the new age. The types display the beasts exhibited for the entertainment of the people, these animals were originally collected by Gordian III from his Persian triumph, held over for this great anniversary, Among the actual beasts -

Philips I main types; Cippus (a short round pillar) COS III, lion (I), she-wolf and twins (has an odd look, no doubt, art was brought in to assist nature, and some kind of dummy figures were exhibited, II), (III for Philip II), (IIII for O.Severa), stag (elk? V or U), antelope (VI or UI). Other rarer types exist.

Philips II main types; Goat (III).

Otacilia Severa (Wife of Philip I) main types; hippopotamus (IIII).

See SAECVLVM NOVV - New Age - Temple of Jupiter.


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