PONTIFEX . The collegium of the Pontifices was the most important priesthood of
See also:ancient Rome, being specially charged with the administration of the
See also:jus divinum, i.e. that
See also:part of the
See also:law which regulated the relations of the community with the deities recognized by the state officially, together with a general superintendence of the worship of gens and
See also:family . The name is clearly derived from pons and facere, but whether this should be taken as indicating any
See also:special connexion with the sacred
See also:bridge over the
See also:Tiber (Pons Sublicius) , or what the
See also:original meaning may have been, cannot now be determined . The
See also:college existed under the
See also:monarchy, when its members were probably three in number; they may safely be considered as legal advisers of the rex in all matters of religion . Under the republic they emerge into prominence under a pontifex maximus, who took over the
See also:king's duties as chief
See also:administrator of religious law, just as his chief sacrificial duties were taken by the rex sacrorum; his dwelling was the regia, " the
See also:house of the king." During the republican
See also:period the number of pontifices increased, probably by multiples of three, until after Sulla (82 B.C.) we find them fifteen; for the
See also:year 57 B.C. we have a
See also:list of them in
See also:Cicero (Harusp.
See also:resp . 6, 12) . Included in the collegium were also the rex sacrorum, the flamines, three assistant pontifices (minores), and the vestal virgins, who were all chosen by the pontifex maximus . Vacancies in the
See also:body of pontifices were originally filled by co-optation; but from the second Punic War onwards the pontifex maximus was chosen by a
See also:form of popular election, and in the last age of the republic this held
See also:good for all the members . They all held
See also:office for
See also:life . The immense authority of the college centred in the pontifex maximus, the other pontifices forming his consilium or advising body . His functions were partly sacrificial or ritualistic, but these were the least important; the real power
See also:lay in the administration of the jus divinum, the chief departments of which may briefly be described as follows: (1) the regulation of all expiatory ceremonials needed as the result of pestilence,
See also:lightning, &c.; (2) the consecration of all temples and other sacred places and
See also:objects dedicated to the gods by the state through its magistrates; (3) the regulation of the
See also:calendar both astronomically and in detailed application to the public life of the state; (4) the administration of the law
See also:relating to burials and burying-places, and the worship of the
See also:Manes, or dead ancestors; (5) thesuperintendence of all marriages by confarreatio, i.e. originally of all legal patrician marriages; (6) the administration of the law of adoption and of testamentary succession . They had also the care of the state archives, of the lists of magistrates, and kept records of their own decisions (
See also:commentarii) and of the chief events of each year (annales) .
It is obvious that a priesthood having such functions as these, and holding office for life, must have been a
See also:great power in the state, and for the first three centuries of the republic it is probable that the pontifex maximus was in fact its most powerful member . The office might be combined with a magistracy, and, though its
See also:powers were declaratory rather than executive, it may fairly be described as quasi-magisterial . Under the later republic it was coveted chiefly for the great dignity of the position;
See also:Julius Caesar held it for the last twenty years of his life, and
See also:Augustus took it after the'
See also:death of
See also:Lepidus in 12 B.C., after which it became inseparable from the office of the reigning emperor . With the decay of the
See also:empire the title very naturally fell to the popes, whose functions as administrators of religious law closely resembled those of the ancient
See also:Roman priesthood, hence the
See also:modern use of " pontiff " and " pontifical." For further details consult
See also:Marquardt, Staatsverwaltung, iii . 235 seq . ; Wissowa, Religion and Kultus der Romer, 43o seq . ; Bouche-Leclercq,
See also:Les Pontifes, passim . (W . W . F .
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