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Gaius Julius Caesar - Flamen Dialis?

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Caesar's mother, Aurelia, as Sulla had originally wanted Caesar killed and it is on her request or rather, plea, that he is spared by the dictator. I'm not sure if this is how all this occurred, as this is really fiction but good fiction at that, very believable in the way it is presented to the reader.

 

Well, taking Colleen as an inspiration for new hypotheses, was there any precedent for a mother saving anyone from the prescriptions? On the face of it, the idea strikes me as absurd--why would Sulla listen to Aurelia?

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Maybe he lost the position because the hat fell from his head... :unsure:

 

Flamen

 

(from flare, one who blows or kindles the sacrificial fire; or from the root of flagro, to burn). The special priest of a special deity among the Romans ( De Leg. ii. 8). There were fifteen flamines--three higher ones (flamines maiores) of patrician rank: these were the flamen Dialis (of Iupiter), Martialis (of Mars), and Quirinalis (of Quirinus). The remaining twelve were flamines minores, plebeians, and attached to less important deities, as Vulcanus, Flora, Pomona, and Carmenta.

 

Their office was for life, and they could be deprived of it only in certain cases. The emblem of their dignity was a white conical hat (apex) made out of the hide of a sacrificed animal, and having an olive branch and woollen thread at the top. This the flamines were obliged to wear always out of doors--indeed, the flamen Dialis had originally to wear it indoors as well. They were exempted from all the duties of civic life, and excluded at the same time from all participation in politics. In course of time they were allowed to hold urban offices, but even then they were forbidden to go out of Italy.

 

The flamen Dialis was originally not allowed to spend a night away from home; in later times, under the Empire, the pontifex could allow him to sleep out for two nights in the year. Indeed, the flamen Dialis, whose superior position among the flamens conferred upon him certain privileges, as the toga praetexta, the sella curulis, a seat in the Senate, and the services of a lictor, was in proportion obliged to submit to more restrictions than the rest. He, his wife, their children, and his house on the Palatine were dedicated to this god. He must be born of a marriage celebrated by confarreatio, and live himself in indissoluble marriage. If his wife died, he resigned his office.

 

In the performance of his sacred functions he was assisted by his children as camilli. (See Camillus.) Every day was for him a holy day, so that he never appeared without the insignia of his office, the conical hat, the thick woollen toga praetexta woven by his wife, the sacrificial knife, and a rod to keep the people away from him. He was preceded by his lictor, and by heralds who called on the people to stop their work, as the flamen was not permitted to look upon any labour. He was not allowed to set eyes on an armed host; to mount, or even to touch, a horse; to touch a corpse, or grave, or a goat, or a dog, or raw meat, or anything unclean. He must not have near him or behold anything in the shape of a chain; consequently there must be no knots, but only clasps, on his raiment; the ring on his finger was broken, and any one who came into his house with chains must instantly be loosened. If he were guilty of any carelessness in the sacrifices, or if his hat fell from his head, he had to resign.

 

His wife, the flaminica, was priestess of Iuno. She had, in like manner, to appear always in her insignia of office--a long woollen robe, with her hair woven with a purple fillet (tutulum) and arranged in pyramidal form, her head covered with a veil and a kerchief, and carrying a sacrificial knife. On certain days she was forbidden to comb her hair. The chief business of the flamines consisted in daily sacrifices; on certain special occasions they acted with the pontifices and the Vestal Virgins. The three superior flamines offered a sacrifice to Fides Publica at the Capitol on the Kalends of October, driving there in a two-horse chariot. During the imperial period flamines of the deified emperors were added to the others. - Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)

 

I would think that even for the ambitious this would be a highly coveted position...

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I would think that even for the ambitious this would be a highly coveted position...

 

Maybe. I can only think of one flamen Dialis, however, who ever rose as high as the consulship (can anyone name him?). The office is not exactly a normal part of the cursus honorum. If Caesar really had hopes for the office, he must not have considered a military career to be a very promising one.

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Yes I have returned from an extended absense. Among the many reading I have done on Caesar, and also some of the other great men of the late republic, Plutarch does not directly mention anything of the affair, neither does a more modern text that goes into his youth. Assuming that it is true that Caesar was put in this position, it was more than likely to safe guard Marius' position as the Greatest Roman of all time, which he was told by his prophetess that Caesar would overcome his greatness. If Caesar was the Flamen Dialis then he could not be in a position to go into battle, as the FD could not see blood. The paramount reason that I think Sulla would have released Caesar from this restricting position was not because he recognized Caesars great abilities, which may have had something to do with it, but more likely to foil his bitterest enemies' plans and let Caesar become the man, the leader, the general, the god he was destined to be.

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Did both Sulla and Marius possess crystal balls then, to foreseen the future so clearly?

 

I posit an insightful reading of young Caesar's character, but you seem to base your argument on full knowledge of his fate Pompeius Magnus!

 

Phil

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I don't even stipulate that Sulla had an insightful reading of Caesar's early character. Our sources on Caesar's early career (esp. Plutarch) are mostly exercises in backward extrapolation, perhaps not as gross as our pompeius' account, but a backward extrapolation nevertheless. Interestingly, side-by-side with the "Caesar-as-populist-godling-from-birth" account, there are also plenty of hints that Caesar was simply a late-blooming and otherwise ordinary aristocratic opportunist who made up his political program as he went along.

 

In my view, the flaminate was the perfect position for an aspiring do-nothing playboy, so I'd be happy to put it on Caesar's resume, but the sources are simply contradictory on whether Caesar ever had the position. Thus, how can we possilby advance an informed judgment about why he might have been deprived of it?

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It's such a shame that your good arguments are so undermined by your love of Caesar, MPC!! :D If only you wouldn't argue so hard in favour of him!! You talk him up every time.... :rolleyes:;)

 

Seriously, good post.

 

Phil

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Thanks, Phil. I really do hate to have to praise Caesar in every other post, but it's important to give the guy his due--nobody else around here seems to appreciate him. :rolleyes:

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You do a good job MPC. B)

 

May I take the opportunity to say that though I don't always agree with you, your posts and your depth of learning are an adornment to this board.

 

Sincerely,

 

Phil

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On 7/5/2006 at 11:04 AM, M. Porcius Cato said:

Moreover, Caesar (as usual) did not meet the requirements of the office. For one, the flamen Dialis had to be the son of parents married by confarreatio, and Caesar's mother Aurelia was a plebeian.

Not really. 

From Wikipedia

"Having parents who were married by confarreatio was a prerequisite for becoming a Vestal or the Flamen Dialis.[2] Confarreatio seems to have been limited to those whose parents were also married by confarreatio, but later, perhaps with the rise of plebeian nobiles, this requirement must have been relaxed.[4] Scipio Africanus presumably married his wife Aemilia Tertia by confarreatio, because their elder son was Flamen Dialis; yet Scipio's mother Pomponia was a plebeian."

 

That said, Caesar being stripped of the Flamen Dialis position may probably be related to his marriage. The Flamen must be married to a patrician woman.

However, Cornelia Cinna has been stripped of citizenship because of the proscription of her father.

Even without Sulla, the Senate would not allow the Flamen Dialis to be married to a non Roman citizen. 



Sulla had two choices: either strip Caesar of his position as Flamen Dialis, based on this legal loophole caused by the Flamina suddenly not being a citizen anymore because of her father's proscription... or to free Caesar from his marriage to Cornelia Cinna based on some other legal loophole (it was not only confarreatio, they were also flamen and flamina, they could not divorce)

Sulla chose for Caesar the second option. Let him remain Flamen by divorcing him of Cornelia Cinna and finding another Flamina.

Caesar refused to divorce Cornelia. Out of love? Or maybe because that was the ONLY WAY he could stop being a Flamen Dialis?

 

 

Sulla probably saw that as defiance AND a desire to remain a political ally of Sulla's enemies.

BUT the delegation sent by Aurellia to plead for her son probably used the arguments of Caesar desire to stop being Flamen Dialis, a position Marius put him, to try to convince Sulla's to spare the youngster... not a desire to go against Sulla, but a desire to get rid of the position, and remaining married to Cornelia Cinna was the ONLY legal loophole that would allow that.

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