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N.S. Gill

The Agonalia

By January 9, 2014

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This Day in Ancient History - January 9 -

Egeria Mourns Numa by Claude Lorrain in the Public Domain
The Romans celebrated the Agonalia three times each year, on January 9, May 21, and December 11. The Roman king Numa Pompilius is supposed to have created these festivals. The person in charge of the sacrifice (of a ram) was the rex sacrificulus and the sacrifice was made in the regia. Although the purpose of the holiday was disputed among the ancient Romans, William Smith, in the Agonalia (Agonia) article in A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1875) says it was probably for the well-being of the state. The rex sacrificulus was created after the kings were expelled to carry on the religious function of the king. This priestly position was higher in terms of the religious hierarchy than the pontifex maximus, but the role fell into disuse during the late Republic, and the power and influence of the pontifex maximus was higher.

"This day in ancient history" caveat: please see Unreliability of Dates.


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