Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Terrible Fate of Intersex Children in Rome, Continued: Livy AUC XXVII.37

TRIGGER WARNING: During the crisis of Hannibal's invasion of Italy in the Second Punic War (218 - 201 BCE), the birth of an intersex child was seen as a bad omen. This passage gives explicit details of the inhumane treatment of the unfortunate child. The details of this story are odd: did the infant look "four years old" because the parents were successful in protecting their child from public execution for several years? Did the numerous and humiliating punishments inflicted on Roman women afterwards occur in response to a mother disobeying public religious practices to protect her intersex child?

[37] Priusquam consules proficiscerentur nouendiale sacrum fuit quia Ueiis de caelo lapidauerat. sub unius prodigii, ut fit, mentionem alia quoque nuntiata: Minturnis aedem Iouis et lucum Maricae, item Atellae murum et portam de caelo tactam; Minturnenses, terribilius quod esset, adiciebant sanguinis riuum in porta fluxisse; et Capuae lupus nocte portam ingressus uigilem laniauerat. haec procurata hostiis maioribus prodigia et supplicatio diem unum fuit ex decreto pontificum. inde iterum nouendiale instauratum quod in Armilustro lapidibus uisum pluere. liberatas religione mentes turbauit rursus nuntiatum Frusinone natum esse infantem quadrimo parem nec magnitudine tam mirandum quam quod is quoque, ut Sinuessae biennio ante, incertus mas an femina esset natus erat. id uero haruspices ex Etruria acciti foedum ac turpe prodigium dicere: extorrem agro Romano, procul terrae contactu, alto mergendum. uiuum in arcam condidere prouectumque in mare proiecerunt. decreuere item pontifices ut uirgines ter nouenae per urbem euntes carmen canerent. id cum in Iouis Statoris aede discerent conditum ab Liuio poeta carmen, tacta de caelo aedis in Auentino Iunonis reginae; prodigiumque id ad matronas pertinere haruspices cum respondissent donoque diuam placandam esse, aedilium curulium edicto in Capitolium conuocatae quibus in urbe Romana intraque decimum lapidem ab urbe domicilia essent, ipsae inter se quinque et uiginti delegerunt ad quas ex dotibus stipem conferrent; inde donum peluis aurea facta lataque in Auentinum, pureque et caste a matronis sacrificatum. confestim ad aliud sacrificium eidem diuae ab decemuiris edicta dies, cuius ordo talis fuit. ab aede Apollinis boues feminae albae duae porta Carmentali in urbem ductae; post eas duo signa cupressea Iunonis reginae portabantur; tum septem et uiginti uirgines, longam indutae uestem, carmen in Iunonem reginam canentes ibant, illa tempestate forsitan laudabile rudibus ingeniis, nunc abhorrens et inconditum si referatur; uirginum ordinem sequebantur decemuiri coronati laurea praetextatique. a porta Iugario uico in forum uenere; in foro pompa constitit et per manus reste data uirgines sonum uocis pulsu pedum modulantes incesserunt. inde uico Tusco Uelabroque per bouarium forum in cliuum Publicium atque aedem Iunonis reginae perrectum. ibi duae hostiae ab decemuiris immolatae et simulacra cupressea in aedem inlata.

--Livy, Ab Urbe Condita XXVII.37

Before the consuls set out for war, they offered public sacrifices for nine days, since it rained stones in Veii. Once that bad omen occurred, others were soon announced: lightning struck the temple of Jupiter in Minturnae, as well as the sacred grove of Marcia and both the city walls and gate of Atella. At Minturnae, they added another terrifying omen: a river of blood flowed into their city gate. At Capua, a wolf entered the city at night and mauled a guardsman. The consuls expiated these bad omens with more sacrifices, and another public day of prayer was decreed by the head priests. Another nine days of public sacrifices were ordered when it seemed to rain stones in Armilustrum. As soon as the public’s minds were put to ease by the expiation, they were terrified yet again by the announcement that in Frusio, that there was a child [infantem] born the size of a four-year old. But the child’s size wasn’t the miraculous part, but rather the similarity to what had happened in Sinuessa two years prior: the child was indistinguishably male or female (incertus mas an femina). The religious specialists summoned from Etruria declared that the omen was foul and wretched: they declared that the child must be banished from Roman territory, drowned in the sea far from the sight of land. The child was locked in a coffin and thrown into the sea. The priests also decreed that three groups of nine maidens (virgines) should travel throughout the city, singing a hymn composed by the poet Livius. While they were memorizing this hymn in the temple of Jupiter Stator, lightning struck the temple of Juno on the Aventine Hill. The soothsayers said that  this omen was the women’s (matronas) fault, and that Juno should be appeased with a gift. An edict from the curule aediles in the Capitolium decreed that all women who lived within ten miles of Rome should assemble, and that twenty five of them to gather the offering, using money from their dowries. They melted down the gold to create an offering basin, and presented it to the goddess in her temple on the Aventine Hill in a pure and chaste manner by the matrons.
Immediately the decemvirs decreed another day of sacrifice to the same goddess, in the following ceremony: two white cows would be led from the temple of Apollo through the Carmental gate into the city; two cult statues of Juno made of cypress wood would be carried behind them. Then twenty seven young women (virgines), wearing long tunics, would follow singing hymns to Juno. [At the time, these songs were praise-worthy to rustic minds, but now the words are no longer appropriate.] The decemvirs, wearing toga praetexta and crowns, would follow the troop of maidens. They would travel from the Carmental gate along the Street of Yoke Makers into the Forum. The parade would end at the Forum, and the maidens, all holding a rope would sing a song using the rhythm of their stomping feet to keep time. From there they continued through the Tuscan Street and Velabrum Street through the Farmer’s Market onto the Clivus Publicius and then reach the Temple of Juno. Once there, the decemvirs would sacrifice the two cows and the wooden cult statues would be offered to the goddess. 





No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.