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English: Statue of Sancus

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The Sacellum Sanci, or Shrine of Sancus on the Quirinal.[58] The worship of Semo Sancus Sanctus Dius Fidius was imported into Rome at a very early period, by the Sabines who first colonized the Quirinal Hill. He was considered the Genius of heavenly light, the son of Jupiter Diespiter or Lucetius, the avenger of dishonesty, the upholder of truth and good faith, whose mission upon earth was to secure the sanctity of agreements, of matrimony, and hospitality. Hence his various names and his identification with the Roman Hercules, who was likewise invoked as a guardian of the sanctity of oaths (me-Hercle, me-Dius Fidius). There were two shrines of Semo Sancus in ancient Rome, one built by the Sabines on the Quirinal, near the modern church of S. Silvestro, from which the Porta Sanqualis of the Servian walls was named, the other built by the Romans on the Island of the Tiber (S. Bartolomeo) near the Temple of Jupiter Jurarius. Justin, the apologist and martyr, laboring under the delusion that Semo Sancus and Simon the Magician were the same, describes the altar on the island of S. Bartolomeo as sacred to the latter.[59] He must have glanced hurriedly at the first three names of the Sabine god,—SEMONI SANCO DEO,—and translated them ΣΙΜΩΝΙ ΔΕΩ ΣΑΓΚΤΩ. The altar on which these names were written, the very one seen and described by S. Justin, was discovered on the same island, in July, 1574,105 during the pontificate of Gregory XIII. The altar is preserved in the Galleria Lapidaria of the Vatican Museum, in the first compartment (Dii). Statue of Semo Sancus. Statue of Semo Sancus.

The shrine on the Quirinal is minutely described by classical writers. It was hypæthral, that is, without a roof, so that the sky could be seen by the worshippers of the "Genius of heavenly light." The oath me-Dius Fidius could not be taken except in the open air. The chapel contained relics of the kingly period, the wool, distaff, spindle, and slippers of Tanaquil, and brass clypea or medallions, made of money confiscated from Vitruvius Vaccus.

Its foundations were discovered in March, 1881, under what was formerly the convent of S. Silvestro al Quirinale, now the headquarters of the Royal Engineers. The monument is a parallelogram in shape, thirty-five feet long by nineteen feet wide, with walls of travertine, and decorations of white marble; and it is surrounded by votive altars and pedestals of statues. I am not sure whether the remarkable work of art which I shall describe presently was found in this very place, but it is a strange coincidence that, during the progress of the excavations at S. Silvestro, a statue of Semo Sancus and a pedestal inscribed with his name should have appeared in the antiquarian market of the city.

106The statue, reproduced here from a heliogravure, is life-sized, and represents a nude youth, of archaic type. His attitude may be compared to that of some early representations of Apollo, but the expression of the face and the modelling of some parts of the body are realistic rather than conventional. Both hands are missing, so that it is impossible to state what were the attributes of the god. Visconti thinks they may have been the avis Sanqualis or ossifraga, and the club of Hercules. The inscription on the pedestal is very much like that seen by S. Justin:—


According to Festus, bidentalia were small shrines of second-rate divinities, to whom bidentes, lambs two years old, were sacrificed. For this reason the priests of Semo were called sacerdotes bidentales. They were organized, like a lay corporation, in a decuria under the presidency of a magister quinquennalis. Their residence, adjoining the chapel, was ample and commodious, with an abundant supply of water. The lead pipe by which this was distributed through the establishment was discovered at the same time and in the same place with the bronze statues of athletes described in chapter xi. of my "Ancient Rome." The pipe has been removed to the Capitoline Museum, the statue and its pedestal have been purchased by Pope Leo XIII. and placed in the Galleria dei Candelabri, and the foundations of the shrine have been destroyed.

CIL VI 30994: Semoni Sanco / sancto deo Fidio / sacrum / decuria sacerdot(ium) / Bidentalium
Source The Project Gutenberg EBook of Pagan and Christian Rome
Author Rodolfo Lanciani
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current14:31, 3 October 2014Thumbnail for version as of 14:31, 3 October 2014153 × 566 (29 KB)Boy.pockets (talk | contribs)Cleaned up the edges of the statue.
20:53, 4 February 2009Thumbnail for version as of 20:53, 4 February 2009153 × 566 (26 KB)Tagishsimon (talk | contribs){{Information |Description={{en|1=Statue of Sancus}} |Source=The Project Gutenberg EBook of Pagan and Christian Rome |Author=Rodolfo Lanciani |Date=1893 |Permission= |other_versions= }} {{PD-Gutenberg}} <!--{{ImageUpload|full}}-->

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