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Consular edict about the Bacchanalia


1. [Q]. Marcius L(ucii) f(ilius)  S. Postumius L(ucii) f(ilius) co(n)s(ules) Senatum consoluerunt n(onis) Octob(ribus) apud aedem

2. Duelonai sc(ribundo) arf(uere) M. Claudi(us) M(arci) f(ilius) L. Valeri(us) P(ublii) f(ilius) Q. Minuci(us) C(aii) f(ilius). de Bacanalibus, quei foideratei

3. esent, ita exdeicendum censuere: «Neiquis eorum (b)acanal habuise uelet. Sei  ques

4. esent quei sibei deicerent  necessus ese bacanal  habere, eeis utei ad pr(aetorem) urbanum

5. Romam uenirent, deque eeis rebus, ubei eorum utra(=uerba) audita esent, utei senatus

6. noster decerneret, dum ne minus senatorbus C adesent  [quom  (e]a res consoleretur.

7. Bacas uir nequis adiese uelet ceiuis Romanus neue nominus Latini neue socium

8. quisquam nisei pr urbanum adiesent, isque [d]e senatus  sententiad dum ne

9. minus senatoribus C adesent quom ea res cosoleretur iousisent. Censuere.

10. Sacerdos nequis uir eset. Magister neque uir neque mulier quisquam eset.

11. Neue pecuniam quisquam eorum comoine[m ha]buise ue[l]et neque magistratum

12. neue pro magistratuo neue uirum [neque mul]ierem quiquam fecise uelet.

13. Neue post hac inter sed  conioura[se neu]e comuouise  neue conspondise 

14. neue conpromesise uelet, neue quisquam fidem inter sed dedise uelet.

15. Sacra in dquoltod ne quisquam fecise uelet. Neue in poplicod neue in

16. preiuatod neue extrad urbem sacra quisquam fecise uelet, nisei

17. pr(aetorem) urbanum adieset, isque de senatuos sententiad, dum ne minus

18. senatoribus C adesent quom ea res consoleretur, iousisent. Censuere.

19. Homines plous V oinuorsei uirei atque mulieres sacra ne quisquam

20. fecise uelet neue inter  ibei uirei plous duobus, mulieribus  plous tribus

21. arfuise uelent, nisei de pr(aetoris) urbani senatuosque sententiad, utei suprad

22. scriptum est. » Haice  utei in conventionid exdeicatis ne minus trinum

23.noundinum, senatuosque sententiam utei scientes esetis, eorum

24. sententia ita fuit : « sei ques esent, quei aruorsum ead fecisent, quam suprad

25. scriptum est, eeis rem caputalem  faciendam censuere ». atque utei

26. hoce in tabolam aheneam inceideretis, ita senatus aiquom censuit,

27. uteique eam figier  ioubeatis ubei facilumed gnoscier potisit, atque

28. utei Bacanalia sei qua sunt, axstrad quam sei quid ibei sacri est

29. ita utei suprad scriptum est, in diebus X quibus uobeis tabelai datai

30. erunt faciatis utei dismota sient. In agro teurano.


Translation in English


The consuls Q. Marcius, son of Lucius, and S. Postumius, son of Lucius consulted the Senate on October 7 in the temple of Bellona. M. Claudius, son of Marcus, L. Valerius, son of Publius, and Q. Minucius, son of Gaius, controlled the recording.

(The senators) suggested that it was necessary issue an edict as follows for those who had made agreements[1] among them about the Bacchanals:

No-one of them should want[2] to have a Bacchanal. If there were any who said that it was necessary for them have such a shrine, they should come in Rome before the urban praetor. When the their words had been heard, our Senate should make a decision regarding these matters, on condition that no fewer than 100 senators were present when the matter was discussed.

No Roman citizen, or man of Latin right or anyone of the allies should want to approach the Bacchantes, if  they were not gone to the urban praetor, and he had given permission, in accord with the opinion of the Senate, delivered while no fewer than 100 senators were present when the matter was  discussed. Passed.

No man should be a priest, no man or woman should be church leader. None of them should want to have a common fund. None should want to appoint a man or a woman as magistrate or deputy magistrate; after this edict they schould not want to form conspiracies among them, not to make in common vows, nor to make mutual agreements nor to make reciprocal promises nor they schould want to establish reciprocal relationships of trust. No-one should want to perform rites in secret. Nobody should want to perform rites in public, in private or outside the City, unless he had appeared before the urban praetor, and this magistrate had given permission, in accordance with the opinion of the Senate, delivered while no less than 100 senators were present when they discussed the matter." passed.

No-one should want to perform such rites if were present more than five people together, men and women. No more than two men or three women should want to take part in the ceremonies, unless this was in accordance with the decision of the urban praetor and the Senate, as has been before written.

The advice of the senators has been that you shall publish these measures in public assembly of not less than three consecutive market days, and you should be aware of the following opinion of the Senate: "If there were persons who were acting against these rules, within the limits of what[3] has been written above, they advised that a proceeding for a capital offence should be made against them." The senate rightly suggested that you should inscribe this on a bronze table, and you shall order that it is posted where it can be read most easily; and, as it has been written above, within ten days after these tablets have been delivered to you, you shall provide that the meeting places of the Bacchantes are dismantled, if there are some, unless in the shrines there is something venerable[4].

In territory of the Teurani


[1] Generally the translators render the expression quei foideratei esent with "those who were allies." This translation does not lead to any problem; the term foideratei indicates those that have made any agreement among them but also those who are allies. They are wrong when they consider the word out of context, linking to it an adjective that does not exist in the Latin text and talk about Italic allies. The term instead is part of an expression that must be considered in its semantic unit. Quei foideratei esent is closely related to de Bacchanalibus and then this expression cannot be interpreted separately. I foideratei can also be allies, but not italic allies. They are allies within the limits of the Bacchanalia, namely the followers of Bacchus.

[2] In this ordinance is used a stereotyped formula, typical of the Senatus consulta and edicts of the magistrates.  The verb uolo is in the subjunctive volitional, and it is followed by the perfect infinite, valueless of perfectum. This formula is also used in almost all other prohibitions. In my opinion, the use of the verb uolo wants to emphasize that the violators of the rules committed an offense aggravated by voluntariness and premeditation. The authorities wanted certainly to create in people interested a state of tension and fear. This important nuance of the formula is totally neglected by translators, who only highlight the obligation not to do something. I consider this a mistake.

[3] In the expression quam suprad scriptum est (ll. 24-25), quam is commonly understood as utei. But the fact that in the ll. 21-22  (utei suprad scriptum est) and l. 29 (ita utei suprad scriptum est) is used regularly utei and not quam and since this is a legal text in which are avoided with care synonyms, suggests that here quam must have been used with a different sense. In my opinion, quam, in this case, is not used in place of utei but it has limiting value in the sense of "to the extent, within the limits of" (cfr. Traina-Bertotti, Sintassi, p. 322).

[4] It is now recognized that the alternation of present and imperfect subjunctive in the five consecutive present in the latter part of the edict is not an error of the editor, as Fraenkel thought. When the consuls shall notify the local authority execution orders of the edict, they use the present subjunctive; when they entrust their tasks decided by the senate, they use the imperfect subjunctive. It seems obvious that this shade of meaning is important and should be retained in the translation in any language.