SAMNIUM AND THE SAMNITES

di Edward Togo Salmon (1905-1988)

The grove at Agnone was sacred to Kerres and, so the Oscan text seems to say, was maintained by worshippers offering tithes. Inside the grove sacred processions were held, presumably at certain well-known seasons and with the worshippers moving widdershins, as they did in so many religious processions in early Italy. During the processions halts were made at the altars of each of fifteen divinities. At each of two annual festivals a fire was kindled and offerings made on a sacrificial altar. Ceremonies were also held outside the grove proper, apparently on the occasion of a festival to Flora, when ritual halts were made in honour of four deities, only two of whom had altars inside the grove.

The grove must have been situated somewhere near the spot on the Monte del Cerro between Capracotta and Agnone in the territory of the Caraceni, where the tablet was found over one hunderd years ago, an area at that time still suggestively called Uorte. In all, seventeen divinities are named on the Agnone tablet counting the two aspects of Jupiter separately, and this congestion is dramatica proof of the polylatrous tendencies of the Samnites. But the Latin names of the [...] who shared this open-air sanctuary are in some cases far from certain.

  • E. T. Salmon, Samnium and the Samnites, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1967, pp. 158-159.

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