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this day in ancient history

sol indiges
On August 9 there would be a public sacrifice on the Quirinal hill in honour of the divinity Sol Indiges. We know that Sol Indiges was some form of the Sun god, but after that we are 'in the dark', so to speak. According to Varro, the Sabine Titus Tatius established (presumably on the Quirinal Hill) altars for various divinities including Sol (as well as Ops, Flora, Vediovis, Saturn, Vulcan, Summanus, Larundus, Terminus, Quirinus, Vortumnus, the Lares, and Diana Lucina). Quintilian says there was a pulvinar (a couch) dedicated to Sol near the Temple of Quirinus on the Quirinal, which is probably connected to this ritual somehow.

In regards to the epithet "Indiges", Scullard warns us of the controversy associated with what it means: "the Indigetes have been regarded as di minores (gods of limited function)", as 'native' (as opposed to foreign) gods, or as ancestral gods. That it might refer to native or ancestral (in a national sense?) gods is perhaps suggested by the list of divinities (mentioned above) in which Sol is included. Servius, commenting on Virgil's Georgics (1.48) doesn't appear to be sure himself. He tells us that dii indigetes are divinities which were created from humans; in other words, a sort of Roman/Italian equivalent to the Greek hero cult. This certainly seems to be the case with the worship of Aeneas as "Pater Indiges" at Lavinium, but obviously it doesn't quite work with Sol.

Modern Sources
On Sol Indiges: H.H. Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (Ithaca, 1981), p 171.
On the cult of Aeneas at Lanuvium: R. Ross Holloway, The Archaeology of Early Rome and Latium (London, 1994), 135 ff.

As might be expected, there isn't really much on the web about Sol Indiges specifically, but here's some things to follow up on (move your mouse over each):
Copyright © 2001 David Meadows
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