Carmen Saliare

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Roman bas relief. The Salian priests carry their sacred shields.
Relief depicting the Salii (National Museum of Rome - Palazzo Altemps, Rome)

The Carmen Saliare is a fragment of archaic Latin, which played a part in the rituals performed by the Salii (Salian priests, a.k.a. "leaping priests") of Ancient Rome.[1] There are 35 extant fragments of the Carmen Saliare, which can be read in Morel's FPL.[2]

The rituals revolved around Mars and Quirinus, and were performed in March and October. These involved processions in which they donned archaic armour and weapons, performed their sacred dance, and sang the Carmen Saliare. As a body they existed before the founding of the Roman Republic, tracing their origin back to the reign of Numa Pompilius. The Salian priests were chosen from the sons of patrician families whose parents were still living. They were appointed for life, though they were allowed to resign from the Salian priesthood if they achieved a more prestigious priesthood or a major magistracy.

In the Annales written by Roman historian Tacitus, it is revealed that several Romans proposed the name of Germanicus to be added to the Salian Song, as a memory of his virtue and goodwill.


Two fragments which have been preserved by Marcus Terentius Varro in his De Lingua Latina, 7.26, 27 (fragment 2 and 1 by Maurenbrecher's numbering):[3]

Latin (ed. C. O. Muellerus)
  • Cozeulodoizeso; omnia vero adpatula coemisse iamcusianes duo misceruses dun ianusve vet pos melios eumrecum...
  • Divum empta cante, divum deo supplicante.
Latin (ed. A. Spengel)
  • Cozeulodorieso omnia vero adpatula coemisse ian cusianes duonus ceruses dunus ianus ue uet pom elios eum recum...
  • divum empta cante, divum deo supplicante.
Latin (ed. R. G. Kent)
  • Cozevi oborieso. Omnia vero ad Patulc<ium> commisse<i>.
    Ianeus iam es, duonus Cerus es, du<o>nus Ianus.
    Ven<i>es po<tissimu>m melios eum recum...
  • Divum em pa cante, divum deo supplicate.
English translation (ed. R. G. Kent)
  • O Planter God,[a] arise. Everything indeed have I committed unto (thee as) the Opener.[a] Now art thou the Doorkeeper, thou art the Good Creator, the Good God of Beginnings. Thou'lt come especially, thou the superior of these kings ...
  • Sing ye to the Father of the Gods, entreat the God of Gods.

The mysterious cozeulodorieso has attracted several proposals. Julius Pomponius Laetus proposed in his editio princeps the interpretation osculo dolori ero "I shall be as a kiss to grief", though his emendations are now dismissed as "editorial fantasy".[4] George Hempl restored it more carefully to coceulod orieso, attested in some manuscripts aside from the spacing, which is good archaic Latin for classical cucūlō oriēre "(thou shalt) come forth with the cuckoo".[5]

A fragment preserved by Quintus Terentius Scaurus in his De orthographia (fragment 6 by Maurenbrecher's numbering):[6]

Latin (ed. H. Keilius) † cuine ponas Leucesiae praetexere monti
quot ibet etinei de is cum tonarem.
Theodor Bergk's conjectured reconstruction Cúme tonás, Leucésie, práe tét tremónti,
Quóm tibeí cúnei décstumúm tonáront

An excerpt of it:[7]

Latin with metre indicated cumé tonás, Leucésie, praé tét tremónti
Rendering in classical Latin cum tonas, Lucetie, prae te tremunt
English translation When thou thunderest, O god of Light (Jupiter), men tremble before thee

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b epithet of Janus


  1. ^ Clifford Ando; Jörg Rüpke (2006). Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome. Franz Steiner Verlag. pp. 18–. ISBN 978-3-515-08854-1.
  2. ^ FPL=Fragmenta poetarum latinorum epicorum et lyricorum: praeter enni annales et Ciceronis Germanicique Aratea, originally compiled by W. Morel 1927, 2nd edition by C. Büchner 1982, 3rd and 4th editions by J. Blänsdorf in 1995 and 2011.
  3. ^ Marcus Terentius Varro, de lingua latina:
  4. ^ Sarullo, Giulia; Taylor, Daniel J. (December 2013). "Two Fragments of the Carmen Saliare and the Manuscript Tradition of Varro's De Lingua Latina". Codices Manuscripti & Impressi. 91/92: 1–10.
  5. ^ Hempl, George (1899). "The Origin of the Latin Letters G and Z". Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 30: 24–41. doi:10.2307/282560. JSTOR 282560.
  6. ^ Q. Terentii Scauri liber de orthographia; in: Grammatici latini ex recensione Henrici Keilii Vol. VII Scriptores de orthographia […] Lipsiae in aedibus B. G. Teubneri MDCCCLXXX [1880], p. 28. For Theodor Bergk's conjectured reconstruction compare also:
    • Indices lectionum et publicarum et privatarum, quae in Academia Marburgensi per semestre hibernum inde a D. XXV. M. Octobris MDCCCXLVII [1847] usque ad D. XXV. M. Martii MDCCCXLVIII [1848]. Habendae proponuntur. — Inest Theodori Bergkii Commentatio De Carminum Saliarium reliquiis. Marburgi. Typis Elwerti Academicis, pp. XII, XIV ( google])
    • Opuscula philologica Bergkiana edidit Rudolfus Peppmüller. Volumen I. Ad Latinas literas spectantia. Halis Saxonum, in Orphanotrophei libraria. MDCCCLXXXIV. – Kleine philologische Schriften von Theodor Bergk. Herausgegeben von Rudolf Peppmüller. I. Band. Zur römischen Literatur. Halle a. S., Verlag der Buchhandlung des Waisenhauses. 1884, pp. 492, 494 (google-US)
  7. ^ Elegiac poems of Ovid   edited by J. W. E. Pearce.   Vol. II   The Roman Calendar   Selections from Fasti, Oxford, 1914, p. 146 (IA)

External links[edit]

  • B. Maurenbrecher:
    • Carminum Saliarium reliquiae edidit B. Maurenbrecher; in: Jahrbücher für classische Philologie. Herausgegeben von Alfred Fleckeisen. Einundzwanzigster Supplementband. Mit einer Karte. Druck und Verlag von B. G. Teubner, Leipzig, 1894, p. 313ff. (IA)
    • Carminum Saliarium reliquiae edidit B. Maurenbrecher. Commentatio ex supplemento uno et vicesimo Annalium Philologicorum seorsum expressa. Lipsiae in aedibus B. G. Teubneri. MDCCCXCIV [1894] (IA)
  • George Hempl:
    • III.—The Origin of the Latin Letters G and Z. By Prof. George Hempl, in: Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association. 1899. Volume XXX, pp. 26 & 39f. (JSTOR):
    • XII.—The Salian Hymn to Janus. By Prof. George Hempl, in: Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association. 1900. Volume XXXI, pp. 182ff. (JSTOR, IA, google-US)