Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/339

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The European Sky -God. 291

incarnate in the rex Nemorensis I should infer from the following considerations. Nemi was the religious centre of a Latin federation. When, therefore, we find that a certain Manius Aegerius^ or Egerius Laevius of Tusculum, a Latin dictator at the head of this federation, dedicated a grove to Diana at Nemi,- it becomes highly probable that the rex Nemorensis discharged the religious duties of the early Latin king, whose secular functions descended to the Latin dictator. In fact, I surmise that the separa- tion of divine and human offices, which took place at Alba, had taken place at Nemi also ; and that, just as lulus obtained " a certain holy power and honour . . . preferable to the royal dignity both for security and for case" ^ so Virbius, the first king of the Wood, was " to live at his ease in the grove of Diana." * Again, as the secular king of Alba retained the name Silvius, " he of the Forest," so the secular dictator

that we identify Virbius with the water-Janus. Ov. 7net. 15. 539 f. makes Hippoiytus say that when Diana transformed him into Virbius, she "added years to mine age and left me not a face that could be recognized." This description suits well the union of a youthful with an elderly head in our bust, and also the curious treatment of the two visages.

If it be thought that the authority of Vibius Sequester, an uncritical compiler, is not enough to justify the foregoing conclusions, I should prefer (with Dr. Frazer) to connect Virbius and verbena. Verbena could denote the branch {ramus) of a sacred tree (Serv. in Verg. eel. 8. 65, Aen. 12. 120), so that Virbius may have been ' He of the sacred branch.' Dr. Postgate has suggested to me that verber, if it meant originally ' switch,' belongs to the same group of words, referable to the root of viridis. The i of Virbius (sometimes written Verbius in the MSS. : see Class. Rev. xvi. 380 n. 3) might, he thinks, come in through the influence of vir and virgo.

Which of these two theories is right, it is hard to say. We shall perhaps reach decisive considerations when we come to deal with the Celtic behef in vervain.

^Fest. p. 169 Lindemann. ^Cato origg. 2. frag. 58 Peter.

^ Dionys. ant. Rom. i. 70 i^pa. tis i%o\>(j\.a. ■Kpoa^reQi) Kal rt/xr} ry re a.KLv5w({) ■npoiixov(Ta. TrjS ixovapxuKri^ Kal ttj pacrrwurj toO l3iov.

■* Schol. Pers. sat. 6. $6 Aesculapius eum vivum Dianae restiluit, et acceptum, in luco suo otiose ut viveret, consecravit, et Virbium vocavit merito, quod bis in vitam prolatus esset.