Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/379

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The European Sky -God. 331

rex sacrorinn after performing a sacrifice in the Comitium had to make his escape at full speed. I incline to accept Dr. Frazer's^ conjecture "that he was originally one of those divine kings who are either put to death after a fixed period or allowed to prove by the strong hand or the fleet foot that their divinity is vigorous and unim- paired." - If on the same day of February, March, and May he was expected to run his race, it is possible that in early times his probation was a monthly affair. The Etruscans, we know, were even more solicitous about the health of their king, who likewise personated the sky-god^; for, says Macrobius,^ " the Etruscans observed several Nones, inasmuch as every ninth day they used to bid their king all hail and to consult about their own business." The same principle perhaps underlies the Roman system of Nones and Nundinae. On the Nones, according to Varro,^ " the folk used to come into town from the country to their king " ; and he adds that a trace of the gathering still exists in the sacra Nonalia, when the priestly king proclaims to the people on the Arx the chief festivals of the month. No doubt these gfatherines of country-folk occasioned the regular Nimdinae or market-days of Rome. But their origin was religious rather than secular : Granius Licinianus declared that all Nundinae were festivals of Jupiter, because on them the flaminica in the old Palace sacrificed a ram to that deity.*^ Servius Tullius was said to have been born on the Nones ; but, since the month was uncertain, all Nones alike were regarded as his birthday, and celebrated by

^ Frazer Golden Bough ^ ii. 67.

" [May not the flight of the king from the altar have been due to the need of escaping before the descent of the deity to partake of the sacrifice ? The idea that it would be dangerous to see the face of a supernatural being is widely- spread, and in the case of a Lightning-god such a dread would be mere common-sense. — Ed.]

^ C/ass. Rev. xviii. 361 f. * Macrob. Sat. i. 15. 13.

Varr. de ling. Lat. 6. 28. ^Uly^croh. Sat. i. 16. 30.