Prayers of Livy
by: M. Horatius Piscinus
Titus Livius (59 BCE ? 17 CE)

Ab Urbs Condita

1.10.6-7: Jupiter Feretrius, I, Romulus, myself a king and victor, bring to You these arms taken from a king, and in this precinct, whose boundaries I have imagined in my mind and will with purpose trace, I dedicate a shrine to receive the spolia opima which posterity will place here in your honor, following my example, taken from the kings and generals of our foes slain in battle.

1.12.4-7: O Jupiter, it was through Your omen that I was led while I laid here upon the Palatine Hill, to establish the very first foundations of the city of Rome. Already the Arx, that fortress wickedly bought, is seized by the Sabines, from whence they, with sword in hand, now advance across the valley against us. But if You, Father of the Gods and of men, hold back our enemies, at least from this spot, delivering the Romans from their terror, and stay their shameful retreat, then this I vow to You, Jupiter Stator, that a holy precinct and shrine will be built in Your honor as a memorial to remind our descendents of how once the city of Rome was saved by Your aid.

1.18.7-10: The augur seated himself on Numa?s left, having his head covered, and holding in his right hand a lituus, as they called the augur's curved staff without a knot. Then, looking over the city and the surrounding countryside, he prayed to the Gods, and marked off the heavens by a cardinal line from east to west, designating as right the regions to the south, and as left [8] those to the north, and fixing then a landmark in his mind that lay opposite to him and as far away as the human eye can see. Next, shifting the lituus to his left hand and laying his right hand on Numa's head, the augur spoke the following prayer: "Father Jupiter, if it is heaven's will that this Numa Pompilius, on whose head I place my hand, should become king of Rome, then may You signify Your will to us with certain signs within the boundaries that I have designated."

1.24.3-9: The earliest recorded treaty is this one between the Romans and Albans, to provide for a firm peace among one another's people. As not all treaties conclude the same provisions or forms, however, I will describe the forms by which this treaty was made, as tradition has handed down to us. The Fetialis put the formal question to Tullus: `Do you, King, order me to make a treaty with the Pater Patratus of the Alban people?' Upon the king replying in the affirmative, the Fetialis said: `I demand of you, King, tufts of sacred herbs (as a sign that my person shall be inviolable).' The king replied: `Take those that are pure.' The Fetialis brought pure herbs and grasses from the Arx. Afterwards he asked the king: `Do you, King, name me the nuntio to act as herald of the People of Rome, the Quirites, sanctioning also my vessels and comrades?' To which the king replied: `In so far as it may be without harm to myself and to the People of Rome, the Quirites, I do.' The Fetialis was M. Valerius. He made Spurius Furius the Pater Patratus by touching his head and hair with the sacred herb vervain. Then the Pater Patratus, who is appointed for the purpose of making a treaty and giving it religious sanction through an oath, did so by reciting a holy song whose long formula was given in verse, which is not worth while here to repeat.

After reciting the conditions of a treaty he said: `Hear, 0 Jupiter; hear me, too, Pater Patratus of the people of Alba! Hear me also, people of Alba! As these provisions have been written in good faith and publicly read from beginning to end from these tablets, and inasmuch as they have today been most clearly understood, so the People of Rome will not be the first to withdraw from these treaty provisions. If, in their public council, they were to do so, with false and malicious intent break this treaty, then, Dispater, on that day, may You bring ruin on the People of Rome, even as today I shall strike this swine, and strike them so much more the greater, as Your power and might is greater.' With these words he struck the swine with a flint knife. In similar words the Albans recited a holy song as their oath through their own dictator and their priests.

1.32.6: The Fetial, veiled, wound a woolen fillet around his head. When he has reached the frontiers of the nation from whom satisfaction is demanded, he says, `Hear, 0 Jupiter! Hear you borders,' naming the particular people whose borders they are, `Hear, 0 Justice! I am the public herald of the Roman People rightly and duly authorized do I come; let confidence be placed in my words.' Then he recites the terms of the demands and calls Jupiter to witness: `If I am demanding the surrender of those men or those goods, contrary to justice and religion, suffer me nevermore to enjoy my native land.' He repeats these words as he crosses the frontier, he repeats them to whoever happens to be the first person he meets, he repeats them as he enters the gates and again on entering the forum, with some slight changes in the wording of the formula. If what he demands are not surrendered at the expiration of thirty-three days, for that is the fixed period of grace, he declares war in the following terms: `Hear, 0 Jupiter, and You Janus Quirinus, and all You heavenly Gods, and You gods of earth and of the lower world, hear me! I call You to witness that this people'-- mentioning it by name-- `is unjust and does not fulfill its sacred obligations. But about these matters we must consult the elders in our own land in what way we may obtain our rights.'

With these words the ambassador returned to Rome for consultation. The king forthwith consulted the senate in words to the following effect: `Concerning the matters suits and causes, whereof the Pater Patratus of the Roman people and Quirites has complained to the Pater Patratus of the Priscus Latins, and to the people of the Priscus Latins which matters they were bound severally to surrender, discharge, and make good, whereas they have done none of these things--say what is your opinion?' He whose opinion was first asked, replied, `I am of the opinion that they ought to be recovered by a just and righteous war, wherefore I give my consent and vote for it.' Then the others were asked in order, and when the majority of those present declared themselves of the same opinion, war was agreed upon. It was customary for the Fetial to carry to the enemy's frontiers a blood-smeared spear (of cornel wood) tipped with iron or burnt at the end, and, in the presence of at least three adults, to say, `Inasmuch as the peoples of the Priscus Latins have been guilty of wrong against the People of Rome and the Quirites, and inasmuch as the People of Rome and the Quirites have ordered that there be war with the Priscus Latins, and the Senate of the People of Rome and the Quirites have determined and decreed that there shall be war with the Priscus Latins, therefore I and the People of Rome, declare and make war upon the peoples of the Priscus Latins.' With these words he hurled his spear into their territory. This was the way in which at that time satisfaction was demanded from the Latins and war declared, and posterity adopted the custom.

2.10.11 Then Horatius Cocles said, Holy Father Tiberinus, I pray You may receive these arms and this Your soldier into the propitious flow of Your stream.

3.17.6: 0, Father Romulus, grant Your offspring that same spirit by which You once won back the Arx from these same Sabines after it had been captured with gold! Command that they take the same road on which You once lead Your army. See how I, the consul, will be the first to follow in Your footsteps as far as mortal man can follow a god.

3.25.7-8: The Aequian general bade the fetiales to recite their message from the Roman Senate to an oak tree: Let both this oak and whatever gods there are here listen and hear that the treaty has been broken by you, and let Them attend now to our complaint and presently support our arms, as we shall avenge the violation of the rights of the Gods and men alike.

5.21.2-3: Pythian Apollo, inspired by You and Your guiding influence I go forth to destroy the city of Veii. A tenth part of its spoils I devote to You. Likewise for You, Juno Regina, who in Veii now dwells, I pray, that after our victory You will follow us to the our City, that soon will become Your City as well, where a holy precinct worthy of Your dignity will be built to receive You.

6.16.1: Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Juno Regina, Minerva, and all you other gods and goddesses who dwell upon the Capitolium and the Arx, is this how you allow your defender, the protector of your shrines, to be treated, to be vexed and harassed by his enemies in this manner? Shall this right arm which drove the Gauls headlong from your shrines now be bound and chained?

6.26.6-7: May the Gods Immortal make it so, that happy results shall come from pious acts. 6.29.2: Be with us, O Gods, You who gave witness to this treaty, and exact swift punishment for the injuries You have suffered and for the injuries that likewise were made upon us by the deception vowed in Your holy name.

7.10.4: Blessings upon you, Titus Manlius, for your courage and your piety to your father?s memory and to your country.

7.26.3: Whether You are a god or a goddess who has sent this good omen to me, I pray You might attend me with Your favor and protection.

8.5: Listen, O Jupiter, to this wickedness. Listen, too, Justice and Lawfulness!

8.6.5: There is a heavenly power and You do exist, O great Jupiter; not in vain did we consecrate this seat to You, Father of Gods and Mankind.

8.9.6-8: Janus, Jupiter, Father Mars, Quirinus, Bellona, Lares, You divine Novensiles and You divine Indigetes, deities whose power extends over us and over our foes, and to You, too, Divine Manes, I pray, I do You reverence, I crave Your grace and favour will bless the Roman People, the Quirites, with power and victory, and will visit fear, dread and death on the enemies of the Roman People, the Quirites. In like manner as I have uttered this prayer so do I now on behalf of the commonwealth of the Quirites, on behalf of the army, the legions, the auxiliaries of the Roman People, the Quirites, devote the legions and auxiliaries of the enemy, together with myself to Tellus and the Divine Manes.

9.8.8-10: To you, immortal Gods, I pray and beseech, that if it was not Your will that the consuls Sp. Postumius and T. Veturius should carry on a successful war against the Samnites, then at least You may deem it enough to have seen us sent under the yoke, seen us compelled to submit to shameful obligations, seen us surrendered to the enemy, naked and in chains, taking all of his anger and hostility upon ourselves. May it be your will that new consuls shall lead fresh legions of Rome in war against the Samnites in the same victorious manner in which all wars were waged before we were made consuls.

10.19.17-18: If today, Bellona, You grant us victory, a new temple I vow.

19.27.1 ff.: When dawn arrived Scipio emerged from his headquarters in ritual decorum to pray before the advance guard. He prayed, - Gods and Goddesses who inhabit the land and sea, to You I pray and ask that whatsoever has been done under my auspices and my command, is now being done or shall be done, may prove beneficial for me, for the people of Rome and their children, and for our allies and the Latins, who joined with the Roman army under my auspices in waging war on land and sea. May Your good counsel and assistance be with me and may You bless all our endeavors with rich increase. May You guard the welfare and sustenance of our soldiers, allow the victors to return home healthy and safe, and laden with the spoils of victory. May they bring back honors and plunder to share in my triumphal procession after defeating our enemy. Grant to me and to the Roman people the power of vengeance and the opportunity and means to inflict on our enemies the same as the Carthaginians have striven to inflict against the people of Rome and thereby an example shall be set for others.

22.10.2 ff.: In these words, according to this formula he put the question to a vote in the assembly of the people, ?Is it your wish and desire, and do you so ordain, that this measure shall be carried out? If the Republic of the people of Rome, the Quirites, is preserved in the coming five years in these wars, as I so desire it preserved, that is, in the war of the people of Rome with the Carthaginians and the wars with the Gauls who are in Cisalps, then let the people of Rome, the Quirites, offer unto Jupiter, as an unalterable vow of sacrifice, whatever this spring shall bring forth from the herds and flocks of swine, sheep, goats, and cattle, whichever are not yet consecrated, from whatever day is set by the Senate and the people. Let him who makes sacrifice at whatever time he may wish, and by whatever rule he so desires, be deemed to have sacrificed in the proper manner. If a consecrated animal should die, may it not be considered to have broken this vow, may it not be thought a sin. If anyone unknowingly kills a consecrated animal, let it not be held a deceitful offense. If anyone steals a consecrated animal, let it not be held a sin against the people or against him from whom it was stolen. If he unknowingly makes sacrifice on a 'black' day, let it be regarded as made properly. If made at night or in the light of day, whether by a servant or a freedman, let the sacrifice be deemed as properly made. If sacrifice is made before the day appointed by the Senate and the people, let it not be held against the people but as if the vow was properly and freely resolved.

22.53.10-12: I swear with a deep conviction of mind that I shall never allow myself to desert the Republic of the people of Rome. If I should willfully break my oath, may Jupiter Optimus Maximus inflict upon me the worst, most shameful ruin, and on my house, my family, and all I possess.

24.38.8-9: Mother Ceres, and Proserpina also, and all You Gods above and below who inhabit this city, this hallowed lake and these sacred groves, I pray that You favorably attend us, if we have avoided, rather than given, deceit and falsehoods in taking our counsels.
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