fetial

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Latin fētiālis (priest who sanctioned treaties and demanded satisfaction from enemies before formal declarations of war), possibly from Old Latin fetis (statute; treaty) + -ālis (suffix forming adjectives indicating a relationship).[1]

It has also been suggested that fētiālis is derived from Proto-Indo-European *dʰéh₁tis (foundation) and related to Latin faciō (to do; to build, construct; to appoint) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *dʰeh₁- (to do, place, put)) and Latin fās (divine law; will of God) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bʰeh₂- (to say, speak)).[2]

The plural form fetiales (probably IPA(key): (RP) /ˈfiːʃəleɪs/, (GA) /ˈfiʃəˌleɪs/) is borrowed from Latin fētiālēs.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

fetial (plural fetials or fetiales)

  1. (Ancient Rome, politics, religion, historical) A member of the Roman college of priests who acted as representatives in disputes with foreign nations. [from 1525–1535]
    • 1892, Pindar, “Isthmian II. Ode in Honour of a Victory in the Chariot-race at Isthmus Won by Xenocrates of Acragas”, in ‎J[ohn] B[agnell] Bury, editor, ΠΙΝΔΑΡΟΥ ΕΠΙΝΙΚΟΙ ΙΣΘΜΙΟΝΙΚΑΙΣ [PINDAROU EPINIKOI ISTHMIONIKAIS] = The Isthmian Odes of Pindar: Edited with Introduction and Commentary, London; New York, N.Y.: Macmillan and Co., OCLC 504044521, footnote 23, page 45, column 1:
      Nicomachus, as explained in the next line, was already known to the Elean priests or fetials, or whatever we are to call them, as a guest-friend.
    • 1919, Livy; B. O. Foster, transl., “Ab Urbe Condita: Liber I [From the Founding of the City: Book I]”, in Livy in Fourteen Volumes [...] With an English Translation (Loeb Classical Library), volume I (Books I and II), Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann Ltd., published 1967, OCLC 919607375, paragraph XXXII, page 119:
      It was customary for the fetial to carry to the bounds of the other nation a cornetwood spear, iron-pointed or hardened in the fire, and in the presence of not less than three grown men to say, "Whereas the tribes of the Ancient Latins and men of the Ancient Latins have been guilty of acts and offences against the Roman People of the Quirites; [] I therefore and the Roman People declare and make war on the tribes of the Ancient Latins and the men of the Ancient Latins." Having said this, he would hurl his spear into their territory.
    • 1928, Geoffrey Butler; Simon Maccoby, “Intercourse: In Peace”, in The Development of International Law (Contributions to International Law and Diplomacy), London; New York, N.Y.: Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd.; reprinted Clark, N.J.: The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd., 2003 (2007 printing), →ISBN, page 74:
      After an insult had been offered Rome, or a wrong inflicted on it, several of the twenty sacred heralds, members of the College of Fecials, proceeded to demand reparation. [] [I]f war were decided, a second deputation of fecials was nominated upon whom was placed the symbolic duty of discharging a javelin into the enemy camp. This part of the procedure had obvious difficultes, and, after resorting to the fiction of performing it at an enemy camp in Rome, the fecials finally adopted an appropriate ceremony at the temple of Bellona. The fecials also had religious functions at the conclusion of a peace. It was the oath taken by the chief fecial which sanctified a treaty entered into with, or by, the Roman people.
    • 2005, Richard E. Mitchell, “The Definition of Patres and Plebs: An End to the Struggle of the Orders”, in Kurt A[rnold] Raaflaub, editor, Social Struggles in Archaic Rome: New Perspectives on the Conflict of the Orders, 2nd expanded and updated edition, Malden, Mass.; London: Blackwell Publishing, →ISBN, pages 142–143:
      [P]erhaps the shadowy fetials were never actually an independent priesthood but were senatorial priests assigned diplomatic functions. If fetials were originally senators, this would explain the parallel fetial and senatorial function in "international relations" and account for the continuity between fetials and later senatorial legates. Of the twenty patrician fetials, only four were customarily chosen to serve in an embassy.
    • 2008, Clifford Ando, “Religion and Imperialism at Rome”, in The Matter of the Gods: Religion and the Roman Empire (The Transformation of the Classical Heritage), Berkeley; Los Angeles, Calif; London: University of California Press, part II (Gods of the Far-flung Empire), page 128:
      According to authors of the late Republic, the fetials supervised Roman adherence to the iura belli, the laws of war. How, then, should we interpret the silence with respect to the fetials of Polybius, the central concern of whose history was Roman imperialism, but who mentions the fetials not even once?
    • 2016, Amanda J. Coles, “'Ius Fetiale'”, in Sara E[lise] Phang, Iain Spence, Douglas Kelly, and Peter Londey, editors, Conflict in Ancient Greece and Rome: The Definitive Political, Social, and Military Encyclopedia, volume 3 (H–Z, Roman Section), Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, →ISBN, page 973, column 2:
      Fetiales also investigated allies' claims of abuse by Romans; if substantiated, the fetiales delivered the men accused to the injured parties.

Alternative forms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Adjective[edit]

fetial (not comparable)

  1. Of or relating to a fetial (member of the Roman college of priests who acted as representatives in disputes with foreign nations); (by extension) ambassadorial, heraldic.
    • 2005, Richard E. Mitchell, “The Definition of Patres and Plebs: An End to the Struggle of the Orders”, in Kurt A[rnold] Raaflaub, editor, Social Struggles in Archaic Rome: New Perspectives on the Conflict of the Orders, 2nd expanded and updated edition, Malden, Mass.; London: Blackwell Publishing, →ISBN, pages 142–143:
      [P]erhaps the shadowy fetials were never actually an independent priesthood but were senatorial priests assigned diplomatic functions. If fetials were originally senators, this would explain the parallel fetial and senatorial function in "international relations" and account for the continuity between fetials and later senatorial legates.
  2. Concerned with declarations of war and treaties of peace.
    • 1832, James Kent, “Lecture I. Of the Foundation and History of the Law of Nations.”, in Commentaries on American Law, volume I, 2nd edition, New York, N.Y.: O. Halsted, OCLC 1930624, part I (Of the Law of Nations), page 6:
      The institution of a college of heralds and the fecial law, were proofs of a people considerably advanced in the cultivation of the law of nations as a science; and yet with what little attention they were accustomed to listen to the voice of justice and humanity, []
    • 1848, Archer Polson; Thomas Hartwell Horne, “Section II. History of the Law of Nations.”, in Principles of the Law of Nations, with Practical Notes and Supplementary Essays on the Law of Blockade and on Contraband of War. [...] To which is Added, Diplomacy. By Thomas Hartwell Horne, [...], London: John Joseph Griffin and Co., 53, Baker Street; Glasglow: Richard Griffin and Co., page 8:
      With the Fetial Law we are only imperfectly acquainted, but it seems to have been simply a law peculiar to the Romans, and regulating their conduct towards foreigners, and not properly an international law common to other nations, and determining on general principles their respective rights and duties.
    • 2006, J. Craig Barker, “Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on the Protection of Diplomatic Personnel”, in The Protection of Diplomatic Personnel, Hampshire; Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate; republished Abingdon, Oxon.; New York, N.Y.: Routledge, 2016, →ISBN, page 30:
      Religion played a central role in the making and application of fetial law. Thus, according to Frank, fetial law was based upon “the oath of good faith that was spoken upon the making of the treaties as well as the oath of innocence taken when war was declared”.
    • 2007, Edward Bispham, From Asculum to Actium: The Municipalization of Italy from the Social War to Augustus (Oxford Classical Monographs), Oxford: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 55:
      It is interesting that centuries later Servius, in his commentary on the Aeneid, located in this same conflict a change in the fetial ritual for declaring war, whereby a piece of fictive enemy land was created in the Circus Flaminius (near the temple of Bellona), into which the fetiales (fetial priests) could throw their spears.

Alternative forms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ fetial” in Merriam–Webster Online Dictionary.
  2. ^ Georges Dumézil (1974) La religion romaine archaique : avec un appendice sur la religion des Etrusques [The Religion of Ancient Rome: With an Appendix on the Religion of the Etruscans] (Bibliothèque historique [Historical Library]), 2nd edition, Paris: Payot, OCLC 174781025.

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