Thursday, July 03, 2008


Lex Luci Spoletina

From Richard F. Thomas, "Tree Violation and Ambivalence in Virgil," Transactions of the American Philological Association 118 (1988) 261-273 (at 263, n. 8), I learned about a law that regulated tree cutting in a sacred grove. The law is preserved in a 3rd century B.C. inscription from Spoleto, published in Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum XI 4766 = I² 366, in Hermann Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, n. 4911, and in V. Arangio-Ruiz, Fontes iuris Romani anteiustiniani, III (Firenze, 1943), p. 223, n. 71a.

There are a couple of recent English translations of this inscription. One is by John Scheid, "Oral tradition and written tradition in the formation of sacred law in Rome," in Clifford Ando and Jörg Rüpke, edd. Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2006 = Potsdamer Altertumswissenschaftliche Beiträge, 15), pp. 14-33 (at 23):
Nobody shall violate this grove, export or take away what belongs to the grove. Nobody shall cut (wood) except for the requirements of the annual divine sevice; on that day it shall be allowed to cut without malice for the requirements of divine service. If someone violates (this rule), he shall offer a piaculum of an ox to Jupiter; if someone violates (it) intentionally with malice, an expiatory sacrifice of an ox shall be offered to Jupiter, and three hundred asses shall be perceived as a fine. The offering of the piaculum and the collection of the fine shall be the responsibility of the dictator.
The other is by Ken Dowden, European Paganism: The Realities of Cult from Antiquity to the Middle Ages (London: Routledge, 2000), p. 108:
Let no-one violate this grove nor carry out anything that is in the grove nor set foot in it [or possibly 'cut it'] except annually on the day of the rite; on the day when it is done because of the rite it shall be permitted to enter (cut) it with impunity. Whosoever violates the grove shall give a purificatory offering of an ox to Jupiter; whoever violates it knowingly and maliciously shall give a purificatory offering of an ox to Jupiter and shall be fined 300 asses [a unit of currency]. The chief magistrate shall be responsible for the exaction of the offering and fine.
Here is the Latin:
Honce loucom ne qu<i>s uiolatod neque exuehito neque exferto quod louci siet, neque cedito nesei quo die res deina anua fiet; eod die quod rei dinai cau[s]a [f]iat, sine dolo cedre [l]icetod, seiquis uiolasit Ioue bouid piaclum datod, si quis scies uiolasit dolo malo, Iouei bouid piaclum datod et a(sses) CCC moltai suntod; eius piacli moltaique dicator[ei] exactio est[od].
I'm not sure where "perceived" in Scheid's translation comes from. I would just leave it out. In Dowden's version the alternative "cut" seems better than "enter" as a translation of cedito and cedre.

I haven't seen the discussions by Rudolf Wachter, Altlateinische Inschriften: Sprachliche und epigraphische Untersuchungen zu den Dokumenten bis etwa 150 v. Chr. (Bern: Peter Lang, 1987), pp. 426-432, and Silvio Panciera, "La Lex Luci Spoletina e la legislazione sui boschi sacri in età Romana," in Monteluco e i Monti Sacri: Atti dell'incontro di studio (Spoleto, 30 settembre-2 ottobre 1993) (Spoleto: Centro italiano di studi sull'Alto Medievo, 1994), reprinted in Panciera's Epigrafi, epigrafia, epigrafisti: Scritti vari editi e inediti (1956-2005) (Roma: Edizioni Quasar, 2006).

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