Colonies were established by Rome throughout its whole history. They were intended to keep in check a conquered people, and also to repress hostile incursions. Many were founded to provide for veteran soldiers; a practice which was begun by Sulla, and continued under the Emperors.

No colony was established without a lex, plebiscítum, or senatus consultum. Religious ceremonies always accompanied their foundation, and the anniversary was observed.

The colonies were divided into two classes, viz. Roman, and Latin or military. Members of the former class had all the rights of Roman citizens; those of the latter could not vote in the Comitia at Rome. TheLatíni, who were once Roman citizens, and who always felt equal to them, were uneasy in their subordinate position. But by the Julian law, passed in 90 B. C., they acquired the right of voting at Rome, and were placed on the same footing as Roman colonists.


The Roman year began with March. There were twelve months, and each month had three divisions, the KALENDS, NONES, and IDES. The Kalends fell on the first of the month; the Nones, on the 7th of March, May, July, and October; in other months, on the 5th. The Ides came eight days after the Nones. If an event happened on these divisions, it was said to occur on the Kalends, Nones, or Ides of the month. If it happened between any of these divisions, it was said to occur so many days before the division following the event. The year was reckoned from the foundation of the city (753 B.C.), and often the names of the Consuls of that year were added.


The Romans were religious, and had numerous gods and goddesses: JUPITER and JUNO, the god and goddess of light; SATURN, the god of seed-sowing; TELLUS, the goddess of the nourishing earth; CERES, the goddess of growth; CONSUS and OPS, who presided over the harvest; PALES, the god of the flocks; and LUPERCUS, the god of fertility. Various festivals were celebrated in honor of these, as the Saturnalia, in December; the Tellilia (Tellus), Cerialia (Ceres), and Palilia (Pales), in April; and the Lupercalia, in February.

VESTA was the goddess of the house, and as every family had an altar erected for her worship, so the state, as a combination of families, had a common altar to her in the temple of Vesta. In this temple were also worshipped the Penátes and Lares.

The LARES were special guardians of private houses. Some protected fields and cities. Images of Lares of diminutive size, clad often in dog-skins, were ranged along the hearth. The people honored them on the Kalends of May and other festival days by decking them with flowers, and by offering them wine, incense, flour, and portions of their meals upon plates.

The PENÁTES were kept and worshipped only in the inmost chambers of houses and temples. Their statues, made of wax, wood, or ivory, were also kept in the inner hall.

The priestesses of Vesta were six in number, and were called VESTAL VIRGINS. When a vestal was to be elected, the Pontifex Maximus chose twenty young girls from high families. Of these one was chosen by lot to fill the vacancy, and she was bound to serve for thirty years. The Vestals were preceded by a lictor when in public. They had private seats in the public shows, and had the power of delivering from punishment any condemned person they happened to meet. They wore white dresses and white fillets. Their chief duty was to keep the fire always burning on the hearth (focus publicus) in the temple. They could not marry.


The FLAMINES were priests devoted to the service of some particular god. There were fifteen, and they were chosen first in the Comitia Curiáta, and afterwards probably in the Tributa. The most distinguished of all the Flamines was the FLAMEN DIÁLIS (Jupiter). He had the right to a lictor, to the sella curulis, and to a seat in the Senate. If one in bonds took refuge in his house, the chains were at once removed. This priest, however, could not be away from the city a single night, and was forbidden to sleep out of his own bed for three consecutive nights. He was not allowed to mount a horse, or even to touch one, or to look upon an army outside of the city walls.


These were priests of Mars, twelve in number, and always chosen from the patricians. They celebrated the festival of Mars on the 1st of March, and for several successive days.


This body varied in number, from three, in early times, to sixteen in the time of Caesar. It was composed of men who were believed to interpret the will of the gods, and to declare whether the omens were favorable or otherwise. No public act of any kind could be performed, no election held, no law passed, no war waged, without first consulting the omens. There was no appeal from the decision of the Augurs, and hence their power was great. They held office for life, and were a close corporation, filling their own vacancies until 103 B. C.


This was another body of priests holding office for life, and numbering probably twenty. They were expected, whenever any dispute arose with other nations, to demand satisfaction, to determine whether hostilities should be begun, and to preside at any ratification of peace.