Ancile

Ancile

in Roman mythology, was the name of a small oval shield, which was cut on the side, and was said to have fallen from heaven under Numa's reign. The nymph Egeria and the Muses had made the welfare of the city of Rome dependent upon the preservation of this shield; therefore it was placed for safety in a temple on the Palatian or Capitolinian Mountain. Mamurius Veturius was ordered to make eleven other shields similar to the first one, in order that the true shield might not be discerned. These twelve shields were carried once a year through the city by priests called Salii at Rome in the month of March, in honor of the descent of the original from heaven. The ceremonies consisted of sacrifices to the gods, singing, and dancing, participated in by a chorus of girls, dressed like the Salii, and called Salise. Though the feast and procession were held properly in March, yet the ancilia were moved whenever a just war was declared by order of the Senate against any state or people.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 
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