Fetiales

Fetiales a college of ancient Roman priests, supposed to have been instituted by Numa, whose duty it was to see that, in all transactions with other nations, the public faith should be maintained inviolate. In case of any injury from a neighboring nation, four fetales were despatched to claim redress. One of these was chosen to represent the four. This deputy then proceeded to the court of the injuring tribe or nation, delivered his message, and waited thirty days for an answer. On his return the government would proceed in accordance with the message he brought, and in case of a declaration of war it became the duty of the fetial deputy to return at once to the border of the offending country, and, throwing a spear pointed with iron or smeared with blood, to make a solemn declaration of war in the name of the Roman people upon the inhabitants of that land.

 
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