Lectisternium (Lat. lectus, a couch, and sternere, to spread), a religious festival ceremony among the ancient Romans. It was celebrated during times of public calamity, when the gods were invited to the entertainment, and their statues taken from their pedestals and laid on couches. The lectisternium, according to Livy (5:13), was first celebrated in the year of Rome 354 (on the occasion of a contagious disease which committed frightful ravages among the cattle), and lasted for eight successive days. On the celebration of this festival enemies were said to forget their animosities, and all prisoners were liberated. — Brande and Cox, Dictionary of Art and Sciences, vol. 2, s.v.

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