/fee"sheuhl/, adj.
concerned with declarations of war and treaties of peace: fetial law.
[1525-35; < L fetialis pertaining to a fetialis, a member of the Roman college of priests who acted as representatives in disputes with foreign nations]

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Any of a group of 20 Roman priestly officials who dealt with foreign relations.

Selected from noble families and appointed for life, they acted as emissaries to foreign lands in times of conflict. When Rome was offended by another city-state, the fetials would visit the city-state and demand satisfaction. They also delivered treaties and made formal declarations of war, based on the decisions of the Senate. This priesthood had faded by the late republic, but was later revived by Augustus.

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▪ Roman official
      any of a body of 20 Roman priestly officials who were concerned with various aspects of international relations, such as treaties and declarations of war. The fetials were originally selected from the most noble families; they served for life, but, like all priesthoods, they could only submit advice, not make binding decisions.

      According to Book 1 of Livy's history of Rome, after Rome had been injured by another state, four fetials were sent out to seek redress. One member, the verbenarius, carried herbs gathered from the Arx on the Capitoline Hill. Another member, called the pater patratus, served as the group's representative. Upon reaching the border of the offending state, the pater patratus first announced his mission and addressed a prayer to Jupiter in which he affirmed the justness of his errand. Crossing the border, he repeated the same form several times. If, after 30 days (some sources give 33), no satisfaction was given, the pater patratus harshly denounced the offending state and returned to Rome, where he reported to the Senate. If Rome decided to wage war, the pater patratus returned to the border, pronounced a declaration of war, and hurled across the boundary either a regular spear or a special stake sharpened and hardened in the fire. This ritual was supposed to keep Rome from waging an unjust or aggressive war. If, however, the hostile country was far away, the spear soon came to be cast upon a piece of land in front of the Temple of Bellona in Rome; by a legal fiction, that land was treated as belonging to the enemy. Thus the ritual limitations were overcome by such legal fictions, and the state entered into any wars that were seen to be to its advantage.

      When treaties were concluded, the verbenarius and the pater patratus were sent to the other nation; after reading the treaty aloud, they pronounced a curse on Rome should that state be the first to break it. The ceremony was concluded by killing a pig with a flint implement. By the time of the late republic, the institution had faded out, although the emperor Augustus (63 BC–AD 14) revived the group, ceremonially at least, and became a member himself in his effort to restore old Roman traditions.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • feţial — feţiál s. m. (sil. ţi al), pl. feţiáli Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa: Dicţionar ortografic  FEŢIÁL s. m. (la romani) preot şi magistrat dintr un colegiu de 20 de membri, având funcţia de a împlini formalităţile juridice şi religioase… …   Dicționar Român

  • fétial — ● fétial ou fécial nom masculin Prêtre et magistrat romain dont la fonction était d accomplir les formalités juridiques et religieuses relatives à la guerre. (Les fétiaux procédaient aussi aux cérémonies symboliques de la déclaration de guerre.) …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • fetial — (adj.) 1530s, pertaining to the Fetiales, the Roman diplomatic corps, a college of 20 priests whose duty was to act as heralds and maintain the laws of war, from L. fetiales speaking, negotiating, diplomatic, of unknown origin …   Etymology dictionary

  • fetial — [fē′shəl] n. [L fetialis < fetiales, pl., college of priests < OL * fetis < IE * dhē ti s, statute < base * dhē : see DO1] in ancient Rome, any of a group of priests who gave advice in the conduct of war, diplomatic negotiations, etc …   English World dictionary

  • fétial, fétiale, fétiaux ou fécial, féciale, féciaux — ● fétial, fétiale, fétiaux ou fécial, féciale, féciaux adjectif (du latin fetialis) Qui appartient aux fétiaux …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • FETIAL — fetialis …   Abbreviations in Latin Inscriptions

  • fetial — fe·tial …   English syllables

  • fetial —   a. pertaining to declaration of war and peace; heraldic …   Dictionary of difficult words

  • fetial — …   Useful english dictionary

  • fetial law — Same as fecial law …   Ballentine's law dictionary

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