of ancient Rome
Pontifices · Augures · Septemviri epulonum
Quindecimviri sacris faciundis
|Other colleges or sodalities|
|Fetiales · Fratres Arvales · SaliiTitii · Luperci · Sodales Augustales|
Pontifex Maximus · Rex Sacrorum
Flamen Dialis · Flamen Martialis
Flamen Quirinalis · Rex NemorensisCurio maximus
|Virgo Vestalis MaximaFlaminica Dialis · Regina sacrorum|
|Religion in ancient Rome · Imperial cultGlossary of ancient Roman religionGallo-Roman religion|
The epulones (Latin for "feasters"; sing. epulo) arranged feasts and public banquets at festivals and games (ludi). They constituted one of the four great religious corporations (quattuor amplissima collegia) of ancient Roman priests.
The college was founded in 196 BC. The need for such a college arose as the increasingly elaborate festivals required experts to oversee their organization.
There were four great religious corporations (quattuor amplissima collegia) of ancient Roman priests; the two most important were the College of Pontiffs and the college of augurs; the fourth was the quindecimviri sacris faciundis. The third college was the epulones; their duties to arrange the feasts and public banquets for festivals and games (ludi) had originally been carried out by the pontiffs.
The College of Epulones was established long after civil reforms had opened the magistracies and most priesthoods to plebeians, who were thus eligible from its beginning. Initially there were three epulones, but later their number was increased to seven; hence they were also known as the septemviri epulonum, "seven men of the epulones". Julius Caesar expanded the college to ten, but after his death it was reduced back to seven.
The patera was the sacred bowl used by the epulones. It was shallow with a raised center so that when held in the palm, the thumb could be placed on the raised centre without profaning the libation, as it is poured into the focus, or sacred fire. The patera was the special emblem of the epulones. The paten used today by Roman Catholic priests, omits the raised center.