For the earlier period their authorities were state and family records - above all, the annales maximi (or annales pontificum), the official chronicle of Rome, in which the notable occurrences of each year from the foundation of the city were set down by the pontifex maximus.
He prohibited heathen worship at Rome; refused to wear the insignia of the pontifex maximus as unbefitting a Christian;.
40) calls the chief priest summits pontifex, probably the pater patrum who had general supervision of all the initiates in one city, and states that he could marry but once.
2 3); and in public sacrifices it was not only sprinkled on the head of the victim by the pontifex before its slaughter, and afterwards mingled with its blood, but was also thrown upon the flames over which it was roasted.
(by the bull Romanus Pontifex, Dec. 20, 1584) ordered the bishops of Italy, Dalmatia and Greece to visit Rome every three years; those of France, Germany, Spain and Portugal, Belgium, Hungary, Bohemia and the British Isles every four years; those from the rest of Europe every five years; and bishops from other continents every ten years.
In 63 B.C., at Caesar's instigation, he prosecuted Gaius Rabirius for treason; in the same year, as tribune of the plebs, he carried a plebiscite which indirectly secured for Caesar the dignity of pontifex maximus (Dio Cassius xxxvii.
Cicero states that from the earliest period down to the pontificate of Publius Mucius Scaevola (c. 131 B.C.), it was usual for the pontifex maximus to record on a white tablet (album), which was exhibited in an open place at his house, so that the people might read it, first, the name of the consuls and other magistrates, and then the noteworthy events that had occurred during the year (per singulos dies, as Servius says).
By these means, and by the lavishness of his expenditure on public entertainments as aedile, he acquired such popularity with the plebs that he was elected pontifex maximus in 63 B.C. against such distinguished rivals as Q.
Ancus Marcius is merely a duplicate of Numa, as is shown by his second name, Numa Marcius, the confidant and pontifex of Numa, being no other than Numa Pompilius himself, represented as priest.
The identification with Ancus is shown by the legend which makes the latter a bridge-builder (pontifex), the constructor of the first wooden bridge over the Tiber.
This assembly also met, under the name of the comitia calata and under the presidency of the pontifex maximus, for certain religious acts.
The Annales Maximi of the Pontifex Maximus, the annual edicts of the praetor, the lists of Roman and municipal senators, (decuriones) and jurors (album indicum) were exhibited in this manner.
Two individuals are of some importance: (i) Marcus Cornelius Cethegus, pontifex maximus and curule aedile, 213 B.C. In 211, as praetor, he had charge of Apulia; later, he was sent to Sicily, where he proved a successful administrator.
Mucius Scaevola, the pontifex maximus, a still more famous jurisconsult, nephew of the augur.
His imperium was renewed, again for five years, and in 12 B.C., on the death of his former fellow-triumvir Lepidus, he was elected Pontifex Maximus.
Both consuls were anxious to obtain the command against him; Crassus was pontifex maximus, and Flaccus a flamen of Mars.
The popular assembly remitted the fine, but Flaccus was ordered to obey the pontifex maximus.
Crassus accordingly proceeded to Asia, although in doing so he violated the rule which forbade the pontifex maximus to leave Italy.
Other styles met with in official documents are Pontifex, Summus pontifex, Romanus pontifex, Sanctissimus, Sanctissimus pater, Sanctissimus dominos noster, Sanctitas sua, Beatissimus pater, Beatitudo sua; while the pope is addressed in speaking as "Sanctitas vestra," or "Beatissime pater."
The flamens were subject to the pontifex maximus, and were consecrated to the service of some particular deity.
Its constitution resembled that of an ancient priestly college, and Laetus was styled pontifex maximus.
These lictors were probably supplied from the lictores curiatii, thirty in number, whose functions were specially religious, one of them being in attendance on the pontifex maximus.
Down to the time of the Gracchi (131 B.C.) the Pontifex Maximus inscribed the year's events upon annual tablets of wood which were preserved in the Regia, the official residence of the pontiff in the Forum.
Ahenobarbus was elected pontifex maximus in 103, consul in 96 and censor in 92 with Lucius Licinius Crassus the orator, with whom he was frequently at variance.
Under the republic they emerge into prominence under a pontifex maximus, who took over the king's duties as chief administrator of religious law, just as his chief sacrificial duties were taken by the rex sacrorum; his dwelling was the regia, " the house of the king."
Included in the collegium were also the rex sacrorum, the flamines, three assistant pontifices (minores), and the vestal virgins, who were all chosen by the pontifex maximus.
Vacancies in the body of pontifices were originally filled by co-optation; but from the second Punic War onwards the pontifex maximus was chosen by a peculiar form of popular election, and in the last age of the republic this held good for all the members.
The immense authority of the college centred in the pontifex maximus, the other pontifices forming his consilium or advising body.
It is obvious that a priesthood having such functions as these, and holding office for life, must have been a great power in the state, and for the first three centuries of the republic it is probable that the pontifex maximus was in fact its most powerful member.