Ver Sacer
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Basic Information

The Ver sacer ("consecrated spring") was, human sacrifice aside, the most extreme form of propitiation the Roman people knew to offer to their gods. This offering consisted of dedicating to the gods all the produce of the following spring - including a portion of all crops, and the sacrifice of all animals born that year. Some of the other Italian tribes with whom the Romans shared this tradition would also sacrifice the children born that spring, but the Romans compromised this tradition on the occasions where they performed it and instead allowed the children to grow to adulthood and then exiled them to form a new settlement.

As can be imagined, this sort of offering placed a great burden on the community and, in the tradition of do ut des would be expected to generate an equally significant response from the gods - typically it was reserved for times of great national calamity when it was thought that the gods were alienated from or angered by the people and needed to be reconciled by an extravagant gift.

This is not to be confused with the (similarly spelt) Vir sacer - which essentially was the Roman equivalent of being an outlaw. The concepts are, perhaps related, except the "sacer" in this case was more of abandonment to the care of the gods1 than what we would think of as consecration.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Possible source for a PC party, being (some of) the exiles of a ver sacer.
  • Where this sort of thing really works, we can suspect that anyone holding back or trying to cheat the sacrifice might cause significant problems - presumably the Roman response would involve the Tarpeian Rock or some similar form of ritual death.
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