Aius Locutius

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Aius Locutius or Aius Loquens was a Roman god or numen connected to the early 4th-century BC Gallic assaults of Rome.

His name can be translated as “announcer”. He was a Deity of Mysterious Warning who alerted Rome of the invasion of the Gauls in 390 BC. He had a temple, but no statues or depictions.

Legend has it that a Roman peasant called M. Caedicius once heard a nighttime voice coming from the holy grove of Vesta at the foot of the Palatine hill. It informed him of an impending Gaulish assault, urged fortification of Rome’s walls, and asked him to convey these instructions to the tribune of the plebs, but due to the messenger’s lowly position, the message was disregarded. As a result, the Gauls invaded and set fire to the city (c. 391 BC). The Senate constructed a temple and altar (known as Ara Aius Locutius or Ara Saepta) after the Gauls were routed in order to worship the unnamed deity who had issued the warning.

Aius Locutius stands out in the overall scheme of official Roman religion. Officially, the gods may communicate via the enigmatic writings and utterances of specialist oracles or by a sophisticated system of signs in response to the precise queries of State augurs. Additionally, they could send their most prized proteges lucky signals or communicate with them in private through dreams. Aius Locutius addressed a common passerby in daily Latin while giving him precise, urgent instructions that were of utmost significance to the State in a voice that was “clearer than human.”

Featured image: Artistic interpretation of the Gauls approaching Rome by Evariste-Vital Luminous

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