• Federico Russo


The ludi saeculares present various problems. We know neither the exact date they were established, nor the public or private character of the first games, nor even the double (or triple, if we consider that there were at least two well identifiable interventions regarding
regulations on the dates of the games) chronology of their celebrations until the Augustan age.
We can however surely say that the games were celebrated in 249 B.C. and 146 B.C., and most probably in 348 B.C. More than the date, we are interested in the problem raised by the oracle that ancient tradition connects with the celebration of the ludi saeculares, quoted by Phlegon of Tralles (Περὶ μακροβίων, 37, 5, 2-4 = FgrHist 257 F 37 V) and Zosimos (II, 5-7). The article focuses on the conclusive section of the oracle, where mention is made of the yoke that Rome has and will continue to have on Italy, if it abides by what is said by the oracle about the ‘Latin land' and the ‘Italian land'. Regarding the ‘Italian land', modern scholars have suggested
that this expression is prior to the SocialWar, because after 89 B.C. it would have been considered insulting to use these words to describe the relationship with the Italians.
This article tries to show that the possible context in which the oracle (or better, the reference to the Roman yoke on the Italian land) was settled has to be identified with the celebration of the ludi in 249 B.C., before the reduction of Sicily to the status of provincia.