CICERONE, ARNOBIO E IL MODO DI CONDURRE I CARRI SACRI
AbstractTensam non tenuit. Cicero, Arnobius and the driving of sacred chariots
Arnobius nat. 4,31 contains a reference, borrowed from Cicero har. resp. 23, to the tensae, the chariots used in the procession preceding the circus games (pompa circensis) to carry the sacred objects belonging to the statues of the Gods. Both Arnobius’ and Cicero’s passages are corrupt in the manuscript tradition, since the scribes changed the difficult word tensam in the much simpler form terram. Cicero’s text was restored as early as the 16th century by Antonio Agustín, but Arnobius’ was not, since
the Christian author has always been thought to have derived his reference from an already corrupt copy of Cicero’s oration. Relying on literary as well as archaeological evidence, the paper argues that the reading terram is illogical and that in the early 4th century, when Arnobius wrote his Adversus nationes, the ancient tensae were still in use for circus processions.
For these reasons neither Arnobius, nor his readers could find the expression terram non tenuit acceptable. The scribal simplification tensam > terram could only take place, in both Cicero’s and Arnobius’ texts, after the word tensam had become no longer understandable, which means not before the 5th century (after the end of pagan processions and cults).