On 3 Decemeber, I gave the talk, “Nullus enim fons non sacer: Religious Water-Displays in the Roman World” for the Roman Discussion Forum at Oxford University. Here is the abstract:
Stemming from Servius’ gloss on the Aeneid that all springs are sacred, this paper explores the concept of ‘sacred’ water in the Roman world. Water was used in a variety of Roman religious practices, especially ablutions and ritualistic cleansings, and marriage rites. Water-displays that are then found in religious contexts afford the opportunity to examine the nature of ‘sacred’ water. Contexts discussed in this paper include sources and their sanctuaries (e.g., Nemi and the nymphaeum of Egeria), imperial cult (e.g., at Conímbriga, Portugal and at Nîmes, France), and extra-urban Apollo sanctuaries tied to healing (e.g., the source sanctuary at Vicarello, Italy). Various issues come out of the discussion of the three contexts, including the practice of grafting Roman cult on to native water cults, the use of innovative architectural forms to highlight various aspects of a religious sanctuary tied to water, and the design of religious spaces to accommodate access to water, whether for display or for religious use.
Reconstruction of the Nymphaeum at the Sanctuary of Diana, Nemi, Italy. (From: Ghini, G. and F. Diosono. 2013. “Caligola e il Santuario di Diana.” In Caligola: La trasgressione al potere, edited by G. Ghini, 231-236. Rome: Gangemi Editore. Fig. 5.)