The Ancile, in ancient Rome, is the legendary buckler shield of the god Mars, said to have fallen from heaven, upon Numa Pompilius. At the same time, a voice was heard which declared that Rome should be mistress of the world while the shield was preserved. The Ancile was, as it were, the palladium of Rome.

Different authors give different etymologies of this word. Some derive it from the Greek "άγκύλοσ", "crooked". Varro derives it "ab Ancisu", as being cut or arched on the two sides, like the bucklers of the Thracians, called peltæ. Plutarch thinks the word may be derived from the Greek "άγκών", "elbow", this weapon being worn on the elbow. The opinion of Varro, however, is more probable.

Though there was but one Ancile that fell from heaven, there were twelve preserved, called the Ancilia; Numa, by the advice, as it is said, of the nymph Egeria, ordered eleven others, perfectly like the first, to be made. This was so that if anyone should attempt to steal it, as Ulysses did the Palladium, they might not be able to distinguish the true Ancile from the false ones.

These Ancilia were preserved in the temple of Mars, and were committed to the care of twelve priests of Salii, instituted for that purpose. They were carried every year, in the month of March, in procession around Rome, and on the 30th day of that month, were again deposited in their place.

ee also

*Mars (god)

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  • Ancile — An*ci le, n. [L.] (Rom. Antiq.) The sacred shield of the Romans, said to have fallen from heaven in the reign of Numa. It was the palladium of Rome. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Ancīle — (röm. Ant.), 1) kleiner, länglich runder Schild; 2) bes. der, welcher zu Numas Zeit vom Himmel fiel. Die Haruspices knüpften die Weltherrschaft an seinen Besitz. Um die Entwendung zu verhüten, ließ Numa 11 jenem ganz ähnliche Schilde (Ancilĭa)… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

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  • Ancile — Ancile, ein kleiner, ovaler, in der Mitte etwas eingebogener Schild, der vom Himmel in König Numas Haus oder Hand fiel und als Pfand der Weltherrschaft Roms galt; deßwegen wurden 11 andere, diesem gleiche Schilde gefertigt, damit die Entwendung… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

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  • ancile — /an suy lee, ahng kee lay/, n., pl. ancilia /an sil ee euh, ahng kil /. Rom. Religion. 1. a shield given by Mars to Numa Pompilius as the palladium of Rome. 2. any of 11 counterfeits of this shield, carried with it on ceremonial occasions. [1590… …   Universalium

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