38) resembling men tied hand and foot, which were taken down to the ancient bridge over the Tiber (pons sublicius) on the 14th of May by the pontifices and magistrates, with the flaminica Dialis in mourning guise, and there thrown into the Tiber by the Vestal virgins.
The collegium of the Pontifices was the most important priesthood of ancient Rome, being specially charged with the administration of the jus divinum, i.e.
During the republican period the number of pontifices increased, probably by multiples of three, until after Sulla (82 B.C.) we find them fifteen; for the year 57 B.C. we have a complete list of them in Cicero (Harusp. resp. 6, 12).
Included in the collegium were also the rex sacrorum, the flamines, three assistant pontifices (minores), and the vestal virgins, who were all chosen by the pontifex maximus.
Vacancies in the body of pontifices were originally filled by co-optation; but from the second Punic War onwards the pontifex maximus was chosen by a peculiar form of popular election, and in the last age of the republic this held good for all the members.