Pontifex Maximus

정교일치의 고대 로마에서 종교적으로 최고 위치에 있는 직위는 ‘최고 제사장’으로 칭하는 ‘Pontifex Maximus’인데, 이 이름의 어원을 살펴 보면 재미있는 사실을 알 수 있다.

The term pontifex literally means “bridge-builder” (pons + facere); Maximus literally means ‘the greatest’, i.e. the highest. This was perhaps originally meant in a literal sense: the position of bridge-builder was indeed an important one in Rome, where the major bridges were over the Tiber, the holy river (and a deity, at the same time); only prestigious authorities, with sacral functions, could be allowed to “disturb” it with mechanical additions. However, it was always understood in its symbolic sense as well: the pontifices were the ones who smoothened the bridge between gods and men (Van Haeperen). It has besides been noted that in ancient India similar concepts were in use in similar ages, here too ideally regarding rivers and bridges. [Pontifex Maximus]

달리 해석할 수도 있다지만 어원으로만 따지면 ‘Pontifex Maximus’는 ‘The Greatest Bridge Builder’라는 사실. 교량기술자가 얼마나 위대하고 높은 지위였었는지… 자부심을 갖자. :)

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