FASTI. Fas, in Latin, signifies divine law, and fa,stus, anything in accordance with divine law. Hence the dies fasti, or lawful days, among the Romans, were the days on which it was lawful to transact business before the praetor. But the sacred books, in which the lawful days of the year were marked, were themselves denominated fasti, and the term was employed, in an extended sense, to signify various kinds of registers, which have been often confounded with each other. These registers fall into two prin cipal divisions—the F. Sacri or Kalendares, and the F. Annales or Historic'.
1. Fasti Kalendares, or calendars of the year, were kept exclusively by the priests for about four centuries and a half after the building of the city. The appearance of the new moon was proclaimed by a pontifex, who at the same time announced to the people the time which would intervene between the calends and nones. See CALENDS, also CALENDAR. On the nones, the country-people assembled for the purpose of learn ing from the Rex Sacrorum the various festivals of the month, and the days on which they would fall. In the same way, those who intended to go to law, learned on what days it would be right (fas) to do so. The mystery with which this lore was surrounded, for purposes of power and profit, by the favored class, was dispelled by Cn. Flavius, the scribe of Appius Crocus, who surreptitiously copied from the pontifical book the requisite information, and published it to the people in the forum. From this, time-tables (fasts) became common, very much resembling modern almanacs. They con tained the days and months of the year, the nones, ides, lawful and unlawful days, etc. ; astronomical observations on the rising and setting of the fixed stars, the commence ment of the seasons, brief notices concerning the introduction and signification of cer tain rites, the dedication of temples, the dates of victories, disasters, and the like. In later times, the exploits and honors of the imperial family were duly entered in the calendar. The celebrated Fasti of Ovid is a sort of poetical companion to the calendar,
as published by Julius Cmsar, who remodeled the Roman year.
Several very curious specimens of F. on stone and marble have been discovered, of which one of the most remarkable is the Kalendarium Prmnestinum, which stood in the lower part of the forum of Prceneste, described by Suetonius. Of these ancient F., eleven arc enumerated by Foggini, a learned Italian antiquary. One of the most interesting is a rural almanac, known as the Kalendarium Rusticum Farnesianum. It is cut on four sides of a cube, each side of which is divided into three columns, eacli column embracing a month. The various agricultural operations to be performed in each mouth are given on this curious relic, in addition to the ordinary information con tained in these calendars. In the month of May, for example, the rustic is told that his corn must be weeded, his sheep shorn, his wool washed, etc.
2. Fasti Annales or Ilistorici were chronicles, containing the names of the consuls and other magistrates of the year, and an enumeration of the most remarkable events in the history of Rome, noted down opposite the days on which they occurred. From its application to these chronicles, the word F. came to be used by the poets as synony mous with historical records. A very interesting specimen of F. of this class was dis covered in the forum at Rome in 1547. The fragments into which it had been broken were collected and arranged by the cardinal Alexander Farnese, and placed in the capitol, where they may still be seen, together with some additional portions which were discovered in 1817 and 1818. See Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Anti quities,• rote "Fasti," and also the article on " Calendar " (Roman) in the same work.