Add your thoughts on the article here. Template:M. Lucretius Agricola
"Mola" means "mill", "millstone", and by extension, "flour". "Salsa" is the matching form of the adjective "salsus" meaning "salted". So mola salsa means "salted flour". But just as mola means flour by extension, so too could we conjecture that cakes made from mola salsa would also bear the name "mola salsa". I suggest that "mola salsa" can mean "salted flour" and the cakes made from it.
For our honored ancestors, fully aware of the uses, there would have been no confusion. When we read of mola salsa "sprinkled" I imagine the salted grain. If it is "offered", it could be either, I suppose. I suggest that we have to look at the sources and see what light can be shed.
The Vestals made a sacred cake known as "Mola Salsa," which was used many festivals, such as Vestalia, Epulum Iovis and Lupercalia.
It was first introduced into Rome by the Sabine king, Numa, as a propitiation to the Gods. It was looked upon as a bloodless sacrifice and performed at religious weddings when a pig was not offered.
It was Numa who first established the custom of offering grain to the Gods, and of propitiating with the salted cake. Ovid, in his Fasti, says the atoning sacrifices (piamina) were called Februa, and the parched spelt, with the grain of salt, was also called Februa, and that it also gave its name to the second month.
These cakes were sprinkled over the head of the animal sacrificed by crumbling them into tiny pieces. The Latin word, "immolare," originally from "mola," meant to sprinkle the victim for sacrifice, hence we get the English word to "immolate."
The Mola Salsa was made from spelt, a sort of rough wheat still grown in the more mountainous districts of Europe. Some sources say that on February 15th, the three elder Vestal Virgins gathered the first ears of this spelt wheat from each harvest for use in making their sacred cake. Other sources claim it was done from May 7th through May 15th.
To make Mola Salsa, the Vestals first fetched water from a sacred spring making sure that all the way back to the Temple they did not set down the container they fetched the water in. The salt was specially prepared. The remains of the salt mill used for this purpose is still to be seen in the house of the Vestals. The spelt was roasted in ovens or parched. It was then mixed with the specially prepared salt and the carefully fetched water and formed into thin, wafer-like cakes.
Today, the closest example of this type of "bread" is the large, round flat wafer used by the Catholic Church in the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. It is, in fact, the sacred cake of the Vestals - the Mola Salsa.
Maxima Valeria Messallina
- "Corn" means "grain" to speakers of US varieties of English. Do we have a photo of the remains of that mill? M. Lucretius Agricola 17:23, 18 June 2006 (CDT)