One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1(in ancient Rome) the head of the principal college of priests.
- ‘Now, recall that the way that the Romans set up their control, they set up this system of Pontifex Maximus, in which the emperor was the head of the religion.’
- ‘Massive bribery with money borrowed from the rich and influential ex-consul Crassus also procured for him the politically important office of Pontifex Maximus in 63.’
- ‘Cæsar might be ready to go to war; but if the Pontifex Maximus at Number XI opens any one of five pigeons and pronounces its entrails unpropitious, then the legions must stand down.’
- ‘The emperor, Pontifex Maximus, sits on top of the Pantheon, and adjudicates the differences among the doctrines.’
- ‘Now, the religions were all subjects of a Pontifex Maximus, who we call ‘Emperor’ in later usage.’
- ‘As a result, the bishops of the Christian community in the city of Rome became prominent leaders, and acquired the incidental pagan title of Pontifex Maximus along the way.’
- 1.1 (in the Roman Catholic Church) a title of the Pope.
- ‘One of the most amazing aspects about the ascendancy of the papacy is that the church of Rome promotes the pope as the "Pontifex Maximus".’
- ‘Occasionally it was good custom to plunder the palace of the freshly deceased Pontifex Maximus.’
Maximus, superlative of Latin magnus ‘great’.
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