1(In ancient Rome) the head of the principal college of priests.
- 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.
- Now, the religions were all subjects of a Pontifex Maximus, who we call ‘Emperor’ in later usage.
- 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.
1.1(In the Roman Catholic Church) a title of the Pope.
- Occasionally it was good custom to plunder the palace of the freshly deceased Pontifex Maximus.
- 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".
Maximus, superlative of Latin magnus 'great'.
For editors and proofreaders
Syllabification: Pon·ti·fex Max·i·mus
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