The Salii were priests of Mars; as a body they existed before the founding of the Roman republic. They were one of the lesser priesthoods of ancient Rome; they were chosen from the sons of patrician families whose parents were still living. They were appointed for life, though they were allowed to resign from the Salian priesthood if they achieved a more prestigious priesthood or a major magistracy.
Their rituals revolved around Mars and Quirinus, and were performed in March and October. These involved processions in which they donned archaic armour and weapons, and performed their sacred dance, at which they sung the Carmen Saliare proper.
Fragments of the hymn have been preserved. They say: