Rome religion facts

Roman Religion
May 26, 2019 – 05:21 am

History, Facts and Information about Roman Religion
The content of this article provides interesting history, facts and information about the Roman Religion. The Romans were experts at assimilating many elements of other societies into their culture, including the mythology and gods of the Greeks and other nations. This practice is called syncretism which means the blending or fusion of religious beliefs and practices to form a new system. For information regarding the differences between the Greek and Roman Religion please click the following link:

Roman Religion - Cosmogony
The religion of the Romans was a polytheistic religion (with many gods, Polytheism). The Greek and then the Roman priests needed a story or myth which centered around the main Gods and Goddesses answering the questions of where they came from and their relationship to each other (this is called a Cosmogony). A 'family tree' of the Roman Gods and Goddesses explained 'who was who' and what relationships they had with each other. The mythology surrounding Mount Olympus contributes to the stories about the gods of the Roman Religion.

Principles, Traditions and Ceremonies of the Roman Religion
The Roman Religion consisted of the following principles, traditions, ceremonies, priests and other elements:

  • Roman Religion was emphatically a state religion
  • The pontiffs (religious leaders) were presided over by one called Pontifex Maximus

    • Julius Caesar assumed the position of Pontifex Maximus to gain control of the popular worship of the Roman religion

  • Roman Religion accepted the gods of all the nations that composed the empire
  • The principal Roman divinities were the Olympic gods such as Jupiter, Juno, Mars, Minerva, Neptune, Vesta, Apollo, Venus, Ceres, and Diana
  • There were numerous secondary deities
  • Temples to worship the gods were built throughout the Roman Empire and each family home would also have a small altar and shrine
  • Roman Religion was practical - every Roman god had something to do and some useful office to perform

    • Many of the secondary deities were manufactured by the pontiffs for utilitarian purposes (determined by its utility) or abstractions like Hope, Fear, Concord, Justice and Clemency

  • In the Roman Religion every vocation and every household transaction had its presiding gods or goddesses
  • The powers of Nature were also worshipped, like the sun, the moon, and stars
  • Religion included many superstitious rites and ceremonies such as interpreting the will of the gods by studying omens, the flight of the birds, the behaviour of animals, interpreting dreams and natural phenomena

    • Priests called Augurs practised haruspicy which involved reading entrails of animal sacrifices and augury which involved interpreting the behaviour of birds

  • The Roman religion practised various ceremonies which included blood sacrifices
  • The Vestal virgins were the Roman priestesses of Vesta and were appointed by the Pontifex Maximus
  • Every public assembly was opened by the magistrate and augurs taking the auspices
  • Religion was taken extremely seriously by the Romans and one day in four was set apart for the worship of particular gods and were celebrated by feasts and games and sacrifices

For additional facts and information about priests and ceremonies please click the following links:

Roman Religion - The Penates
The Penates were the gods who were supposed to attend to the welfare and prosperity of the Roman family. The name 'penates' is derived from Penus, the pantry, which was sacred to them. Every master of a family was the priest to the Penates of his own house.

Roman Religion - The Lares
The Lares, or Lars, were also household gods, but differed from the Penates in being regarded as the deified spirits of mortals. The family Lars were held to be the souls of the ancestors, who watched over and protected their descendants.

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