CLAS104 Lecture Notes - Lecture 23: Roman Mythology, Sabines, Aeneid

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Roman Mythology
The Intervention of the Sabine Women – first picture of ppt
Romans adopted a whole sail from the Greeks
This is a scene from Roman Legendà the Intervention of the Sabine Women
Romulus (the first king of Rome) has established the city, but he didn’t have any people yet
He sent invitations to people aroundà declared the city an asylum (a sanctuary where anyone who
is exiled can come to Rome) (you get all the lame people that were exiled but mostly men)
But then he had no women – so used deceit and force: men and women from the Sabine tribes
were invited to attend the festival games where there is chariot races etc. At a given signal, the
roman men seized the young Sabine women and their relative fled
so Sabine relatives came back and had battles where Rome won, on second battle Romulus’ wife
persuaded her husband to accept the Sabines as Roman citizens, went on and had some more
battling until the Sabine women themselves who are now wives of Roman men ran into middle of
battle and their appeals brought about a truce. Sabines and Romans decide to live together at
Roman
The Romans see themselves as people that accept others, they were very open to the absorption of
people. They conquered and absorbed the people that they beat - This relates to the Roman
identity
Roman Gods
A) Less Anthropomorphic
-It seems that original they had a less anthropomorphic idea of the gods. Less human like
-saw the gods as humans but they acted less like humans, didn’t develop an extensive mythology
B) Assimilated Gods
-They assimilated their own gods to the Greek gods
1. Mars (Ares)
The Greeks have a war god and this is very similar to our war god Mars
Ares is not the best god, not the most positive god
But this is weird because for Romans, Mars was a highly regarded god by the Romans (very
positive)
Mars was a fertility god
When Romans were farmers, Mars was their fertility god but then when they started to battle
and have war, then Mars became a war god
2. Jupiter (Zeus) ex. “onion, hair, fish”
Jupiter is just like Zeus
After lightning struck, a ritual purification/rite was required and Jupiter himself was said to have
given King Numa the original instructions for the sacrifice.
Romans were ruled by kings at one point , kings were culture heroes (they were culture
innovators), King Numa was a great religious innovators to the Romans
When lightning strike and he knew that Jupiter was angry so he summoned Jupiter and asked
how to please him: “a head” the god replied, and Numa interrupted with “of an onion”. “of a
man” said Jupiter and Numa added “a hair”, finally Jupiter demanded “a life”. “of a fish” said
Numa, and Jupeter was nice to agree to accept these objects (head of onion, human hair and a
fish as part of expiatory ritual)
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It reflects what is important to Romans and this shows that Romans are religious and interested
in religious rituals that would get the gods onto their sides
3. Apollo: Adopted not adapted Cf. pestilence of 433 and the Sibylline oracles
- The Romans did not have an equivalent god for Apollo
- They did not have a god of culture, healing, and truth
- They just adopted Apollo
- In 430 BC, and the Romans consulted the Sybil oracles (Apollo the healer)à they wholesale adopted
Apollo
- The Romans originally thought of Apollo as the god of healing
- But then when Augustus (Orion) he built the temple of Apollo, Apollo took on the full Greek
appearance because Augustus put the Sibyls in the temple
C) Unique Roman Gods
- Janus
a god of river crossings, then bridges, then doorways, boundaries and beginnings  mainly
think of as beginnings (month of January named after him)
the first God addressed in standard prayers – importance
no corresponding gods from the Greeks
when the Sabine invaded Rome. In the rape of the Sabine women – Janus sprayed out
scalding hot water on the invading troops
when war is on the Janus’ door on temple is open, when war is off the door is closed – may
seem opposite but he is god of bridges too so opening of door indicates the bridges from
land to other is broken (b/c worried about being attacked)
-Quirinus
decreased in importance over years
was a Sabine god of war associated with Romulus (the great Roman hero who was defied after
death) – when Romulus was defied he was known as Quirinus
-NB: Liber (with LIbera and Ceres)
There was a lot of complexity in transfer between gods from Greeks to Romans
Liber – Romans connected Liber to Dionysus but Liber was a member of the Aventine? triad
(three gods grouped together) which included Libera (his wife) and Ceres as well. The were
important to the plebes (common people) of Rome, when Rome first became a republic there
was a lot of tension between the plebes and the patricians ( who had all power), so this triad
was particularly associated with the plebes. Something political about the name of Liber –
represent the plebes’ freedom from upper class in new republic
in later Rome times, the Romans suddenly banned worship of Liber/Dionysus (not normally ban
religion) so may support above political point
the triad were Liber was Dionysus, Libera was also Persephone, Ceres was Demeter  all three
fertility god connected with mystery religions
Roman Legends
Aeneid
recall Vergil talked about Aeneid going into underworld
second most important/influential book for Western society
Nature
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