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Lecture 2

CLA160H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Rhea Silvia, Omen, Capitoline Hill

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CLA310 - Religion in the Roman World
Wednesday Sept 12, 2012
Lecture 2 - Continuity and Innovation in Roman Religion
What is Religion of Rome?
Personal belief
Explanatory narrative
Sacrifice (of time, attention, energy, material goods)
Communicate with supernatural
Formation of human ties and identities
Specialists (e.g. Priests)
Addresses questions of what happens after death
Romans looked back to past and told stories wither inherited or adopted
Important Vocabulary
Cultus (from colere) - what do you mean by ‘cult’?
From verb meaning ‘to take care/attend to’
A group to worship certain deities
E.g. Cult of Juno Regina
Pliny calls early Christians cultus - but this does not necessarily have same derogatory
meaning with which we associate ‘cult’ nowadays
Religio (from religare)
From latin word meaning ‘binding together
Refers to obligation to/from gods
Giving gods their due
Romans would say, for example: ‘these are the ancestral rights and practices of Jews’
Christianity would be considered newfangled
Perhaps a cultus under Judaism? (Roman view)
Abstract term fro anything you do toward the gods
Superstitio (from superstare)
From verb meaning ‘to stand over
On top of your additional duties to gods
More than you actually nee to do in worship and obligation to gods
Pliny might come to refer to Jews or Christians as superstitious as their beliefs interfere
Negative connotation
Rights uncalled for - superstitio
Going above and beyond
Deus, Dea
Go back to early Roman language
Some people want to argue that early Romans only worshipped nature powers
But that these words existed show that they had concept of personalized power
Had gender - distinguished between m/f
General divine power

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CLA310 - Religion in the Roman World
Wednesday Sept 12, 2012
Lecture 2 - Continuity and Innovation in Roman Religion
Numena (p.)
Numen = general form of deus/a
Often used to describe something made legally the property of the god
Taken very seriously
If a person is declared sacer it was bad - punishment
Devatio was a ceremony where general declares himself and legions of enemy to chthon-
ic gods in a sacrifice to help the Romans
This was a morality boost - placebo thinking
Translated as “holy,” or “sacred”
Used in origins to refer to physical property given over to the gods
Plot of ground, temple, etc
Something sanctus need not be sacer, but could be vice versa
Might involve something like the walls of the city, or the pomerium (boundary). If you
are not welcome could not transgress walls of city
Outline of Roman History
Regal Period
Archaeological evidence to stupport
Also stories that Romans told
7 kings, 2 Etruscan
Provided politic, civic, and religious institutions
The last king was horrible tyrant, Romans rose up and expelled him
Early Republic
Kingship replaced with 2 consuls, who hold closest thing to absolute power
One military; one domestic and they are elected
Praetors, magistrates also elected by citizens
A lot of power distributed among elites
Still some what more democratic
Romans faced with conflicts, gradually established superiority over Italian neighbors who
were their linguistic cousins
Throughout the republic they expanded
Punic Wars - conquered Carthage and gain naval superiority
In process of establishing supremacy they open themselves up to neighbors
Things get very mixed up
Mid Republic
Late Republic
Toward Late Republic the system starts to crumble because of loyalty to general,r ather
than to state
Soldiers want benefits, so they offer support to their leaders
Limited positions of power = conflict
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