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Lecture 7

Lecture 7 - Gods and Humans in Roman Religion

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CLA310 - Religion in the Roman World
Wednesday Oct 24, 2012
Lecture 7 - Gods and Humans in Roman Religion
Group Work
Examine BNP #2.1, 2.2, 2.4, 2.7, 2.8 (Our group did 2.2)
What do these passages reveal about what characterizes Roman gods, dei?
2.1 - written by a christian. His tone is negative
2.1 - take their orders from Zeus, as must humans
2.2 - Augustine mocks pagan religion
2.8 - humans turned into gods (narrated by Livy)
2.8 - does Livy really have a source? Based on mythology and speculation. Perhaps he did
have and earlier source, but definitely not from the time of Romulus
2.8 - When humans become gods you will often find debate
2.8 - frieze of emperor becoming deified. This makes this more certain among the common
people. Those reading would be the upper class, and more open to debate (Livy presents
two stories)
2.7 - contractual relationship with claudius; give and take relationship
What do gods look like?
2.1 - Similar to humans both in appearance and personality
2.1 - gods looking like animals? Pah!
2.2 - Lares shown with sacrificial instruments
2.2 - Rubigo is personification of mildew
2.8 - Commodus dressed up as Hercules. Emulation vs. Deification
2.7 - gods worshipped without representation, but after mater magna they want to see her in
human form, where before she was just shown as a pile of rocks
2.7 - was the rock her? Symbolic of her?
How do they act?
2.2 - the gods can be temporary
2.7 - matron is promoting virtue; gods often are in support of virtue
2.7 - goddess has her own culture; her ways are foreign to rome and it might not sit well
What are their characters like?
2.2 - Lares don’t have personal individuality - more of a group personality
2.2 - Rubigo is a dread goddess, she needs to be placated
What are their responsibilities?
2.2 - gods for actions
What makes them different from humans?
2.1- have the ability to transform
How should humans act toward them?
2.2 - humans duty to worship
2.7 - a great deal of respect
2.7 - drives man crazy and he castrates himself (her priest)
Where do they come from?
2.1 - can come from obscure origins
2.7 - Mater magna comes to Rome from Carthage, from where she was called on recom-
mendation of the Sybille Books
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CLA310 - Religion in the Roman World
Wednesday Oct 24, 2012
Lecture 7 - Gods and Humans in Roman Religion
2.7 - they need something physical to show she has come - i.e., the rock that had fallen
from the heavens (probably a meteorite)
In summary:
Yet often described as being greater than humans
To a certain extent are concerned with justice/virtue, but may not always observe that. If
they break they are not subject to human penalties
May have distinct personalities, may not
Change their moods - not predictable
That’s why you have augers and auspices to figure this out
Humans can become gods but the Romans aren’t always sure what to do regarding this
People might still be a touch uneasy with it
Are humans and gods the same species?
Gods and Kings in the Ancient Mediterranean
Persian kings buddies with the gods
Image: relief from 3rd century BC: Artexerxes, founder of Assassinid Empire
Depicted as the same size - equal
Alexander received persian traditions into his own court when he conquered them
Had Persians intermarry with Greeks
Adopted persian kids and raised them greeks
Wanted to show what he could do
His successors tried to imitate this
Start receiving honors and titles that make them sound like gods
Coin of Seleucid King (Antiacus Epiphanies, 4th king)
His second title means “god manifest”
Famous cause he tried to get a statue of zeus put up in a jewish temple
Macabian revolt
His coin is the first time you have a kings face on a coin
Calls himself the “bearer of victory”
Victory personified as the goddess Nike
This means “I have divine favor of Goddess Nike” CAUSE I AM A GOD!
Romans would have been aware of this - and at this time probably disapproved
They would never mint an image of a living roman though - perhaps a renowned ancestor
Image of Hercules
Romans very early on exposed to cult of hercules
Southern Italy - magna graeca
Herc defeats a giant when mortal, and then later gets deified
Romans had worship of him from earliest days
He becomes more and more important throughout roman religion
Interesting cause he is a mortal, and a god
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