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Lecture 7

CLA233H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Loeb Classical Library, Carmen Saeculare, Voluptas

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Michael J.Dewar

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Lecture 7: Religion
January 29th, 2013
Romans believed that they were the most loyal and respectful to the gods
They had many rituals
Most served as to reassure them that the gods were with them in their deeds
Others to protect them and their fulfill their needs
i.e. good harvest, safe trip, protect home etc
R1: Ritual, Formalism, „Legalism‟
You should thin out a grove with the Roman ritual as follows. Sacrifice a pig as a propitiatory
offering, and utter the following prayer: „Whether you are a god or a goddess, you whose sacred
[grove] this is, as it is your right to be given a pig as an offering for the thinning of this sacred
grove, therefore for these reasons, whether it is I who make the sacrifice or someone makes it on
my instruction, on the condition that it be made correctly, for this reason therefore, in sacrificing
this offering-pig, I pray you good prayers, so that you may be kindly and propitious to me and to
my household and to the members of my family and to my children. For these reasons therefore
be honoured by this sacrifice of an offering-pig.
Cato the Elder („the Censor‟), On Agriculture 139
emphasis on roman rituals
- romans the only one who can show the correct ritual to the gods
i) wasn‟t really spiritual (roman religion as a whole, in anitiquity)
moreso to fulfill needs
ii) god of nature significant in countryside
god‟s sex doesn‟t matter, but you must show respect to them
(a) respect their right by offering them the correct sacrifice
(b) list all those who are dependant to you in the household, yourself first
iii) influenced by greek gods/goddesses
major ones:
(a) Zuess = Jupiter, Hera = Juno, Demeter = Ceres, Hestia = Vesta, Poseidon =
Neptunus, Aphrodite = Venus, Athena = Minera, Ares = Mars, Apollo = Apollo,
Artemis = Diana, Hephaestus = Vulcanus, Hermes = Mercurius
(i) Best temple in Rome dedicated to Jupiter
R2: Many Powers, Many Gods
Next let us inquire, if you like, which god or which gods, out of the mighty throng worshipped by
the Romans, they believe did most to extend and preserve their empire. For in such a glorious
achievement and one so exalted in its importance they do not venture to assign any part to
Cluacina (i. e. the goddess of the sewer, the cloaca), or to Volupia, who gets her name from

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pleasure (voluptas), or to Lubentina, whose name is from lust (libido), or to Vaticanus, who
presides over the wailing (vagitus) of infants, or to Cunina, who administers the department of
cradles (cunae). But how is it possible in one passage of this book to record all the names of the
gods and goddesses that they were scarcely able to find room for in the huge volumes in which
they divided up the services of the deities among the departments, assigning each to his own?
They did not reach the conclusion that they should put some god in charge of all their land, but
assigned fields (rura) to the goddess Rusina, mountain peaks (iuga) to the god Jugatinus, hills
(colles) to the goddess Collatina, and valleys (valles) to Vallonia….. I do not record them all, for
I am bored by all this, though they are not ashamed of it… Everyone has a single doorkeeper for
his house, and since he is a man, that is quite sufficient. But they put three gods there: Forculus
for the doors (fores), Cardea for the hinges (cardo), and Limentinus for the threshold (limen).
Thus Forculus was not competent to guard both the hinge and the threshold along with the door.
Augustine, The City of God, 4. 8. (Tr. William M. Green, Loeb Classical Library, Volume II)
Augustine ridicules roman religion
- Gives various examples of lesser, petty and ridiculous gods
i) Cluacina = goddess of sewer
ii) Volupia = goddess of all forms of pleasure (sexual, most often)
iii) Lubentina = libido and lust
- They didn‟t have a monotheist society but rather polytheist for mankind
i) Need 3 gods to protect your household (both structure and the family members ie your
ii) All the gods/goddesses deities of property or activity
Elaboration of all the gods = too many!
R3: Community Devotion
O ye gods, give sound character to a young generation enabling them to learn; gods, give rest to
the old ensuring their contentment; and to the people of Romulus give wealth and children and
every blessing.
What the glorious descendant of Anchises and Venus asks of you with white oxen, may he
obtain; may he be victorious in battle over his foes yet merciful once they are down.
Horace, Carmen Saeculare („Song for a New Age‟) 45-52. Tr. Niall Rudd, Loeb Classical
Library. Slightly adapted.
Olympic gods = community gods (this is during Augustus‟ time)
- They would worship together
- Romulus also a community god even though he didn‟t exist
R4: Private Devotion
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