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Lecture 2

Lecture 2 - Continuity and Innovation in Roman Religion

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University of Toronto St. George

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 • Figurehead/founder • Sacrifice (of time, attention, energy, material goods) • Communicate with supernatural • Formation of human ties and identities • Specialists (e.g. Priests) • Traditions • Rituals • 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’ • Agroup 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 Numen • • General divine power 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 Sacer • • 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 • Sanctus • 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 • Prehistoric • 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 • Alot 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 CLA310 - Religion in the Roman World Wednesday Sept 12, 2012 Lecture 2 - Continuity and Innovation in Roman Religion • Caesar declared dictator for life • He gets assassinated by the senate Augustan Period • • Augustus more savvy, and says he is the FirstAmong Equals • Calls himself Imperatu (old word for general) • ‘New founder of Republic’ • To bring back peace and prosperity • New government established where positions don’t hold the same meaning • All power concentrated in emperor • Early Empire (when became an empire) • Rome starts to lose the focus of empire after its expansion • Starts to collapse in on itself • Can’t support itself • Late Empire • Constantine moves capital to Byzantine in Late Empire • Pressure from Germans and Carthaginians Sources for Early Roman Religion • Histories and literature • Often separate by centuries from the time • Based off priestly records • Calendars • To account for feast and festivals and days for work and leisure • Capital and lower case festivals • Are the capitals the oldest and most important? • Did the capitals from from Numa’s calendar? - this might be too much of a jump • Romans may have attribute this but obviously it is not a real perfect succession • Consular lists • List of all people who held office of consul • Help us fill in and flesh out literary material • Can use consular year to date
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