June 19, 2013
CLA204 WEEK 16
Roman Foundation Myths
closest translation = Spirit
Anthropomorphic gods, lustful, favour favourites, take active role in shaping human
world. Ex. Artemis getting angry at Agamemnon for killing stag. Roman
understanding of the divine was much less specific. Often connected to things found
in nature. In Rome there is a numen that protects crops against disease, a numen
that help farmer plant/harvest, a numen of the sky. Their spirits not in human form
not like Athena who we know is goddess of wisdom etc. disembodies nature spirits.
Cuz they don’t have personalities you don’t bribe, offend or spark desire in them
instead simplified relationship. Point of numen is to say either yes or no. Either
granted or not, want to please numen make sacrifices. I give so that you will give.
Reciprocity is mathematical not like for ex. Iliad were you make prayer to Zeus and
he wants to grant it but fate intervenes. No negotiating, its simplified non
anthropomorphic way. Greek influences into Italy and growing Roman society.
Overview – the gods (not imp)
Zeus – Jupiter/Jove
Adopted into Roman world. Whatever the Greek god does is simulated into already
existent Numen so Zeus-sky, Import Greek idea of Zeus to explain ideas of sky.
Neptune numen of water.
Vesta-The Vestal Virgins
Has almost no role, Dionysus replaces her from Olympus. In Rome she is associated
with the hearth not just family fireplace but hearth of the city. In Rome there was a
temple were fire kept burning never allowed to stop…Aenease brought fire from
Troy which was very unlikely but Roman believe it. Vestal virgins tended, taken
young from Nobel families had to make sure fire didn’t go out filled with honour and
respect very imp to city of Rome. Palladium is kept here, was in city of Troy, Greeks June 19, 2013
say city of Troy couldn’t fall as long as it was there Greeks stole it, Trojans tell diff
version of story say Aeneas took it with him and installed it in temple in Italy.
Important symbol for Rome as an antitiy-Vesta.
Responsible for war along with Athena. Greeks trusted Athena on war more she is
more organized soldiers come up with strategic plan whereas Ares/ Mars is chaotic.
Starts out as a spirit of fertility and crops but over time becomes associated with
war conquest and battler effects society changing in Rome, loyal concerns growing
enough grains to survive once its clear that they have enough money Rome becomes
greedy wants more power and wealth expands from tiny city to take over parts of
Spain, Macedonia, Greece etc. Personality of Rome evolves to reflect Roman society
as it changes. Mars was though to be father of the Romans impregnates women who
gives birth to first king of Rome. Very prominent.
Were Romans would line up battle in field of Mars sacred to the god and associated
clearly with battle.
Special prominence in Roman history for political reason. Around time Augustus.
Aeneas is son of Venus cuz Zeus wanted to get back at her she’s never subject to her
own powers, falls for mortal man and result is son Aeneas. Emphasis on Venus,
stories told, she has a big role for ex. Aeneid. Exaggerated role beyond actual
significance cuz politically helpful to show Augustus was connected to her. Starts
out as numen of water. Presents Augustus’ rule as peace plenty prosperity tied it all
to notion of Venus.
Janus, Quirinus / Lares, Penates,
Janus named January cuz he’s god of comings and gong closely associated with New
Year end of one beginning of other. Represented with two faces one looking back
one forward often see him in places were you transition/cross over ex. Brides
associated with Hermes. Janus represents idea of change, Romans respected this
festivals and statues dedicated to him
Quirinus –closely associated with Mars and first king of Romans Romulus. Thought
to be divine embodiment of Roman ppl represents ideal Roman citizen in god form.
Lares dangers associated with physical place ex, house were you live in boundaries
where your family lives/worked spatial idea of what family means.
Penates belong to father/mother/children/slaves family is ppl connected by blood
ties. Who your family is. Aeneas takes his Penates with him not his Lares, which
would be Troy. June 19, 2013
Hercules and Cacus
Adopting foreign cults wholesale not changing anything abt it. Hercules cult. King
Evander is the one who introduces cult of Hercules to future Rome. Incorporated
elements-cattle of Geryon while their encounters with evil monster Cacus.
Allegorical story monster whose name is evil. Cacus steals some of cattle marches
them backwards so footprints face the opposite way into his cave. Cows that
Heracles has left start mooing other cows in cave start mooing too Cacus takes huge
stone and blocks the mouth of cave same as Cyclopes. Hercules is super strong lifts
stone no problem and succeeds in killing Cacus who is a fire breathing monster
inhabitants decide to make sacrifices to him and tell his story. Adopted from Greek
world without any changes being made to it.
Place were Heracles had cattle’s and defeated Cacus. Commemorated into
topography of the city.
Sibylline Oracles (Apollo, Magna Mater/Cybele)
Sibylline Helps him get to underworld have to pluck golden bow talk to Aeneas
father etc. She is ancient very old. Sibylline quotes a very high price for her books
and prophecies, she gets fire and burns three of the books of prophecy, she burns 3
more and kings advisers convinces king to pay huge price in gold to get prophecies.
(King paid same fee he would of paid for all 9 books but only bought 3) What if they
had all 9 books and had known what their fortune would be like? Oracles pop up
occasionally they are looked into. Apollo comes, as he is, stays as he was in Greece.
Oldest temple in Rome is dedicated to Apollo. The great mother=Cybele she is the
one that Dionysus goes to hang out with after he’s fled from Rome. Romans bring
back cult without changing anything Magna Mater cult cuz prophecies told them it
was a good thing to do.
Roman history in a Nutshell
3 stages (dates not imp) King/monarchy (this is the part were interested in) one
person has all the power and makes final decision, others are also involved, shady
don’t know what really happened, record keeping was sketchy don’t have a lot of
accurate information period covered in shadows folktale mythology, Romans had
opportunity to invent themselves
Republic, no single ruler 2 counsels had to agree, senate gets bigger other offices
involved in administering city lots of branches of government
Empire, Augustus becomes emperor, senate and assembly still exist emperor is in
charge, one person at the top again. End is when they are invaded.
As Rome evolved, expansion in territory, dark red area amount of territory under
control during period of kingship. During republican period controls entire Italian
peninsula. Darkest red earliest dark green latest. Also expanding out in
Mediterranean. Slaves, money, material goods. June 19, 2013