(i) DI INDIGETES (Native Gods)
forces (NUMINA) ~ no images
associated with an agricultural people
functioned as household spirits who acted as guardians, and also as field spirits who guarded crop production.
- House Spirits
- JANUS (doorway)
- VESTA (hearth)
- PENATES (cupboard).
- Field Spirits
- TERMINALIA (boundary stones)
- TELLUS (earth)
- CERES (crops)
- SATURNUS (sowing)
- PALES (herds)
- OPS (harvest).
- Importance of the Gods. They fostered PIETAS and brought peace, PAX DEORUM
- As the early people became involved with other tribes, particularly in fighting, MARS became the God of War and JUPITER the God of Justice.
- As the agricultural tribes became part of the city of Rome, their gods moved with them and became both family and state gods
- VESTA (hearth of the state)
- JUPITER (justice)
- MARS (war)
- JANUS (gateway of the city)
- PENATES (family and state)
- LARES (family and state through the fields)
- JUNO (added later by the state).
This led to organised state religion within the city walls. Religion was removed from the ordinary people and the rituals were performed by PRIESTS.
(ii) DI MANES (spirits of the Dead)
- they existed outside the city walls since the dead were buried outside the city walls
- later associated with the Underworld
- there were two festivals associated with Di Manes:
- a rose and violet festival where flowers were put on the graves
- Parentalia, held in February, was introduced by Aeneas.
(iii) DI NOVENSILES (Imported Gods)
- DIANA ~ Latium
- MINERVA ~ Etruscans
- APOLLO ~ Cumae and the Sibyl
- CERES ~ Demeter (also an original Ceres)
- MERCURY ~ trade with Sicily
- ASCLEPIUS ~ pestilence in Italy.
(iv) Historical Development in Roman Religion
Eventually the Italian origin of the old Gods was forgotten and the Gods became identified with the Greek Gods in appearance, function and legend.
- The Etruscans changed old Roman ideas by introducing:
- divination by augurs and omens (e.g. bird flight)
Increasing failure of the state to satisfy religious needs and so the educated classes turned to philosophy.
In the last century B.C. the masses turned to Oriental forms of worship and the educated to the philosophy of the
Augustus revived religion since he wanted to restore PIETAS and PAX DEORUM.
(Cicero, Virgil, Horace and Livy also favoured the traditional rites).
(v) KING NUMA (Primary Source: Plutarch's "Lives")
- A Sabine King (Sabines connected with Sparta)
- Succeeded Romulus
- Born 21st April, 753 B.C., the day Rome was founded
- A man of great justice and virtue
- The gates of war were closed for his 43 years reign. PEACE reigned. This is referred to as the First Golden Age of Rome.
- He was over 80 when he died.
- There were two stone coffins, one with his body and one with his holy books at his burial.
- He reorganised the calendar to 12 months instead of 10.
- He established various kinds of priests
- PONTIFICES who looked after ritual
- FECIALES who were guardians of peace and tried to settle disputes by dialogue
- SALII who looked after the Shields.
(vi) Story of the Shields and the Salii
In earlier times, in Rome, there was a terrible pestilence
- a bronze shield was dropped from heaven and this put an end to the pestilence
- Numa decided to have 11 other similar shields made so that the true one could not be identified and stolen
- the Shields were carried by the Salii through Rome on a festival day in March
- the Salii did a jumping dance while carrying them
- they wore short purple tunics and a broad belt studded with brass; they also wore brass helmets
- they clashed a dagger on the Shields as they walked
- the Shields were called ANCILIA.
(vii) Story of a Feast Hosted by Numa
- Numa invited a number of citizens to a meal.
- The dishes and food were very ordinary.
- A Goddess changed everything into a rich feast with beautiful drinking vessels. (The marriage feast at Canal).
(viii) The Story of Picus and Faunus
Two satyrs, Picus and Faunus, frequented the area around Mount Aventine and went around the city playing tricks
- Numa ensnared them one day with wine and honey
- At first they tried to frighten him by changing shape but when this did not work they revealed secrets and charms to him
- They said that thunder and lightning (Jupiter) could be charmed by onions, hair and pilchards!
(i) The Earliest Festivals were associated with agricultural people. The motivation in the festivals was FERTILITY. The festival of Field Spirits was for successful crops and the festival of LUPERCALIA was for human fertility. The Lupercalia was the most important festival and lasted, until 494 A.D.
- An annual festival, in February, in honour of Faunus.
Associated with the Lupercal cave on the Palatine Hill where Romulus and Remus were suckled by the wolf.
- Two naked youths with belts of goat skin struck the people with strips of goat hide to encourage fertility.
- A purification festival.
In 44 B.C. Mark Anthony offered Julius Caesar a crown at this festival which he refused.
(2) The Republican Period
The festivals became associated with public games known as the LUDI.
- The games were held to win the favour of a particular God
- An exact ritual had to be followed or it had to be repeated
- Different to Greek games in that there were no athletic contests
- The main LUDI of this period were:
(a) LUDI ROMANI (MAGNI) for JUPITER
held in September. It originated as a result of a victorious campaign.
The games consisted of:-
- procession with images of the Gods
- chariot races
- military routines
- plays, LUDI SCAENICI, became part of the festival later
- 15 days duration.
(b) LUDI PLEBEII
the Plebeian form of the Ludi Romani.
(c) LUDI APOLLINARES for APOLLO
held in July
- origin ~ crisis in Second Punic War
The games consisted mostly of dramatic performances over nine days with one day of games in the circus.
(d) LUDI MEGALENSES for CYBELE
held in April
- - origin ~ the arrival, from Phrygia, of the sacred stone of Cybele
Mainly dramatic performances with one day of games in the circus.
(e) LUDI CEREALES for CERES
- held in April
- plebeian festival
- only one day of games.
(f) LUDI FLORALES for FLORA
- held in April - May
- flower festival
- men wore flowers
- women wore colourful dresses
- plays and hunting animals in the circus
- put on by the State with the aim of getting votes.
were introduced into the public games at the end of the Republican Period.
(h) Julius Caesar introduced Mock Sea Battles (NAUMACHIAE).
Augustus built a special basin, called the 'Naumachia', on the right bank of the Tiber for these mock sea battles. Claudius gave a famous Naumachia in which two fleets representing Sicily and Rhodes were involved. Each heat consisted of 12 triremes.
- combatants were prisoners or criminals
- fought till death unless spared by the Emperor.
(3) The Imperial Period
- The Games above continued but others were added.
(a) LUDI SAECULARES
- Augustus 17 B.C.
- Claudius 47 A.D.
- Domitian 87 A.D.
(b) LUDI MARTIALES ~ MARS
- origin ~ on the return of Augustus
from the East, the games were a celebration. Afterwards the games were held on the birthdays of
- imitation of the Olympic Games
- introduced by Nero
- every 4 years
(d) LUDI TROIAE
- associated with funeral games of ANCHISES. These were revised by Julius Caesar.
- Offerings to the Gods ~ a sin offering (e.g. pig) gift offering.
- Worshipper took part in the offering.
- unblemished victims
- head of animal sprinkled with wine and cake crumbs
- priest, with his head covered, said prayers
- a flute was played throughout the ritual
- ritual must be perfect or else it was restarted.
- The prayers were called CARMINA and were chanted.
- for purification of the city, army, crops etc.
- to express gratitude for favours received
- to call on the Gods of the ENEMY to desert the enemy
- If prayer succeeded, the people who had been threatened offered games and/or temple to the Gods of the Enemy
- dedication of a soldier in war
(1)1st day of official year
(2)Every five years on Campus
There were two kinds of marriage:
(1) By mutual consent; there were no rights on either side. The bride remained under the protection of her father.
(2) A woman came into the complete power of her husband. This marriage was arranged by her father. A pledge and ring were received when the marriage was arranged. Certain days and months were regarded as being unlucky i.e. March, May and June. The Bride dedicated her toga and toys to the Lares of her father's house and left them there.
Bridal dress included:
- a gown with girdle
- a red veil
- saffron shoes
- a wreath of flowers on her hair, combed into six locks.
- the bride and groom were brought together by a married woman and they clasped hands
- prayers and sacrifice
- guests wished them luck.
The feast was held at the house of the bride's father. There was a procession to her new home led by flute players and torch bearers. The doorposts were anointed and decked with flowers. The bride was carried across the threshold. The bridegroom welcomed her with fire and water and more prayers were said. The next day the couple gave a feast.
(xii) Burial Customs
There was great importance and solemnity attached to a burial.
- custom of catching the last breath by a relative, slave or gladiator
- the eyes were closed - children closed the eyes of their parents
- cry to try to call back the spirit to ensure the person was dead
- the body was anointed with perfume
dress - toga
- black cloth ~ the poor
- robe of office ~ officials
- if merited, a crown was placed on the head of the corpse
- a piece of money was put in the mouth of the dead person. This symbolised the fare for Charon's boat
- lying in state - in the atrium of the house
- with feet towards the door
- and surrounded by torches and incense.
- friends carried the body
- children were always buried at night in torchlight (adults in the day)
- the body was placed on a wooden bier
- trumpeters and flute players led the procession
- sons walked with heads covered; daughters uncovered
- black dress
- outside the city usually
- young children beneath the house
- cremation prohibited inside city for fear of fire
- coffins were made of stone, lead or clay and sometimes large demi-amphorae were used as coffins
- pyre - pitch or papyrus
- set on fire with torches
- fire put out with wine
- bones collected in an urn later.
- Earth had to be thrown on body before burial
- If the ceremony was not performed by the heirhe had to offer sacrifices to the Earth & Ceres
- choruses sang the deeds of the deceased person
- followed by mimes and dancers
- busts of the dead carried by freed slaves
- people of rank walked in the procession
- the procession went to the Forum first
- an oration was delivered there
- on battlefield, the dead were buried in long graves
- burial rites
- funeral oration
- great leaders were brought home if possible.
Funeral Rites after Burial:
- for nine days after the burial the heirs could not divide goods or make claims against the estate
- the period ended with a feast
- mourning period, for an adult it was 8 - 10 months, for children 3 - 10 months, according to their age.
Belief in the Afterlife:
- a coin was put in the mouth of the corpse to pay for Charon's boat trip
- some believed the body passed in a perfect state to another life ~ inhumation
- others believed only the spirit passed on cremation
- Virgil, in "The Aeneid", describes the Underworld (Book VI). Access to the Underworld was achieved by crossing the River Styx in Charon's boat
- two main areas
- God of the Underworld ~ DIS (Pluto)
The Underworld was guarded by the three-headed dog CERBERUS
- The Champs Elys~es in Paris is named after the
(xiii) The Vestal Virgins
(See Plutarch's "Lives" ~ Numa)
- The Vestal Virgins were created by Numa. They guarded the perpetual fire to VESTA in the city. They took a vow of virginity for 30 years.
Privileges in return:
"The Fasces", symbols of authority, were carried before them when they travelled they could save a criminal from execution if they met him on their journey if you pressed upon the chair on which they were carried you were killed.
- They were scourged for a minor fault by the high priest. If they broke the vow of chastity they were buried alive near the COLLINA GATE. The high priest was their guardian. GEGANIA and VERENIA were the names of the first two virgins.
- The vestals were daughters of patrician families. There were originally four in number, later on there were six.
- The temple of Vesta (attributed to Numa) was circular.
(xiv) Primary Sources
Plutarch's "Lives" (Numa Pompilius and Romulus).
Virgil: "Aeneid" (The Underworld and The Games).
See also Jo-Ann Shelton: "As the Romans Did" - a source book on Roman Society (OUP).
(xv) Influence on European Culture
- General customs of burial and marriage
- The divisions of the Underworld reflect the concepts of Hell and Heaven in Christianity
- Fortune telling, by opening Virgil at random, existed till the 17th century
- Chaucer: "The House of Fame"
- Dante - Virgil was his guide through Hell
- From the Renaissance on, Virgil has been a major influence in Epic writing
- Poussin - Virgil being crowned by Apollo.
- Hermann Broch: "The Death of Virgil".
- Purcell: "Dido and Aeneas".
(xvi) Additional Materials for Teachers
"The Romans and their Gods", R.M. Ogilvie, Chatto and Windus, 1974.
"Roman Religion", Michael Massey. (Aspects of Roman Life Series - Longman).
(xvii) Suggested Activities for Students
- Draw pictures to illustrate the stories associated with Numa.
- Draw and colour a Roman bride.