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Roman Religion
Birth of Roman pantheon after the Greek influence
The Roman Empire is historically known as the most powerful and expansive empire ever seen in the ancient world. It conquered and subjugated the many cultures and nations found in Europe and around the Mediterranean Sea. The incorporation of the many traditions and beliefs held by these cultures made the Roman Empire amulticultural one. Through all this change, Roman religion stands out as one of the main factors that held the empire together throughout its history. Religion provided a structure of comfort and familiarity to the Roman people as influences from conquered cultures swept through the empire. However, despite the incorporation of these varying cultures into Roman society, the main concept of the religionremained the same for centuries. It was not until the introduction of Christianity that the Roman religion faced an adverse one that would eventually conquer it. From meager means, to the grand religion of a powerful empire, to its great collapse due to the emergence of Christianity, the pagan religion of Rome was a source of power that holds a long and eventful history.
Rome’s religion began fromsimple means, most of which was altered centuries before Roman lore was written down. The religion’s written history begins with the native cults of the Italian Peninsula and Greek religious practices that took hold of the early religion. In the beginning, the native rituals were the main religious practices in Rome. These rituals consisted of worshipping spirits and idols that were to protect thefarming community. Romans, during their humble beginnings, did not give names, faces, or particular powers to these idols. Overall, these faceless deities were there only to protect the community, nothing more. However, as time progressed, influence from Greece and the Greek colonies in the south of the Italian peninsula and in Sicily began to spread its way towards Rome. Eventually, thisinfluence made a huge impact on the religion, causing it to change in drastic ways.
By the 6th century BC, the plain idols of Rome began to take on the appearance and personalities of the Olympian gods and goddesses of the Greeks. Where the old idols held no powers over certain areas and fields, the newer idols took on specific roles within the community, a concept that came from the Greeks. Anotherconcept borrowed from the Greeks was the formation of the Olympian Gods and Goddesses in Rome. In the Greek states, their main idols lived on Mount Olympus; however, in Rome these same idols took on different names, yet still held on to their original purposes. Over time, their similarities were so great that both the Roman and the Greek names for these deities became interchangeable within the RomanEmpire. These main idols consisted of twelve main deities: seven gods and five goddesses. In order to grasp the power of the religion and the effects these idols had on the people, it is essential to know each of the twelve main deities and their part within Roman society.
The Roman pantheon
Jupiter: King of the Gods
Jupiter, known as Zeus in Greek, was the king of the gods in bothGreek and Roman religion. In Rome, Jupiter was the most powerful of the twelve deities. It was probably for this reason that he was named the patron god of Rome. He ruled the skies with lightning and thunder, always making his presence known. Romans revered him, building his grand temple on Capitoline Hill, named temple of Iuppiter Optimus Maximus, and made it the official place of state matters andsacrifices for the Empire (Hansen, 331). He was husband to Juno, and brother to Neptune, and Pluto, all of which are included in the main deities of Rome. When Jupiter was depicted, he had several attributes that were almost always present. An eagle was usually depicted with him as his messenger and symbol. Also, he was usually depicted with a lightning bolt, which came to be known as his...
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