The Roman Kingdom referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the earliest period of Roman history, when the city and its territory were ruled by kings. Little is certain about the kingdom's history, as no records and few inscriptions from the time of the kings survive, the accounts of this period written during the Republic and Empire are thought to be based on oral tradition. According to these legends, the Roman Kingdom began with the city's founding circa 753 BC, with settlements around the Palatine Hill along the river Tiber in central Italy, ended with the overthrow of the kings and the establishment of the Republic circa 509 BC; the site of the founding of the Roman Kingdom had a ford where one could cross the river Tiber in central Italy. The Palatine Hill and hills surrounding it provided defensible positions in the wide fertile plain surrounding them; each of these features contributed to the success of the city. The traditional version of Roman history, which has come down to us principally through Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, recounts that a series of seven kings ruled the settlement in Rome's first centuries.
The traditional chronology, as codified by Varro, allows 243 years for their combined reigns, an average of 35 years. Since the work of Barthold Georg Niebuhr, modern scholarship has discounted this schema; the Gauls destroyed many of Rome's historical records when they sacked the city after the Battle of the Allia in 390 BC, what remained fell prey to time or to theft. With no contemporary records of the kingdom surviving, all accounts of the Roman kings must be questioned; the kings, excluding Romulus, who according to legend held office by virtue of being the city's founder, were all elected by the people of Rome to serve for life, with none of the kings relying on military force to gain or keep the throne. The insignia of the kings of Rome were twelve lictors wielding the fasces bearing axes, the right to sit upon a Curule chair, the purple Toga Picta, red shoes, a white diadem around the head. Of all these insignia, the most important was the purple toga; the king was invested with supreme military and judicial authority through the use of imperium, formally granted to the king by the Comitia Curiata with the passing of the Lex curiata de imperio at the beginning of each king's reign.
The imperium of the king was held for life and protected him from being brought to trial for his actions. As being the sole owner of imperium in Rome at the time, the king possessed ultimate executive power and unchecked military authority as the commander-in-chief of all Rome's legions; the laws that kept citizens safe from magistrates' misuse of imperium did not exist during the monarchical period. Another power of the king was the power to either nominate all officials to offices; the king would appoint a tribunus celerum to serve as both the tribune of Ramnes tribe in Rome and as the commander of the king's personal bodyguard, the Celeres. The king was required to appoint the tribune upon entering office and the tribune left office upon the king's death; the tribune was second in rank to the king and possessed the power to convene the Curiate Assembly and lay legislation before it. Another officer appointed by the king was the praefectus urbi; when the king was absent from the city, the prefect held all of the king's powers and abilities to the point of being bestowed with imperium while inside the city.
The king received the right to be the only person to appoint patricians to the Senate. What is known for certain is that the king alone possessed the right to the auspice on behalf of Rome as its chief augur, no public business could be performed without the will of the gods made known through auspices; the people knew the king as a mediator between them and the gods and thus viewed the king with religious awe. This made the king the head of its chief executive. Having the power to control the Roman calendar, he conducted all religious ceremonies and appointed lower religious offices and officers, it is said that Romulus himself instituted the augurs and was believed to have been the best augur of all. King Numa Pompilius instituted the pontiffs and through them developed the foundations of the religious dogma of Rome. Under the kings, the Senate and Curiate Assembly had little power and authority, they could only be called together by the king and could only discuss the matters the king laid before them.
While the Curiate Assembly did have the power to pass laws, submitted by the king, the Senate was an honorary council. It by no means could prevent him from acting; the only thing that the king could not do without the approval of the Senate and Curiate Assembly was to declare war against a foreign nation. The king's imperium both granted him military powers and qualified him to pronounce legal judgment in all cases as the chief justice of Rome. Though he could assign pontiffs to act as minor judges in some cases, he had supreme authority in all cases brought before him, both civil and criminal; this made the king supreme in times of both peace. While some writers believed there was no appeal from the king's decisions, others believed that a proposal for appeal could
An augur was a priest and official in the classical Roman world. His main role was the practice of augury: Interpreting the will of the gods by studying the flight of birds – whether they were flying in groups or alone, what noises they made as they flew, direction of flight, what kind of birds they were; this was known as "taking the auspices". The augural ceremony and function of the augur was central to any major undertaking in Roman society – public or private – including matters of war and religion. Augurs sought the divine will regarding any proposed course of action which might affect Rome's pax and salus. For similar practices in other places, see Ornithomancy. Although ancient authors believed that the term "augur" contained the words avis and gero – Latin for "directing the birds" – historical-linguistic evidence points instead to the root aug-: "to increase, to prosper". Template:Priesthoods of Etruria and ancient Rome Political and civil actions were sanctioned by augury and by haruspices.
Augury was performed by priests of the college of augurs on behalf of senior magistrates. The practice itself comes from the neighboring region of Etruria, where augers were respected as officials. Magistrates were empowered to conduct augury as required for the performance of their official duties. Magistracies included senior military and civil ranks, which were therefore religious offices in their own right, magistrates were directly responsible for the pax and salus of Rome and everything, Roman; the presiding magistrate at an augural rite held the "right of augury". The right of nuntiatio – announcing the appearance of auspicia oblativa – was reserved for the officiating augur, which would require the interruption of the proceedings underway; the Roman historian Livy stressed the importance of the augurs: "Who does not know that this city was founded only after taking the auspices, that everything in war and in peace, at home and abroad, was done only after taking the auspices?"In the Regal period, which ended 509 BCE, tradition holds that there were three augurs at a time.
By the Principate, their numbers swelled further to an estimated 25 members. During the Republic, priesthoods were prized as as the consulship, the censorship, the triumph. Membership gave the lifelong right to participate prominently in processions at ludi and in public banquets. Roman augurs were part of a college of priests who shared the duties and responsibilities of the position. At the foundation of the Republic in 510 BCE, the patricians held sole claim to this office. Senior members of the collegium put forth nominations for any vacancies, members voted on whom to co-opt. According to Cicero, the auctoritas of ius augurum included the right to adjourn and overturn the process of law: Consular election could be – and was – rendered invalid by inaugural error. For Cicero, this made the augur the most powerful authority in the Republic. Cicero himself was co-opted into the college only late in his career. In the Republic, augury was supervised by the college of pontifices, a priestly-magistral office whose powers were woven into the cursus honorum.
The office of pontifex maximus became a de facto consular prerogative. The effectiveness of augury could only be judged retrospectively; those whose actions had led to divine wrath could not have possessed a true right of augury. Of all the protagonists in the Civil War, only Octavian could have possessed it, because he alone had restored the pax deorum to the Roman people. Lucan, writing during the Principate, described the recent Civil War as "unnatural" – a mirror to supernatural disturbances in the greater cosmos, his imagery is apt to the traditional principles of augury and its broader interpretation by Stoic apologists of the Imperial cult. In the Stoic cosmology the pax deorum is the expression of natural order in human affairs; when his colleague Lepidus died, Augustus assumed his office as pontifex maximus, took priestly control over the State oracles, used his powers as censor to suppress the circulation of "unapproved" oracles. Despite their lack of political influence under the Empire, the augurate, as with its fellow quattuor amplissima collegia, continued to confer prestige on its members.
In ancient Rome the auguria were considered to be in equilibrium with the sacra and were not the only way by which the gods made their will known. The augures publici concerned themselves only with matters related to the state; the role of the augur was that of consulting and interpreting the will of gods about some course of action such as accession of kings to the throne, of magistrates and major sacerdotes to their functions and all public enterprises. It sufficed to say that the augur or magistrate had heard a clap of thunder to suspend the convocation of the comitia. Since auguria publica and inaugurations of magistrates are connected to political life this brought about the deterioration and abuses that condemned augury to progressive and inarrestable debasement, stripping it of all religious value. According to Varro, before his time augures had distinguished five kinds of territory: ager Romanus, ager Gabinus, ager peregrinus, ager hosticus, ager incertus; these distinctions point to the
In Roman mythology, Flora is a Sabine-derived goddess of flowers and of the season of spring – a symbol for nature and flowers. While she was otherwise a minor figure in Roman mythology, being one among several fertility goddesses, her association with the spring gave her particular importance at the coming of springtime, as did her role as goddess of youth, her Greek counterpart is Chloris. Her name is derived from the Latin word "flos" which means "flower". In modern English, "Flora" means the plants of a particular region or period, her festival, the Floralia, was held between April 28 and May 3 and symbolized the renewal of the cycle of life and flowers. The festival was first instituted in 240 B. C. E, on the advice of the Sibylline books, she was given a temple in 238 B. C. E. At the festival, with the men decked in flowers, the women wearing forbidden gay costumes, five days of farces and mimes were enacted – ithyphallic, including nudity when called for – followed by a sixth day of the hunting of goats and hares.
On May 23 another festival was held in her honor. Flora's Greek equivalent is Chloris, a nymph. Flora is married to Favonius, the wind god known as Zephyr, her companion was Hercules. Flora achieved more prominence in the neo-pagan revival of Antiquity among Renaissance humanists than she had enjoyed in ancient Rome. Flora is the main character of the ballet The Awakening of Flora, she is mentioned in Henry Purcell's Nymphs and Shepherds. There are many monuments of Flora, e.g. in Valencia and Szczecin. Ovid, Fasti V.193-212 Macrobius, Saturnalia I.10.11-14 Lactantius, Divinae institutions I.20.6-10 Media related to Flora at Wikimedia Commons "Flora". The New Student's Reference Work. 1914. "Flora". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1911. The Obscure Goddess Online Directory: Flora
Religion in ancient Rome
Religion in Ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion of the city of Rome that the Romans used to define themselves as a people, as well as the religious practices of peoples brought under Roman rule, in so far as they became followed in Rome and Italy. The Romans thought of themselves as religious, attributed their success as a world power to their collective piety in maintaining good relations with the gods; the Romans are known for the great number of deities they honored, a capacity that earned the mockery of early Christian polemicists. The presence of Greeks on the Italian peninsula from the beginning of the historical period influenced Roman culture, introducing some religious practices that became as fundamental as the cult of Apollo; the Romans looked for common ground between their major gods and those of the Greeks, adapting Greek myths and iconography for Latin literature and Roman art, as the Etruscans had. Etruscan religion was a major influence on the practice of augury.
According to legends, most of Rome's religious institutions could be traced to its founders Numa Pompilius, the Sabine second king of Rome, who negotiated directly with the gods. This archaic religion was the foundation of the mos maiorum, "the way of the ancestors" or "tradition", viewed as central to Roman identity. Roman religion was practical and contractual, based on the principle of do ut des, "I give that you might give". Religion depended on knowledge and the correct practice of prayer and sacrifice, not on faith or dogma, although Latin literature preserves learned speculation on the nature of the divine and its relation to human affairs; the most skeptical among Rome's intellectual elite such as Cicero, an augur, saw religion as a source of social order. As the Roman Empire expanded, migrants to the capital brought their local cults, many of which became popular among Italians. Christianity was in the end the most successful of these, in 380 became the official state religion. For ordinary Romans, religion was a part of daily life.
Each home had a household shrine at which prayers and libations to the family's domestic deities were offered. Neighborhood shrines and sacred places such as springs and groves dotted the city; the Roman calendar was structured around religious observances. Women and children all participated in a range of religious activities; some public rituals could be conducted only by women, women formed what is Rome's most famous priesthood, the state-supported Vestals, who tended Rome's sacred hearth for centuries, until disbanded under Christian domination. The priesthoods of public religion were held by members of the elite classes. There was no principle analogous to separation of state in ancient Rome. During the Roman Republic, the same men who were elected public officials might serve as augurs and pontiffs. Priests married, raised families, led politically active lives. Julius Caesar became pontifex maximus; the augurs read the will of the gods and supervised the marking of boundaries as a reflection of universal order, thus sanctioning Roman expansionism as a matter of divine destiny.
The Roman triumph was at its core a religious procession in which the victorious general displayed his piety and his willingness to serve the public good by dedicating a portion of his spoils to the gods Jupiter, who embodied just rule. As a result of the Punic Wars, when Rome struggled to establish itself as a dominant power, many new temples were built by magistrates in fulfillment of a vow to a deity for assuring their military success; as the Romans extended their dominance throughout the Mediterranean world, their policy in general was to absorb the deities and cults of other peoples rather than try to eradicate them, since they believed that preserving tradition promoted social stability. One way that Rome incorporated diverse peoples was by supporting their religious heritage, building temples to local deities that framed their theology within the hierarchy of Roman religion. Inscriptions throughout the Empire record the side-by-side worship of local and Roman deities, including dedications made by Romans to local gods.
By the height of the Empire, numerous international deities were cultivated at Rome and had been carried to the most remote provinces, among them Cybele, Isis and gods of solar monism such as Mithras and Sol Invictus, found as far north as Roman Britain. Foreign religions attracted devotees among Romans, who had ancestry from elsewhere in the Empire. Imported mystery religions, which offered initiates salvation in the afterlife, were a matter of personal choice for an individual, practiced in addition to carrying on one's family rites and participating in public religion; the mysteries, involved exclusive oaths and secrecy, conditions that conservative Romans viewed with suspicion as characteristic of "magic", conspiratorial, or subversive activity. Sporadic and sometimes brutal attempts were made to suppress religionists who seemed to threaten traditional morality and unity, as with the senate's efforts to restrict the Bacchanals in 186 BC; because Romans had never been obligated to cultivate one god or one cult only, religious tolerance was not an issue in the sense that it is for competing monotheistic systems.
The monotheistic rigor of Judaism posed difficulties for Roman policy that led at times to compromise and the granting of special exemptions, but sometimes to intractable conflict. For example, religious disputes helped cause the First Jewish -- the Bar Kokhba revolt. In the wake of the Republic's collapse, state religion had adapted to support the new reg
Glossary of ancient Roman religion
The vocabulary of ancient Roman religion was specialized. Its study affords important information about the religion and beliefs of the ancient Romans; this legacy is conspicuous in European cultural history in its influence on juridical and religious vocabulary in Europe of the Western Church. This glossary provides explanations of concepts as they were expressed in Latin pertaining to religious practices and beliefs, with links to articles on major topics such as priesthoods, forms of divination, rituals. For theonyms, or the names and epithets of gods, see List of Roman deities. For public religious holidays, see Roman festivals. For temples see the List of Ancient Roman temples. Individual landmarks of religious topography in ancient Rome are not included in this list; the verb abominari was a term of augury for an action that rejects or averts an unfavourable omen indicated by a signum, "sign". The noun is abominatio. At the taking of formally solicited auspices, the observer was required to acknowledge any bad sign occurring within the templum he was observing, regardless of the interpretation.
He might, take certain actions in order to ignore the signa, including avoiding the sight of them, interpreting them as favourable. The latter tactic required promptness and skill based on discipline and learning, thus the omen had no validity apart from the observation of it. The aedes was the dwelling place of a god, it was thus a structure that housed the deity's image, distinguished from the templum or sacred district. Aedes is one of several Latin words that can be translated as "shrine" or "temple". For instance, the Temple of Vesta, as it is called in English, was in Latin an aedes. See the diminutive aedicula, a small shrine. In his work On Architecture, Vitruvius always uses the word templum in the technical sense of a space defined through augury, with aedes the usual word for the building itself; the design of a deity's aedes, should be appropriate to the characteristics of the deity. For a celestial deity such as Jupiter, Sol or Luna, the building should be open to the sky, thus in theory, though not always in practice, architectural aesthetics had a theological dimension.
The word aedilis, a public official, is related by etymology. The temple of Flora, for instance, was built in 241 BC by two aediles acting on Sibylline oracles; the plebeian aediles had their headquarters at the aedes of Ceres. In religious usage, ager was terrestrial space defined for the purposes of augury in relation to auspicia. There were five kinds of ager: Romanus, peregrinus and incertus; the ager Romanus included the urban space outside the pomerium and the surrounding countryside. According to Varro, the ager Gabinus pertained to the special circumstances of the oppidum of Gabii, the first to sign a sacred treaty with Rome; the ager peregrinus was other territory, brought under treaty. Ager hosticus meant foreign territory; the powers and actions of magistrates were based on and constrained by the nature of the ager on which they stood, ager in more general usage meant a territory as defined or politically. The ager Romanus could not be extended outside Italy; the focal point of sacrifice was the altar.
Most altars throughout the city of Rome and in the countryside would have been simple, open-air structures. An altar that received food offerings might be called a mensa, "table."Perhaps the best-known Roman altar is the elaborate and Greek-influenced Ara Pacis, called "the most representative work of Augustan art." Other major public altars included the Ara Maxima. A tree was categorized as felix; the adjective felix here means not only "fruitful" but more broadly "auspicious". Macrobius lists arbores felices as the oak, the birch, the hazelnut, the sorbus, the white fig, the pear, the apple, the grape, the plum, the cornus and the lotus; the oak was sacred to Jupiter, twigs of oak were used by the Vestals to ignite the sacred fire in March every year. Among the felices were the olive tree, a twig of, affixed to the hat of the Flamen Dialis, the laurel and the poplar, which crowned the Salian priests. Arbores infelices were those under the protection of chthonic gods or those gods who had the power of turning away misfortune.
As listed by Tarquitius Priscus in his lost ostentarium on trees, these were buckthorn, red cornel, black fig, "those that bear a black berry and black fruit," holly, woodland pear, butcher's broom and brambles." The verb attrectare referred in specialized religious usage to touching sacred objects while performing cultic actions. Attrectare had a positive meaning only in reference to the action
Gaius Julius Caesar, known by his nomen and cognomen Julius Caesar, was a Roman politician, military general, historian who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. He wrote Latin prose. In 60 BC, Caesar and Pompey formed the First Triumvirate, a political alliance that dominated Roman politics for several years, their attempts to amass power as Populares were opposed by the Optimates within the Roman Senate, among them Cato the Younger with the frequent support of Cicero. Caesar rose to become one of the most powerful politicians in the Roman Republic through a number of his accomplishments, notably his victories in the Gallic Wars, completed by 51 BC. During this time, Caesar became the first Roman general to cross both the English Channel and the Rhine River, when he built a bridge across the Rhine and crossed the Channel to invade Britain. Caesar's wars extended Rome's territory to past Gaul; these achievements granted him unmatched military power and threatened to eclipse the standing of Pompey, who had realigned himself with the Senate after the death of Crassus in 53 BC.
With the Gallic Wars concluded, the Senate ordered Caesar to step down from his military command and return to Rome. Leaving his command in Gaul meant losing his immunity from being charged as a criminal for waging unsanctioned wars; as a result, Caesar found himself with no other options but to cross the Rubicon with the 13th Legion, leaving his province and illegally entering Roman Italy under arms. This began Caesar's civil war, his victory in the war put him in an unrivaled position of power and influence. After assuming control of government, Caesar began a program of social and governmental reforms, including the creation of the Julian calendar, he gave citizenship to many residents of far regions of the Roman Empire. He initiated land support for veterans, he centralized the bureaucracy of the Republic and was proclaimed "dictator for life", giving him additional authority. His populist and authoritarian reforms angered the elites. On the Ides of March, 44 BC, Caesar was assassinated by a group of rebellious senators led by Gaius Cassius Longinus, Marcus Junius Brutus and Decimus Junius Brutus, who stabbed him to death.
A new series of civil wars broke out and the constitutional government of the Republic was never restored. Caesar's adopted heir Octavian known as Augustus, rose to sole power after defeating his opponents in the civil war. Octavian set about solidifying his power, the era of the Roman Empire began. Much of Caesar's life is known from his own accounts of his military campaigns and from other contemporary sources the letters and speeches of Cicero and the historical writings of Sallust; the biographies of Caesar by Suetonius and Plutarch are major sources. Caesar is considered by many historians to be one of the greatest military commanders in history, his cognomen was subsequently adopted as a synonym for "Emperor". He has appeared in literary and artistic works, his political philosophy, known as Caesarism, inspired politicians into the modern era. Gaius Julius Caesar was born into a patrician family, the gens Julia, which claimed descent from Iulus, son of the legendary Trojan prince Aeneas the son of the goddess Venus.
The Julii were of Alban origin, mentioned as one of the leading Alban houses, which settled in Rome around the mid-7th century BC, after the destruction of Alba Longa. They were granted patrician status, along with other noble Alban families; the Julii existed at an early period at Bovillae, evidenced by a ancient inscription on an altar in the theatre of that town, which speaks of their offering sacrifices according to the lege Albana, or Alban rites. The cognomen "Caesar" originated, according to Pliny the Elder, with an ancestor, born by Caesarean section; the Historia Augusta suggests three alternative explanations: that the first Caesar had a thick head of hair. Caesar issued coins featuring images of elephants, suggesting that he favored this interpretation of his name. Despite their ancient pedigree, the Julii Caesares were not politically influential, although they had enjoyed some revival of their political fortunes in the early 1st century BC. Caesar's father called Gaius Julius Caesar, governed the province of Asia, his sister Julia, Caesar's aunt, married Gaius Marius, one of the most prominent figures in the Republic.
His mother, Aurelia Cotta, came from an influential family. Little is recorded of Caesar's childhood. In 85 BC, Caesar's father died so Caesar was the head of the family at 16, his coming of age coincided with a civil war between his uncle Gaius Marius and his rival Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Both sides carried out bloody purges of their political opponents whenever they were in the ascendancy. Marius and his ally Lucius Cornelius Cinna were in control of the city when Caesar was nominated as the new Flamen Dialis, he was married to Cinna's daughter Cornelia. Following Sulla's final victory, Caesar's connections to the old regime made him a target for the new one, he was stripped of his inheritance, his wife's dowry, his priesthood, but he refused to divorce Cornelia and was forced to go into hiding. The threat against hi
The epulones arranged feasts and public banquets at festivals and games They constituted one of the four great religious corporations of ancient Roman priests. The college was founded in 196 BCE; the need for such a college arose as the elaborate festivals required experts to oversee their organization. There were four great religious corporations of ancient Roman priests; the third college was the epulones. The College of Epulones was established long after civil reforms had opened the magistracies and most priesthoods to plebeians, who were thus eligible from its beginning. There were three epulones, but their number was increased to seven. Julius Caesar expanded the college to ten; the patera was the sacred bowl used by the epulones. It was shallow with a raised center so that when held in the palm, the thumb could be placed on the raised centre without profaning the libation, as it is poured into the focus, or sacred fire; the patera was the special emblem of the epulones. The paten used today by Roman Catholic priests, omits the raised center.
Lacus Curtius website: Epulones from William Smith, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875. Roman Magistrates religio Romana: Patera Epulones