Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans. "Roman mythology" may refer to the modern study of these representations, to the subject matter as represented in the literature and art of other cultures in any period. The Romans treated their traditional narratives as historical when these have miraculous or supernatural elements; the stories are concerned with politics and morality, how an individual's personal integrity relates to his or her responsibility to the community or Roman state. Heroism was an important theme; when the stories illuminate Roman religious practices, they are more concerned with ritual and institutions than with theology or cosmogony. The study of Roman religion and myth is complicated by the early influence of Greek religion on the Italian peninsula during Rome's protohistory, by the artistic imitation of Greek literary models by Roman authors.
In matters of theology, the Romans were curiously eager to identify their own gods with those of the Greeks, to reinterpret stories about Greek deities under the names of their Roman counterparts. Rome's early myths and legends have a dynamic relationship with Etruscan religion, less documented than that of the Greeks. While Roman mythology may lack a body of divine narratives as extensive as that found in Greek literature and Remus suckling the she-wolf is as famous as any image from Greek mythology except for the Trojan Horse; because Latin literature was more known in Europe throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, the interpretations of Greek myths by the Romans had a greater influence on narrative and pictorial representations of "classical mythology" than Greek sources. In particular, the versions of Greek myths in Ovid's Metamorphoses, written during the reign of Augustus, came to be regarded as canonical; because ritual played the central role in Roman religion that myth did for the Greeks, it is sometimes doubted that the Romans had much of a native mythology.
This perception is a product of Romanticism and the classical scholarship of the 19th century, which valued Greek civilization as more "authentically creative." From the Renaissance to the 18th century, Roman myths were an inspiration for European painting. The Roman tradition is rich in historical myths, or legends, concerning the foundation and rise of the city; these narratives focus on human actors, with only occasional intervention from deities but a pervasive sense of divinely ordered destiny. In Rome's earliest period and myth have a mutual and complementary relationship; as T. P. Wiseman notes: The Roman stories still matter, as they mattered to Dante in 1300 and Shakespeare in 1600 and the founding fathers of the United States in 1776. What does it take to be a free citizen? Can a superpower still be a republic? How does well-meaning authority turn into murderous tyranny? Major sources for Roman myth include the Aeneid of Vergil and the first few books of Livy's history as well as Dionysius' s Roman Antiquities.
Other important sources are the Fasti of Ovid, a six-book poem structured by the Roman religious calendar, the fourth book of elegies by Propertius. Scenes from Roman myth appear in Roman wall painting and sculpture reliefs; the Aeneid and Livy's early history are the best extant sources for Rome's founding myths. Material from Greek heroic legend was grafted onto this native stock at an early date; the Trojan prince Aeneas was cast as husband of Lavinia, daughter of King Latinus, patronymical ancestor of the Latini, therefore through a convoluted revisionist genealogy as forebear of Romulus and Remus. By extension, the Trojans were adopted as the mythical ancestors of the Roman people; the characteristic myths of Rome are political or moral, that is, they deal with the development of Roman government in accordance with divine law, as expressed by Roman religion, with demonstrations of the individual's adherence to moral expectations or failures to do so. Rape of the Sabine women, explaining the importance of the Sabines in the formation of Roman culture, the growth of Rome through conflict and alliance.
Numa Pompilius, the Sabine second king of Rome who consorted with the nymph Egeria and established many of Rome's legal and religious institutions. Servius Tullius, the sixth king of Rome, whose mysterious origins were mythologized and, said to have been the lover of the goddess Fortuna; the Tarpeian Rock, why it was used for the execution of traitors. Lucretia, whose self-sacrifice prompted the overthrow of the early Roman monarchy and led to the establishment of the Republic. Cloelia, A Roman woman taken hostage by Lars Porsena, she escaped the Clusian camp with a group of Roman virgins. Horatius at the bridge, on the importance of individual valor. Mucius Scaevola, who thrust his right hand into the fire to prove his loyalty to Rome. Caeculus and the founding of Praeneste. Manlius and the geese, about divine intervention at the Gallic siege of Rome. Stories pertaining to the Nonae Caprotinae and Poplifugia festivals. Coriolanus, a story of politics and morality; the Etruscan city of Corythus as the "cradle" of Trojan and Italian civilization.
The arrival of the Great Mother in Rome. Narratives of divine activity played a more important role in the system of Greek religious belief than among the Romans, for whom ritual and cult were primary. Although Roman religion did not have a basis in scriptures and exegesis, priestly literature was one of the earliest written forms of Latin prose; the books and commentaries of the College of Pontiffs and
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him, in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming. Under the influence of Greek culture, Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares, whose myths were reinterpreted in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars, but the character and dignity of Mars differed in fundamental ways from that of his Greek counterpart, treated with contempt and revulsion in Greek literature. Mars was a part of the Archaic Triad along with Jupiter and Quirinus, the latter of whom, as a guardian of the Roman people, had no Greek equivalent. Mars' altar in the Campus Martius, the area of Rome that took its name from him, was supposed to have been dedicated by Numa, the peace-loving semi-legendary second king of Rome.
Although the center of Mars' worship was located outside the sacred boundary of Rome, Augustus made the god a renewed focus of Roman religion by establishing the Temple of Mars Ultor in his new forum. Although Ares was viewed as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, was a father of the Roman people. In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia, his love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome's founding. The importance of Mars in establishing religious and cultural identity within the Roman Empire is indicated by the vast number of inscriptions identifying him with a local deity in the Western provinces. Mars may be a reflex of the Proto-Indo-European god Perkwunos, having a thunderer character. At least etymological Etruscan predecessors are present in Maris, though this is not universally agreed upon. Like Ares, the son of Zeus and Hera, Mars is considered to be the son of Jupiter and Juno.
However, in a version of his birth given by Ovid, he was the son of Juno alone. Jupiter had usurped the mother's function. Flora tested it on a heifer who became fecund at once, she plucked a flower ritually using her thumb, touched Juno's belly, impregnated her. Juno withdrew to the shore of Marmara for the birth. Ovid tells this story in his long-form poetic work on the Roman calendar, it may explain why the Matronalia, a festival celebrated by married women in honor of Juno as a goddess of childbirth, occurred on the first day of Mars' month, marked on a calendar from late antiquity as the birthday of Mars. In the earliest Roman calendar, March was the first month, the god would have been born with the new year. Ovid is the only source for the story, he may be presenting a literary myth of his own invention, or an otherwise unknown archaic Italic tradition. The consort of Mars was Nerio or Neriene, "Valor." She represents the vital force and majesty of Mars. Her name was regarded as Sabine in origin and is equivalent to Latin virtus, "manly virtue".
In the early 3rd century BC, the comic playwright Plautus has a reference to Mars greeting Nerio, his wife. A source from late antiquity says that Mars and Neriene were celebrated together at a festival held on March 23. In the Roman Empire, Neriene came to be identified with Minerva. Nerio originates as a divine personification of Mars' power, as such abstractions in Latin are feminine, her name appears with that of Mars in an archaic prayer invoking a series of abstract qualities, each paired with the name of a deity. The influence of Greek mythology and its anthropomorphic gods may have caused Roman writers to treat these pairs as "marriages." The union of Venus and Mars held greater appeal for poets and philosophers, the couple were a frequent subject of art. In Greek myth, the adultery of Ares and Aphrodite had been exposed to ridicule when her husband Hephaestus caught them in the act by means of a magical snare. Although not part of the Roman tradition, in 217 BC Venus and Mars were presented as a complementary pair in the lectisternium, a public banquet at which images of twelve major gods of the Roman state were presented on couches as if present and participating.
Scenes of Venus and Mars in Roman art ignore the adulterous implications of their union, take pleasure in the good-looking couple attended by Cupid or multiple Loves. Some scenes may imply marriage, the relationship was romanticized in funerary or domestic art in which husbands and wives had themselves portrayed as the passionate divine couple; the uniting of deities representing Love and War lent itself to allegory since the lovers were the parents of Concordia. The Renaissance philosopher Marsilio Ficino notes that "only Venus dominates Mars, he never dominates her". In ancient Roman and Renaissance art, Mars is shown disarmed and relaxed, or sleeping, but the extram
Venus is a Roman goddess, whose functions encompassed love, desire, fertility and victory. In Roman mythology, she was the ancestor of the Roman people through her son, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy. Julius Caesar claimed her as his ancestor. Venus was central to many religious festivals, was revered in Roman religion under numerous cult titles; the Romans adapted the myths and iconography of her Greek counterpart Aphrodite for Roman art and Latin literature. In the classical tradition of the West, Venus became one of the most referenced deities of Greco-Roman mythology as the embodiment of love and sexuality. Venus embodies sex, beauty, enticement and persuasive female charm among the community of immortal gods, it has connections to venerari and venia through a possible common root in an Indo-European *wenes- or *u̯enis. Their common Proto-Indo-European root is assumed as *wen- or *u̯en- "to strive for, wish for, love"). Venus has been described as "the most original creation of the Roman pantheon", "an ill-defined and assimilative" native goddess, combined "with a strange and exotic Aphrodite".
Her cults may represent the religiously legitimate charm and seduction of the divine by mortals, in contrast to the formal, contractual relations between most members of Rome's official pantheon and the state, the unofficial, illicit manipulation of divine forces through magic. The ambivalence of her persuasive functions has been perceived in the relationship of the root *venes- with Latin venenum, in the sense of "a charm, magic philtre". In myth, Venus-Aphrodite was born of sea-foam. Roman theology presents Venus as the yielding, watery female principle, essential to the generation and balance of life, her male counterparts in the Roman pantheon and Mars, are active and fiery. Venus absorbs and tempers the male essence, uniting the opposites of male and female in mutual affection, she is assimilative and benign, embraces several otherwise quite disparate functions. She can give sexual success, good fortune and prosperity. In one context, she is a goddess of prostitutes. Images of Venus have been found in domestic murals and household shrines.
Petronius, in his Satyricon, places an image of Venus among the Lares of the freedman Trimalchio's lararium. Prospective brides offered Venus a gift "before the wedding"; some Roman sources say. In dice-games, a popular pastime among Romans of all classes, the luckiest, best possible roll was known as "Venus". Venus' signs were for the most part the same as Aphrodite's, they include roses, which were offered in Venus' Porta Collina rites, above all, cultivated for its white, sweetly scented flowers, evergreen leaves and its various medical-magical properties. Venus' statues, her worshipers, wore myrtle crowns at her festivals. Before its adoption into Venus' cults, myrtle was used in the purification rites of Cloacina, the Etruscan-Roman goddess of Rome's main sewer. Roman folk-etymology transformed the ancient, obscure goddess Murcia into "Venus of the Myrtles, whom we now call Murcia". Myrtle was thought a potent aphrodisiac; the female pudendum the clitoris, was known as murtos. As goddess of love and sex, Venus played an essential role at Roman prenuptial rites and wedding nights, so myrtle and roses were used in bridal bouquets.
Marriage itself was not a seduction but a lawful condition, under Juno's authority. Venus was a patron of the ordinary, everyday wine drunk by most Roman men and women. In the rites to Bona Dea, a goddess of female chastity, Venus and anything male were not only excluded, but unmentionable; the rites allowed women to drink the strongest, sacrificial wine, otherwise reserved for the Roman gods and Roman men. Under these special circumstances, they could get virtuously, religiously drunk on strong wine, safe from Venus' temptations. Outside of this context, ordinary wine tinctured with myrtle oil was thought suitable for women. Roman generals given an ovation, a lesser form of Roman triumph, wore a myrtle crown to purify themselves and their armies of blood-guilt; the ovation ceremony was assimilated to Venus Victrix, held to have granted and purified its "easy" victory. The first known temple to Venus was vowed to Venus Obsequens by Q. Fabius Gurges in the heat of a battle against the Samnites, it was dedicated in 295 BC, at a site near the Aventine Hill, was funded by fines imposed on Roman women for sexual misdemeanours.
Its rites and character were influenced by or based on Greek Aphrodite's cults, which were diffused in various forms throughout Italian Magna Graeca. Its dedication date connects Venus Obsequens to the Vinalia rustica festival. In 217 BC, in the early stages of the Second Punic War with Carthage, Rome suffered a disastrous defeat at the battle of Lake Trasimene; the Sibyllin
Lares, were guardian deities in ancient Roman religion. Their origin is uncertain. Lares were believed to observe and influence all that happened within the boundaries of their location or function; the statues of domestic Lares were placed at the table during family meals. Roman writers sometimes identify or conflate them with ancestor-deities, domestic Penates and the hearth; because of these associations, Lares are sometimes categorised as household gods but some had much broader domains. Roadways, agriculture, towns, the state and its military were all under the protection of their particular Lar or Lares; those who protected local neighbourhoods were housed in the crossroad shrines which served as a focus for the religious and political life of their local, overwhelmingly plebeian communities. Their cult officials included freedmen and slaves, otherwise excluded by status or property qualification from most administrative and religious offices. Compared to Rome's major deities Lares had limited scope and potency but archaeological and literary evidence attests to their central role in Roman identity and religious life.
By analogy, a homeward-bound Roman could be described as returning ad Larem. Despite official bans on non-Christian cults from the late 4th century AD onwards, unofficial cults to Lares persisted until at least the early 5th century AD. Archaic Rome's Etruscan neighbours practiced domestic, ancestral or family cults similar to those offered by Romans to their Lares; the word itself seems to derive from the Etruscan lar, lars, or larth, meaning "lord". Ancient Greek and Roman authors offer "heroes" and "daimones" as translations of "Lares". Weinstock proposes a more ancient equivalence of Lar and Greek hero, based on his gloss of a 4th-century BC Latin dedication to the Roman ancestor-hero Aeneas as Lare. No physical Lar images survive from before the Late Republican era, but literary references suggest that cult could be offered to a single Lar, sometimes many more: in the case of the obscure Lares Grundules thirty. By the early Imperial era, they had become paired divinities through the influences of Greek religion – in particular, the heroic twin Dioscuri – and the iconography of Rome's semi-divine founder-twins and Remus.
Lares are represented as two small, lively male figures clad in short, girdled tunics – made of dogskin, according to Plutarch. They take a dancer's attitude, tiptoed or balanced on one leg. One arm raises a drinking horn aloft as if to offer a libation. Compitalia shrines of the same period show Lares figures of the same type. Painted shrine-images of paired Lares show them in mirrored poses to the left and right of a central figure, understood to be an ancestral genius. Lares belonged within the "bounded physical domain" under their protection, seem to have been as innumerable as the places they protected; some appear to have had overlapping changes of name. Some have no particular or descriptive name: for example, those invoked along with Mars in the Carmen Arvale are Lases, whose divine functions must be inferred from the wording and context of the Carmen itself; those invoked along with other deities by the consul Publius Decius Mus as an act of devotio before his death in battle are "Lares".
The titles and domains given below can not therefore be taken as definitive. Lares Augusti: the Lares of Augustus, or "the august Lares", given public cult on the first of August, thereby identified with the inaugural day of Imperial Roman magistracies and with Augustus himself. Official Cult to the Lares Augusti continued from their institution through to the 4th century AD, they are identified with the Lares Lares Praestites of Augustan religious reform. Lares Compitalicii: the Lares of local communities or neighbourhoods, celebrated at the Compitalia festival, their shrines were positioned at main central crossroads of their vici, provided a focus for the religious and social life of their community for the plebeian and servile masses. The Lares Compitalicii are synonymous with the Lares Augusti of Augustan reform. Augustus' institution of cult to the Lares Praestites was held at the same Compitalia shrines, but on a different date. Lares Domestici: Lares of the house identical with Lares Familiares.
Lares Familiares: Lares of the family identical with the Lares Domestici. Lares Grundules: the thirty "grunting Lares" or Lares of the eaves given an altar and cult by Romulus or Aeneas when a sow produced a prodigious farrow of thirty piglets. According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus the place where the sow bore the piglets and Aeneas made the sacrifice was sacred, forbidden to foreigners; the sow's body was said to be kept at Lavinium, preserved in salt brine as a sacred object. The thirty piglets would provide the theological justification for the thirty populi Albenses of the feriae Latinae, the thirty curiae of Rome. Lar Militaris: "military Lar", named by
Juno was an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. A daughter of Saturn, she is the wife of Jupiter and the mother of Mars, Vulcan and Juventas, she is the Roman equivalent of queen of the gods in Greek mythology. Her Etruscan counterpart was Uni, she was said to watch over the women of Rome; as the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman Empire, Juno was called Regina and was a member of the Capitoline Triad, centered on the Capitoline Hill in Rome. Juno's own warlike aspect among the Romans is apparent in her attire, she is shown armed and wearing a goatskin cloak. The traditional depiction of this warlike aspect was assimilated from the Greek goddess Athena, who bore a goatskin, or a goatskin shield, called the'aegis'; the name Juno was once thought to be connected to Iove as Diuno and Diove from *Diovona. At the beginning of the 20th century, a derivation was proposed from iuven-, through a syncopated form iūn-; this etymology became accepted after it was endorsed by Georg Wissowa.
Iuuen- is related to Latin aevum and Greek aion through a common Indo-European root referring to a concept of vital energy or "fertile time". The iuvenis is he. In some inscriptions Jupiter himself is called Iuuntus, one of the epithets of Jupiter is Ioviste, a superlative form of iuuen- meaning "the youngest". Iuventas, "Youth", was one of two deities who "refused" to leave the Capitol when the building of the new Temple of Capitoline Jove required the exauguration of deities who occupied the site. Juno is the equivalent to the Greek goddess for love and marriage. Juno is the Roman goddess of marriage. Ancient etymologies associated Juno's name with iuvare, "to aid, benefit", iuvenescere, "rejuvenate", sometimes connecting it to the renewal of the new and waxing moon implying the idea of a moon goddess. Juno's theology is one of the most complex and disputed issues in Roman religion. More than other major Roman deities, Juno held a large number of significant and diverse epithets and titles representing various aspects and roles of the goddess.
In accordance with her central role as a goddess of marriage, these included Cinxia. However, other epithets of Juno are less thematically linked. While her connection with the idea of vital force, fullness of vital energy, eternal youthfulness is now acknowledged, the multiplicity and complexity of her personality have given rise to various and sometimes irreconcilable interpretations among modern scholars. Juno is the divine protectress of the community, who shows both a sovereign and a fertility character associated with a military one, she was present in many towns of ancient Italy: at Lanuvium as Sespeis Mater Regina, Tibur, Veii as Regina, at Tibur and Falerii as Regina and Curitis and Norba as Lucina. She is attested at Praeneste, Ardea, Gabii. In five Latin towns a month was named after Juno. Outside Latium in Campania at Teanum she was Populona, in Umbria at Pisaurum Lucina, at Terventum in Samnium Regina, at Pisarum Regina Matrona, at Aesernia in Samnium Regina Populona. In Rome she was since the most ancient times named Lucina and Regina.
It is debated whether she was known as Curitis before the evocatio of the Juno of Falerii: this though seems probable. Other epithets of hers that were in use at Rome include Moneta and Caprotina, Fluonia or Fluviona, the last ones associated with the rites of purification and fertility of February, her various epithets thus show a complex of mutually interrelated functions that in the view of Georges Dumézil and Vsevolod Basanoff can be traced back to the Indoeuropean trifunctional ideology: as Regina and Moneta she is a sovereign deity, as Sespeis and Moneta she is an armed protectress, as Mater and Curitis she is a goddess of the fertility and wealth of the community in her association with the curiae. The epithet Lucina is revealing since it reflects two interrelated aspects of the function of Juno: cyclical renewal of time in the waning and waxing of the moon and protection of delivery and birth; the ancient called her Covella in her function of helper in the labours of the new moon. The view that she was a Moon goddess though is no longer accepted by scholars, as such a role belongs to Diana Lucifera: through her association with the moon she governed the feminine physiological functions, menstrual cycle and pregnancy: as a rule all lunar deities are deities of childbirth.
These aspects of Juno mark the worldly sides of her function. She is thus associated to all beginnings and hers are the kalendae of every month: at Laurentum she was known as Kalendaris Iuno. At Rome on the Kalends of every month the pontifex minor invoked her, under the epithet Covella, when from the curia Calabra announced the date of the nonae. On the same day the regina sacrorum sacrificed to Juno a white lamb in the Regia, she is associated with Janus, the god of passages and beginnings who after her is named Iunonius. Some scholars view this concentration of multiple functions
A spring is a point at which water flows from an aquifer to the Earth's surface. It is a component of the hydrosphere. A spring may be the result of karst topography where surface water has infiltrated the Earth's surface, becoming part of the area groundwater; the groundwater travels through a network of cracks and fissures—openings ranging from intergranular spaces to large caves. The water emerges from below the surface, in the form of a karst spring; the forcing of the spring to the surface can be the result of a confined aquifer in which the recharge area of the spring water table rests at a higher elevation than that of the outlet. Spring water forced to the surface by elevated sources are artesian wells; this is possible if the outlet is in the form of a 300-foot-deep cave. In this case the cave is used like a hose by the higher elevated recharge area of groundwater to exit through the lower elevation opening. Non-artesian springs may flow from a higher elevation through the earth to a lower elevation and exit in the form of a spring, using the ground like a drainage pipe.
Still other springs are the result of pressure from an underground source in the earth, in the form of volcanic activity. The result can be water at elevated temperature such as a hot spring; the action of the groundwater continually dissolves permeable bedrock such as limestone and dolomite, creating vast cave systems. Seepage or filtration spring; the term seep refers to springs with small flow rates in which the source water has filtered through permeable earth. Fracture springs, discharge from faults, joints, or fissures in the earth, in which springs have followed a natural course of voids or weaknesses in the bedrock. Tubular springs, in which the water flows from underground caverns. Spring discharge, or resurgence, is determined by the spring's recharge basin. Factors that affect the recharge include the size of the area in which groundwater is captured, the amount of precipitation, the size of capture points, the size of the spring outlet. Water may leak into the underground system from many sources including permeable earth and losing streams.
In some cases entire creeks disappear as the water sinks into the ground via the stream bed. Grand Gulf State Park in Missouri is an example of an entire creek vanishing into the groundwater system; the water emerges 9 miles away. Human activity may affect a spring's discharge—withdrawal of groundwater reduces the water pressure in an aquifer, decreasing the volume of flow. Springs are classified by the volume of the water they discharge; the largest springs are called "first-magnitude", defined as springs that discharge water at a rate of at least 2800 liters or 100 cubic feet of water per second. Some locations contain many first-magnitude springs, such as Florida where there are at least 27 known to be that size; the scale for spring flow is as follows: Minerals become dissolved in the water as it moves through the underground rocks. This may give the water flavor and carbon dioxide bubbles, depending on the nature of the geology through which it passes; this is why spring water is bottled and sold as mineral water, although the term is the subject of deceptive advertising.
Springs that contain significant amounts of minerals are sometimes called'mineral springs'. Springs that contain large amounts of dissolved sodium salts sodium carbonate, are called'soda springs'. Many resorts are known as spa towns. Water from springs is clear; however some springs may be colored by the minerals. For instance, water heavy with iron or tannins will have an orange color. In parts of the United States a stream carrying the outflow of a spring to a nearby primary stream may be called a spring branch or run. Groundwater tends to maintain a long-term average temperature of its aquifer; the cool water of a spring and its branch may harbor species such as certain trout that are otherwise ill-suited to a warmer local climate. Springs have been used for a variety of human needs including drinking water, domestic water supply, mills and electricity generation. Other modern uses include recreational activities such as fishing and floating. A sacred spring, or holy well, is a small body of water emerging from underground and revered either in a Christian, pagan or other religious context, sometimes both.
The lore and mythology of ancient Greece was replete with sacred and storied springs—notably, the Corycian and Castalian. In medieval Europe, holy wells were pagan sacred sites that became Christianized; the term "holy well" is employed to refer to any water source of limited size, which has some significance in local folklore. This can take the form of a particular name, an associated legend, the attribution of healing qualities to the water through the numinous presence of its guardian spirit or Christian saint, or a ceremony or ritual centred on the well site. In Christian legend, the spring water is said to have been made to flow by the action of a saint, a familiar theme in the hagiography of Celtic saints. LaMor
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