The Origin of Roman Religion

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The Origin of Roman Religion

Postby Cleopatra Aelia on Sat Feb 12, 2005 5:02 pm

Salvete Omnes,

As I've already mentioned in my post about the numina I came across an article about Religio Romana in the Pagan Dawn magazine, Imbolc 2005 issue. Here's a summary of this article written by the Wiccan priest Ko Lankester:

The Indigenous Origin of Roman Religion
Many people, even historians, consider the Roman religion an imitation of Greek religion, Roman statues being copies of Greek ones, Roman myths being also Greek ones. It is only later, in the time of Augustus, that the Romans started to have sculptures and statues showing Gods and Goddesses and because there weren't any skilled Roman sculptor and after the conquest of Greece they hired Greek sculptor. When they said make a statue of e.g. Diana they compared her to Artemis and the sculptor therefore put the attributes of Artemis in his statue of Diana.

Before that Roman Gods and Goddesses didn't used to look like human beings, nor did they have any myths and weren't married to each other and had children like the deities of the Greek pantheon. Roman religion was based on the principle of the numen. (I have quoted this part of the article in the numen thread)

The way most Roman rituals are performed dates back to the time of Numa Pompilius who is said to have ruled Rome from 715 to 672 BCE, and the rites remained unchanged until the end of Pagan Rome in the third centuryAD. For the Romans it wasn't important what you believed as long as the rituals were carried out properly.

A Roman ritual basically consisted of the following elements: procession of priests or priestesses and the audience to the altar in front of the temple, sacrifice of an animal which was presented as a burnt-offering to the Gods, or other sacrifices such as corn or cakes, as well as the burning of inccense and a libation of wine which was poured on the ground and on the sacrificed animal. The priests performed some acts and spoke some texts to the deities. The marriage of deities was considered un-Roman and had no part at all in Roman rituals. Nonetheless the aforementioned myths became very popular since the reign of Augustus, and even Renaissance artists turned to the works of Roman poets like Ovidius and Vergilius for inspiration because they couldn't read the Greek myths in Greek.
Cleopatra Aelia
alias Medusa Gladiatrix
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