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Ancient Rome: Religion Essay

1570 words - 6 pages

IntroductionIn the second century BC, the Romans conquered Greece and adopted lots of their culture, their myths, legends and gods. Religion was very important for Romans. It was a function of law. Religion for the Romans was not about their love for gods or of gods who loved them, nor was it about waiting for a happy life in the hereafter. For the Romans, devotion to the gods and pleasing the gods was a duty, an act of patriotism, an act of service and protection for the community. They didn't believe in a life after a death but they thought that if they did not believe in gods or did not make sacrifices for them gods would be angry and send a punishment for all the country.GodsGods were mystical creatures who could not die, be sick or feel pain. The only way they could have felt suffering was if they had fallen in love with an our-world woman. Their lives, which look like the fairy tails for us now, were the very important biographies for the ancient Romans. There were lots of gods in Roman religion. The most important ones were Jupiter (all-powerful god of the sky, "father" of all gods), Mars (god of war, father of Romulus and Remus), Janus (god of gateways and doorways, and the beginning and the end of journeys), Sarurn (watched over farmers and their harvest). There were different temples for each god, and special priests looked after them.PriestsThe most important person of Roman Religion was Pontifex Maximus. Under him was a college of Priests who were called poniffits. Poniffits were government officers who had to keep the city on good relations with the gods by implementing all religious traditions and making sure that all people maintained them. Every act of gove rnment should have been approved by gods and priests were responsible for making sure of it. Some priests were ambassadors of the Roman community to the foreign communities. They declared war and made peace. Others predicted the future. Some priests served to separate gods. They had different rules governing their actions (e.g. the priest of Jupiter could not go outside without a cap on). All state priests were patricians. Common Romans saw their relations with gods not only as relations through priests but also as personal. They believed that gods guiding them through everything in their lives.Home SpiritsTherefore common Romans believed that the Earth was full of different sp irits. There were spirits everywhere. Every household had its own divine protectors called Lares. There were ghosts of fathers who protected a house and a land around it from thefts and trespasses. People couldn't see or hear or touch them, but the Lares could see everything and had an unknown power to help or harm. Every man was afraid of Lares of his neighbour. If the man gets sick after he had trespassed into the house of his neighbour, everybody ascribed it to the Lares of that land. That's why at that beautiful time if somebody had left his house for a long time he didn't have to worry about its...

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