Church and State in the Roman Empire
As most of the civilizations studied so far in Western Civilization – the Romans were a religious people. From the rise of the Roman Empire to the fall of its institutions, there was always a backdrop of religious involvement in the affairs of the state and people. Polytheism seems to reign throughout the majority of the Empire. Although the book states very little about the religious affairs of the people, one can conclude that this society was totally influenced by their beliefs that the gods had a hand in all the affairs of the State and of the people.
When looking at how long the Roman Empire lasted one has to ask how. How did the Romans rise to become such a great empire? How did the Empire last? Was it luck? Was it that the whole region of the Mediterranean was weak and susceptible to being overtaken? The answer to these questions after studying the religion of the Roman Empire is most definitely not. The Romans believed that the “Gods” were with them. How could they loose a battle or not gain the upper hand on in a land dispute with the power of the gods fueling the winds for them.
Having the blessing of the gods did not come easy though. The Romans went through a great deal of trouble to please the many gods and goddesses they worshipped. Pontiffs were set to insure that the rituals of the state set forth to please the gods were performed correctly. Most interesting is the office of the augurs. These people seemingly had the most authority and power in the affairs of the Empire. Not one affair or decision of the state could be made with out first consulting the augurs.
It can be assumed that if no decisions of the state was made without first consulting the augurs. It can be assumed that the officers in the field of the battle carried with them an entourage of augurs. (Can you imagine a general going to the tent of a bunch of psychics to get his battle plan approved.)? By doing this the Romans made sure they would succeed in all their endeavors. If the augurs read the signs that the battle forthcoming was not approved of it did not happen. The gods obviously approved of most battle...