Roman Religion And Athletics Essay

1424 words - 6 pages

In the eighth century B.C., Ancient Rome grew from a small city into a massive empire which encompassed most of Europe, Britain, Western Asia, Northern Africa, and the Mediterranean Islands. The Roman Empire declined in 190 A.D., but Roman culture is still celebrated today. Ancient Rome is known for its riveting culture, particularly its religion and athletics.
Ancient Rome had a distinct religion which held several different beliefs. The Latin word “religio” means “something that binds.” For Romans, religion was a binding force between families, peasants and their rulers, and people and the spirits. According to the journal “Roman Religion,” “Roman religion was animistic-- that is, it included the belief that spirits (called numina) dwelled within natural objects, such as trees or rocks, creating a sort of “force field” around them” (1). The animistic character of Roman religion helps explain why Rome, unlike Greece, did not have a mythology of its own: they worshiped inanimate objects rather than people. A second article entitled “Religion, Roman” declares that the forces within the inanimate objects “had to be reckoned with and that human beings should try to pacify the spirits” (1). However, the pacification of the numina did not call for strong moral behavior from Romans. For this reason, cult worship was very popular in Roman religion. “Religion, Roman” also proclaims that “Ancient Roman religion was a matter of … performing prescribed rituals to win the favor” of the spirits (1). These rituals typically involved sacrifice. The main purpose of the ritual was to communicate with the numina and to receive their approval, which they believed was necessary to be successful (“Religion, Roman” 1). The numina were believed to have “a decisive role in every aspect of human life and activity” (“Roman Religion” 1). Because of the supposed ubiquity of the numina, Romans were extremely superstitious. Ancient Roman armies might have even backed down due to bad omens. Evidently, these numina were of extreme importance to the Ancient Romans. The ultimate goal of Roman religion was “by prayer, sacrifice, and scrupulous observance of ritual, to establish friendly relations with the numina governing the myriad activities of life, and thus to have reasonable assurance of their help and protection” (“Roman Religion” 1). Therefore, the Romans attempted to appease their gods and goddesses hoping that they would help them by, for example, making their crops fertile, or protecting their family.
Religion played a big role in the family, as well. The article entitled “Roman Religion” states that “family worship was centered in the house, fields, and boundaries of the farmstead. A host of numina … presided over the various parts of the house and the activities of house and farm” (1). Since many citizens of Ancient Rome were religious farmers, they were respectful of the many spirits that they believed dwelled within their houses and farms. They included them in...

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