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Encyclopedia > Ancient Roman religion

Religion in ancient Rome combined several different cult practices and embraced more than a single set of beliefs. The Romans originally followed a rural animistic tradition, in which many spirits were each responsible for specific, limited aspects of the cosmos and human activities, such as ploughing. The early Romans referred to these gods as numina. Another aspect of this animistic belief was ancestor, or genius, worship, with each family honouring their own dead by their own rites. In traditional usage, the cult of a religion, quite apart from its sacred writings (scriptures), its theology or myths, or the personal faith of its believers, is the totality of external religious practice and observance, the neglect of which is the definition of impiety. ... The Roman Forum was the central area around which ancient Rome developed. ... In religion, the term Animism is used in a number of ways. ... The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath. ... Numina (presence, singular numen) is a Latin term for deity and conveys the sense of immanence, of the sacred spirit that informs places and objects in Roman religion. ... A genius is a person with distinguished mental abilities This can manifest either as a foremost intellect, or as an outstanding creative talent. ...


Based heavily in Greek and Etruscan mythology, Roman religion came to encompass and absorb hundreds of other religions, developing a rich and complex mythology. Roman mythology was strongly influenced by Greek mythology and Etruscan mythology. ... The Etruscans were a race of unknown origin from North Italy who were eventually integrated into Rome. ... Roman mythology, the mythological beliefs of the people of Ancient Rome, can be considered as having two parts. ...


Eventually, Christianity came to replace the older pantheon as the state religion of Rome, and the original Roman religion faded, though many aspects of its hierarchy remain ingrained in Christian ritual and in Western traditions. Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus as recounted in the New Testament. ... A state religion (also called an official religion, established church or state church) is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state. ... The term Western world or the West can have multiple meanings depending on its context. ...

Contents


Early Roman cult

Etruscan mythology provided the context out of which Roman culture and religious beliefs evolved. Archaic Roman "mythology", at least concerning the gods, was made up not of narratives, but rather of complex interrelations between gods and humans. The gods were not personified, unlike in Greek mythology. Romans also believed that every person, place or thing had their own genius (such as "Lares Familiares" - the family guardian spirits). Therefore, the early Roman cult could be described as polydaemonism just as well as polytheism. The Etruscans were a race of unknown origin from North Italy who were eventually integrated into Rome. ... // The word mythology (Greek: μυθολογία, from μυθος mythos, a story or legend, and λογος logos, an account or speech) literally means the (oral) retelling of myths – stories that a particular culture believes to be true and that use supernatural events or characters to explain the nature of the universe and humanity. ... // Greek mythology consists in part in a large collection of narratives that explain the origins of the world and detail the lives and adventures of a wide variety of gods, goddesses, heroes, and heroines. ... In Roman mythology, every man had a genius and every woman a juno (Juno was also the name for the queen of the gods). ... Lares Familiares (Family Guardians in Latin) were mythological spirits of ancient Rome. ... Polytheism stevenis gay, or worship of, multiple gods or divinities. ...


According to the German historian Georg Wissowa the Romans distinguished two classes of gods, the di indigetes and the de novensides or novensiles. The indigetes were the original gods of the Roman state (see List of Di Indigetes). The novensides were later divinities whose cults were introduced to the city in the historical period, usually in response to a specific crisis or need. List of Roman gods, goddesses and other beings not present in Greek mythology Most of these are very minor gods that are little more than personifications of an abstract quality. ...


At the head of the earliest pantheon were the triad Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus. Their priests, or flamens, were senior to others. Later this triad was supplanted by the Capitoline Triad, Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. A Pantheon (Greek: παν, pan, all + Θεός, Theos, God), is a set of all the gods of a particular religion or mythology, such as the gods of Hinduism, Greek mythology, Norse mythology, and Egyptian mythology. ... Jupiter et Thétis - by Jean Ingres, 1811. ... Mars was the Roman god of war, the son of Juno and a magical flower (or Jupiter). ... In Roman mythology, Quirinus was a mysterious god. ... Bust of a flamen, 3rd century AD, Louvre A flamen was a name given to a priest assigned to a state supported god or goddess in Roman religion. ... The Capitoline Triad was comprised of three deities of Roman mythology who were worshipped most famously in an elaborate temple on Romes Capitoline Hill. ... Jupiter et Thétis - by Jean Ingres, 1811. ... Juno can refer to: Space exploration, rockets Juno (spacecraft), NASA mission to Jupiter. ... Minerva and the Muses, by Hans Rottenhammer (1603). ...


Early in the history of the Roman Republic, foreign gods were imported, especially from Greece, which had a great cultural influence on the Romans. In addition, the Romans connected some of their indigenous deities with Greek gods and goddesses. See also Roman Republic (18th century) and Roman Republic (19th century). ...


The forms of worship consisted mainly of libations and sacrifices, the most lavish of which were the Suovetaurilia. Libation scene, Greek red figure cup, c. ... Marcus Aurelius and members of the Imperial family offer sacrifice in gratitude for success against Germanic tribes: contemporary bas-relief, Capitoline Museum, Rome Sacrifice (from a Middle English verb meaning to make sacred, from Old French, from Latin sacrificium : sacer, sacred; sacred + facere, to make) is commonly known as the... The suovetaurilia was an ancient Roman sacrifice in which a pig, a sheep, and a bull were sacrificed. ...


Religion during the Roman Republic

During the Roman Republic, there was a strict system of priestly offices under the governance of the College of Pontiffs, with at its head the Pontifex maximus was the most important. Flamens took care of the cults of various gods, while augurs were trusted with taking the auspices. The rex sacrorum, or "sacrificial king" took on the religious responsibilities of the deposed kings. See also Roman Republic (18th century) and Roman Republic (19th century). ... In ancient Rome, the College of Pontiffs was a body whose members were the highest-ranking priests of the polytheistic state religion. ... Alternate meanings: see Pontifex (disambiguation) In Ancient Rome, the Pontifex Maximus was the high priest of the collegium of the Pontifices, the most august position in Roman religion, open only to a patrician, until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post. ... Bust of a flamen, 3rd century AD, Louvre A flamen was a name given to a priest assigned to a state supported god or goddess in Roman religion. ... The Augur was a priest or official in ancient Rome. ... Categories: Ancient Rome | Classical oracles | Historical stubs ... A sacred king, according to the systematic interpretation of mythology developed by Sir James George Frazer in his influential book The Golden Bough, was a king who represented a solar deity in a periodically re-enacted fertility rite. ...


As contact with the Greeks increased, the influence of Greek religion was increasingly felt. The old Roman gods became associated and sometimes syncretized with Greek gods. Therefore Jupiter was perceived to be the same deity as Zeus. Mars was associated with Ares and Neptune with Poseidon. The actual fact is of course that Jupiter had a distinctive Italic flavor that Zeus did not, and Juno retained as much of her Etruscan forebear as she borrowed from the Greek Hera. It is a simplistic mistake to assume that the Roman gods simply absorbed completely the attributes and histories of these Greek gods, though they did come to be associated with them. Greek religion is the polytheistic religion practiced in ancient Greece in form of cult practices, thus the practical counterpart of Greek mythology. ... Syncretism is the attempt to reconcile disparate, even opposing, beliefs and to meld practices of various schools of thought. ... Jupiter et Thétis - by Jean Ingres, 1811. ... Statue of Zeus Phidias created the 12-m (40-ft) tall statue of Zeus at Olympia about 435 BC. The statue was perhaps the most famous sculpture in ancient Greece, imagined here in a 16th-century engraving. ... Mars was the Roman god of war, the son of Juno and a magical flower (or Jupiter). ... In Greek mythology, Ares (battle strife; in Greek, ????)[1] is the god of war and son of Zeus (king of the gods) and Hera. ... Neptune reigns in the city centre, Bristol, formerly the largest port in England outside London. ... Neptune reigns in the city centre, Bristol, formerly the largest port in England outside London. ... Juno can refer to: Space exploration, rockets Juno (spacecraft), NASA mission to Jupiter. ... In the Olympian pantheon of classical Greek Mythology, Hêra (IPA pronunciation: ; Greek or ) was the wife and sister of Zeus. ...


The transference of the anthropomorphic qualities to Roman Gods, and the prevalence of Greek philosophy among well-educated Romans, brought about an increasing neglect of the old rites, and in the 1st century BC the religious importance of the old priestly offices declined rapidly, though their civic importance and political influence remained. Roman religion in the empire tended more and more to center on the imperial house, and several emperors were deified after their deaths. (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) The 1st century BC started on January 1, 100 BC and ended on December 31, 1 BC. An alternative name for this century is the last century BC. The AD/BC notation does not use a year zero. ...


Changes under the Roman Empire

Under the Empire religion in Rome evolved in many ways. Numerous foreign cults grew popular, such as the worship of the Egyptian Isis and the Persian Mithras. The importance of the imperial cult grew steadily, reaching its peak during the third century. Also, Christianity began to spread in the Empire, gaining momentum in the second century. Despite persecutions, it steadily gained converts. It became an officially supported religion in the Roman state under Constantine I. All cults except Christianity were prohibited in AD 391 by an edict of Emperor Theodosius I. However, even in the fourth and fifth century Roman paganism kept its vitality. Temples were still frequently visited, ancient beliefs and practices continued. For other uses, see Roman Empire (disambiguation). ... It has been suggested that Isis in literature be merged into this article or section. ... Motto: Persian: Esteqlāl, āzādÄ«, jomhÅ«rÄ«-ye eslāmÄ« (English: Independence, freedom, (the) Islamic Republic) Anthem: SorÅ«d-e MellÄ«-e Īrān Capital Tehran Largest city Tehran Official language(s) Persian Government Islamic republic  - Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei  - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Revolution Overthrew Mohammad Reza Pahlavi   - Declared... Mithras and the Bull: fresco from the mithraeum at Marino, Italy, (3rd century) Mithras was the central savior god of Mithraism, a syncretic Hellenistic mystery religion of male initiates that developed in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC and was practiced in the Roman Empire from... Crisis of the Third Century (also known as the Military Anarchy or the Imperial Crisis ) is a commonly applied name for the crumbling and near collapse of the Roman Empire between 235 and 284 caused by the three simultaneous crises of external invasion, internal civil war and economic collapse. ... Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus as recounted in the New Testament. ... Constantine. ... Events All non-Christian temples in the Roman Empire are closed Quintus Aurelius Symmachus is urban prefect in Rome, and petitions Theodosius I to re-open the pagan temples. ... On the reverse of this coin minted under Valentinian II, both Valentinian and Theodosius are depicted with halos. ... The numbers and architecture of Roman temples reflect the citys receptivity to all the religions of the world. ...

Monotheism (in Greek μόνος = single and θεός = God) is the belief in the existence of one God, or in the oneness of God. ... An oracle is a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic opinion; an infallible authority, usually spiritual in nature. ...

Imperial cult

Main article: Imperial cult

The divinity of the emperor and the cult surrounding him were a very important part of religion in the Roman Empire. In an effort to enhance political loyalty among the populace, they called subjects to participate in the cult and revere the emperors as gods. The emperors Augustus, Claudius, Vespasian, and Titus were deified, and after the reign of Marcus Cocceius Nerva, few emperors failed to receive this distinction. The Imperial cult in Ancient Rome was the worship of the Roman Emperor as a god. ... Roman Emperor is the term historians use to refer to rulers of the Roman Empire, after the epoch conventionally named the Roman Republic. ... Augustus (Latin: IMPERATOR CAESAR DIVI FILIVS AVGVSTVS[1]; September 23, 63 BC – August 19, AD 14), known to modern English speaking historians as Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus for the period of his life prior to 27 BC, was the first and among the most important of the Roman Emperors, though... For other uses, see Claudius (disambiguation). ... Vespasian sestertius, struck in 71 to celebrate the victory in the Jewish Rebellion. ... Titus Flavius Vespasianus (December 30, 39–September 13, 81) ruled the Roman Empire from 79 to 81. ... Nerva redirects here. ...


The Roman religion in the empire tended more and more to center on the imperial house. Especially in the eastern half of the empire imperial cults grew very popular, and the cult complex became one of the focal points of life in the Roman cities. As such it was one of the major agents of romanization. The central elements of the cult complex where next to a temple 1) a theatre or amphitheatre for gladiator displays and other games and 2) a public bath complex. Sometimes the imperial cult was added to the cults of an existing temple or celebrated in a special hall in the bath complex. A polis (πολις) — plural: poleis (πολεις) — is a city, or a city-state. ... Romanization was a gradual process of cultural assimilation, in which the conquered barbarians (non-Greco-Romans) gradually adopted and largely replaced their own native culture (which in many cases were quite developed, like the culture of the Gauls or Carthage) with the culture of their conquerors - the Romans. ... Roman theatre at Orange, France A Roman theatre is a theatre building built by the Romans. ... The name amphitheatre (alternatively amphitheater) is given to a public building of the Classical period (being particularly associated with ancient Rome) which was used for spectator sports, games and displays. ... Pollice Verso, an 1872 painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme, is a well known history painters researched conception of a gladiatorial combat. ... Roman public baths in Bath, England. ...


Evidence for the importance of the imperial cult include the "Achievements of the Divine Augustus" (Res Gestae Divi Augusti), written upon two large bronze pillars once located in Rome, Roman coins where the Emperor is portrayed with a halo or nimbus, and temple inscriptions such as "Divine Augustus Caesar, son of a god, imperator of land and sea..." (Roman Temple Inscription in Myra, Lycia). Nimbus may mean: Halo, light or mist around an object Nimbus program, spacecraft used for weather research Nimbus cloud Nimbus (motorcycle) Nimbus Records is a classical music record company Nimbus, fictional broomsticks from the Harry Potter series Nimbus Land, a fictional location in the Super Mario RPG video game The... Saint Nicholas of Myra, by Ilya Repin. ... Lycia (Lycian: Trm̃misa) is a region in the modern day Antalya Province on the southern coast of Turkey. ...


Absorption of foreign cults

As the Roman Empire expanded, and included people from a variety of cultures, more and more gods were incorporated into the Roman religion. The legions brought home cults originating from Egypt, Britain, Iberia, Germany, India and Persia. The cults of Cybele, Isis, Mithras, and Sol Invictus were particularly important. Some of those were initiatory religions of intense personal significance, similar to Christianity in those respects. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Mother goddess. ... It has been suggested that Isis in literature be merged into this article or section. ... Mithras and the Bull: fresco from the mithraeum at Marino, Italy, (3rd century) Mithras was the central savior god of Mithraism, a syncretic Hellenistic mystery religion of male initiates that developed in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC and was practiced in the Roman Empire from... Coin of Emperor Probus, circa 280, with Sol Invictus riding a quadriga, with legend SOLI INVICTO, to the undefeated Sun. Sol Invictus (the unconquered sun) or, more fully, Deus Sol Invictus (the unconquered sun god) was a religious title applied to three distinct divinities during the later Roman Empire. ...


Spread of Christianity

Despite desultory persecutions, usually at times of civic tensions beginning with Nero, and more thorough persecutions beginning under Diocletian, Christianity steadily gained converts. It became an officially supported religion in the Roman state under Constantine I, who ruled as sole emperor from AD 324 to 337. All cults save Christianity were prohibited in AD 391 by an edict of Emperor Theodosius I. Destruction of temples began immediately. Nero Claudius Cæsar Augustus Germanicus (December 15, 37 – June 9, 68), born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, also called Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus, was the fifth and last Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty (54–68). ... Emperor Diocletian. ... Constantine. ... Events Constantine becomes the sole emperor of the Roman Empire. ... Events February 6 - Julius is elected pope. ... Events All non-Christian temples in the Roman Empire are closed Quintus Aurelius Symmachus is urban prefect in Rome, and petitions Theodosius I to re-open the pagan temples. ... On the reverse of this coin minted under Valentinian II, both Valentinian and Theodosius are depicted with halos. ...

  • See also: History of Christianity

This article outlines the history of Christianity and provides links to relevant topics. ...

End of paganism

It has been suggested that Persecution of Roman religion be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)

Image File history File links Please see the file description page for further information. ... Many adherents of Roman religion have been persecuted, mainly by Christians. ...

Intellectual trends

The distinctions among philosophy, religion, cult and superstition that would be made by an educated Roman of the 1st century BC can be read in Lucretius, a philosopher following Epicurus. Most educated Romans were Stoic in the outlook on life. The transference of the anthropomorphic qualities of Greek gods to Roman ones, and perhaps even more, the prevalence of Greek philosophy among well-educated Romans, brought about an increasing neglect of the old rites, and in the 1st century BC the religious importance of the old priestly offices declined rapidly, though their civic importance remained. Many men whose patrician birth called them to these duties had no belief in the rites, except perhaps as a political necessity. Nevertheless, the positions of pontifex maximus and augur remained coveted political posts. Julius Caesar used his election to the position of pontifex maximus to influence the membership of the priestly groups. (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) The 1st century BC started on January 1, 100 BC and ended on December 31, 1 BC. An alternative name for this century is the last century BC. The AD/BC notation does not use a year zero. ... Lucretius Titus Lucretius Carus (ca. ... Bust of Epicurus Epicurus (Epikouros or Ἐπίκουρος in Greek) (341 BC, Samos – 270 BC, Athens) was an ancient Greek philosopher, the founder of Epicureanism, one of the most popular schools of Hellenistic Philosophy. ... A restored Stoa in Athens. ... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) The 1st century BC started on January 1, 100 BC and ended on December 31, 1 BC. An alternative name for this century is the last century BC. The AD/BC notation does not use a year zero. ... Gaius Julius Caesar (IPA: ;[1]), July 12, 100 BC – March 15, 44 BC) was a Roman military and political leader. ...

Neoplatonism (also Neo-Platonism) is a school of philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century A.D. Based on the teachings of Plato and the Platonists, it contained enough unique interpretations of Plato that some view Neoplatonism as substantively different from what Plato wrote and believed. ...

Religious practice

Before the rise of Christianity in most cults orthopraxy (doing the right things), was more important than orthodoxy (believing the right things). This is the case in Roman religion too. Daily life was impregnated with religious practice. Praxis is the customary use of knowledge or skills, distinct from theoretical knowledge. ... The word orthodoxy, from the Greek ortho (right, correct) and doxa (thought, teaching , Glorification), is typically used to refer to the correct theological or doctrinal observance of religion, as determined by some overseeing body. ...

  • Sacrifice/banquets
  • Annual priesthoods
  • Processions
  • Oracles
  • Votive inscriptions
  • calendar

The Roman calendar changed its form several times in the time between the foundation of Rome and the fall of the Roman Empire. ...

Festivals

The Roman religious calendar reflected Rome's hospitality to the cults and deities of conquered territories. Roman religious festivals known from ancient times were few in number. Some of the oldest, however, survived to the very end of the pagan empire, preserving the memory of the fertility and propitiatory rites of a primitive agricultural people. New festivals were introduced, however, to mark the naturalization of new gods. So many festivals were adopted eventually that the work days on the calendar were outnumbered. Among the more important of the Roman religious festivals were the Saturnalia, the Lupercalia, the Equiria, and the Secular Games. The Roman calendar changed its form several times in the time between the foundation of Rome and the fall of the Roman Empire. ... Festivals in Ancient Rome include religious feasts, normal games and political activities. ... Saturnalia was the feast at which the Romans commemorated the dedication of the temple of the god Saturn, which took place on 17 December. ... The Lupercalia was an annual very ancient, possibly pre-Roman pastoral festival, held on February 15 to honour Faunus, god of fertility and forests. ... The Equirria (Festival of Mars - held on February 27, First Equirria and March 14, Second Equirria) were holy days with religious and military significance at either end of the new year celebrations for Mars. ... Secular games (Lodi Sæculares, originally Terentini). ...


Under the empire, the Saturnalia was celebrated for seven days, from December 17 to December 23, during the period in which the winter solstice occurred. All business was suspended, slaves were given temporary freedom, gifts were exchanged, and merriment prevailed. The Lupercalia was an ancient festival originally honoring Lupercus, a pastoral god of the Italians. The festival was celebrated on February 15 at the cave of the Lupercal on the Palatine Hill, where the legendary founders of Rome, the twins Romulus and Remus, were supposed to have been nursed by a wolf. Among the Roman legends connected with them is that of Faustulus, a shepherd who was supposed to have discovered the twins in the wolf's den and to have taken them to his home, in which they were brought up by his wife, Acca Larentia. See founding of Rome. Saturnalia was the feast at which the Romans commemorated the dedication of the temple of the god Saturn, which took place on 17 December. ... December 17 is the 351st day of the year (352nd in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... December 23 is the 357th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (358th in leap years). ... The Lupercalia was an annual very ancient, possibly pre-Roman pastoral festival, held on February 15 to honour Faunus, god of fertility and forests. ... February 15 is the 46th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 17th century aviaries on the hill, built by Rainaldi for Odoardo Cardinal Farnese: once wirework cages surmounted them. ... The ancient bronze Capitoline Wolf suckles the infant twins Romulus and Remus, the twins added in the 16th century. ... Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome in Roman mythology, were the supposed sons of the god Mars and the priestess Rhea Silvia. ... An Italian poster from World War II using the Romulus and Remus myth: the wolf is tearing apart a Union Jack to encourage Italians to buy war bonds The founding of Rome is reported by many legends, which in recent times are beginning to be supplemented by more scientific reconstructions. ...


The Equiria, a festival in honor of Mars, was celebrated on February 27 and March 14, traditionally the time of year when new military campaigns were prepared. Horse races in the Campus Martius notably marked the celebration. The Equirria (Festival of Mars - held on February 27, First Equirria and March 14, Second Equirria) were holy days with religious and military significance at either end of the new year celebrations for Mars. ... February 27 is the 58th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... March 14 is the 73rd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (74th in leap years) with 292 days remaining in the year. ...


The Secular Games, which included both athletic spectacles and sacrifices, were held at irregular intervals, traditionally once only in about every century, to mark the beginning of a new saeculum, or "era". They were supposed to be held when the last person who had witnessed the previous Secular Games died, marking the beginning of a new era. The tradition, often neglected, was revived as a spectacle by Augustus and honoured by the poet Horace with a series of odes. Secular games (Lodi Sæculares, originally Terentini). ... Augustus (Latin: IMPERATOR CAESAR DIVI FILIVS AVGVSTVS[1]; September 23, 63 BC – August 19, AD 14), known to modern English speaking historians as Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus for the period of his life prior to 27 BC, was the first and among the most important of the Roman Emperors, though... Horace Quintus Horatius Flaccus, (December 8, 65 BC - November 27, 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus. ...


Human sacrifice

The Romans had an ancient tradition of human sacrifice. Slaves, prisoners of war and others were sacrificed by burying them alive to placate the Manes and the Fates in certain circumstances. Human sacrifice became less common during the Republic, but it still happened occasionally - usually in times of extreme danger. After the Battle of Cannae, male and female pairs of Greek and Gallic slaves were buried alive to placate the angry gods. This also happened in 228 and 113 BC. For the eleventh century battle in the Norman conquest of the Mezzogiorno, see Battle of Cannae (1018) Combatants Carthage Roman Republic Commanders Hannibal Lucius Aemilius Paullus†, Gaius Terentius Varro Strength 40,000 heavy infantry, 6,000 light infantry, 8,000 cavalry 86,400–87,000 men (sixteen Roman and Allied...


Plutarch (Quaest. Rom. 83) even noted that the Romans had something of a double-standard when it came to human sacrifice he wrote : Did they (the Romans) think it impious to sacrifice human beings to the gods, but necessary to sacrifice them to the Manes?


It has been thought that the ceremony on May 15 where the Vestals threw puppets made of rushes from the Pons Sublicius was a memory of an earlier time when old men had been thrown from the bridge in sacrifice (binding and drowning human victims being ancient Indo-European practice): Ovid denies it, which suggests that already in Antiquity some Romans must have thought so. At the 'Feriae Latinae' puppets were hanged from trees — the so‑called oscillatio — possibly in memory of an earlier practice where young boys were sacrificed in this way (again, ritual hanging being another form of Indo-European human sacrifice). When the sixth king of Rome, Servius Tullius, expanded the walls of the city, four human bodies were buried under the wall surrounding the Palatine Hill. These bodies have been excavated.

Roman religion series
Offices
Augur | Flamen | Haruspex | Pontifex Maximus | Rex Nemorensis | Sacred king | Vestal Virgin
Beliefs and practices
Apotheosis | Festivals | Funerals | Imperial cult | Mythology | Persecution | Sibylline Books | Temple

 
 

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