The Role of Religion in Acient Pagan Society

Essay by glangUniversity, Master'sA+, April 2004

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Religiosity determined the everyday life of antique cultures. It was a by far more pervasive phenomenon, than this is in many modern societies the case. A strict separation from state and religion was inconceivable.

Cults by public and private character were fundamentally different. The Roman cult calendar intended the national holidays and the celebrations for the individual gods. Before political or military events sacrifices were made and the will of the gods was explored. These sacral actions were subjected to a strict formalism and stood under the supervision of the priests. For the victim actions altars were necessary, which were set up not only before temples, but also at road crossings or at other important places. Frankincense, flowers and fruits, animals as blood or fire victims, and wine as drink victims could serve as sacrifices.

Everyone was endeavored around the pax deorum, the agreement of the gods. Under the supervision of the family head at the lararium, the holy place in the house, victim actions were held daily.

They had a ritualized operational sequence and became a firm component of the everyday life. The inventory of these Lararien was shaped by the traditions of the individual families. Besides the official gods were above all the Laren and Genien, the protection gods of the house and the town, very favored. Special events such as birth, the put on of the Toga, wedding, and death required special religious actions. Some cults were reserved to women or specific groups such as professional associations. The innumerable Amulets and ill-repelling, protective objects can be hardly assigned to a single divinity; however, they were individually adjusted to the protection needs of the carrier.

In republican time one knew primarily cults of local origin (Iuturna, Mater Matuta, Quirinus, etc.) in Rome. The original meanings of these divinities...