Christianity and Roman Society (Key Themes in Ancient History)

The Civilization of Ancient Rome
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The Romans, according to the orator and politician Cicero , excelled all other peoples in the unique wisdom that made them realize that everything is subordinate to the rule and direction of the gods.

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Yet Roman religion was based not on divine grace but instead on mutual trust fides between god and man. The Romans believed that this divine help would make it possible for them to master the unknown forces around them that inspired awe and anxiety religio , and thus they would be able to live successfully. These precepts for many centuries contained scarcely any moral element; they consisted of directions for the correct performance of ritual.

Roman religion laid almost exclusive emphasis on cult acts, endowing them with all the sanctity of patriotic tradition. Roman ceremonial was so obsessively meticulous and conservative that, if the various partisan accretions that grew upon it throughout the years can be eliminated, remnants of very early thought can be detected near the surface.

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"This book is a welcome contribution to recent efforts at creating a dialogue between Greco-Roman and patristic studies, to the mutual benefit of both an. Cambridge Core - Ancient History - Christianity and Roman Society - by Gillian Church History, Classical Studies; Series: Key Themes in Ancient History.

This demonstrates one of the many differences between Roman religion and Greek religion , in which such remnants tend to be deeply concealed. The Greeks, when they first began to document themselves, had already gone quite a long way toward sophisticated, abstract, and sometimes daring conceptions of divinity and its relation to man.

But the orderly, legalistic, and relatively inarticulate Romans never quite gave up their old practices. Moreover, until the vivid pictorial imagination of the Greeks began to influence them, they lacked the Greek taste for seeing their deities in personalized human form and endowing them with mythology.

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In a sense, there is no Roman mythology, or scarcely any. Although discoveries in the 20th century, notably in the ancient region of Etruria between the Tiber and Arno rivers, west and south of the Apennines , confirm that Italians were not entirely unmythological, their mythology is sparse. What is found at Rome is chiefly only a pseudomythology which, in due course, clothed their own nationalistic or family legends in mythical dress borrowed from the Greeks.

Nor did Roman religion have a creed; provided that a Roman performed the right religious actions, he was free to think what he liked about the gods.

And, having no creed, he usually deprecated emotion as out of place in acts of worship. In spite, however, of the antique features not far from the surface, it is difficult to reconstruct the history and evolution of Roman religion. The principal literary sources, antiquarians such as the 1st-century- bc Roman scholars Varro and Verrius Flaccus , and the poets who were their contemporaries under the late Republic and Augustus , wrote and years after the beginnings of Rome.


They wrote at a time when the introduction of Greek methods and myths had made erroneous and flattering interpretations of the distant Roman past unavoidable. In order to supplement such conjectures or facts as they may provide, scholars rely on surviving copies of the religious calendar and on other inscriptions.

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The emperor Julian, who for a brief moment re-established the pagan cults, is paradoxically the most luminous figure in that gloom. Signup to our Newsletter Subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates on new articles, lesson plans and special offers. The Latins were a people who had settled in central Italy some centuries before Rome was founded; Rome was originally one of their towns, and although the Romans came to be of somewhat mixed Italian stock Latin, Sabine, Etruscan , they spoke the Latin dialect. He appears here less as a source for the collapse of the Western empire than for the urgent need to strengthen ecclesiastical finance in a new social and economic system. Our buyback partners are not buying this book at this time. Many of these were more or less large farmhouses, the center of a working farm. Hide more.

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Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms. Series description General Editors: P. Cartledge and P. Garnsey "Key Themes In Ancient History aims to provide readable, informed and original studies of various basic topics, designed in the first instance for students and teachers of Classics and Ancient History, but also for those engaged in related disciplines.