The Ancient Library

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On this page: Religion (continued)



tion to birth, and his further growth, men­tally and bodily. (See indigitame.nta.)

•Again, there were manifold protecting gods for the different events of life, as Tutanus and Tutillna, who were invoked in times of trouble; Orbona. invoked by child­less couples; and Febris, the goddess of fever. There were also separate gods for separate employments, and for the places where they were carried on. In this way the different institutions and phases of agriculture possessed special deities (as Roblgus and Roblgo, protectors of the crops against blight). So also with the different branches of cattle-breeding (BubOna, god­dess of the breeding of horned cattle; Epdna, goddess of the breeding of horses; Pales, of the breeding of sheep). Similarly with the separate parts of a house: Forcii-lus, god of the door ; Cardfa, goddess of the hinge; Llmcntlnus and Limentlna, deities of the threshold. To these divine beings fresh ones were continually added, as the inclination of the Romans to recognise and trace divine influence in every single event led to the establishment of new cults after every new revelation of divine power. In this way the introduction of bronze coinage led to a dgus JEsculanus, and later, that of silver coinage to a deus Argentlnus. Historical events gave an impulse to the personification of intellectual and moral qualities, such as Concordia, HdnOs, Virtus, Mens, etc. The same principle which recog­nised that there were some gods unknown, or, at any rate, not worshipped at Rome, led to the tolerance of private performance of foreign cults. Hence also it came about that the gods of conquered countries found a place in the Roman State religion, and occasionally were even introduced into the actual worship of Rome. In the latter case, however, the home deities preserved their rights in so far as the shrines of the newly imported deities were outside the limits of what was called the P&merium (q.v.\

The religion of the Romans was gradually but completely altered by the influence of that of the Greeks. This influence made itself felt as early as the time of the latest kings. Shrines of the gods were first intro­duced under the elder Tarquin, and under the last Tarquin three supreme gods of the State were established: Jupiter, the re­presentative of supreme power; Juno, of supreme womanhood ; Minerva, of supreme wisdom. These three deities received, as a token of their inseparability, a common temple on the Capitol, and were therefore

called the Capitoline gods. This Greek i influence was firmly established at the end ! of the time of the kings by the Sibylline books, which originated among the Greeks of Asia Minor. (See sibylline books.) By means of these a number of Greek and Asiatic gods were in course of time intro­duced into the Roman cult, partly as new deities, such as Apollo, Cybele (Magna Mater), jEsculapius; partly under the names of native gods, with whom they were often identified in a very superficial way, as Demeter with Ceres, Dionysus with Liber, Persephone with Llbera, Aphrodite with Venus; and with them were introduced many innovations in the old established worship of the gods, especially the Lecti-sternium (q.v.). When, after the second Punic War, Greek ideas irresistibly made their way in Rome, it became more and more common to identify the gods of Rome with those of Greece; and thus the original significance of many Roman deities was either obscured or even entirely lost. Divi­nities highly venerated of old were put into the background, and those of less impor­tance came to be regarded as supreme, owing to their supposed analogy to Greek gods. In this way the following twelve were estab­lished by analogy to the Greek form of reli­gion : luplter (Zeus), luno (Hera), Neptunus (Poseidon), Minerva (Athene), Mars (Ares), VSnus (Aphrodite), Apollo, Diana (Arte­mis), Vulctinus (Hephaestus), Vesta (Hestia), Sfercurlus (Hermes), and Ogres (Demeter). The Roman religion was from the be­ginning an affair of State. Religious, as well as political, institutions emanated from the kings, who, as high priests, organized the worship by law and laid the foundation of a law of ritual. The second king, Numa, was regarded as the real founder of the Roman cult, and of the priesthood charged with the carrying out of the same. After the kings had been abolished, religion was still controlled by the State, and the priests (q.v,) continued to be State officials, who were empowered by the State, on the one hand, to superintend the performance of the different cults, and, on the other (and this was the more important office), to give judg­ment in all matters of religion. They thus exercised considerable influence. Under the Republic, the royal prerogative of for­mulating decrees in all matters of religion was transferred to the Senate. As the Roman State in early times was exclusively composed of patricians, the public religion was originally their exclusive property; tho

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