The Ancient Library

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On this page: Religiosi Dies – Renuntiatio – Repetundarum Crimen



plebs were not allowed to participate in that religion, and were only allowed to wor­ship the Roman gods in private. Therefore, in the long struggle, in which the plebs, with their ever-increasing power, endea­voured to secure their rights (a struggle that ended in 300 b.c.), it was a question of religion as well as of politics. As regards the worship of the gods, according to Roman ideas, a pure and moral life was pleasing to them and gained their favour. This was, however, conditional on the exact performance of the outward ritual which the system of religion ordained_ for their cult. It consisted in a very prolonged ceremonial, performed according to the strictest injunctions and with painful minuteness of detail. This ceremonial was performed in public and private life, so that no community lacked its special shrines and sacrifices (see sacra), and nothing of any importance was undertaken without religious sanction, which involved in parti­cular the discovery of the divine will by means of certain signs (see auspicia). The forms of outward worship were retained long after the decay of belief in the gods had set in. This decay was caused by the preponderance of the Greek element, and the contemporary introduction of Greek enlightenment; and it soon spread to the forms of worship. During the greater part of the republican period, the priests allowed religion to take a secondary place to politics, and, either from indifference or ignorance, neglected their official duties.

Under the Empire, when even the deifi­cation of deceased emperors was introduced (sec apotheosis), an attempt was .nade to give an artificial life to the ancient forms of worship ; but religious feeling could not be rekindled by forms which had long lost their meaning. When this feeling revived, it preferred, as in Greece, to find refuge in strange Oriental_ rites, especially those of Mithras and of Isis and Serapis, which, by means of their mysteries and their expia­tory ceremonies, offered a certain degree of satisfaction, though, at the same time, they led the way to every conceivable kind of superstition.

The suppression of paganism began in the 4th century, from the time when Con-stantine decided in favour of Christianity, in 324 a.d. It commenced in the eastern half of the Roman empire, while in the western half, and at Rome in particular, the Roman form of worship remained essen­tially undisturbed until the reign of Thefl-

doslus the Great (379-395_), the resolute exterminator of paganism. In 394 the Olympic games were held for the last time; in Rome the endowment of all public forms of worship out of the funds of the State was withdrawn, the priests were driven from the temples, and the temples closed. Nevertheless certain heathen customs long survived, such as the auguries of the con­suls and some few festivals that admitted of being celebrated without offering sacrifice or entering a temple. Thus the Lupercalla were not abolished until 494, when they were transformed into a Christian festival.

RellglosI Dies (" critical days ", " days of scruple or restraint"). Certain special days were so called among the Romans which, owing to religious scruples, were deemed unsuitable for particular under­takings, especially for beginning them. On such days only what was absolutely necessary was done. So far as they are unsuited for sacred, political, legal, or mili­tary undertakings, they belong to the dies nefasti. (See fasti.) As regards private affairs, these days were of different kinds. Some were of ill omen for journeys, others for weddings. In the latter case the day previous was also avoided, so that the first day of married life should not be a day of unhappy omen. Among such days were those consecrated to the dead and to the gods of the nether world, as the Parentalla and theFeralia, and days when the mundtis, i.e. the world below, stood open (see manes) ; the Lgmuria (see larvje) ; also days sacred to Vesta, days on which the Salli passed through the city, or those which were deemed unlucky owing to their historical associations (atrl dies, " black days "), such as the anniversary of the battle on the Allia (July 18th); also all days immediately after the calends, nones, and ides, on account of the repeated defeats and disasters expe­rienced by the Romans on those days.

RSnuntlatlo. The Roman term for the solemn and formal announcement of the names of the magistrates elected at the comttia by the votes of the people. The announcement was made by the returning officer who presided at the election, and was necessary to give validity to the election.

Rgpetundarum Crlmen (from repetttndw p£cuni(e, " money which is ordered to be restored''). The name given by the Romans to the charge brought against officials for extorting money from Roman subjects or allies. Such charges were at first brought before the Senate, which heard the case

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All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.