Origins of Roman Religious Beliefs

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  • Created by: MaaB
  • Created on: 13-06-16 14:21

Rome's History

  • Stories of Rome's beginnings were full of Gods and heroes.
  • Romulus, the founder of Rome, was believed to be the son of Mars.
  • Further back, farmers' lives were hard and uncertain and even when things went well, they would have to work long hours to ensure their farm produced enough food for their family.
  • Farmers lived in constant fear that there would be a drought or their crops would fail.
  • So, it is not surprising that these peasant farmers, who depended on nature to survive, thought that everything was controlled by numina (spirits/divine powers).
  • These predecessors to the Romans believed everything, from the growth of the seeds to the amount of rain that fell, were in the hands of supernatural powers beyond man's understanding.
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Greeks' Influence

  • Many myths, legends and gods were taken from the Greeks.
  • The 12 major Greek Gods were worshipped by the Romans and were at the heart of the official Roman religion e.g. Zeus (god of the sky and the king of the gods) = Jupiter, Hera (protector of women and marriages) = Juno.
  • The Greeks probably influenced the Romans to believe that gods had human forms.
  • Greek philosophy also had an influence on well-educated Romans.
  • Stoicism was also appealing as it teaches that a man must always aim for the highest political standards and men should treat one another like brothers.
  • These ideas were spread by Seneca, Nero's advisor.
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The Influence Of Other Groups

  • The Etruscans were from an area of Italy now called Tuscany.
  • They were assimilated into the Roman Empire in the 4th century BC.
  • It was probably Etruscan influence that led to the first temples being built and to the first statues of gods being made.
  • From Etruria came the idea of 'divination', where people could tell whether the gods would be favourable to ideas by examining the entrails of slaughtered animals.
  • Mithras, a Persian god, was also worshipped by Roman soldiers.
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