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  • The mighty gods of Rome

    In the life of the Romans the religion was very important. However, their cult was different from what are religions nowadays. Their mythology didn't care about salvation or did not give any moral rules, first of all it was politics. All it cared about was "res publica". The most important thing was to perform rituals in due time, which was said to help the state and their neglect would draw gods' wrath.

    The Greek cult in the Roman religion

    The official cult was a combination of Greek mythology and rituals from the early Roman tradition. But the original Roman religion was different from the Greek one. Romans didn't have enough imagination to create any great work and didn't even have their own mythology. Their gods were vague and lifeless. They weren't connected by any blood relations like Greek gods. Roman gods didn't have names. They were given only nicknames describing their fields of power. They didn't appear in any myths and so Romans were considered as the most religious nation. The Greeks themselves admired their religion, which didn't consist of myths because they would insult the gods.

    The Roman and Etruscan gods

    Before the Romans encountered the Greeks, who greatly influenced their religion, another tribe has shown them it's mental superiority - the Etruscans. We don't know much about Etruscnas' gods. There were three, that were the most important: Tini, the god of thunder, Roman Jupiter; Uni, the queen goddess, Roman Juno; and the winged Menrf, Roman Minerva, who together contributed to the archetype of the Capitoline triad. The Etruscans revered the dead. They considered souls as bloodthirsty and cruel and they sacrificed people as oblation. The gladiators' fights also come from their culture, and they were a part of the cult of the dead for the Etruscans. The belief in many supernatural phenomena has alsu Etruscan origin.

    The cult of Nature Gods

    In the Roman Empire there was enough space for any belief as long as it would not disturb public order or draw people's attention away from the official faith. Peasants usually prayed to the long-forgotten nature gods and people living in cities paid attention to the religious fashions, and educated people adopted parts of the Greek religion and chaired official ceremonies. Every family in certain situations like: birth or death or sickness of a family member or a marriage in the family gave oblation to their own gods. There was a shrine in every house and gods' images were on every street corner.

    How were gods revered in ancient Rome?

    Everything that the Romans knew about their gods was how to revere them and how to ask for their help. Marvelously prepared system of rituals and ceremonies fulfilled Romans' religious life. The Romans believed, that gods are like praetors and the on, who doesn't know or understand or meet their requirements exposed himself to their wrath. Even religion had to be formal. There were special books, which covered almost every situation in life and had special prayers for all of them. All these rules had to be obeyed and any omission would make to whole ceremony ineffective. The god-fearing Romans were always afraid that they would not meet their gods' wishes. That's why any mistake in a prayer or in a ritual dance or a irrelevant movement caused the whole ceremony to be repeated. Sometimes, the ceremonies were repeated even 30 times until they were satisfying. When saying pleading prayers, the priest had to pay attention to what he was saying and he couldn't omit single words. So one person read the prayer and the priest repeated after him. The reader also had an assistant, who controlled whether all is done the way it should be. A priest's servant also took part in ceremonies and supervised if everyone remains silent and a trumpter played the trumpet so people would here only prayer's words.

    The most important Roman gods and goddesses

    Officially, the Romans revered twelve Greek gods, who were given Roman names. Among them there were: Jupiter -- Zeus, Juno -- Hera, Minerva -- Athena, Mars -- Ares, Diana -- Artemis, Mercury -- Hermes, Neptune -- Poseidon, Vesta -- Hestia, Vulcan -- Hephaestus, Ceres -- Demeter, Venus -- Aphrodite, Apollo -- Apollo.

    In III century BC, when the Romans introduced the cult of the Greek gods with Roman names the gods were given human appearance. Among the national gods the ones, who got most respect, was the Capitoline triad -- Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. Among the private gods Lar Familiaris and Dii Penates, who were guardian spirits of the family, and many souls of the ancestors and Vesta -- the goddess of the hearth and its fire.

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    Jupiter, Juno, Minerva

    Jupiter had a lot in common with the Greek Zeus. He was the god of light and natural phenomena. He was to one to make the sky rain or to cause draught. His weapon was lightning and a thunder was a symbol of his lack of approval. It was a threat or an advice. The place, where thunder hit the ground, was considered sacred. Jupiter was also the god of war. The Romans treated him as an ally, whose help brings victory. Before a battle every commander prayed to him for his assistance. Enemy's defeat was a huge celebration in the name of Jupiter. It was a religious act, a one to show gratitude and faith in the greatest Roman patron. Juno, as a result of Greek influence, was considered as Jupiter's wife and the queen of gods like Hera in the Greek mythology, who was her archetype. She was a perfect mother and wife. On the first of may, the day of Mars's birth, women celebrated Juno's feast called Matronalia. Oblations to the good fortune of relationships were made and husbands gave presents to their wives and wives threw a party for slaves. Things were different with Minerva, who was an ancient Italian goddess. Her name meant spiritual power, so she was treated as a protector of arts and craft like Greek Athena. But Minerva was never very as important in Roman religion like the patron of Athens in Greek religion, although being on of the most significant goddesses.

    Protective Vesta and warlike Mars

    The Romans considered Vesta as the goddess of the hearth and its fire. Her Greek equivalent was Hestia. However, she was only the patron of cities and villages, so in the end she took care of the whole country. She was the guardian of the Roman nation. People imagined her as fire, which was lit in her Temple on the Palatino Hill which was {}shape of a round shed. Her feast was celebrated on the 9th of June. That day, women with food in pots went to her temple. A donkey was sacrificed for the goddess as well.

    Mars was one of the oldest Italian gods. He was the Italian god of war. His name meant man's power or a power, which created life. He was also a god of plants, who makes them grow. A god, who energised the whole nature. And originally, that was his main function. His Greek equivalent was Ares.

    Gods of land and fields and forests

    The most dignified god was the ancient goddess of fields, Tellus Mater - Mother Earth, who takes seed from the hand of peasant and lets it sprout and grow in the fertile soil. There was also a goddess of harvests, Ceres, but not as that important. The patron of market gardens and the good spirit of pumpkin and pea was Venus, who later became the mistress of spring and flowers and the beauty of nature. Diana was the lady of blossoming nature and animals. She was, as every Roman should, a serious goddess. And the leader of the water gods was Poseidon the god of the sea, who was imagined by the Romans, like Neptune by the Greeks, with a trident in his hand. Earlier, he was just a god of clouds and rain.

    Lack of own religion

    The Romans has lost their religion quickly and fell under the cultural influence of other countries, mainly Greece, which was their model in many domains. However, the Roman religion changed all the time making it difficult to catch up with it. In addition to the gods cult there were others, like Ceasar's cult or other cults (Bacchus, Cybele or Osiris, which came to Rome from Asia Minor). The Romans accepted many faiths and their influence in the look for the best one.

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