The Role of Religion in Ancient Rome
Religion is having faith and believing in something to help people cope with their everyday problems. The religion of Ancient Rome was quiet different from our religions of today. The Romans believed in many Gods and they had a different God for just about everything. In Rome ancient religion, they believed the gods controlled their everyday lives.
Jupiter was the Romans most important god and they thought of him as the king of the gods. His wife was Juno who was the goddess of the sky. Mars was the god of war and Mercury was the messenger of the gods. The Romans believed Neptune was the god of the sea and Janus was the god of the doorway. They believed Diana was the goddess of hunting and Vesta was the goddess of the hearth. They believed Minerva was the goddess of healing and wisdom and that Venus was the goddess of love.
There were temples built all over the Roman Empire so they could worship the gods. The temples were well decorated and a statue of the god would be in the temple. The temples had an altar where the priest would pray to the god and sacrifices would be made.
Religion was very important to the Roman people. Every home had an altar and shrine. The Romans had personal gods they called “lares” which they worshipped everyday in their home.
In ancient Rome, state officials and not the people controlled religion. In Rome, their religion had five religious posts. There were the Pontiffs, Haruspels, Augurs, Flamens and Vestal Virgins. The Pontiffs were very important advisors and they served for life.
The Haruspex was a priest that was very important to the people and it was believed they could tell the future.
The Augurs were also very important and they had the power to decide if the gods approved of what the government was doing. At the beginning, three Augers were nominated and much later, the Romans had 16 Augers. The Augers held their position for life.
The Flamens were very important priests and they made the sacrifices. The main Flamens represented Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus.
The Vestal Virgins were in charge of the sacred fire. It was their job to make sure it burned. If the flame went out the senior religious officials would abuse them.
The Roman religion was very important to the families. Every Roman house had to have a sacred fire. They believed as long as the fire was burning, they were safe and if the fire went out, they were in danger. Everyone in the family was responsible to keep the fire burning. When everyone in the family was dead, the fire was allowed to go out.
The religion of ancient Rome was not personal. Christians worship their God with love and trust but the Romans worshipped their gods because they were afraid. They feared if they did not worship their many gods terrible things would happen to them. The religion of the ancient Romans was very demanding and there were no exceptions.