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  • Religions in AeRo


    Roman Religion


    As a preface: Religion always has been and likely always will be heavily integrated into culture. "Roman Religion" changed and developed over eras of history as Rome developed culturally, and even more so as her people encountered other cultures and beliefs. As a result it is almost impossible to completely portray or give every bit of information that exists on Roman religion and beliefs. This thread is an attempt to shore up and generalize some of that information in a manner that is relatively quick and easy to digest. For the sake of organization, general information is given along with off-site links for suggested further reading.

    • Graeco-Roman Pantheon
    • Mysteries & Cults
      •  Domestic & Private Cults (lares, pentates, genius)
      • Imperial Cult
        • This article has a very in-depth and interesting overview of how the Imperial Cult came into being as an official state-recognized aspect of Roman religion. To put it briefly: the Imperial Cult was the worship of emperors as divine, or having divine qualities - especially Julius Caesar and Augustus. The Imperial Cult was strongest in the east - where elements of leader worship had been prominent and common for centuries before Roman rule.
      • Cult of Demeter & Persephone
        • Better known as the Eleusinian Mysteries. This article is a very good overview of the Mysteries. Put shortly, the mysteries were secret rituals and beliefs that celebrated the story of Demeter and Persephone. We know that initiates were sworn to secrecy on pain of death, but we do not know all of the details of the rituals. Quoted from the article linked above: "The rituals were based on a symbolic reading of the story of Demeter and Persephone and provided initiates with a vision of the afterlife so powerful that it changed the way they saw the world and their place in it. Participants were freed from a fear of death through the recognition that they were immortal souls temporarily in mortal bodies. In the same way that Persephone went down to the land of the dead and returned to that of the living each year, so would every human being die only to live again on another plane of existence or in another body."

    Non-Roman Religions & Cults

    • Judaism (Judaea)
      • Roman Viewpoint: Tolerated as early as the 100s BCE by way of a treaty between Rome and Kingdom of Judaea. Julius Caesar recognized synagogues as official collegia. In some periods, Jews were legally exempt from sacrifices under certain conditions. Recognized as a religio licto (legalized religion) during the early empire. In history, Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome - and Suetonius wrote about the trouble between Jews and newly-arrived Christians (Romans saw them as all the same and expelled anyone considered "Jewish").
      • Roman Jews: Tiberius Flavius Alexander & family (apostate Jews); Apostle Paul.
    • Christianity (Judaea)
      • Roman Viewpoint: At this point in AeRo's history, Christianity as we understand it today has not been established. As a new and growing religion, it is mostly attached to the traditions and beliefs of Judaism - and many Christians consider themselves to be Jewish Christians, simply believing that Jesus was the Messiah, where others do not adhere to that idea. While Christianity is finding its footing in the greater world, it is largely ignored by the Roman elite. When it does pop up, it is mostly seen as the reason for trouble a la formal complaints from Jewish Roman citizens. From the Roman viewpoint, early Christianity was found to be an irreligious, disobedient sub-sect/cult of Judaism. Further, it drew its base of support from the powerless, who seemed to have no religious stake in the well-being of the Roman State, and therefore threatened its existence.

      • Roman Christians: Though there is little to no historical evidence for members of Roman high society being Christians during the early Principate, that is not to say that some weren't. The hard truth of the matter is that Roman culture and society was highly mixed with its religious tradition. Being pious and honoring the gods was a central pillar to being a good citizen, a good Roman, and especially an influential and successful politician.

    • Cult of Ma
      • The Cult of Ma was regionally centered in Cappadocia. Ma was celebrated as a "mother goddess", not unlike Cybele, Bellona, or even Athena. The Wikipedia Article has a bit more information.
    • Cult of Cybele
      • Arguably one of the most important cults in ancient Roman history, the Cult of Cybele is tied to the Sibylline Books - books of prophecy consulted by the Roman Senate in times of emergency. This article goes into depth on the history of the cult and its importance in Roman society. In general, the Cult of Cybele was very important to average Romans, and even then more so to women than men.
    • Cult of Isis & Serapis
      • Originating in Old Kingdom Egypt, the Cult of Isis & Serapis was gradually Hellenized by way of the conquest of Alexander, and later through the Ptolemies. It eventually caught on even in Roman society and came to be a dominant cult within even the nobility by the time of the high Principate. This article goes into depth on the history of the cult and its spread.
    • Cult of Mithras
      • Much like the cult of Isis & Serapis, the Cult of Mithras was another originating in the east - originally in Persia. An ancient eastern deity, the cult of Mithras quickly became engrained within the rank and file of the Roman military and spread across the empire. It did not come to real prominence until the 100s AD, and largely disappeared by the 400s (with the rise of Christianity).
    • Druids (Britannia)
      • This article goes very in-depth on the history and importance of Drudism in Celtic culture. Druidism originated in Gaul, though also spread to Britannia and Ireland with the spread of Celtic culture. Druids were something akin to philosopher-priests. They communed with nature, but were also educators and judges, and at times chiefs - though they abstained from warfare. At times they practiced human sacrifice, which is what led to the Roman persecution. Emperor Tiberius suppressed them in Gaul during his reign, and they were eventually forbidden and outlawed completely in the Roman empire in 54 CE.

    Edited by Gothic

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