Title

Did Roman Gods Care?: Ethical Considerations in Roman Religions

Faculty Mentor(s)

Michael Proulx

Location

Library Technology Center David L. Potter Special Collections Room 382

Start Date

28-3-2012 6:00 PM

End Date

28-3-2012 7:15 PM

Description/Abstract

Roman religion can be a distant and dusty form of forgotten ancient worship. Exquisite temples, barbaric ritual and blood sacrifice, along with unpredictable gods, often characterize religious practices of the Romans. As a result, scholars such as J.A. North have assessed that Roman worship lacks any emphasis on theology ethics, and is based solely upon the appeasement of fickle and apathetic gods. Such modern assertions are problematic, however, since most western nations in the twenty-first century are not theocracies, and their needs for survival are much different than Rome’s. I will argue that it is incorrect to assume that Roman religion was absent of ethical codes by analyzing individual practices, the importance of state religion, and popular Roman attitudes concerning worship. Individuals had duties that, regardless of the disposition of the gods, he or she was obligated to follow. It is within this relationship of obligation between the divine and the temporal world that Roman ethical theory develops. At each level of Roman duty, people sought to fulfill a contract that they believed helped to guarantee survival for their family and state. Understanding this theological view is critical in order to comprehend key factors in Roman religious identity. Faculty Adviser: Michael Proulx.

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Mar 28th, 6:00 PM Mar 28th, 7:15 PM

Did Roman Gods Care?: Ethical Considerations in Roman Religions

Library Technology Center David L. Potter Special Collections Room 382

Roman religion can be a distant and dusty form of forgotten ancient worship. Exquisite temples, barbaric ritual and blood sacrifice, along with unpredictable gods, often characterize religious practices of the Romans. As a result, scholars such as J.A. North have assessed that Roman worship lacks any emphasis on theology ethics, and is based solely upon the appeasement of fickle and apathetic gods. Such modern assertions are problematic, however, since most western nations in the twenty-first century are not theocracies, and their needs for survival are much different than Rome’s. I will argue that it is incorrect to assume that Roman religion was absent of ethical codes by analyzing individual practices, the importance of state religion, and popular Roman attitudes concerning worship. Individuals had duties that, regardless of the disposition of the gods, he or she was obligated to follow. It is within this relationship of obligation between the divine and the temporal world that Roman ethical theory develops. At each level of Roman duty, people sought to fulfill a contract that they believed helped to guarantee survival for their family and state. Understanding this theological view is critical in order to comprehend key factors in Roman religious identity. Faculty Adviser: Michael Proulx.