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Mythology’s Role in Roman Civilization

1350 words (5 pages) Essay in History

18/05/20 History Reference this

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Religion played a huge role in the lives of the Roman people. In the beginning, ancient Rome believed in mythological gods that were influenced by the Greek. Each of the different gods played a different role in everyday life and just like with the Greeks, the Roman gods could help or hurt the people who worshiped them. The Romans believed that the gods had power over their lives which subjected the Romans to constant worship. Each Roman god had a different personality and function in the Roman civilization. The myths and legends that came from Roman mythology would become the basis for their religion as well as helping to explain the creation of Rome, and would last for hundreds of years.

 In Roman civilizations, mythology is present in an ongoing basis, it was part of everyday life and gave the roman people a reason for why all things happened. They also believed that the gods were responsible for anything bad or good for that matter that happened in daily life. If the gods were angry, horrible things could and usually would happen. To keep the gods content, the Romans would sacrifice animas as an offering to the gods. The Romans believed that blood sacrifices were the best way to communicate with the gods[1] Religious sacrifices were normally done in temples or a pantheon. Because the gods were so prevalent in the daily lives of the Roman people it altered the way the people acted and lived, influencing the Roman civilizations.

 The founding of Rome can be explained by mythology and stories that have been handed down from ancient Roman generations to generation. The most famous of these myths was and is the story of Romulus and Remus, the twin children born from the gods. Because the boys were born from a Vestal Priests,[2] both the mother and children are to be killed. There are different versions of the story and in most versions a servant is to do the deed of killing the twins but doesn’t have the heart to do so. The twins were saved by a she-wolf and grew up and went off to find their own city. The boys would fight over the new city and eventually Romulus kills Remus and names the city Roma after himself. “[…] young Romulus Will take the leadership, build walls of Mars, And call by his own name his people Romans. For these I set no limits, world or time, But make the gift of empire without end.” (1.371-375)[3] This is one of the myth that shows the connection of god and man and how and entire civilization came to be.

 Just like the Greeks, Roman mythology contained multiple gods and goddesses, and because Greece was so close, the Romans adopted many of the Greek gods and goddesses, only to rename them as their own. Among the many gods of the Romans, Jupiter, the son of Saturn, was the supreme god, associated with thunder, lightning, and storms.[4] Jupiter was also considered god of the state who distributed laws, controlled the realm and made his will known through prophecies. His role in the lives of the Roman people was important and influential of most parts of life and the Roman civilizations.

 The Roman gods and goddesses played such a huge role in civilization. The Romans would celebrate the gods by holding festivals. Because there were so many gods, the festivals went on and on. The Roman people not only celebrated the gods but also the changing of the season which was thought to be the work of the gods. Some of their holidays or festivals included Lupercalia, celebrated to worship the she-wolf who suckled Romulus & Remus. It started with a group of specially appointed priests gathering at the Lupercal, a cave at the bottom of the Palatine Hill. The priests would offer a sacrifice a goat, and annoint the Lupercii (young male participants) on their foreheads with the blood. The blood was wiped away with milk by other priests, and the young men laughed at them. The Lupercii then skinned the sacrificed a goat and ripped the hide into strips which they tied around their naked waists. Young women who were touched in this manner were thought to be specially blessed, especially in regards to fertility and procreation.[5] This was just one of the many celebrations of the gods, and theses celebrations consumed the lives of the Roman people throughout the year. The festivals and worshiping of the gods was an important part of Roman civilization and helped to shape the lives of the Roman people.

 Throughout the course of history many people think of the Greeks when it comes to mythology, but the Romans had an amazing mythology of their own. Most people are familiar with the stories and legends that come from Roman mythology, including the story of Romulus and Remus, the specific gods and goddesses that were worshiped daily and festivals and holidays centered around the gods that consumed the lives of the Roman people. To the Romans, mythology and the gods gave an understanding to all of life as they knew it. Roman mythology shaped their civilization into the Rome that we study today.

Bibliography


[1] Mandy Barrow, “The Romans,” Primary Homework Help, 2013, http://www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk/romans/gods.htm (accessed December 20, 2017).

[2] Ellie Crystal, “Roman Mythology,” Crystalinks Metaphysics and Science Website, http://www.crystalinks.com/romemythology.html (accessed December 20, 2017).

[3] Virgil and Robert Fitzgerald, The Aeneid (New York: Vintage Books/Vintage Classics, 1990), under “(1.371-375),” https://books.google.com/books?id=YrCfo7HbZXsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Aeneid+By+Virgil+translate (accessed December 21, 2017).

[4] Donald L. Wasson, “Jupiter,” Ancient History Encyclopedia, May 6, 2014, https://www.ancient.eu/jupiter/(accessed December 21, 2017).

[5] “Roman Festivals and Holidays,” Musesrealm.net, last modified September 2, 2009, http://www.musesrealm.net/rome/festivalsinfo.html#lupercalia (accessed December 23, 2017).

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