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Posted on Monday, June 26 - 2006

" by Vincent Micó Various beliefs, rituals, and other observances concerning the supernatural held or practiced by the ancient Romans from the legendary period until Christianity finally completely supplanted the native religions of the Roman Empire at the start of the Middle Ages. The orig..."

by Vincent Micó

Various beliefs, rituals, and other observances concerning the supernatural held or practiced by the ancient Romans from the legendary period until Christianity finally completely supplanted the native religions of the Roman Empire at the start of the Middle Ages. The original religion of the early Romans was so modified by the addition of numerous and conflicting beliefs in later times, and by the assimilation of a vast amount of Greek mythology, that it cannot be reconstructed precisely. Because extensive changes in the religion had already taken place before the literary tradition began, its origins were in most cases unknown to the early Roman writers on religion, such as the 1st-century BC scholar Marcus Terentius Varro. Other classical writers, such as the poet Ovid in his Fasti (Calendar), were strongly influenced by Alexandrian models, and in their works they frequently employed Greek beliefs to fill gaps in the Roman tradition.Gods of the Roman People.

The Roman ritual clearly distinguishes two classes of gods, the di indigetes and the de novensides or novensiles. The indigetes were the original gods of the Roman state, and their names and nature are indicated by the titles of the earliest priests and by the fixed festivals of the calendar; 30 such gods were honored with special festivals. The novensides were later divinities whose cults were introduced in the historical period. Early Roman divinities included, in addition to the di indigetes, a host of so-called specialist gods whose names were invoked in the carrying out of various activities, such as harvesting. Fragments of old ritual accompanying such acts as plowing or sowing reveal that at every stage of the operation a separate deity was invoked, the name of each deity being regularly derived from the verb for the operation...

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