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Some of the tourists find their way into the courtyard and, by way of a game, start to push against the columns. Eventually they succeed in knocking them down. Also, there is the damage done by creating amenities needed to support the millions of tourists: signposts, bookshops, toilet blocks and eating places. Today visitors are still amazed by the size of Pompeii, and yet disappointed by how little there is to see.
And besides that, acres of crumbling, anonymous ruins which we are barred from exploring by chains. It seems likely that in time Pompeii will end up like the caves of Lascaux with its prehistoric paintings being recreated in an artificial setting away from the site itself, where gaggles of tourists can be herded through at speed. Although it Pompeii is too often packed with indifferent school children armed with clipboards and coach parties bussed from Rome with aching feet and dwindling interest, Pompeii is much more that just another attraction to tick off your list.
The paradox is that while we need visitors, and more especially in their money, to finance conservation and research projects at Pompeii, it is the visitors who are speeding up the decay. Despite some improvements in the recent past, such as getting rid of feral dogs and introducing a system where on ticket could be used to visit all the Vesuvian sites to pressure off Pompeii, poor site management can be blamed for the present state of the ancient city. This has taken the form of:. Then I have to put out a tender for a company to fix the wall. Then I have to see if I have enough money in my budget to pay for the repair, and then finally the work begins.
Three years ago, the Italian govt. After the collapses of , there was a call for the resignation of the Culture Minister, and in military police launched criminal investigation after an independent study showed that the latest collapses were not caused by rain, but by negligence. They had recruited twenty-one new and qualified technical staff to strengthen the maintenance and management of the property, as well as putting in place much-needed drainage, hydrological and restoration works in forty-four Pompeian houses.
Despite these emergency measures, there are calls from some quarters to completely privatise the site. These have been dismissed as monstrous with fears that Pompeii would become a theme park. Rather, the international community has been urged to make even more efforts than in the past to protect the site. Unfortunately, not everything can be saved for the future. Since conservation can only be carried out at a considerable cost and compromise, a resource management plan must be put into effect that will balance the competing interests of tourism, the local economy, scholarly research and the obligation to hand down a unique cultural legacy to future generations.
The issue of human remains arose predominantly through the concerns of indigenous peoples such as the Americans, Indians, Australian Aboriginal and other groups for whom it is taboo to disturb the dead, and has evoked a passionate debate. However it is not only the pressure exerted by these particular groups that has brought about a re-evaluation of the treatment of human remains. In the early days, excavators and treasure hunters showed little regard for human reamins. At Pompeii, skeletal remains were often destroyed in the rush to discover precious finds, while others were taken away as souvenirs.
The English writer Geroge Bulwer-Lytton is supposed to have kept a Pompeian skull on his desk that gave him inspirations for the villain in his novel The Last Days of Pompeii Some of the early Pompeian water colourists record the deliberate positioning of skeletons in grisly tableux to impress visitors to the site, a practice obviously not acceptable today. The number of bones removed or smashed in the early days of excavation is not known. Some skeletons were piled carelessly in bathhouses during the later excavations where the bones became disarticulated and separated, making it almost impossible to study a whole skeleton.
Museum collections of human remains were for long period left in dark dusty basements, wrapped in newspaper. Although today human remains are generally treated with respect, there are some scholars who believe that all excavation of human remains should be stopped and that it is unethical to display those that have already been excavated. At the other end of the continuum, are scientists such as osteo-archaeologists who find this unacceptable to their profession, and there is a generally held belief that the public should have access to the stories human remains tell.
The study of human remains has always been an integral part of archaeology, and the following extracts from Ethics and Archaeology reveal the importance of scientific studies of human bones. Ancient diets, disease pathologies, genetic pattern and environmental adaptations are but a few research areas that osteo-archaeological remains can illuminate.
Data derived from human populations of all ethnic and socio-economic groups are critical to our understanding of many aspects of modern human biology as well as to the field of forensics. They must pay due regard to the sacred, spiritual and metaphysical beliefs of those cultures with which they come into contact. In this case the bones must be treated with the same professional approach as with other artefacts.
The question of custodianship of human remains seems to lie along a continuum, with direct descendants and cultural descendants at one end and museums as custodians of the general public at the other. Often past treatments of bones e. In some museums, the storage facilities for human remains have long been substandard.
Storage should conform to sound conservation practices that protect the remains against physical deterioration: wrapped in acid-free paper, placed in protective containers, as well as being guarded against theft or malicious use. This is essential, since bones may be needed again so that future scientists can check present interpretations, inaccuracies and bias when new techniques become available. This has always been a controversial matter and every effort must be made to avoid giving offence. For example:. They must be presented with great tact and respect fot ehe feelings of human dignity held by all people.
Some of the intact skeletons from the boatshed of Herculaneum are displayed in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples and coming face to face with these twisted agonised skeletons can create a greater response from the viewer that all the plaster casts of Pompeii together. Opinion of R. Most people would agree that one of the most fascinating aspects of a visit to Pompeii is the chance to see plaster casts of the victims displayed in a number of locations, some in situ.
Thirteen figures can be seen in the Garden of Fugitives, lying where they fell; two in the Stabian Baths, two in the Villa of Mysteries and two in the Marcellum. Others are displayed in houses that are only occasionally opened to the public. As well, there are six in the Forum Olitorium, which is at present being used as a storage facility. They were orignally displayed in the Pompeian Museum, which was closed in after thieves looted it of jewellery and coins. Despite the evidence of the pain and suffering experienced — which may cause some to reflect — and the fact that the casts contain the remains of bones, they do not to offend, and provide a fascinating display.
Others are safely and sensitively displayed behind glass in the Naples Museum. It is possible that in the future, during construction, road building or agricultural activities, more remains may be found in the countryside around Pomp where many people fled and died in Although there would be no particular religious or cultural reason for not excavating, archaeologists would have to come up with a convincing rationale for it and fulfil the ethical propositions involved in cultural resource management.
There has always been treasure seeking, souvenir hunting and looting of archaeological sites — none more so that at Pompeii and Herculaneum — as well as a lucrative antiquities market. Many of the ancient objects in museums around the world and in private collections have been acquired in this way. However, the booming international traffic in antiquities today is different in two ways from that of decades ago. And the advent of the internet, with its online auction houses, has made it easier to dispose of artefacts and harder to police, especially since many objects have been in private collections for generation.
The growing demands from the market and the manufacture of forgeries are destroying archaeological heritage and distorting archaeological evidence. Over the years there have been many conferences on cultural property, but there are often conflicts of interest between archaeologists, museums, auction houses and art dealers. In , the Italian govt. Both the Italian govt. Most international laws claim the ultimate ownership by the state of all antiquities found within its borders and yet, as recently as November , members of the Italian govt.
Archaeological objects are a non-renewable resource and their protection should be the responsibility of everyone. However, once they have left the country of origin, proving that they have been stolen is one of the most difficult of legal issues, and if a country is to re-acquire them it has to pay, often at astronomical cost. Aediles- The two officials responsible for law and order in the town, as well as the supervision of baths, water supply and places of entertainment.
Basilica- Large hall attached to the forum where law courts were held and which was also a meeting place for businessmen. Forum- Large open space that was the commercial, administrative and religious centre of Roman towns. Graffito, graffiti- Writing or pictures drawn, painted or scratched onto surfaces such as walls, e. Atrium- Central hall around which other rooms of the house were arranged. No real equivalent in modern northern European houses. Podium- High platform on which Roman temples stood. Temples were normally reached by climbing a flight of steps at the front of the podium.
Arena- Area in which performance took place in a Roman amphitheatre. Bestiarius, bestiarii- People who both looked after animals before the show and then hunted them in the arena. Often fought the retiarius. Retiarius, retiarii- A lightly equipped gladiator who fought with a net and threepronged trident.
Often fought the murmillo. Book a Free Trial Lesson. Geographical context Contents 1 Geographical context 1. The physical environment: the geographical setting, natural features and resources of Pompeii and Herculaneum 1. Plans and streetscapes of Pompeii and Herculaneum 1. The nature of sources and evidence 2. The range of available sources 2. The limitations, reliability and evaluation of sources 2. The evidence provided by the sources from Pompeii and Herculaneum 2. The Eruption 2.
The economy 2. Social structure 2. Local political life 2. Everyday life 2. Public buildings 2. Private buildings 2. Influence of Greek and Egyptian Cultures 2. Religion 2. Investigating, reconstructing and preserving the past 3. Changing methods and contributions of nineteenth and twentieth century archaeologists to our understanding of Pompeii and Herculaneum 3. First half 3. Second half, last 50 years 3. Changing interpretations: impact of new research and technologies 3.
Pompeian forum project 3. Herculaneum conservation project 3. Issues of conservation and reconstruction: Italian and international contributions and responsibilities; impact of tourism 3. Tourism 3. Poor site management 3. Ethical issues: study and display of human remains 3.
Religion in ancient Rome
Excavation, treatment and display of human remains 3. Cultural Sensitivity 3. Ownership and international traffic in antiquities 4 Glossary 4. In this passage the roses, representing Mrs. Forrester, and the stone, representing the Captain, are joined over his grave. This image is recalled on the final page of the book, where we are told that roses will be put on the Captain's grave every decoration day. The Captain and Mrs. Forrester are joined, "my heart. Admetus's grief at the loss of Alcestis also reinforces Niel's belief that the Captain both knew and "valued" his wife As Alcestis's maid says, "What shall be the wife who surpasses her?
I did not spare my youth, although I had so much to live for" While Mrs. Forrester does not literally die, she certainly does sacrifice much of her youth and undergoes a sort of symbolic death after the Captain's stroke. She tells Niel that "two years, three years, more of this, and I could still go back to California—and live again," implying that her life in Sweet Water is a kind of living death Finally, Alcestis's "I could have taken any man in Thessaly" reminds us that Mrs.
Forrester chose the Captain when she had her pick of men. The story of their meeting and courtship indicates that Mrs. Forrester does indeed love the Captain. By encoding the Euripidean version of Alcestis's sacrifice in her reference to the engraving depicting the House of the Tragic Poet, Cather demands that we acknowledge the reality and depth of Mrs. Forrester's love and sacrifice for the Captain. The second character in the murals, Iphigenia, is also defined by her self-sacrifice and her ultimate obedience to the wishes of her father, Agamemnon.
She, like Alcestis, embodies the Greek concept of philia , or family affection. Iphigenia is brought to Aulis, where the Greek expedition to Troy is becalmed, because Agamemnon has been commanded by Artemis to make a human sacrifice of his daughter. In the standard version of the tale he does so, thereby appeasing the goddess and enabling the Greek armada to sail on to Troy. Euripides's version, which serves as the basis for the mural in the House of the Tragic Poet, markedly differs. In Iphigenia at Aulis , once Iphigenia and her mother discover Agamemnon's intentions, they ask for the protection of Achilles.
Achilles grants it, but in the Euripidean version of the tale Achilles's guardianship becomes unnecessary when Iphigenia has a change of heart and agrees to obey her father and sacrifice herself for the good of the Greek host. In the version of the play we now have, which is paralleled in Ovid's Metamorphoses , Artemis whisks Iphigenia off the sacrificial altar at the last moment and substitutes a deer in her place.
The first aspect we have already seen in Alcestis's story, namely, self-sacrifice. As Charles Walker notes, Euripides has changed Iphigenia's character "from an unwilling victim to a true saint" Iphigenia in Aulis Iphigenia's loyalty to her father is especially marked given its contrast with her two most famous female relatives, Klytemnestra and Helen, who exemplify a selfish and rebellious erotic love.
These relatives, embodiments of erotic love gone wrong, foreground Iphigenia's self-sacrificing family love, and it is this kind of love, philia rather than eros , that defines the relationship between the Captain and Mrs. As with Alcestis the sacrifice of Iphigenia points out Mrs.
Forrester's devotion to the paternal Captain, a devotion that drives her to the brink of despair. In spite of her sexual infidelity Mrs. Forrester does stand by the Captain in sickness and in health. She serves as his nurse as well as his wife through the loss of their fortune and through the Captain's strokes. In her role as caretaker to the ailing Captain, we are told that "Mrs. Forrester quite went to pieces" and that "[a]ll the bars were down. She had ceased to care about anything" Her care of the Captain is almost the end of Mrs.
Forrester; she nearly does "immolate herself" in Iphigenian self-sacrifice as Niel wishes. The parallel to Iphigenia, due to be the victim at a sacrifice before Artemis's intervention, and the entire context of Pompeii, a city destroyed by volcanic eruption, makes Niel's "immolate" seem particularly grim.
Given the recurring presence of caretakers in the novel—the Captain caring for his first wife; the Captain caring for Marian after her climbing accident; Frank Ellinger's caring for his elderly mother; Niel's caring for his uncle, Judge Pommeroy—Mrs. Forrester's self-sacrifice for the Captain seems particularly important. The references to Iphigenia and Alcestis, each of whom is prepared to sacrifice her life for a male relative, further emphasize this.
Cather highlights another important theme in the novel with Iphigenia's total helplessness. Euripides repeatedly emphasizes that Iphigenia is completely at the mercy of the men in her life, whether they, like Agamemnon and Menelaus, are intent on destroying her or, like Achilles, intent on saving her. Forrester seems similarly dependent on men. The story of her life is in large measure the story of her moving from one man to another: from her first husband to the Captain, from the Captain to Ivy, from Ivy to Mr. Forrester seems to need her men, whether, like the Captain, they cherish her or, like Ivy, they abuse her.
She is repeatedly associated with images of entrapment. When Niel embraces her, she is "like a bird caught in a net" She is trapped in the house during the winter, and she is trapped by Ivy Peters. Cather memorably captures Mrs. Forrester's entrapment in a scene where Ivy "came in at the kitchen door, walked up behind her [Mrs.
Forrester], and unconcernedly put both arms around her, his hands meeting over her breast. She did not move, did not look up, but went on rolling out pastry" While this moment is far more prosaic and deflating than anything in the climactic scene of Euripides's tragedy, Mrs. Forrester is nonetheless as trapped in the embrace of Ivy as is Iphigenia, naked and carried by two burly men, in the Pompeiian mural depicting the climax of Iphigenia at Aulis.
The third mural, taken from the opening book of the Iliad , shows Achilles handing over his slave girl, Briseis, to Agamemnon and emphasizes the helplessness of women in a society dominated by men. Briseis is mere chattel, a spoil of war over which Achilles and Agamemnon fight. Distressingly, it is her very attractiveness that makes her such a valuable object of contention.
Her beauty makes her valuable to men who possess her in the most literal way imaginable, as property. This idea of male ownership is mirrored in A Lost Lady in passages that depict Mrs. Forrester as owned by the Captain. She is a beautiful possession that the Captain keeps because her beauty enables him to demonstrate his wealth and power. She is his prize. Forrester is associated with the Captain's land as a kind of property when he explains, "When I came here a young man, I had planned it in my mind, pretty much as it is today; where I would dig my well, and where I would plant my grove and my orchard.
I planned to build a house that my friends would come to, with a wife like Mrs. Forrester to make it attractive to them" The Captain assumes, correctly, that he will get what he wants, whether a choice piece of land or a choice wife. His ownership is often symbolized by jewelry, most obviously Mrs.
Forrester's rings: "Her husband had archaic ideas about jewels; a man bought them for his wife in acknowledgement of things he could not gracefully utter. They must be costly; they must show that he was able to buy them, and that she was worthy to wear them" For Achilles, Agamemnon, and the Captain a beautiful woman serves to ornament her master or husband. She demonstrates his wealth, power, and authority and is an object of contention. The Captain is the town aristocrat precisely because he lives in the mansion on the hill, can afford to preserve his swamp solely for its aesthetic value, and can afford to maintain a beautiful wife according to her station.
Ironically, the Captain eventually becomes known for his wife much as Menelaus and Paris are much less flatteringly known for the wife they share, Helen. An old acquaintance recalls the Captain simply as, "Forrester? Was he the one with the beautiful wife? In the memory of this old friend Mrs. Forrester is reduced to her role as a beautiful ornament to her husband, and the Captain is reduced to his role as her possessor. The Captain's memorable wife makes him a memorable man. At this point it is useful to remember Niel's reading of the Heroides , in which, despite her status as chattel, Ovid's depiction of Briseis shows that she genuinely cares for Achilles and fears that she will be abandoned by him.
- You, An Amazing Creation: Young Teens and Preteens.
- Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum?
- WORKS CITED.
- Petits Flirts (entre amis) (French Edition).
- The Appreciation of Pompeii’s Architectural Remains in the Late 18th and Early 19th Century.
She asks, "To whom will I be left when you go? Who will comfort me when I am left alone? As Harold Isbell observes in his introduction to the poem, "For Briseis the attraction identified as love is dangerously close to the fear of abandonment. She does not object so much to captivity as to the uncertainty and instability that it has brought into her life. In this, Briseis echoes a theme which permeates the Heroides : the lover and the beloved both seek to bring into their lives a degree of permanence and changelessness that in reality is nearly impossible of attainment" Ovid The similarity to Mrs.
Forrester is unmistakable. She, like Briseis, needs the presence of a powerful protector. Her horror at the Captain's fascination with seeing time "visibly devoured" indicates that she also yearns for permanence and changelessness, a yearning reflected in her makeup and dyed hair, her succession of husbands and lovers. Niel, more than anyone, resists change and yearns for the golden age of his youth, when all was right at the Forrester place. He wants to preserve Mrs. Forrester inviolate, wishing he could "carry her off. The Captain perhaps serves as the best reminder of why this is impossible.
His constant association with stone, especially his sundial, and the slow petrification brought on by his strokes remind us that permanence and changelessness, as in Pompeii, only come with death. The Trojan War provides the background for the stories of both Briseis and Iphigenia. And the Trojan War brings us to the most important and ambiguous figure presented in the mosaics, Helen, who is the key to reading Mrs.
Helen is western literature's supreme symbol of eros , infidelity, and beauty. Forrester is not as ravishing as Helen, to Niel and the denizens of Sweet Water she is the most charismatic, charming person in the world. And she charms men of all sorts—from the young Niel watching "her white throat rising and falling quickly. From the aristocratic Captain to the uncouth Ivy Peters to the priggish Niel, everyone is seduced by Mrs. Her charm, like Helen's, is irresistible.
Forrester, also like Helen, is often defined by her infidelity. It is Marian's dalliance with Frank that first leads Niel to condemn her, and it is her sexual infidelity to the Captain that readers often see as her defining characteristic. Early in the novel Frank functions as Paris to Mrs. Forrester's Helen. He is described as having a nose "like the prow of a ship" 44 , evoking the mural in the House of the Tragic Poet that depicts Helen boarding Paris's ship. He is a well-dressed ladies' man, carries on an affair with the wife of his host, and is called "a coward" , all characteristics that define Paris.
Much about Mrs. Forrester's involvement with Frank and later with Ivy is decidedly unpleasant. When we see Marian alone with Frank, she is at her most coquettish and manipulative. During their sleigh ride she imagines Niel trapped with Constance back at the house and "laughed as if the idea of his predicament delighted her" Speaking of Niel, she tells Frank, "I'm going to train him to be very useful. He's devoted to Mr. Handsome, don't you think?
Here she talks about Niel as if he were a dimwitted servant in need of training and tries to elicit a jealous reaction from Frank by commenting on Niel's good looks. The connection to Helen is continued when, after Frank "takes[s] out the horses" 62 , Cather gives us one of the most subtly erotic scenes in American literature. When Adolph Blum spies Mrs. Forrester with her eyelids aflutter at the sounds of Frank's hatchet strokes, he thinks that "[h]e had never seen her before when her mocking eyes and lively manner were not between her and all the world" 64 , suggesting that in this private erotic moment all the masks are off, and we see her at her most genuine.
This is Mrs. Forrester at her most unsympathetic; her erotic nature makes her unfaithful to her husband, manipulative, and deceptive. Forrester's erotic charms and her connection to Helen are pointed out in another, subtle way that takes us back to the Euripidean versions of the stories contained in the House of the Tragic Poet's murals. Midway through the novel Niel finds a letter from Marian to Frank in the Forrester's mail holder, described as "a scantily draped figure, an Arab or Egyptian slave girl, holding in her hands a large flat shell from the California coast" However, Cather's carefully worded description of the figurine and its function in the scene indicate that more is at work than childhood memories.
The first hint is that the girl is "scantily draped," which suggests her erotic power. While interesting, this description can be explained as simply an accurate recollection of the original statuette. However, when the figurine is described as an "Egyptian slave girl," Cather is pointing us toward Euripides's most extended depiction of Helen in the play that bears her name. Significantly, Cather does not note the striking blackness of the original figure; this omission makes an association with Helen easier.
In this strange variant on the traditional version of the tale Helen was stranded in Egypt while Paris abducted, not the real Helen, but a phantom over which Greeks and Trojans fought for ten years. Helen, because she has no male protector, lives as "an Egyptian slave girl. Euripides also points out that Helen, like Mrs. Similarly, Cather reminds us that the shell the statue holds came "from the California coast," the home Marian has left and to which she wishes to return when she "get[s] out of this hole" that is Sweet Water, Nebraska. Both Mrs. Forrester and Helen are outsiders, even exiles, in communities that do not understand them.
The shell and the scantily draped figure evoke another association, again linked to Helen and to Pompeii. Paris seduces Helen with the aid of Aphrodite, goddess of erotic love. In the Hesiodic version of her birth Aphrodite rises from the foam of the sea when the severed genitals of Kronos are cast into the ocean. The Arvals offered prayer and sacrifice to Roman state gods at various temples for the continued welfare of the Imperial family on their birthdays, accession anniversaries and to mark extraordinary events such as the quashing of conspiracy or revolt.
Every 3 January they consecrated the annual vows and rendered any sacrifice promised in the previous year, provided the gods had kept the Imperial family safe for the contracted time. The Vestals were a public priesthood of six women devoted to the cultivation of Vesta , goddess of the hearth of the Roman state and its vital flame.
A girl chosen to be a Vestal achieved unique religious distinction, public status and privileges, and could exercise considerable political influence. Upon entering her office, a Vestal was emancipated from her father's authority. In archaic Roman society, these priestesses were the only women not required to be under the legal guardianship of a man, instead answering directly to the Pontifex Maximus.
A Vestal's dress represented her status outside the usual categories that defined Roman women, with elements of both virgin bride and daughter, and Roman matron and wife. The Vestals embody the profound connection between domestic cult and the religious life of the community. The Vestals cared for the Lares and Penates of the state that were the equivalent of those enshrined in each home. Besides their own festival of Vestalia , they participated directly in the rites of Parilia , Parentalia and Fordicidia.
Indirectly, they played a role in every official sacrifice; among their duties was the preparation of the mola salsa , the salted flour that was sprinkled on every sacrificial victim as part of its immolation. One mythological tradition held that the mother of Romulus and Remus was a Vestal virgin of royal blood. A tale of miraculous birth also attended on Servius Tullius , sixth king of Rome, son of a virgin slave-girl impregnated by a disembodied phallus arising mysteriously on the royal hearth; the story was connected to the fascinus that was among the cult objects under the guardianship of the Vestals.
Augustus' religious reformations raised the funding and public profile of the Vestals. They were given high-status seating at games and theatres. The emperor Claudius appointed them as priestesses to the cult of the deified Livia , wife of Augustus. When the Christian emperor Gratian refused the office of pontifex maximus , he took steps toward the dissolution of the order. His successor Theodosius I extinguished Vesta's sacred fire and vacated her temple. Public religion took place within a sacred precinct that had been marked out ritually by an augur.
The original meaning of the Latin word templum was this sacred space, and only later referred to a building. In Rome, the central references for the establishment of an augural templum appear to have been the Via Sacra Sacred Way and the pomerium. Divine disapproval could arise through unfit sacrifice, errant rites vitium or an unacceptable plan of action. If an unfavourable sign was given, the magistrate could repeat the sacrifice until favourable signs were seen, consult with his augural colleagues, or abandon the project.
Magistrates could use their right of augury ius augurum to adjourn and overturn the process of law, but were obliged to base their decision on the augur's observations and advice. For Cicero, himself an augur, this made the augur the most powerful authority in the Late Republic. Haruspicy was also used in public cult, under the supervision of the augur or presiding magistrate.
The haruspices divined the will of the gods through examination of entrails after sacrifice, particularly the liver. They also interpreted omens, prodigies and portents, and formulated their expiation. Most Roman authors describe haruspicy as an ancient, ethnically Etruscan "outsider" religious profession, separate from Rome's internal and largely unpaid priestly hierarchy, essential but never quite respectable.
The senate and armies used the public haruspices: at some time during the late Republic, the Senate decreed that Roman boys of noble family be sent to Etruria for training in haruspicy and divination. Being of independent means, they would be better motivated to maintain a pure, religious practice for the public good.
Omens observed within or from a divine augural templum — especially the flight of birds — were sent by the gods in response to official queries. A magistrate with ius augurium the right of augury could declare the suspension of all official business for the day obnuntiato if he deemed the omens unfavourable. Prodigies were transgressions in the natural, predictable order of the cosmos — signs of divine anger that portended conflict and misfortune. The Senate decided whether a reported prodigy was false, or genuine and in the public interest, in which case it was referred to the public priests, augurs and haruspices for ritual expiation.
Livy presents these as signs of widespread failure in Roman religio. The major prodigies included the spontaneous combustion of weapons, the apparent shrinking of the sun's disc, two moons in a daylit sky, a cosmic battle between sun and moon, a rain of red-hot stones, a bloody sweat on statues, and blood in fountains and on ears of corn: all were expiated by sacrifice of "greater victims". The minor prodigies were less warlike but equally unnatural; sheep become goats, a hen become a cock and vice versa — these were expiated with "lesser victims".
The discovery of an androgynous four-year-old child was expiated by its drowning  and the holy procession of 27 virgins to the temple of Juno Regina , singing a hymn to avert disaster: a lightning strike during the hymn rehearsals required further expiation. In the wider context of Graeco-Roman religious culture, Rome's earliest reported portents and prodigies stand out as atypically dire.
Whereas for Romans, a comet presaged misfortune, for Greeks it might equally signal a divine or exceptionally fortunate birth. Roman beliefs about an afterlife varied, and are known mostly for the educated elite who expressed their views in terms of their chosen philosophy. The traditional care of the dead, however, and the perpetuation after death of their status in life were part of the most archaic practices of Roman religion. Ancient votive deposits to the noble dead of Latium and Rome suggest elaborate and costly funeral offerings and banquets in the company of the deceased, an expectation of afterlife and their association with the gods.
Funeral and commemorative rites varied according to wealth, status and religious context. In Cicero's time, the better-off sacrificed a sow at the funeral pyre before cremation. The dead consumed their portion in the flames of the pyre, Ceres her portion through the flame of her altar, and the family at the site of the cremation.
For the less well-off, inhumation with "a libation of wine, incense, and fruit or crops was sufficient". Ceres functioned as an intermediary between the realms of the living and the dead: the deceased had not yet fully passed to the world of the dead and could share a last meal with the living. The ashes or body were entombed or buried. On the eighth day of mourning, the family offered further sacrifice, this time on the ground; the shade of the departed was assumed to have passed entirely into the underworld.
They had become one of the di Manes , who were collectively celebrated and appeased at the Parentalia , a multi-day festival of remembrance in February. A standard Roman funerary inscription is Dis Manibus to the Manes-gods. In the later Imperial era, the burial and commemorative practises of Christian and non-Christians overlapped.
WCA: Volume Willa Cather and the Nineteenth Century
Tombs were shared by Christian and non-Christian family members, and the traditional funeral rites and feast of novemdialis found a part-match in the Christian Constitutio Apostolica. Christians attended Parentalia and its accompanying Feralia and Caristia in sufficient numbers for the Council of Tours to forbid them in AD Other funerary and commemorative practices were very different. Traditional Roman practice spurned the corpse as a ritual pollution; inscriptions noted the day of birth and duration of life.
The Christian Church fostered the veneration of saintly relics , and inscriptions marked the day of death as a transition to "new life".
Military success was achieved through a combination of personal and collective virtus roughly, "manly virtue" and the divine will: lack of virtus , civic or private negligence in religio and the growth of superstitio provoked divine wrath and led to military disaster. Military success was the touchstone of a special relationship with the gods, and to Jupiter Capitolinus in particular; triumphal generals were dressed as Jupiter, and laid their victor's laurels at his feet.
Roman commanders offered vows to be fulfilled after success in battle or siege; and further vows to expiate their failures. Camillus promised Veii's goddess Juno a temple in Rome as incentive for her desertion evocatio , conquered the city in her name, brought her cult statue to Rome "with miraculous ease" and dedicated a temple to her on the Aventine Hill.
Roman camps followed a standard pattern for defense and religious ritual; in effect they were Rome in miniature. The commander's headquarters stood at the centre; he took the auspices on a dais in front. A small building behind housed the legionary standards, the divine images used in religious rites and in the Imperial era, the image of the ruling emperor.
In one camp, this shrine is even called Capitolium. The most important camp-offering appears to have been the suovetaurilia performed before a major, set battle. A ram, a boar and a bull were ritually garlanded, led around the outer perimeter of the camp a lustratio exercitus and in through a gate, then sacrificed: Trajan's column shows three such events from his Dacian wars.
The perimeter procession and sacrifice suggest the entire camp as a divine templum ; all within are purified and protected. Each camp had its own religious personnel; standard bearers, priestly officers and their assistants, including a haruspex, and housekeepers of shrines and images. A senior magistrate-commander sometimes even a consul headed it, his chain of subordinates ran it and a ferocious system of training and discipline ensured that every citizen-soldier knew his duty.
As in Rome, whatever gods he served in his own time seem to have been his own business; legionary forts and vici included shrines to household gods, personal deities and deities otherwise unknown. From the earliest Imperial era, citizen legionaries and provincial auxiliaries gave cult to the emperor and his familia on Imperial accessions, anniversaries and their renewal of annual vows.
They celebrated Rome's official festivals in absentia , and had the official triads appropriate to their function — in the Empire, Jupiter, Victoria and Concordia were typical. By the early Severan era, the military also offered cult to the Imperial divi , the current emperor's numen , genius and domus or familia , and special cult to the Empress as "mother of the camp". The near ubiquitous legionary shrines to Mithras of the later Imperial era were not part of official cult until Mithras was absorbed into Solar and Stoic Monism as a focus of military concordia and Imperial loyalty.
The devotio was the most extreme offering a Roman general could make, promising to offer his own life in battle along with the enemy as an offering to the underworld gods. Livy offers a detailed account of the devotio carried out by Decius Mus ; family tradition maintained that his son and grandson , all bearing the same name, also devoted themselves. Before the battle, Decius is granted a prescient dream that reveals his fate.
When he offers sacrifice, the victim's liver appears "damaged where it refers to his own fortunes". Otherwise, the haruspex tells him, the sacrifice is entirely acceptable to the gods. In a prayer recorded by Livy , Decius commits himself and the enemy to the dii Manes and Tellus , charges alone and headlong into the enemy ranks, and is killed; his action cleanses the sacrificial offering.
Had he failed to die, his sacrificial offering would have been tainted and therefore void, with possibly disastrous consequences. The efforts of military commanders to channel the divine will were on occasion less successful. In the early days of Rome's war against Carthage, the commander Publius Claudius Pulcher consul BC launched a sea campaign "though the sacred chickens would not eat when he took the auspices".
In defiance of the omen, he threw them into the sea, "saying that they might drink, since they would not eat. He was defeated, and on being bidden by the senate to appoint a dictator, he appointed his messenger Glycias, as if again making a jest of his country's peril. Roman women were present at most festivals and cult observances. Some rituals specifically required the presence of women, but their active participation was limited. As a rule women did not perform animal sacrifice, the central rite of most major public ceremonies. The rites of the Bona Dea excluded men entirely.
A host of deities, however, are associated with motherhood. Juno , Diana , Lucina , and specialized divine attendants presided over the life-threatening act of giving birth and the perils of caring for a baby at a time when the infant mortality rate was as high as 40 percent. Literary sources vary in their depiction of women's religiosity: some represent women as paragons of Roman virtue and devotion, but also inclined by temperament to self-indulgent religious enthusiasms, novelties and the seductions of superstitio.
Excessive devotion and enthusiasm in religious observance were superstitio , in the sense of "doing or believing more than was necessary",  to which women and foreigners were considered particularly prone. The famous tirade of Lucretius , the Epicurean rationalist, against what is usually translated as "superstition" was in fact aimed at excessive religio. Roman religion was based on knowledge rather than faith,  but superstitio was viewed as an "inappropriate desire for knowledge"; in effect, an abuse of religio. In the everyday world, many individuals sought to divine the future, influence it through magic, or seek vengeance with help from "private" diviners.
The state-sanctioned taking of auspices was a form of public divination with the intent of ascertaining the will of the gods, not foretelling the future. Secretive consultations between private diviners and their clients were thus suspect. So were divinatory techniques such as astrology when used for illicit, subversive or magical purposes. Astrologers and magicians were officially expelled from Rome at various times, notably in BC and 33 BC.
In 16 BC Tiberius expelled them under extreme penalty because an astrologer had predicted his death. In the late 1st century AD, Tacitus observed that astrologers "would always be banned and always retained at Rome". In the Graeco-Roman world, practitioners of magic were known as magi singular magus , a "foreign" title of Persian priests.
Apuleius , defending himself against accusations of casting magic spells, defined the magician as "in popular tradition more vulgari Lucan depicts Sextus Pompeius , the doomed son of Pompey the Great , as convinced "the gods of heaven knew too little" and awaiting the Battle of Pharsalus by consulting with the Thessalian witch Erichtho , who practices necromancy and inhabits deserted graves, feeding on rotting corpses. Erichtho, it is said, can arrest "the rotation of the heavens and the flow of rivers" and make "austere old men blaze with illicit passions".
She and her clients are portrayed as undermining the natural order of gods, mankind and destiny. A female foreigner from Thessaly, notorious for witchcraft, Erichtho is the stereotypical witch of Latin literature,  along with Horace's Canidia. The Twelve Tables forbade any harmful incantation malum carmen , or 'noisome metrical charm' ; this included the "charming of crops from one field to another" excantatio frugum and any rite that sought harm or death to others.
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Chthonic deities functioned at the margins of Rome's divine and human communities; although sometimes the recipients of public rites, these were conducted outside the sacred boundary of the pomerium. Individuals seeking their aid did so away from the public gaze, during the hours of darkness. Burial grounds and isolated crossroads were among the likely portals. By this she invokes Tacita, the "Silent One" of the underworld.
Archaeology confirms the widespread use of binding spells defixiones , magical papyri and so-called "voodoo dolls" from a very early era. Around defixiones have been recovered just from Roman Britain , in both urban and rural settings. Some seek straightforward, usually gruesome revenge, often for a lover's offense or rejection. Others appeal for divine redress of wrongs, in terms familiar to any Roman magistrate, and promise a portion of the value usually small of lost or stolen property in return for its restoration.
None of these defixiones seem produced by, or on behalf of the elite, who had more immediate recourse to human law and justice. Similar traditions existed throughout the empire, persisting until around the 7th century AD, well into the Christian era. Rome's government, politics and religion were dominated by an educated, male, landowning military aristocracy.
Approximately half Rome's population were slave or free non-citizens. Most others were plebeians , the lowest class of Roman citizens. Less than a quarter of adult males had voting rights; far fewer could actually exercise them. Women had no vote. The links between religious and political life were vital to Rome's internal governance, diplomacy and development from kingdom, to Republic and to Empire. Post-regal politics dispersed the civil and religious authority of the kings more or less equitably among the patrician elite: kingship was replaced by two annually elected consular offices.
In the early Republic, as presumably in the regal era, plebeians were excluded from high religious and civil office, and could be punished for offenses against laws of which they had no knowledge. The senate appointed Camillus as dictator to handle the emergency; he negotiated a settlement, and sanctified it by the dedication of a temple to Concordia. Plebeian tribunes were appointed, with sacrosanct status and the right of veto in legislative debate. In principle, the augural and pontifical colleges were now open to plebeians. While the new plebeian nobility made social, political and religious inroads on traditionally patrician preserves, their electorate maintained their distinctive political traditions and religious cults.
Official consternation at these enthusiastic, unofficial Bacchanalia cults was expressed as moral outrage at their supposed subversion, and was followed by ferocious suppression. Much later, a statue of Marsyas , the silen of Dionysus flayed by Apollo , became a focus of brief symbolic resistance to Augustus' censorship. Augustus himself claimed the patronage of Venus and Apollo; but his settlement appealed to all classes.
Where loyalty was implicit, no divine hierarchy need be politically enforced; Liber's festival continued. The Augustan settlement built upon a cultural shift in Roman society. In the middle Republican era, even Scipio 's tentative hints that he might be Jupiter's special protege sat ill with his colleagues. Julius Caesar went further; he claimed her as his ancestress , and thus an intimate source of divine inspiration for his personal character and policies. In 63 BC, his appointment as pontifex maximus "signaled his emergence as a major player in Roman politics".
By the end of the regal period Rome had developed into a city-state, with a large plebeian, artisan class excluded from the old patrician gentes and from the state priesthoods.
The city had commercial and political treaties with its neighbours; according to tradition, Rome's Etruscan connections established a temple to Minerva on the predominantly plebeian Aventine ; she became part of a new Capitoline triad of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, installed in a Capitoline temple, built in an Etruscan style and dedicated in a new September festival, Epulum Jovis.
Rome's diplomatic agreement with its neighbours of Latium confirmed the Latin league and brought the cult of Diana from Aricia to the Aventine. Rome's affinity to the Latins allowed two Latin cults within the pomoerium :  and the cult to Hercules at the ara maxima in the Forum Boarium was established through commercial connections with Tibur. In , Venus was brought from Sicily and installed in a temple on the Capitoline hill. The disasters of the early part of Rome's second Punic War were attributed, in Livy's account, to a growth of superstitious cults, errors in augury and the neglect of Rome's traditional gods, whose anger was expressed directly in Rome's defeat at Cannae BC.
The Sibilline books were consulted. They recommended a general vowing of the ver sacrum  and in the following year, the burial of two Greeks and two Gauls ; not the first or the last of its kind, according to Livy. The introduction of new or equivalent deities coincided with Rome's most significant aggressive and defensive military forays. The mystery cult to Bacchus followed; it was suppressed as subversive and unruly by decree of the Senate in BC. Further Greek influences on cult images and types represented the Roman Penates as forms of the Greek Dioscuri.
The spread of Greek literature, mythology and philosophy offered Roman poets and antiquarians a model for the interpretation of Rome's festivals and rituals, and the embellishment of its mythology. Ennius translated the work of Graeco-Sicilian Euhemerus , who explained the genesis of the gods as apotheosized mortals. In the last century of the Republic, Epicurean and particularly Stoic interpretations were a preoccupation of the literate elite, most of whom held — or had held — high office and traditional Roman priesthoods; notably, Scaevola and the polymath Varro.
For Varro — well versed in Euhemerus' theory — popular religious observance was based on a necessary fiction; what the people believed was not itself the truth, but their observance led them to as much higher truth as their limited capacity could deal with. Whereas in popular belief deities held power over mortal lives, the skeptic might say that mortal devotion had made gods of mortals, and these same gods were only sustained by devotion and cult.
Just as Rome itself claimed the favour of the gods, so did some individual Romans. In the mid-to-late Republican era, and probably much earlier, many of Rome's leading clans acknowledged a divine or semi-divine ancestor and laid personal claim to their favour and cult, along with a share of their divinity. Most notably in the very late Republic, the Julii claimed Venus Genetrix as ancestor; this would be one of many foundations for the Imperial cult.
The claim was further elaborated and justified in Vergil's poetic, Imperial vision of the past. In the late Republic, the Marian reforms lowered an existing property bar on conscription and increased the efficiency of Rome's armies but made them available as instruments of political ambition and factional conflict. Augustus' principate established peace and subtly transformed Rome's religious life — or, in the new ideology of Empire, restored it see below.
Towards the end of the Republic, religious and political offices became more closely intertwined; the office of pontifex maximus became a de facto consular prerogative. He acquired or was granted an unprecedented number of Rome's major priesthoods, including that of pontifex maximus ; as he invented none, he could claim them as traditional honours.
His reforms were represented as adaptive, restorative and regulatory, rather than innovative; most notably his elevation and membership of the ancient Arvales , his timely promotion of the plebeian Compitalia shortly before his election and his patronage of the Vestals as a visible restoration of Roman morality. This remained a primary religious and social duty of emperors. The Roman Empire expanded to include different peoples and cultures; in principle, Rome followed the same inclusionist policies that had recognised Latin, Etruscan and other Italian peoples, cults and deities as Roman.
Those who acknowledged Rome's hegemony retained their own cult and religious calendars, independent of Roman religious law. Autonomy and concord were official policy, but new foundations by Roman citizens or their Romanised allies were likely to follow Roman cultic models.
All the known effigies from the 2nd century AD forum at Cuicul are of emperors or Concordia. By the middle of the 1st century AD, Gaulish Vertault seems to have abandoned its native cultic sacrifice of horses and dogs in favour of a newly established, Romanised cult nearby: by the end of that century, Sabratha's so-called tophet was no longer in use. The overall scarcity of evidence for smaller or local cults does not always imply their neglect; votive inscriptions are inconsistently scattered throughout Rome's geography and history. Inscribed dedications were an expensive public declaration, one to be expected within the Graeco-Roman cultural ambit but by no means universal.
Innumerable smaller, personal or more secretive cults would have persisted and left no trace. Military settlement within the empire and at its borders broadened the context of Romanitas. Rome's citizen-soldiers set up altars to multiple deities, including their traditional gods, the Imperial genius and local deities — sometimes with the usefully open-ended dedication to the diis deabusque omnibus all the gods and goddesses. They also brought Roman "domestic" deities and cult practices with them.
Traders, legions and other travellers brought home cults originating from Egypt, Greece, Iberia, India and Persia. Some of those were initiatory religions of intense personal significance, similar to Christianity in those respects. In the early Imperial era, the princeps lit. His cult had further precedents: popular, unofficial cult offered to powerful benefactors in Rome: the kingly, god-like honours granted a Roman general on the day of his triumph ; and in the divine honours paid to Roman magnates in the Greek East from at least BC. The deification of deceased emperors had precedent in Roman domestic cult to the dii parentes deified ancestors and the mythic apotheosis of Rome's founders.
A deceased emperor granted apotheosis by his successor and the Senate became an official State divus divinity. Members of the Imperial family could be granted similar honours and cult; an Emperor's deceased wife, sister or daughter could be promoted to diva female divinity. The first and last Roman known as a living divus was Julius Caesar , who seems to have aspired to divine monarchy; he was murdered soon after. Greek allies had their own traditional cults to rulers as divine benefactors, and offered similar cult to Caesar's successor, Augustus, who accepted with the cautious proviso that expatriate Roman citizens refrain from such worship; it might prove fatal.