The Role of Religion in Roman Society Essay

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The Role of Religion in Roman Society

Throughout the history of Rome, from the monarchy to the late empire, religion had played a great role in it's society and was involved in almost every aspect of the life of the Roman citizen. It was common for each house to have it's own patron god/gods and ,on special occasions, the head of the house would make a sacrifice to the personal gods of the family. Also, great festivals were usually held in honor of certain gods and would include spectacles like chariot races and Gladiatorial fights.
The religious practices of the ancient Romans are best remembered with grand temples, great festivals and Christian persecution to the final acceptance of Christianity within the Roman empire over the
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People were usually deified after their death and the deification was most always done by the senate. With the assination (and later deification) of Julius Caesar, it became popular for the senate to reward dead emperors ,who had served well in life, with deification. A humorous note to this involves the death of the emperor Vespasian in which he said ,just before he died, " I feel I am becoming a god." Upon deification an emperor usually had temples built in his honor and a cult of followers.
Also, during this period the Vestal Virgins were a major part of Roman religious practices. The Vestal Virgins were a sacred group of women whose duty it was to keep the sacred fire of Vesta burning at all times. The Vestal Virgins were required to take a vow of chastity upon entering the cult and the breaking of these vows was an offense punishable by a painful death. These revered women were so highly regarded by the Roman populace that they were given seats of honor in public places ,like the arena, when the regular woman was always put in less nobel areas.
The Third Phase (313 AD to 476 AD) - By the early empire ,in the first century AD, the traditional form of Roman religion was beginning to show signs of breaking up. Causes for this breakup could be attributed to the swarms of new religious beliefs that were sweeping through the Roman empire and the fact

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