Religion in the Roman Empire by LisaB1982

VIEWS: 214 PAGES: 14


Religion of the State & Home Gods & Goddesses

Religion of the State
• State religion looked after the Roman people. •The Vestal Virgins guarded the holy flame of Rome and performed other rituals. •The pontifex maximus was the head of the Roman state religion - included 4 colleges or organizations that controlled public worship and rituals.

•Public religious festivals occurred every month.

Roman Religion in the Home
•Women were required to guard and preserve the fire in the hearth. At the hearth, sacrifices were made to the gods and the ancestors of a family. •2 special household gods: Janus, the god of doorways and beginnings, and Vesta, the goddess of the hearth. •Household spirits: lares = spirits of the family ancestors and penates = spirits of the larder (kept the family fed) •Births, marriages, and deaths were all celebrated with special rituals.

Prayer and Sacrifice
• Romans believed they had a personal contract between the gods and mortals.
•The role of mortals was to worship the gods. •Prayers accompanied small offerings of food to the dieties.

•Official, public rituals often involved the sacrifice of animals. •Romans did not practice human sacrifice.

JUPITER - King of the Gods
Jupiter was king of the Gods. His weapon was the Thunderbolt (thunder and lightning). All other gods were terrified of him, although he was a little scared of his wife Juno! Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto were the three sons of Saturn. They divided up the world between themselves. Jupiter took the air, Neptune had the sea and Pluto ruled under the earth, the home of the Dead

Jupiter means Father Jove (Father in Latin is "pater"). There was a big temple in Rome dedicated to Jupiter - Optimus Maximus (which means Jupiter Best and Greatest). The Romans thought that Jupiter guarded their city and looked after them.


Vatican Museums, Vatican City

Ceres was the ancient Latin goddess of vegetation, whose worship merged completely with that of the Greek goddess Demeter


Vatican Museums, Vatican City

Juno was the majestic queen of the heaven and wife of Jupiter


Mercury (Mercurius) protected merchants and travelers. He was portrayed as the Greek Hermes, the messenger of the gods.

Vatican Museums, Vatican City


Vatican Museums, Vatican City

Mithra, known as Mithras to the Romans, was originally a Persian god of the sun. At the beginning of time Mithras had sacrificed the mythical great bull from the body of which flowed the blood which gave life to earth. With the Romans Mithras became the god of kings, justice and contracts. He was a deity particularly favored by soldiers, who were bound in loyalty to their rulers and is often described as the soldier god.

V E N U S
Capitoline Museums, Rome

Venus, a very ancient Latin deity who protected vegetation and gardens, was merged in the Roman faith with the Greek goddess Aphrodite, becoming the goddess of love and beauty.

Diana, the virgin huntress, Goddess of light, a moon Goddess and also Goddess to unity of peoples

Capitoline Museums, Rome


Vesta was the Roman version of the Greek goddess Hestia, and guarded the hearth and home. She therefore never moved from Mount Olympus. Also she was bestowed with perpetual virginity, which is why her priestesses were to be virgins, too, - the famous Vestal Virgins.

Bacchus is the Roman version of the Greek god Dionysos. He generally represented as an ever-young god of wine and jolity, but at times also of deep thoughtfulness.

Vatican Museums, Vatican City

Edkins, Joe. Feb. 1999. “Jupiter or Jove.” Website. 4 Dec. 2001. <>

“Illustrated History of the Roman Empire.” Website. 4 December 2001 <>

Mautz, Nancy. 12 November 2001. Website “The Development of
Western Civilization:World History- Rome.”4 Dec. 2001. <>
Powerpoint created by Martha Boerschlein Tracy on Dec. 4, 2001 for Values for Success.

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