The Nature of Roman Mythology

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					Part Three

The Nature of Roman Mythology

Chapter 26: Roman Mythology and Saga
Fundamental Differences Roman gods not as anthropomorphic as Greek gods Roman gods more associated with cult than myth Influence of Greek culture by third century B. C. Many Roman legends are adaptations of Greek legends. Importance of Vergil and Ovid Roots of Roman religion Traditions of pre-Roman Italic peoples Identification of native Italic gods with Greek Jupiter or Iovis/Zeus Juno/Hera Vesta/Hestia Minerva/Athena Ceres/Demeter Diana/Artemis Venus/Aphrodite Mars/Ares Mercurius/Hermes Neptunus/Poseidon Vulcanus/Hephaestus Apollo Myths transferred to Roman counterparts Cults and rituals Ovid’s Fasti: descriptions of the Roman religious calendar Legends of early Roman history Aeneas Romulus and Remus Idealization of the past Augustan revival (who reigns from 27 B. C. to A. D. 14) Livy’s “preface” to his history, Ab Urbe Condita (“From the Founding of the City”)

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The Italian Gods Janus Janus, first in formal prayers Ancient diety Presides over beginnings JanusJanuary Connection with water and bridges Connection with boundaries Shrine near the Argiletum serving as entrance to the Forum Gates open in war, closed in peace “A janus” was defined as a crossing-place with a roadway. Later significance as a god of going in and coming out Association with doors, entrances, and beginnings As the god Portunus he was connected to Harbors. Few legends Capture of the Capitol by Sabines. Janus prevents entrance to the Forum Two four-faced “herms” on the Pons Fabricius in Rome Two-faced god on coins

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Mars (Mavors) More important that Ares Agricultural deity Association with Spring: March, beginning of Roman year in the pre-Julian Calendar Association with Silvanus and Flora Magical flower and Juno’s conception of Mars Nerio, Sabine fertility goddess as consort, sometimes identified with Minerva Anna Perenna (ancient goddess of the year) and the origin of obscene jests at marriage parties Mars becomes a war god. Sacrifices before battle Temple of Mars Ultor (“avenger”) Campus Martius (“field of Mars”): field for practice of military skills Gradivus (“the marcher”) Association with Quirinus, a Sabine war deity and later identified with Romulus Bellona, a personification of war Enyo (title of Ares, Enyalios) Association with the wolf and the woodpecker The Latin king Picus (picus is woodpecker in Latin) Canens (“singer”), wife of King Picus Transformation into a woodpecker by Circe who tried to seduce him Canens transformed into just a voice

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Jupiter Sky-god Deus and pater Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus (“best and greatest”) on the Capitoline Hill Temple shared with Juno (goddess of women) and Minerva (goddess of handicrafts and wisdom) The “Capitoline Triad” Triumphal procession King Numa Sacrifice after lightening strike The advice of the nymph Egeria Capture of Picus and Faunus Summons of Jupiter Comic exchange between Jupiter and Numa Sign of the shield (ancile), talisman of Roman power The twelve ancilia in the Regia (office of Pontifex Maximus, the official head of the hierarchy of the state religion) Priests of Mars, the Salii and the sacred war dance in the spring Jupiter Latiaris (god of the Latins) on the Mons Albanus Association with Fides (“good faith”) and Dius Fidius Semo Sancus (from sancire – “to ratify an oath”) Jupiter Indiges (meaning unknown) Juno Associated with marriage Juno Lucina, goddess of childbirth, at the Matronalia in March Juno Moneta (“adviser”) on the Arx (“citadel”); connection with the Roman mint Juno Regina (Queen Juno) Livy: Juno persuaded to leave the town of Veii after its defeat in 396 B. C. Camillus’ dedication of a temple to Juno on the Aventine Evocatio : calling a god to leave his city Wife and sister to Jupiter Role in Vergil’s Aeneid

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Minerva Introduced by the Etruscans Identified with Athena Shared festival with Ares, the Quinquatrus Goddess of skills of the mind Patroness of craftspeople Goddess of schoolchildren Divinties of Fire: Vesta, Vulcan, and Cacus Vesta Etymologically connected with Hestia Goddess of the hearth and the fire burning there, symbolic center of family life Temple of Vesta in the Roman Forum, tended by six Vestal Virgins Strict vow of chastity King Numa founded the cult of Vesta Vesta and Priapus Connected with the Penates (gods of the storeroom or cupboard) Attempt to remove them from Lavinium to Alba Longa Identification with the Trojan gods brought by Aeneas Penus Vestae (sacred repository in the temple of Vesta) The Palladium L. Caecilius Metellus and the burning of the temple in 241 B. C. Vulcan (Volcanus) Chief fire-god God of destructive fire Mulciber (“he who tempers”) Vergils description, Aeneid , Book 8 Cacus Association with Vulcan Conflict with Heracles after his labor with Geryon Heracles worship at the Ara Maxima, between the Aventine and Tiber Scalae Caci (“steps of cacus”) on the Palatine Hill

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Agricultural and Fertility Divinities Saturn, Ceres, and their associates Saturn, perhaps of Etruscan origin Temple dates to the early Republic, with the state treasury beneath Agricultural deity Saturnalia celebrated on December 17, perhaps connected with winter grain sowing Relaxation of the normal social inhibitions Saturnalia linked with the festival of Ops Identified with Greek Cronus and the golden age Rhea, consort of Cronus, linked with Ops, Italian goddess of plenty Cult partner was Lua, whose consort in the cult of Ops was Consus Consualia festival in August and December Ceres Temple on the Aventine dating to 493 B. C.; political and commercial center Ceres (Demeter), Liber (Dionysus), and Libera (Kore or Persephone) Wine-god Liber without ecstatic aspects of Dionysus Association with Tellus Mater (“earth mother”) and the festival of the sowing of the seed (feriae sementivae) Flora Goddess of flowering Consort of the West Wind, Zephyrus Associated with the Seasons (in Latin, Horae) and the Charites (Gratiae or Graces) Pomona No Greek equivalent Goddess of fruit Etruscan deity, Vertumnus (vertere –“to turn” or “to change”) Pales Livestock and the farm Originally a pair, then one deity, either male or female Festival of Pales, the Parilia (Palilia) celebrated in April

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Forest Divinities: Silvanus and Faunus Silvanus (Forester) and Faunus (Favorer) were the gods of the woods and forests. Vergil’s Aeneid: Faunus, son of Picus and father of Latinus by Marica, an Italian birth-goddess The consort of Faunus was Fauna, who was identified with Bona Dea (“good goddess”). Faunus and Silvanus identified with Pan Oracular powers of Faunus Connected with the Lupercalia in February Lupercal, cave where the she-wolf (lupa) was believed to have suckled Romulus and Remus Luperci : two young noblemen who smeared themselves with sacrificial blood and ran around the Palatine naked, striking women with leather straps Story of Faunus and Hercules Garden Divnities: Venus and Priapus Venus Italian fertility goddess Protectress of gardens Venus Obsequens (Venus “who is favorable”) Temple to Venus Erycina on the Capitoline Hill dedicated by Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator; Eryx,in Sicily, site of temple to Phoenician Astarte, identified with Aphrodite, and then Venus Lectisternium: festival at which statues of gods were placed on couches Venus paired with Mars Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura and the invocation to Venus Venus Victrix (“bringer of victory”) dedicated by Pompey Julian family traced its ancestry back to Venus. Temple to Venus Felix (“bringer of success”) and Roma Aeterna dedicated by Hadrian Venus Cloacina, after Cloacina goddess of the Cloaca, the Etruscan drainage system for the Forum area Priapus Protector of gardens Wooden statue, painted red, with erect phallus Cult at Lampsacus

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Water Gods: Portunus and Gods of Rivers and Springs Tiberinus, god of the Tiber; propitiation by dummies Neptunus, identified with Poseidon Portunus, originally god of the gates (portae), but later of harbors (portus) Tiberinus, the most significant of the river-gods; appearance to Aeneas in the Aeneid Juturna and the Juturnalia, the spring of Juturna in the Forum Camenae, water-nymphs, identified with the Muses; water used for purification Egeria, nymph, counselor and consort of Numa, helper of pregnant women Carmentis (or Carmenta), associated with water and birth Parcae, Roman birth-goddesses identified with the three Fates Diana Worshipped at Aricia Lake Nemi, “Diana’s Mirror” Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough Rex Nemorensis (“king of the grove”), priest of Nemi and a fugitive slave Diana concerned with the life of women, and identified with Lucina, who brought children into the light (in Latin, lux, lucis) Worshipped at Mt. Tifata Association with Artemis Horace’s Carmen Saeculare At Aricia, Hippolytus identified with Virbius Mercury God of Trading and profit (Latin merces, “merchandise”) Identified with Hermes and all his attributes

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Divinities of Death and the Underworld Vergil’s Aeneid and Aeneas’ journey to the Underworld Parentalia, worship of spirits of dead ancestors Lemuria, ritual to drive out spirits who can harm the household Lemures, identified with the Manes, spirits of the dead Origin of the gladiatorial games: Etruscan ritual of spilling blood on the earth to propitiate the dead Orcus, the Roman name for the Underworld Dis Pater, ruler of Orcus (Dis=dives, “wealth”) Libitina, goddess of burial Lares and Genius Lares, linked with the Penates Lares, household spirits, bringers of prosperity Compitalia (crossroads festival) Lares honored at the crossroad with a shrine Lar familiaris: spirit of the house Lar praestites, or “guardian Lares” of the city Lares viales or protectors of travelers “by land” Lares permarini or protectors of travelers “by sea” Genius: creative power of a man Lectus genialis, or marriage bed

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Non-Italian Gods Hercules Story of Cacus The precinct of Hercules, the Ara Maxima (“greatest altar”) Bringer of luck and profit, and patron of traders The Dioscuri Castor and Pollux Appearance at the battle of Lake Regillus (496 B. C.) Patrons of horsemen and of knights (i.e., the economic and social class below the senators) The Sibylline Oracles Associated with Cumae and the Sibyl The Sibyl and Tarquinius Superbus, last king of Rome Apollo and Aesculapius Apollo introduced as a result of plague Apollo Medicus, (“the healer”) Ludi Apollinares (“games of Apollo”) Asclepius introduced in 293 B. C. after an epidemic Roman name: Aesculapius Cybele Importation of the Phrygian mother-goddess Cybele Magna Mater (“great mother”) Black stone from Pessinus in Phrygia Megalensia Priests (Galli), who castrated themselves Catullus (Poem 63) Importation of Egyptian Isis, Asiatic Ma, Syrian Baal, and Persian Mithras

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Legends of the Founding of Rome Aeneas and Romulus Origins of Rome: Aeneas and his son Iulus (Ascanius) Ancestor of the gens Iulia Traditional date for the founding of Rome, 753 B. C. Iulus founds Alba Longa. Romulus founds Rome. Early control of Rome in the hands of Etruscans Roman independence by the earth fifth century B. C. Historical/legendary elements Aeneas: the tradition before Vergil Aeneas, son of Aphrodite and Anchises The prophecy of Poseidon in Homer’s Iliad Flight from Troy Wanderings through the Aegean and Mediterranean Legends of his arrival in Italy established early Hellanicus, Greek historian of the fifth century Statuettes at Veii found depicting Aeneas carrying Anchises from Troy Early epics of Naevius and Ennius Early Roman historian Fabius Pictor Cato the Elder and his Origines Aeneas’ arrival in Italy, marriage to Lavinia, founding of Laurolavinium Presence of Latinus, Turnus, and Mezentius in the legendary evolution Ascanius leaves Laurolavinium to found Alba Longa Basic foundation myth available to Vergil

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Vergil’s Aeneid Great nation epic Combination of Homeric conventions, Greek mythology, and Roman ethical and historical insights Establishment in the mythical past of the destiny of Rome to be achieved in Vergil’s own time by Augustus Aeneas sails to Delos and receives an oracle about returning to the land of Dardanus. Arrival in Crete and the vision of the Penates At Epirus Aeneas receives the prophecy of the white sow from Helenus. Aeneas sails to Sicily; encounter with Achaemenides a survivor of Odysseus’ wandering; Anchises dies and is buried. From Sicily to North Africa; encounter with Dido, Queen of Carthage and the story of her flight from her original home in Tyre and the death of her husband Sychaeus Aeneas received by Dido; narration of the fall of Troy Dido’s destructive passion for Aeneas Mercury commands Aeneas to set sail again. Another stay in Sicily Funeral games for Anchises Reaching Italy at Cumae The Cumaean Sibyl; the presentation to Aeneas in the Underworld of the future greatness of Rome Sailing to the mouth of the Tiber and the fulfillment of prophecies Latium, King Latinus and Queen Amata, and the princess Lavinia Turnus, prince of the Rutulians Juno’s intervention; the Fury Allecto maddens both Turnus and Amata. War begins between the Latins and the Trojans, who are aided by the Etruscans and the forces of King Evander. Pallanteum and the future site of Rome Mezentius, a man hostile to the gods, and his son Lausus Pallas, son of Evander, given to the charge of Aeneas but eventually killed by Turnus Death of Turnus by Aeneas

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Jupiter in the Aeneid Identification with fate or destiny Intertwining of mythology and Roman history Jupiter much more powerful a figure than Zeus in Homer Aeneas: a new epic hero Pietas, devotion to family, country and gods A man following a destiny he cannot see clearly A combination of Odysseus and Achilles, but different Quintessential image of Aeneas in flight from a burning Troy, carrying his father on his back (who is sometimes himself carrying statuettes of the gods), and leading his young son into an unknown future The end of the Aeneid Dido Queen of Carthage Obstacle to the destiny of Aeneas Sympathetic figure, overwhelmed by forces outside her control Dido’s curse against Aeneas; foreshadowing the Punic Wars Other characters in the Aeneid King Evander Juno Allecto Turnus, a victim of destiny like Dido Nisus and Euryalus and their tragic death Camilla, the warrior maiden Mezentius, impious to the gods and a foil to Aeneas’ pietas The death of Aeneas After Vergil’s Aeneid ends: Aeneas marries Lavinia Founding of Lavinium Death and transformation into a god, Indiges

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Anna and Anna Perenna Ovid’s Fasti Tradition of the flight of Anna, Dido’s sister Connection with Anna Perenna, goddess of the New Year Romulus and the Earliest Legends of Rome Romulus and Remus Amulius, the last king of Alba Longa Numitor, rightful king Rhea Silvia (or Ilia), daughter of Numitor Romulus and Remus, sons of Rhea Silvia and Mars Exposure of the infants The she-wolf Faustulus, a shepherd who finds the twins, and Acca Larentia, his wife Death of Amulius; the restoration of Numitor Romulus and Remus to found their own city Fraternal rivalry and the death of Remus

Romulus and the Sabines Asylum on the Capitoline The abduction of the Sabine women A series of conflicts with the Sabines The origin of the spolia opimia The treachery of Tarpeia The story of Marcus Curtius Quirites, name for Roman citizens Disappearance of Romulus Apotheosis as the god Quirinus

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Other characters in the legend of Romulus Faustulus, connected with Faunus Acca Larentia connected with mater Larum (“mother of the Lares”) Hersilia, the wife of Romulus became Hora Quirini (hora, “the power” or “the will” of Quirinus. Tarpeia and the Tarpeian Rock Legends of the Regal Period The Horatii Tullus Hostilius The destruction of Alba Longa The Curiatii and the Horatii Horatius and the death of his sister Ritual of purification and the tigillum sororium The Tarquins and Servius Tullius The last three kings of Rome: Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, and Tarquinius Superbus Servius, second only to Romulus as founder and organizer of Roman institutions Lucretia and the end of the Monarchy The seige of Ardea Tarquinius Collatinus and Sextus Tarquinius, son of King Tarquinius Superbus Lucretia, wife of Tarquinius Collatinus The rape of Lucretia by Sextus and her suicide The expulsion of the last king, Tarquinius Superbus, and the institution of the Roman Republic


				
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