Phases in the Religion of Ancient Rome

Chapter IV: The Gods: Anthropomorphism and Foreign Influences




Hitherto, though our information is necessarily derived from the writers and monuments of historic times, we have been trying to reconstruct a picture of a prehistoric period, when the inhabitants of Labium were leading an agricultural life in detached farms and practised a religion, which was in the main animistic. We have now to enter the sphere of history, to contemplate the city of Rome planted upon the hills by the Tiber bank, engaged in the full life of an urban community, and forming contacts with her neighbours, and to ask what religious development her people experienced and what experiments they made in the search for the "power." It will be found in the main that the change is twofold, a change in belief and a change in worship. On the one hand, animism passes into anthropomorphism, "spirits" become "gods" and come to be thought of in the likeness of men: on the other, though the domestic worship of the household does not cease, and the agricultural festivals are faithfully kept up in the country, in the city itself religion tends to become a function of the State and the State-cult comes more and more into prominence and overwhelms other forms of worship. These two developments are no doubt closely allied and cannot always be separated, but I propose to follow the treatment adopted in dealing with the animistic period and to speak in this chapter of the belief, in the next of the worship, of what may roughly be called the historic Rome of the pre-Christian era.

Even before the early agricultural settlement had become the city of Rome, there was an inward shifting in the conception of the divine beings. Comparative religion has shown that it is the normal tendency of animism to pass into polytheism. The vague spirit-groups, the uncertainly conceived spirits, haunting woods or hills or streams, become clearer and better-defined in their nature and assume a more sharply conceived personality. More especially will this happen, where, as with the early Latins, a spirit is thought of as possessing function as well as, or instead of, only sphere. It is easy to think of the power which makes you feel awe as you enter a sacred grove, as a "spirit," a "presence" and nothing more. But when you try to imagine a being whose function is, say, to watch over the successful storing of the harvest, who may be operating in many places and for many households at once, then you are almost forced to think of such a being as in some way personal, as something more than an influence or even a spirit. In some such way for the Romans numen gradually passed into deus. It is not possible to say when this change began. It must have started, as has been seen, far back in the period before the Italian and Greek races separated. off from their original Indo-European stock. For side by side with their common inheritance of the hearth-spirit, Hestia-Vesta, who with neither people ever reached the status of a full-blown god, there is their other joint possession, the sky-god, Zeus-Iuppiter, who among both peoples, as far back as we can trace him, wears always the more developed personality of the god. He has his sphere, the sky, but he has also his function, the control of the lightning and thunder and celestial phenomena generally; he has a personality and is called "pater," by which title, as Warde Fowler has shown, is expressed not any physical fatherhood but rather "the dependence of the human citizen on his divine protector." Nor again is it possible to say that the change was ever universally completed; for though, like Iuppiter, Mars and Iuno must very early have entered the deus stage throughout Italy, others of the numina, the group-spirits, such as the field Lares and the Penates, together with such pale figures among the lesser known deities as Furring, Picumnus, and Pilumnus, with many of the spirits of the indigitamenta, seem never to have passed beyond the existence of a numen.

This early stage is in a sense theoretic and hard to detect or specify. The next step, the step to anthropomorphism, is much more definite and traceable. It was no doubt difficult for early peoples it is difficult enough for civilized races now to conceive of personality apart from human personality, and a polytheism cannot long exist without anthropomorphism. With the Greeks if they ever as an independent race had an animistic period this change must have taken place early and completely. From the times to which our earliest information goes back we find their deities as full-blown gods, alike in the poems of Homer and Hesiod and in the earnest archaeological records of anything which can be called Greek. But with the Romans it was not so: the change was gradual and never fully completed: even in the poems of Virgil, where on the surface a Graeco-Roman pantheism holds full sway, there is much that survives buried beneath it which is still essentially Roman, still in feeling animistic. And indeed, it may be questioned whether Rome would ever have reached, the full measure of anthropomorphism, had it not been for her contact, first indirectly, and then directly with Greek religious thought and conceptions.

The agricultural communities on the Palatine and Quirinal—the nucleus of the city of Rome—must early have been in touch with other settlements in Labium, at Bovillae, Aricia, and Tusculum and other small towns. They were the settlements of kindred people, and though Rome found among them other deities, such as the Diana of the Arician grove, they were not differently conceived from her own. Indeed she was united, with these other Latin peoples in a league, of which Rome was not at first even the leader, having its religious sanction in the common annual celebration of Iuppiter Latiaris on the summit of the Alban Mount, whence according to tradition the dynasty of Rome's kings had come: it was the expression of a common religious belief of essentially kindred peoples. Nor even when she came to know Italian peoples farther afield, did she find, any marked difference of religious belief: Oscans, Umbrians, Sabines, despite diversities of language and custom, were developing on the same lines: Mars was known among them all and Iuno too in most of the cities, and, as has been seen, the Iguvine tablets give us a picture of ritual, resting on general conceptions closely akin to those of Rome.

It was when Rome first encountered. Etruria that a new influence was felt and the change began. The Etruscans were in all probability a tribe who had migrated from Asia Minor and had settled in the tract of country north of Rome between the Apennines and the coast. In Asia they had been in close contact with the Greek settlers and had been greatly influenced by them in their culture. They had reached a comparatively advanced stage in artistic production and had imbibed in religion the anthropomorphic ideas of their Greek neighbours. But behind this cultural exterior they retained considerable traces of an earlier and native barbarism, which comes to the surface from time to time in their artistic productions and in particular in the cruel and savage pictures of the lower world which adorn some of their tombs. They were, it seems, an adaptable people: as they came to know their Italian neighbours, they would identify their own gods with those Italian deities who seemed akin to them, and adopt others; but they worshipped them in their own way, thinking of them in human form, and, as they had learnt from the Asiatic Greeks, building temples to them and representing them in anthropomorphic statues. Thus of the great Etruscan triad, to whom there were temples in the principal towns, one Tinia is a genuine Etruscan god, who was identified with the Italian Iuppiter, the other two, Uni and Menvra, are easily recognized as the Italian goddesses known in Rome as Iuno and Minerva.

Owing no doubt to their superior civilization the Etruscans became a dominating element in Italy, and for a long while the influence of their culture and ideas must have been felt by the Romans across the Tiber. But in the sixth century B.C. they had reached the maximum of their power; they subdued Rome and in the end of the regal period the Etruscan dynasty of the Tarquins held. sway. The influence of the Etruscan domination on Roman religion has often been exaggerated: they have been represented as imposing alien customs on a subject people, and cults and ideas have been attributed to them, which we now know to have been genuinely Roman or Italian and, in so fa.r a.s they were held by the Etruscans, to have been borrowed or adopted by them. But there can be no doubt and this is the essential point for our purpose that Etruscan influence gave a great stimulus to the anthropomorphic development in religion and was largely responsible for the sinking of the conception of numen in that of deus. The first external sign of this change was the built temple, the house (aedes) which the humanly-conceived god needed to dwell in. In the old Roman religion such a conception was unknown: the local "spirit" had his local habitation, the hearth in the house, and outside a grove, a spring, a cavern, or even a pit, such as that associated with Consus. Even the words, which later became attached to the built shrine, were earlier much vaguer in meaning: Templum, a word connected with augury, denoted. the sacred precinct marked out as the spirit's sphere of influence, sacellum is defined as "a place dedicated to the gods without a roof," and the delubrum was in origin "a place in front of a templum, where the water runs" to be used in purification. The cult-act in these old days took place at the "sacred spot" (locus sacer), whatever it might be, and. if it was in the open air a simple temporary altar was built up of sods (caespites) lifted from the ground; Servius tells us that even after the introduction of permanent stone altars "it was the Roman custom to place a sod on top of the altar" at the time of sacrifice, a manifestly symbolic bit of conservatism. Whether such permanent altars were evolved by the Romans themselves or introduced from Etruria or elsewhere we do not know: certainly they belong to a comparatively late period. With regard to the temple-building there can be no doubt. The first temple in Rome of whose building we have any record is the great temple on the Capitol, begun according to tradition by Tarquinius Priscus, continued by Tarquinius Superbus, and finally dedicated by the first consul Horatius in the year 509 B.C. The temple was built by Etruscan workmen and in the Etruscan style; though in later times it came to be thought of almost exclusively as the abode of Iuppiter Optimus Maximus, it was originally dedicated to the Etruscan "triad," Iuppiter, Juno, and Minerva. Each deity had his or her own cella, side by side, so that we are told that contrary to ordinary Roman usage the temple was almost as broad as it was long. It is no doubt possible that other undated temples, such as those of Diana and Minerva on the Aventine, may have been built before this date, but, if so, it is almost certain that Etruscan influence was the motive, and the foundations of the temple of Iuppiter Latiaris on the Alban Mount, built about this period, have been found to be of Etruscan workmanship.

From the beginning of the Republican period onwards the building of temples was a constant feature of Roman religious life: the gods of the old cycle, di indigetes, nearly all acquired their sanctified dwelling-place, and any new deity introduced to Rome might expect shortly to have his temple. The vow to build a temple to a deity became one of the most frequent forms of roam in times of military and civil crisis, and the dedicationday of the temple came to have almost as much importance as the original festival of the deity. The temple is the first sign of accomplished anthropomorphism: the god now conceived as a being with human needs must have a home to dwell in. Yet it must be noticed that even at this stage there was resistance and behind the new ideas the old traditions survived. There was an old legend that when the site of the new Capitoline temple was being cleared by augury of its old religious associations, the god Terminus refused to budge: and the old boundary-stone, which was his symbol, was allowed to remain embedded in the centre of the new temple with an opening in the roof above it the protest of the open-air animism against the new anthropomorphic house of stone. Some of the country deities did not acquire a temple for centuries: Faunus, for instance, had a temple dedicated to him on the Tiber-Island in 194 B.C., and others, like Silvanus, never knew a temple at all. More striking perhaps are the instances of deities who never got beyond the possession of a permanent altar: Mars in his sacred place in the Campus Martius was content with an ara till 138 B.C., when D. Julius Brutus built him a temple there, and Hercules, although a Greek deity introduced from outside, never, in his oldest cult in the Forum Barium had anything but the Ara Maxima. Even Augustus, when he wished to make his dedication to Pax in the Campus Martius, consecrated only an Ara Pacis. So tenaciously, though no doubt unconsciously, did the old numen conception fight against the anthropomorphic innovations.

The temple was the first outward sign of anthropomorphism and its seal was the image or statue of the god. For when you have made a sensuous representation of a deity, and can recognize his features from those of other gods, you will necessarily think of him in human form, and soon you will be led to attribute to him the affections and accidents of human life. "For more than 170 years," says Varro, "the Romans worshipped the gods without images," and he adds the characteristic comment that "those who first, made images of the gods, both removed fear from their States and added error." You can no longer fear a deity "of like passions with" yourself, and you will soon go wrong as to his true nature. This form of corruption came just like that of the temple, indirectly from Greece through the medium of Etruria. Varro, who believed that Tarquinius Priscus himself completed the Capitoline temple, stated that he placed in it a statue of Iuppiter. Be that as it may, the statue was undoubtedly very old and we are told elsewhere that it was a terra-cotta image brought from Etruria. We hear too of a wooden statue of Diana in the temple on the Aventine, which was said to be a. copy of a copy of' a. famous wooden image of Artemis at Marsilia, itself a replica of a still more famous one at Ephesus: here the connection with Greek sources was more direct. Yet in this matter of statues, too, Roman conservatism and resistance played their part: for apart from these two images we hear of no other cult-statues in temples, except those of introduced Greek deities, until the great period of Greek influence during the Punic Wars, when Roman deities were identified with Greek counterparts and took over from them their human forms as well as their human characters. Yet once again right back in the end of the regal period this supreme external manifestation of anthropomorphic thought had. showed itself.

The first contact of Rome with Greek anthropomorphism was thus indirect and due to the domination of Etruria. Not less indirect was the second, not in point of time later than the Etruscan contact. As Rome came more and more into touch, first with the peoples of Labium, and then with the other tribes of Italy, she met among them strange and apparently powerful deities. With the readiness which a polytheistic people always shows to add another to its list of divine beings, especially if the stranger provides protection for some part of life which has not hitherto had its divine guardian, Rome experimented in the introduction of the deities of her neighbours. She found. them not far different in conception from her own animistic deities and. so admitted these "newcomers," or di novensiles, as they were called, to sites within the sacred pomoerium side by side with her own native gods, or di indigetes. In this way Diana, the spirit of the famous grove at Aricia, was very early brought to Rome and established in a sacred grove on the Aventine hill: the motive in this instance was probably political and signified the transference of the headship of the Latin league to Rome. Very early too, and almost certainly before the coming of the Etruscan triad to the Capitol, Minerva was brought from Falerii, an Italian town higher up on the northern bank of the Tiber, to be the protectress of the craftsmen, who were assuming a prominence in the growing life of the city. So too Fortuna, a goddess especially associated with women, was said by tradition to have been introduced to Rome by King Servius Tullius, and Venus, probably a protectress of gardens and fruit-trees, came from Ardea, both destined for different causes to have a long and eventful history. To these may be added some less known deities derived from Italian sources, such as Feronia, a protectress of manumitted slaves, and Vortumnus, who most likely watched over the ripening fruit at the change of the year (anno vertente) in autumn,

But among these di novensiles, who early find their way into the city, are some who are clearly not of native Italian origin, Castor and Pollux, always worshipped together though with Castor in a more predominating position, and Hercules. The twins, whose identity with the Greek Dioscuri is quite unmistakable, had their temple in the very heart of Rome, in the Forum, close to the pool of the Italian goddess, Iuturna, with whom they were connected by legend. Tradition associated their arrival with the battle of Lake Regillus in 499 B.C., when they are said both to have taken part with the Romans in the fight and to have arrived as divine messengers to bring the news of victory to Rome. But they had probably been introduced far earlier and most likely from the neighbouring town of Tusculum, where their cult was prominent. Hercules had at first no temple in Rome, but was worshipped at the Ara Maxima in the Forum Barium as a patron of commerce. His cult was probably introduced from Tibur and was traditionally in the hands of the patrician houses of the Potitii and Pinarii—not therefore in origin a State-cult—and it is of great significance that at the Ara Maxima Hercules was always worshipped graeco ritu, with the head uncovered. What then is the history of these Greek cults? It is not difficult to guess. In the south of Italy were the Greek colonies of Magna, Graecia, and we know that among them the cult of the Dioscuri was prominent at Locri, Tarentum, and Rhenium and that of Herakles at Cumae. Commercial penetration brought the Greek colonies into connexion with the cities of Labium, oddly enough with other towns before Rome, and the traders brought their cults with them. They appealed to the Latin townsmen who platinized the divine names, Polydeukes into Pollux and Herakles by a characteristic change to Hercules, and from these towns the newcomers entered Rome. Thus again Rome was indirectly brought into touch with the Greek anthropomorphic deities; and now we may notice two new features, firstly, that Hercules always kept his own Greek manner of worship, and secondly, that in the Twins the Romans met anthropomorphic deities conceived with a human relationship between them.

So far the contact of Rome with Greek religious thought and practice had been indirect. But when at last Rome did come into direct relations with Greece, it was not with these comparatively far-off cities at the foot of the peninsula, but with the much nearer Greek colony of Cumae. Now Cumae, which was the oldest of the Greek settlements in Italy, had long been a prominent centre of the worship of Apollo—the Greek colonies imitated the ancient habit of the cities of the mainland in regarding themselves as under the protection of a peculiar patron-deity. And so sometime towards the end of the regal period the worship of Apollo came to Rome. He was summoned probably at some time of pestilence and was established, as a deity of medicine and healing, in a sacred precinct, known as the Apollinar in the Prata Flaminia outside the Porta Capena. The compromise is characteristic. On the one hand as a stranger, one of the di novensiles, he cannot be admitted to the city, which was the home of Rome's own gods, the di indigetes; he takes his place outside the pomoerium and in the true spirit of the old religion, he is given a precinct and nothing more; it was not till 431 B.C. that in the stress of a new pestilence a temple was built to him. On the other hand he retains his full Greek character, he is worshipped with the Greek rites and he keeps his Greek name: Apollo, almost alone among the Greek gods, was never identified with any Roman numen, nor was his name ever platinized, like those of Herakles and Asklepios. Moreover it is typical of Rome that she adopted a Greek god for a particular part of his functions; it is as Paian, the healer, that Apollo came to Rome. No trace of his Greek association with the sun ever penetrated Rome, nor was it till Augustus adopted him as his own particular Greek patron and built the great temple to him on the Palatine with its public library attached, that he showed himself in Rome as a patron of the arts and of literature. Rome was willing to admit foreign deities, but she would make her own terms with them. Medicine had previously no divine patron, indeed the art itself was unknown to the Romans and always remained in the hands of Greek practitioners; so a Greek god may be introduced to preside over it, but he must not exercise his capacities in other spheres.

But if Apollo himself was thus restricted, he brought in his train another Greek conception which was destined to have wide and lasting influence at Rome. As has been seen (p. 95), the idea of divination was not foreign to Rome and it was no doubt greatly stimulated by intercourse with Etruria; but Rome knew nothing of oracles, the direct utterances of an inspired priest or priestess, which could foretell the future and give practical advice in particular circumstances. The oracle had on the other hand played a far-reaching part in Greek religion, and Apollo in his famous seats at Delphi, Delos, Clams, and elsewhere was the greatest of oracular gods. Even so he was not allowed to exercise his powers at Rome, nor do we ever hear of the establishment of any Italian oracular centre. But associated with Apollo were the mysterious Sibyls, the prophetic priestesses who had come into popularity in Greece in connexion with the Orphic movement of the fifth century. To the Sibyls were attributed detached oracles on many themes and they had certain seats or centres in various parts of the Greek world. One of the chief of these was at Cumae, and, almost certainly in connexion with the coming of Apollo, the Sibyl became known at Rome. Legend preserved the story of the appearance of the strange old woman before the last of the Tarquins, of her offering of the collections of her prophecies, of her rejection by the king and her burning of the books, and his final purchase of the last precious volume at an exorbitant price. It seems improbable in fact that the Romans had. from the first a definite collection of Sibylline prophecies, and more likely that in the earlier days the duoviri, who were appointed to take charge of the Sibylline oracles, journeyed to Cumae to get their response. Be that as it may, there is no doubt that early in the Republic there was a store of Sibylline oracles at Rome, in the charge of the decemviri saris faciendis, as they had now become, who in times of stress consulted them, and published their orders; for the Roman oracles of the Sibyl were not so much prophecies of the future, as injunctions to the people as to what must be done to preserve of restore the pax deorum.

Now the introduction of the Sibylline oracles did not perhaps directly promote the anthropomorphic conception of the gods, but it did emphasize the idea of their immediate interference in the affairs of men and suggest the possibility of the direct communication of the divine will through the medium of inspired seers; in this way it served to increase the superstitious element in Roman religious belief. But it had also a more far-reaching effect in that it rapidly augmented the influx of Greek deities to Rome, and led to the almost complete swamping, as far as the official cult was concerned, of the old animistic notions by a new Graeco-Roman anthropomorphism. For whenever the Sibylline books were consulted in time of famine, pestilence, or any other great public disasters, it was invariably found that their answer was to recommend the introduction of some new Greek deity or deities. Thus early in the fifth century B.C., during the war against the Latins who supported the restoration of the Etruscan dynasty, a famine occurred and the consultation of the Sibylline books produced a divine injunction for the foundation of a cult of Ceres, Liber, and Libera. Now these were in fact old Italian deities, connected one and all with the growth of the crops, but it is certain that they here represent the Greek triad, Demeter, Dionysus, and Kore, whose worship was popular both in Magna Graecia and in Sicily. The temple was vowed in 496 B.C. and dedicated three years later just outside the pomoerium on the side of the Aventine towards the Circus Maximus; it is significant that then and always this cult had an association with the pleas and was under the care of the plebeian aediles, instead of the patrician officials who managed the older State-worship. In this case we find the new Greek gods disguised by being identified with existing Roman deities. So too shortly afterwards Hermes was introduced to Rome in his capacity as god of commerce under the name of the Roman deity Mercurius and established in a temple near that of the corn-triad; while Poseidon, who had a prominent cult at Tarentum, sheltered himself under the name of the little-known Italian deity Neptunus. On the other hand, when another pestilence suggested that Apollo needed reinforcing as a god of healing, his son Asklepios was brought from his famous home at Epidaurus and, there being no obvious Roman deity with whom he could be identified, he retained his name, platinized, as had been that of Herakles, into the form of Aesculapius. The last of the long series of introductions by order of the Sibylline books was that of the Magna, Mater of Pessinus in 205 B.C. in the stress of the Hannibalic war, but she was really an oriental and consideration of the effect of her coming must be postponed till later.

If the introduction of these Greek cults had stood alone, it would perhaps have been difficult to say that they did more than increase the polytheistic hierarchy, accustom the Romans to the worship with uncovered head, which they had already seen at Hercules' Ara Maxima, and confirm the anthropomorphic idea by the further introduction of cult statues. But besides new deities the Sibylline books from time to time ordered the establishment of wholly new forms of worship, some of which had a wide psychological effect. The influence of the "games" (ludi) was probably more social and literary than religious. For, though particular games were founded in connexion with the Sibylline cults and new forms of performance introduced under Greek influence, the underlying idea, was not strange to Rome. Dancing was a feature of some of their old rituals, such as that of Mars' Salii, and races for men and beasts had long been a part of some of the most ancient festivals, such as the Consualia and Robigalia. In Republican times the main changes seem to have been two: firstly, the scene of the games was transferred from the site of the local festival to the various Circuses established for the purpose, while at the same time their management passed from the festival-worshippers to the magistrates—a change making at once for popularity and secularity. And secondly, under Greek influence was introduced the new feature of ludi scenici, the performance of stage plays, which for a time looked as if it would establish drama as a vital and really popular branch of Roman literature. But for both these causes the ludi became less and less religious. More definitely strange and more certainly influential in its psychological effect was the institution of the lectisternium, the offering of a sacred meal to divine beings represented be busts or puppets placed on a couch (pulvinar, lectus) before a, table. The idea that the "spirits" needed physical sustenance was not alien to the old religion: we meet it in the offering made at meal-times to the household deities and in the daps offered occasionally to special "spirits"; it existed also most likely in an early form of "Iuppiter's banquet" (epulum Iovis). But the household offerings were thrown into the fire, and in connexion with daps and epulum, though there is some indication of the use of couch and table, there is no suggestion of a sensuous representation of the god. The lectisternium seems to have been celebrated in connexion with the dedication of temples built by the orders of the Sibylline books: the deity's bust was placed in the temple on a pulvinar and a meal set before it, and this ceremony was, it appears, repeated annually at the dedication-festival. But here it was only the new Greek gods who were being worshipped with the θεοξένια used in their Greek homes: far more striking is the first historical notice of a lectisternium. During a famine in 399 B.C., it was ordered that couches should be set in public on which figures reclined representing Apollo and Latona, Hercules and Diana, Mercurius and Neptunus, a Greek pair, a pair of deities adopted from Italian sources, and. a pair of the old numina, now identified with Greek counterparts. Here for the first time, as Wissowa notes, the barrier between di indigetes and di novensiles was broken down and the religion of Rome was henceforth Graeco-Roman. But even more important than this was the psychological effect. Gods are now not merely represented in sensible form, but as human beings in their passions and appetites: "the old Roman invisible numen," Warde Fowler comments, "was a far nobler mental conception than the miserable images of Graeco-Roman full-blown gods and goddesses, reclining on their couches, and appearing to partake of dinner like a human citizen."

And if the lectisternium thus degraded the conception of deity, the supplicatio, with which it was often combined, introduced for the first time the element of popular emotion into Roman religion. Here too a Greek ritual was grafted on an old Roman ceremony. In the earliest period of Roman history we hear of occasions when the magistrates or the senate at a crisis ordered special feriae, on which the people were to go in a mass to the temples of the gods to pray for the pax deorum. But the supplicatio was more than this: it was ordered by the custodians of the Sibylline books or the haruspices or even the pontifices that the whole populace should appear, wreathed and bearing laurel wands in their hands, like Greek suppliants, and pass not merely from temple to temple, but from pulvinar to pulvinar, praying earnestly to the gods there exposed to view; the matrons would "sweep the altars with their hair streaming, on bended knees holding their upturned hands to heaven and the gods!" It was a great wave of popular emotion, and though, when it was used for prayer (obsecratio) the supplicatio was usually confined to one, or at the most, two or three days; when it was employed for thanksgiving (granulatio) it was frequently in the latter days of the Republic extended to ten or fifteen days, a long period of public excitement or religious elation.

All these Greek innovations of ritual not only emphasized the anthropomorphic conception of the gods, but made a marked change in belief as to the fundamental relations of gods and men. In the true Roman religion these relations were, as has been seen, sober, constant, and almost contractual in idea: the proper rite performed duly at the right place and time served to preserve the pax deorum, and in the State these rites were performed by the appointed officials and left the ordinary man unconcerned. Now we have a stirring up of the whole populace to a high state of emotion, possessed of the feeling that by the mere vehemence of its supplication, it might batter down the resolution of heaven. The underlying thought was changed and the individual, roused for the first time to take his part in the prayers of the State, must have been seized with a new feeling about religion. The Greek ceremonies in truth paved the way for the orgiastic ceremonies of the Orient.

Yet a third wave of Greek influence was destined to flood the religious ideas of Rome, and this time not through the popular contacts of commerce or war, but through literature. When, as a republican poet puts it, "in the second Punic war the Muse with winged step swooped upon the fierce warrior race of Romulus," she brought in her train all the wealth of Greek anthropomorphic legend. The dramas and the epics which the Romans came to know and. to imitate rested on the actions and influence of divine beings taking direct, often visible, part in the affairs of men. Now the Greek heroes, whose actions Romans learnt to record in their Latin dramas, retained their names and were left always in a Greek setting, for the simple reason that the Romans had few heroes or heroic legends of their own, with which they might be paralleled. But not so with the gods. It has been seen already how prone the Romans were to identify the Greek strangers with the deities of their own religion: the coming of literature gave a great impetus to this movement and the Roman gods assumed the appearance, character, and history of their new counterparts. Iuppiter and Juno became husband and wife at the head of the hierarchy, Mars, identified with Ares, loses his old agricultural character altogether in the wholly warlike sympathies of his Greek equivalent; Minerva, paired off with Athena because of her interest in crafts, becomes the patron of learning and springs from the head of her father, Iuppiter; it is Venus, not Aphrodite, in Latin literature who is worshipped at the great temple at Eryx as the goddess of love. All this process of identification, started in literature, was no doubt immensely encouraged by the parallel discovery of Greek art. When Rome conquered Greece the cult-statues of the Greek gods were brought to Rome and admired: many certainly remained in private collections, but others found their way into the temples of their Roman twins, or else Greek artists were engaged to make new statues on Greek models. Thus the old Roman deity of the sowing, Saturnus, is identified with the Greek Kronor and not only takes over from him all the legend of his reign in the Golden Age, but is represented in his temple with the sickle of Kronor in his hand and his feet swathed in Greek manner with wool. An interesting study of this art-identification might be made in the fourth book of Cicero's speech against Verres, where he deals with the Greek cult-statues which Verres stole from the Sicilian temples. The deities are almost always described by Latin names, Praxiteles' "Cupid," Myron's "Hercules," the "Diana" of Segesta, the "Mercurius" from Tyndaris, the "Libera" from Henna.

Nor was it merely that this process of identification taught the Romans to recognize their gods in human form; it taught them to think of them as beings with relationships, with a history, with a character and passions like themselves. Iuppiter and Juno are henceforth man and wife, and not merely numina associated in a joint worship on the Capitol Juno is herself the daughter of Saturn, as Hera was the daughter of Kronor, and Venus, now goddess of love, has her son Cupido (Ἕρωσ). New functions are attached to the identified numina. Mercuries in some significant lines in the prologue of Plautus' Amphitruo announces that he is not only god of commerce, but also, like his counterpart Hermes, the messenger of the gods; Volcanos, the old fire-numen, takes over Hephaistos' forge and its metal-work; Liber, already assimilated to the chthonic Bacchus in the corn triad, becomes, like Bacchus, the deity of wine and inherits all the associations of Dionysus; Diana, paired with Artemis, becomes a moon goddess and assumes too the lower-world functions of Artemis-Hecate, worshipped at the crossways. And now the whole wealth of Greek legend was open to the Latin poets an incalculable boon for those whose religion by its very animistic character precluded legends of gods and whose traditional history offered little of heroic story. The Greek legends became the themes of drama, epic, and even of lighter verse; quite near the outset of Roman literature in that strange phenomenon, the Amphitruo of Plautus, we find "Iuppiter" carrying on his intrigue with "Alcmena" in Thebes, aided by "Mercuries," now a typical comedy-slave—a burlesque almost in the spirit of the Old Comedy of Athens, which must have been oddly astonishing to its first Roman audience. Epic is given its "divine machinery" in the manner of Homer; the lesser gods, like Juno and Venus, quarrel on behalf of their human favourites, and Iuppiter sits aloft, like a kind of Fate, holding the scales all drawn in a conventional manner which left it, even in the hands of Virgil, unreal and unconvincing. Perhaps most interesting of all are the efforts made to link up by means of legend Rome's history and religion with those of Greece) Two great attempts stand out, both characterized by a heroic syncretism, or confusion, of the Greek and the Roman: the legend of the Arcadian prince Evader, who coming to Italy with his mother Carmentis (really an Italian spring numen), settles on the future site of Rome and there establishes the worship of Pan-Faunus and the rites of the Δύκαια-Lupercalia, and. that of Aeneas, the Trojan son of Venus, who after long adventures in the manner of Odysseus, becomes the founder of the Roman regal house, and brings with him from Troy the worship—and indeed the persons—of the Penates, an astounding proof of Roman eagerness to find a Greek source even for what was most conspicuously their own.

The transformation in literature was thus complete and overwhelming, and it would be true to say that the religious setting of the Augustan poets was essentially Graeco-Roman; their verses and their thoughts are steeped in Greek ideas, so that when Ovid was making a serious effort in the Fasti to reach the origin of Roman ritual, his first thought was almost always to seek an explanation in Greek legend or mythology. And yet I am inclined to believe that the effect and influence of this literary religion has sometimes been exaggerated. In the first place, though it undoubtedly gave the poets the background and framework of their work, its popular effect can never have been very great. Literature at Rome was always the possession of the educated class, and it never touched the mass of the people except perhaps through the drama, and drama was never really popular for its own sake, except possibly for a short period in the second century B.C. And even in the Augustan poets we miss the tone of conviction, the feeling that here, if anywhere, was the true explanation of the world. Ovid. both in Fasti and the Metamorphoses is deliberately flippant in his narration of the legends of the gods and loves to turn the laugh against them. And even Virgil, most serious in his desire to cement the old religion and, the Greek cults in a new syncretism, centred on the Imperial house, fails to give reality to the legendary setting. The debates in heaven, Venus' protection of Aeneas, and Juno's support of Turnus, are little more than "epic machinery," and even the supreme figure of Iuppiter derives its force from its identification with the fata Romae: rex Iuppiter omnibus idem, fata viam invenient. And when in the sixth book of the Aeneid, Virgil expresses his ultimate thoughts on human life and destiny, the paraphernalia of the Graeco-Roman cults is thrown aside, and he turns whole-heartedly to the theories of philosophy. What is even more significant is the persistence in the Augustan poets, underneath this Greek veneer, of the true attitude and mood of the old Roman religion. In Virgil it is often conscious: he loves to tell of the old sacred places in Italy and in Rome and their associations, but even when he is most thoroughly embedded in Graeco-Roman thought, there will often peep out a touch of the true Roman feeling. So too in Ovid, when he is actually describing the ritual of some old agricultural festival;the Greek surface will drop away, and the genuine spirit of the Italian worship holds the field: witness the descriptions of the festivals of the Terminalia, Robigalia, and Parilia, which have already been examined. Still more notable are the tiny touches, such as his note that Vesta has no image, "nor must you conceive of Vesta as ought else but the living flame," a thought instinct with the spirit of the earliest animism. Above all the old feeling seems to be awakened in both poets by the word numen: we have met it in Ovid's description of the sacred grove on the Aventine at the sight of which you might say "there is a spirit there (numen inest)." So in Virgil when Helenus brings Aeneas to the temple of Phoebes, he leads him in multi suspensum numine, a phrase almost impossible to translate, but giving just the Roman sense of anxiety in the presence of a "spirit." For all their Greek sympathies, the true Roman feeling has not died out in the Augustan poets.

Yet even if we must to some extent discount the Graecizing influence of poetry, there can be no doubt that the total effect of the influx of Greek customs and ways of thinking on Roman religion was very great. The Roman now conceived his gods as having definite habitation, in which they must be approached and worshipped, and when he thought of a particular deity he would visualize him in the form of the cult-statue he had seen. The new habit even invaded the household, always the last stronghold of religious conservatism, and in 4' the shrines (sacella or lararia) in Pom­peian households we find the domestic deities represented by little statuettes. The conception of "the powers" was thus at once stereotyped and narrowed; they were brought nearer to humanity and the new familiarity bred indifference and unreality. Varro was right in saying that it "removed fear and introduced error." Moreover, these deities in human form were thought now to have the needs of human beings and to be accessible to emotional appeals: the popular ceremonies of lectisternium and supplicatio not only introduced, a new subjective element into religious worship, but implied an undignified conception of the deity, liable to be swayed by importunate prayers. The change no doubt came slowly and took several centuries to complete; and even if it never wholly drove out the older ideas, it yet submerged them in an appeal essentially directed towards the senses.

Before we leave this discussion of the development of the popular conception of deity, it is necessary to look at two other phenomena in Roman religion, one starting very early, the other unknown till the end of the Republic, which combined to produce a vast change in the State-cult at the outset of the Imperial period. Attention has already been drawn (p. 65) to the old "divinity-pairs," Faunus and Fauna, Cacus and Caca, Liber and Libera, representing not, as some have thought, an anthropomorphic notion of husband and wife, but the male and female elements, as it were, in the function of the spirits. Closely allied to these pairs are certain cases where divine names are attached in an apparently possessive sense to a genitive: Lua Saturni, Salacia Neptune, Maia Volcani, and a handful of other examples. These also have been claimed by Sir James Frazer as representing the relationship of husband and. wife, and wife, and. many of the combinations do present serious difficulties, largely because we do not know what these old titles mean. But among them are some—and they are all we need for the present purpose—which, on the face of it, indicate qualities or powers of the deity in question. Such are Virites Quirini, the "powers" of Quirinus, Moles Martis, the "strength" of Mars, and almost certainly Nerio Martis, the "manhood" of Mars. Here then there seems to be an early approach to the personification of an abstract idea, though in close connection with a concrete deity, and when, as Gellius tells us the old orators used these strange invocations in their speeches, it seems probable that they were making their appeal to some definite aspect or function of a well-known deity. If so, the custom is not far different from that of a cult-title, by which the worshipper appeals to a deity in a special capacity: the General in battle will pray to Iuppiter Stater, "the stayer of rout," or Mars Victor, "the giver of victory;" the woman in childbirth to Juno Lucina, "who brings children into the light," and so on. Now it is no improbable surmise that out of these two habits grew that independent personification of abstractions, which is characteristic of Rome in the days of the fully established Republic. Indeed in some cases we can almost see the chrysalis emerging from its case. It is no far cry from a cult of Iuppiter Victor to the cult of Victoria, who first had her temple in 294 B.C.: from the Virites Quirini one might pass easily to the personification of Virtus, who shared a temple with Honos outside the Porta Capena in proximity to the temple of Mars. An almost clearer instance is that of Fides, who seems to spring direct from the cult-title of the deus fidius, Iuppiter in his aspect as the deity of oaths. The idea once established, the multiplication of these abstract deities proceeded rapidly: Libertas, Spes, Pietas, Concordia, Salus, Pax are followed later on by a whole host of lesser abstractions. In some of these we may perhaps trace Greek influence: Concordia, especially when her temple was re-dedicated in 121 after the Gracchan disturbances, may have owed something to the Greek personification of Ὀμόνοια, and Salus, "Health," whose cult had a close connexion with that of Aesculapius, was clearly akin to the Greek Hygieia. Particularly interesting in these connections is the history of Fortuna, who being originally an Italian deity of fertility and particularly of childbirth, under the influence of the popular cult of Tyche in the cities of Magna Graecia, has, as it were, a re-birth as the personification of Chance. Here and there then Greek influence might tell, but for the most part these abstract deities are of genuine Roman origin. It is difficult to estimate their influence on Roman religious thought, for it is not easy to tell how far they were seriously'. regarded: t ey belong to the State-cult and probably did not enter uch into the consciousness of the+ivate citizen. But in so far as they did, they should have tended to widen the conception of divinity and to some extent to have reacted against the prevalent anthropomorphism. For in spite of cult-statues, by which they were represented in their temples, it cannot have been easy to think of "Hope" or "Concord" or "Faith" as existing in a human form in the same way as Mars and Juno and Minerva were conceived. It might have been a development, which would lead back to a more spiritual idea of deity. But probably these new creations had little general effect and were more in the nature of a religious episode: several of them are grouped together in a stanza of Horace's Carmen Saeculare, but they are pallid figures and more like a group of public virtues, than full-blown deities.

But there is a special group among these abstract deities, which was destined to bear fruit. They were all creations of the State and they tended to be connected with the life of the State rather than that of individuals: Pax is the relation of Rome with her outer enemies, Concordia the internal agreement of the citizens, Honos and Virtus the civil and military virtues. And in the instances in question the connection with the State was specially denoted: Salus, in her connexion with Aesculapius is a goddess of health, but there is an old Roman cult of Salus publica populi Romani Quiritium, "the safety of the State"; Fortuna was "Chance," but on the Quirinal was a famous temple to Fortuna publica, "the good fortune of the State."- Here we have the germs of a personification of the State itself.

The further step was taken through Greek influence: as Preller pointed out, the Greek historians of Rome, thinking in their own terms, spoke of an eponymous heroine Roma, and it was no doubt the contact with Greek towns, which had a special protectress in their particular Τύχη, which furthered the cult of the Fortuna populi Romani. So we find the poets and artists of the early Empire personifying Lorna, and as far back as 195 B.C. Smyrna built a templum Urbis Romanae. But the cult was long in establishing itself in Rome and did not find full sanction till Hadrian dedicated a templum Urbis. From that time the Dea Roma took her place as the representative of the cult of the city, and thus by many stages and through several centuries had grown up a new and potent abstraction, the idea, of the Roman people and their city as a divine personality.

It is remarkable that we find a parallel process of development, through the conception of the Genius, to the cult always closely associated with that of the city of Rome, the worship of the Emperor, This is no place to discuss in full the origin and development of Caesar worship. But no account of the popular con tion of deity at Rome can be complete without some mention of this last and most far-reaching of all innovations, the idea of "the man become god."i No doubt, as Frazer and others have shown, the notion of the "god-king" lies very deep in human nature: it has had its influence in history all over the world from the earliest times to its pallid reflection in the comparatively modern doctrine of the divine right of kings. Nor was it altogether foreign to Rome, as may be seen in the old legend of the apotheosis of Romulus into the divine figure of Quirinus. But to the mind of the Republican Roman it was really repugnant and it had to be reintroduced. In the Orient it was common enough, and though it does not seem to have penetrated into Greece in its great days, the armies of Alexander came across it in the East and his generals, when they set up their kingdoms, adopted it: the Ptolemies of Alexandria were not only "Benefactors" and "Saviours," but were freely spoken of as "gods." Nor did the conquering Roman generals in the provinces escape tHis kind of honour. Quinctius Flamininus was commemorated in an inscription at Calchis as early as 196 B.C. in which he was associated with Zeus, Apollo, Herakles, and the personified Roma. Games were celebrated in Asia in honour of Q. Mucius Scaevola, proconsul in 121 B.C., and at Cyzicus in honour of L. Lucullus, the opponent of Mithridates, and the Marcella at Syracuse were well-known in Cicero's day: a cult of Sulla is also attested at Athens. Meanwhile even at Rome it had been proposed to place a statue of Scipio Africanus in the cella of the temple of Iuppiter on the Capitoline, and after Marius' victory over the Cimbri and Teutones many Romans had made offerings to him at their meals: Sallust notes too as a scandal that on the return of Q. Metellus Pius from his victories in Spain "supplication was made to him with incense as if to a god." These observances, scattered and far between and at present hardly penetrating to Rome, yet accustomed the Romans to the idea of the divine character of their great men. The conception was perhaps assisted in the last half-century of the Republic by a literary usage which had come in no doubt from Greek sources. It seems queerly enough to have its origin in the apotheosis of great philosophers: Cicero speaks of Plato as "a kind of god among the philosophers," and even Lucretius for all his antagonism to religion does not hesitate to call Epicurus "god." It is perhaps in extension of this usage that Cicero in two of his speeches refers to P. Lentulus Spinther, who as consul in 57 B.C. had promoted his return from exile as the "god of his fortunes." Here, as in the Augustan age, the literary writers go farther than either the State or popular usage in the attribution of the title deus to a man.

The way was thus prepared and Julius Caesar was ready to take advantage of it; there can be no doubt that he allowed divine honours to be paid to him in his lifetime. Even before he returned from his victories in the East the pedestal of his statue had been engraved with the title of "demi-god," and in 45 B.C. he was described on the base of another statue as "god invincible." The senate voted the erection of a temple to him, games were instituted, a new company of celebrants, the Luperci Iulii, were added at the Lupercalia, and perhaps most significant of all he was given his own flamen. The day after his death the Senate decreed that he should be treated as a god, in 44 B.C. a law was passed assigning him the title of divus, and in 29 B.C. the new temple of Divus Iulius in the Forum was dedicated by Augustus.

Augustus in this as in all things was more cautious than his adopted father. He could not altogether prevent the worship of his person in the provinces, but insisted that it should not be allowed except in conjunction with that of the Dea Roma. In Rome, in full accord with his general policy and his attitude toward the revival of religion, he was at pains to link up the new cult with the old Republican traditions. In his new house on the Palatine the cult of his Genius was of course a natural form of domestic worship: he permitted this to be extended in the city and to be combined with that of the Lares Praestites: "the city," Ovid exclaims, "has a thousand Lares and the Genius of the chief, who gave them to us; the streets worship the triple deities." Careful, too, to avoid the assumption of the divine title, he preferred to assume that of Augustus, "the hallowed one," a word consecrated by long cult-associations, but falling short of an implication of divinity. But if he was cautious himself, the court-poets, following perhaps the literary tradi­tion of the Republic, had no such scruples. Already in the Eclogues, Virgil, reproducing Lucretius' words of Epicurus, had proclaimed Octavian as "god," and Horace could picture him reclining among the Olympians and quaffing his nectar, or proclaim 'boldly that after the conquest of Britain he will be regarded as "god with us" (praesens divus). And after his death the worship of Divus Augustus was immediately established and became the most popular of all cults throughout the Roman world.

It is not necessary here to follow up the development of Caesar-worship in the Empire; it is rather the conception of the deified man which concerns us now. It was, as has been seen, a foreign notion to the Romans and there were always limitations about it. Officially the title divus was preserved for dead emperors: in their life-time they were Augustus. And it was divus not deus outside the poets, as though it were felt that their godhead was not quite that of the old di indigetes or even of the novensiles; their prototype in legend was always Hercules, the hero with a divine father and a mortal mother, who had through his labours to mankind to work his way to his place in heaven. Yet with all these limitations it was a tremendous revolution. Anthropomorphism had reft mystery from the "spirits," now the conception of the "god" living and. moving on earth had once again degraded anthropomorphism, for the picture it gave was not of a figure of supreme moral or spiritual worth, but that of the wielder of supreme power in the State: it was a political not a personal apotheosis.

As we look back to the primitive conception of the numina through these two great changes, of the god conceived as man and man conceived as god, and try to balance gain and loss from the religious point of view, it seems that the process is far more largely deterioration. It might perhaps be held that the anthropomorphic polytheism had given a certain definiteness to the vague animism of the old religion. A Roman knew more clearly now to whom he was praying and could focus his religious emotion more directly; a god whose temple he could enter and whose features he could contemplate in a majestic marble statue might well be more real to him than an unseen "spirit," whose presence he detected by his own indistinctly felt sense of awe. But definiteness in conception does not always make for religious depth or sincerity. Just as a photograph sometimes tends to blur the more vivid visualization of a friend's face, so the image narrows the thought of a divine being within human limits. And on the other hand the old animism had in it the germs of a more truly religious, because more spiritual, conception of godhead, which was lost in the sharply defined anthropomorphism and had to be brought back to Rome again by Greek philosophy.

This narrowing of religious ideas was emphasized by the growth of the worship of the Roman State. The Roman was at all times only too prone to think of the world as synonymous with the Roman Empire and to regard other peoples only in their relation to Rome. To this "insularity" the State-cult gave a religious sanction, and Stoicism first and Christianity later had a hard fight to win recognition for the conception of a universal God of all nations and languages. Lastly the crystallization of the worship of Rome and her destiny in the persons of the Imperial household was almost an abandonment of true religion, not so much because the individual emperors were unworthy of respect and veneration they were in fact personally known to a comparatively small number of their subjects but because in so narrow and official a conception all wider and more spiritual thoughts of religion as a right relation to unseen powers were inevitably lost. Had there not been other forces at work, the Rome of the Empire might well have lost all hold on religion as anything else than the exaltation of the Roman State.

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