Talk:Religion in ancient Rome

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Dispute[edit]

Isn't Roman religion properly refered to as Pax Romana? Dustin Asby 05:26, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)

No, that means the "Roman Peace," i.e., the time when there were no wars in the area of the Empire, because the Empire ruled/controlled all. Compare to Pax Americana, which was used in the 90's to refer to the general trend of worldwide peace, under care of the USA. Sadly, I haven't heard P.A. used lately... Krupo 05:34, Sep 3, 2004 (UTC)
What you're thinking of is the Pax Deorum, which is a completely different concept. It stems from a contract that the early kings of Rome had with the principal gods... And the religious responsibilities of those in a particular domus to their ancestral spirits to assure the prosperity of Rome. Basically, people perform the regular orthopraxic rituals to both god and spirits alike, and they would in turn show their appreciation. It goes much deeper than that, not taking faith into account, but that's the basic theological principle of it. --Kaelus 11:47, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Perhaps the ancient Roman Religion should be refered to as "Cultus Deorum Romanorum". I believe that this would be the proper form.Catoni52 00:47, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
I've consulted with a few people about this, Catoni... and I'm not sure. The Romans never thought of religion as something that was seperate from everyday life. They made a distinction of public religion versus private, but usually just referred to their religion as "being Roman", or their "ancestral tradition". Polytheistic religion in Indo-European societies, especially in the Mediterranean, was MUCH more complex than modern textbooks and current monotheistic religions would have us believe; Romans thought of religions divided between the religion of the "state", and countless "cults" (in the original sense of the word), some of which enjoyed public sanction, and other which did not. In fact, I suspect this is why the article hasn't been edited much... it's difficult to clarify the complexity of Roman religion without included a mountain of information accompanied with detailed explanations. I know this is why I haven't even taken a stab at it... it would take an ungodly amount of time to include detailed introductory information, followed by even more detailed information broken down into sub-articles. But I do believe you're right... if we were to call it anything in Latin, that would be an excellent choice. As for the proper form, well... My knowledge of Latin is pretty elementary. Hopefully there's a latininist watching who can correct our work. Kaelus 11:29, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Proposed move[edit]

  • A better title would be Religion in Ancient Rome. What do those who have this topic on their Watchlists think? I'd like to add Paul Veyne's material from A History of Private Life vol. I. --Wetman 17:54, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

This article is serious need of a rework, which I'll do at some point. This is about the most pathetic account of the religio romana I've seen to date. I'll try to reference as much as I can, from Beard to any Oxford sources. But I would do this primarily from my own knowledge of the subject. --Kaelus 11:41, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Rework? You should delete it and start from scratchEric 0227 (talk) 17:34, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

There is also a bit about Roman Religion in Roman Mythology that should be in this article. FWIW, Encyclopedia Britannica has this article under the heading of "Roman Religion". We are not bound to EB, but it is one precedent. Stbalbach 23:42, 5 May 2005 (UTC)

One useful approach in recasting this article would be to discuss the differences between the Roman pantheon and their Greek "equivalents", so patly expressed in the current version. --Wetman 07:31, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

Kaelus is quite correct: with no offence to the original writer, the views in this article are nearly a century out of date. They derive chiefly from the influential book by William Ward Fowler, The Religious Experience of the Roman People (1911). The paragraph on di novensides and indigetes derives from the thesis of Georg Wissowa, author of an important German handbook on the subject of ancient Roman religion and cult (1904 and 1912); he himself later abandoned this thesis. Interested readers should therefore not use this article in its present state. I too, when time permits, will attempt a new article.--llcohee 23:18, 11 Jan 2006 (UTC)

I agree that the present article is terrible. I have restructured the article, and rewritten the section on the imperial cult. I'll probably do the same with the section on the spread of christianity, and maybe some little things on foreign cults. I don't know much of Republican religion, so maybe others could do that part of the rewriting...--Hippalus 22:09, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

If nobody vehemently disagrees before, say, the first of March, I'll move the article to Religion in Ancient Rome as Wetman suggested earlier.--Hippalus 16:45, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

I agree this article should be moved. There's also "Persecution of" article that should be merged into here by someone more knowledgeable on the topic. I'm trying to trim down the "Persecution by/of" articles. Grandmasterka 02:45, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

I guess we should move it to a new section of the section 'Imperial religion', probably 'the end of paganism' (I moved the template there), and give it a somewhat wider outlook than it has now. What do you think?
As you see, I completed the move. I already solved the double redirects, will start solving the single redirects soon. I chose for 'Religion in ancient Rome' without capital A (as in Military history of ancient Rome). Kudos on the Roman religion infobox by the way, beautiful!--Hippalus 16:20, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
Thanks! Great work indeed. This is also a good move because "X in Y" is usually preferable to resorting to an adjective form like "Yan X"; some places have rather strange adjective forms, but nothing in English has an unusual "in" form. Good show. -Silence 03:55, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Request for information[edit]

Can people with more knowledge on the subject of classical religion than myself include a few lines on priestesses etc on Women as theological figures. There does not seem to be much on priestesses under that heading either.


Jackiespeel 22:01, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

Improvement[edit]

Needed; the article is not good. If someone is looking for something to do, for example, not a blessed word is said about private vs. public religion; and the actual forms of worship, I only just now sketched in very briefly, but are otherwise not mentioned. Bill 22:55, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Big text''Italic text'Italic text'==Human sacrifice== Someone added this section to the article Ancient Rome; I just moved it. I don't think it's very good, but while in addition it's not germane under the former article, it's germane here. Someone will improve it, no doubt. Bill 10:19, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

On more careful reading, I removed a paragraph which stated that bad omens led "the College of Priests" — no such animal — to consult the Sibylline Books, etc. The Books were consulted rather rarely: far, far more rarely than the many bad omens than appeared and were recorded. The idea was to see not what might have displeased the Manes specifically, but the gods in general, and to identify which god(s). Few Vestals were accused of betraying her vows. There is no indication that Postumia was put on trial because she dressed well etc.: this is an unwarranted assumption made based on Jim Grout's summary pagelet on the Vestals, in which he quotes Livy (iv.44): who, in turn, reports that (a) Postumia was on trial for unchastity; (b) she was found too fashionably dressed, a sort of a warning to her to watch out not to do anything that might incite people to bring such suits. This looks rather like of face-saving measure by the pontiffs so they themselves wouldn't look too silly.... The "but if ... it's clear ..." is sheer speculation. Slogging thru this human sacrifice stuff is tedious, but I'll probably wind up undoing some more of it; it's amateurish and tendentious, scraping around for evidence to distort in order to give far more prominence to such elements of human sacrifice as there undoubtedly were in ancient Rome than they deserve. No defense of the Romans by the way in my attitude — loathsome cruel people — but let's just stick to bare facts. Bill 22:24, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
A bit more careful reading, and (a) I found it claimed that two Vestals were sacrificed along with the (undoubted) two Gauls and two Greeks — not true; and (b) I realized why much of this addition got my goat: the putting to death of Vestals, regardless of what one may think of it today, was not in any way viewed by the Romans as a sacrifice: rather, as a judicial punishment for a religious crime. That this is so, even if it were not repeatedly stated to be so by the ancients themselves (and conversely, the point of view that it would have been a sacrifice is never stated by a pagan author), is made clear by the nature of sacrificial victims: by definition, great lengths were taken to offer to the gods no defective victim; a faithless Vestal would hardly be a good victim with which to honor a god. Also, the Vestals were not killed by a priest — sacrifices were performed by priests — but, quite on the contrary, were handed over to the common executioner. Bill 22:41, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

"Human sacrifice" cleanup, continued[edit]

Since there are people watching with bees in their bonnets, believing me to have some arcane agenda, here is the justification for my edit just now:

  • added Plutarch ref (conveniently, it happens to be on my own site)
  • deleted bit of nonsense about child sacrifice, which was also hanging in mid-air in its sentence.
  • fixed bit about Cicero, since as it read, it wasn't true: see pro Roscio Amerino, xxxv.100, which merely says, as a tossed-off joke, that gosh, this guy went against the old proverb about "throwing 60-year-olds off the bridge." The origin of the proverb is unknown; at any rate, Cicero says nothing whatsoever about human sacrifice here, and is not talking about the feast of the Argei on the Ides of May. And although this section on "Human sacrifice" seems to have got some of its misinformation about Cicero and Ovid by paraphrasing from this page, and therefore it looked like Ovid might have said this, I went and checked, and Ovid says nothing of the sort either, although at least he is talking about the Argei. Ovid says that it would be a crime to accuse early Romans of sacrificing old men; granted, mind you, that this is an indication that some people did in fact say that in Ovid's time: but Ovid himself says no such thing, quite the contrary. Bill 18:36, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Proto-Indo-European religion[edit]

This article should probably incude some information from there. Zocky | picture popups 15:41, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

Modern Reconstruction of Roman Religion[edit]

Would it be appropriate for this article to also mention that thousands of people across the world are actively reconstructiing the Religio Romana, through orgnanizations such as Nova Roma [1] and others? Wombattery 16:08, 6 December 2006 (UTC)


Yes, it absolutely would be; that, however, would also require the name of the article to be changed. I've felt for some time that the name lends itself to some bias (though unintentional) that traditional Roman religion ended with widespread Christianization and the Theodesian decrees. This is untrue; the official public religion ceased during this period, but private devotions, household/familial traditions, and definately community ritual survived up until modern times, to some extent or another. I'm acquainted with one individual whose [extended] family carried on polytheistic religion for centuries, though it was Italic and not necessarily "Roman", and as such is documented to an extent from the 15th century onward. It probably was a continuing family tradition from antiquity, but official documentation only begins there, as public records were scarce up until this period, and such revelations are only documented in the limited sense that identifiable ancestors were executed when discovered, and public record made note of the charges. Some communities have continued rituals that have been credibly identified by scholars as polytheistic and ancient in origin, though Christianized later so the community could retain the traditions without reprocussion. And some Italians have quite obviously continued ancestor veneration in the domicile, though few kept the figures represented in the ancient lararium such as the geniuses and penates. These examples do not even include continuing traditions that survived outside of the Italian peninsula. But I digress... I've gone off on a tangent:

This is something that has needed to be addressed for some time in this article, among other shortcomings. I'm particularly suited to do this edit (without blowing my own horn, mind you), since I've been either directly or indirectly involved in reconstruction efforts for a few years, and have gotten to see the community from the inside out. You're right to say that there are literally thousands who practice Roman religion, and this absolutely needs to be incorporated. Unfortunately, I've been unbelievably preoccupied for some time, and usually undertake only minor edits, and even then I'm not usually signed in. I was hoping someone else would step up to the plate, hopefully someone much more qualified than I, but the edits to this and similar articles have been negligible at best. If you feel you can add something, please do. I'll try to incorporate what I can when I'm able, but it will likely only be a bit at a time until summer. And even then, I'm more concerned with the distinction and elaboration of familial religion versus public religion (Sacra Publica). I'll try to make a substantial edit in the coming week to this effect. But please, to those who have this article on their watchlist: try to incorporate what you know. If you're unsure about something, ask on the talk page. If I can answer it, I will, though I'm by no means an expert.

Also... any suggestions for a new name for the article? The current name isn't adequate, and it seemed like a rushed and misinformed choice, personally. I'd suggest "Roman Polytheism", but what's the concensus? Kaelus 10:29, 7 December 2006 (UTC)


Outline of Restructured Article[edit]

This is partially for my own benefit before I start editing later, but I'd welcome any input and corrections. Feel free to edit within the outline:

  • Introduction
    • Overview of General Roman Religion
    • Definition
    • Basic Division of Religion
    • Introduction to Historical Development
  • Distinction between ancient Roman religion and Reconstructionism
    • Historical Religion and loss of extant information
    • Literary and Archaeological influence on Reconstructionism
    • More to be elaborated on in Reconstruction-specific section.
  • Treatment of the complexity and worldview of Roman Religion
    • Conception of deities and spirits prior to Greek influence (numina)
    • Legendary founding of State Religious institutions
    • Integration into Roman lifestyle
    • Blood versus Bloodless Sacrifice
    • Evidence of Human Sacrifice
    • Religious Syncretism; common ties to other IE religions with emphasis on common PIE deities and practices, leading into following section.


  • Cultural Influences on Roman Religion
    • Greek Influences
      • Influenced based in the Trojan War
      • Influence of conception of deities and ritual practices, votive objects, etc.
      • Influence of Greek Mythology on Roman mythology
      • Hellenism
    • Latin Influences
      • Sabines
      • Social Wars
    • Etruscan Influences
      • Royal Influence
      • Etruscan rule
      • Sacred Games and Combat [Gladiators]
      • Romanized Etruscan deities


    • Egyptian Influences
      • Cult of Isis, via Greece
      • Brief outline of Serapis and the Egyption 'Trinity' (Serapis, Isis, Horus/Hermes; to be further discussed under Imperial Religion)
    • Germanic & Celtic Influences
      • Adoption and Syncretism of Germanic Deities
      • Spread of Roman deities and religious practices
      • Cultural assimilation of Germanic peoples
  • Variation depending on time period
    • Roman Kingdom
      • Early Triad, later Capitoline Triad
      • Legendary foundation of Rome, and establishment of priesthoods
    • Republican Rome
      • Normalization and influence of Priestly Colleges
    • Imperial Rome
      • Imperial Cult
      • Extended general ov erv iew of assimilation and syncretism of the deities of conquered nations
      • Spread and popularity of new cults


  • Variation between geographic localities
    • Urban Rome
    • Italy Proper
    • Roman Provinces
    • Ancient Local Traditions
  • State Religion
    • Major Priestly Colleges
      • Collegium Pontificum
        • Pontifex Maximus
      • Rex
      • Vestal Virgins
      • Flamines
      • Fratres Arvales
      • Sacerdotes
      • Other Minor Colleges
      • Etcetera
    • Auspicies
      • College of Augurs
      • Haruspicy
      • Oracles
      • Sybilline Books
    • Official Cults
    • Unofficial Cults
      • Suppression of some cultii
  • Constantine, Christianization, and downfall of Roman religion
    • Reaction of polytheists to Christianity
      • Vandalism and public disorder by Christians
        • Vandalism of temples, sacred sites, mention by contemporary Christian writers, aspect of "initiation" after baptism
        • Interruption of public rituals
        • Refusal to pay taxes, compare to "Give unto Caesar...", justification as 'citizens of Heaven'.
      • Senate reaction to spread of Christianity, official ban of Christianity as "cultus dangerous to public morality and mos maiorum", persecutions of Christians under two respective emperors
    • Conversion of Constantine
      • Early personal syncretism of polytheism and Christianity, theological division within Empire (and resulting Council of Nicea), and cited treatment of reluctance to be baptised until death
      • Removal of "Religious Tolerance" as official policy
      • Suppression of public polytheistic religion (and Judaism)
      • Declaration of Christianity as the new official "Religio Romana"
    • Outlawed Practices
    • Destruction of Temples, Artifacts, and Libraries (under Theodosius, etc)
      • Possible destruction of Library of Alexandria by Christians, effect on Museum
      • Closing of priestly colleges
      • Destruction of literature, effect of Reconstruction
    • Closing of Oracles and Philosophical Schools
      • Closing of the Delphic Oracle
      • Closing of the Academy at Athens
    • Beginning of "Dark Ages"
  • Survival of Roman Polytheism
    • Emperor Julian
      • Repudidation of Christianity
      • Re-institution of "Religious Tolerance" statute
      • Removal of Christians from public positions and teaching positions

*** Restoration of traditional teaching methods and non-biblical curriculum, revival of rhetoric and drama.

      • Preferential treatment of Jews, offer to re-build Jewish Temple
      • Attempts to re-establish cults
        • Difficulty in re-establishing some cults due to loss of records
      • Attempts to centralize Roman religion; Neo-Platonism
      • Unexpected death; failure to re-establish polytheism
    • Retaliation for reforms of Julian
      • Mass executions ("First Holocaust"- scholarly reference) and forced conversions of remaining polytheists
        • Origin of the word "pagan" from "paganus" as synonym for remaining rural polytheists
    • Identification of deities with Saints, Christianization of polytheistic religious practices and holy days/festivals
        • Valentine's Day
        • Christmas/Saturnalia -- December 25th and significance to Mithras (especially adoration of shepherds, nativity, and Mithraic and Christian "eucharist" / transubstantiation)
        • Adoption of imagery from Mithras and Apollo for depictions of Christ
    • Remote survival of private worship
    • Survival of polytheistic community rituals until modern times (mention especially 'Italic pillar ceremony', provide citations)
    • Conversion of lararium to "home shrine" / connection between 'icons' and 'idols', candle lighting for the departed
    • Adoption of Greek and Roman names, positions: title of "Father" for priests, Pope/Pontifex Maximus, College of Cardinals as survival of Collegium Pontificum, Catholic and Orthodox symbols and vestments as modified survivals (mention Cadeuceus); provide citations
      • Survival of Neo-Platonism (especially through Augustine), continution of classical Greek philosophy
      • Lead into section on modern Reconstructionism; possible survival through "Stregheria", possible influence of Roman and Greek polytheism on Christian gnosticism

-- This is it for Ancient Roman Religion, mainly because I'm turning in for the night. Please, share your thoughts. Hopefully this comes out formatted correctly. Look forward to reading some comments and suggestions on this. Kaelus 11:29, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Article doesn't really explain the ancient roman religion at all[edit]

It merely mentions it instead of explaining it. No explainations of the doctorines, beliefs, gods, etc. Malamockq 06:04, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

I have started a section on the Gods...--Kushan I.A.K.J 07:38, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

More God/Goddess info please![edit]

Could someone add more info to the "Gods and Godesses" section I started? --Kushan I.A.K.J (talk) 13:08, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for contributing, and this is certainly a topic that the article needs to say more about. However, it isn't accurate to say that most or all Roman gods were adopted from Greek religion and mythology. For example, Jupiter and Zeus are different developments from an Indo-European Dyeus, although much Jupiter's iconography and mythology may be largely derived from Greek models. We need a section on "archaic Roman religion" which sets out the important pre-Republican gods and scholarly views on their original character (at the moment this is only covered by the lead section's reference to animistic "numina", based on an interpretation of the word which most scholars would now reject). Later developments can then be treated in appropriate sections. For now, I've moved mentions of the gods from your section into "Religion during the Roman Republic". EALacey 10:07, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Roman polytheism[edit]

Encyclopedia Britannica Information[edit]

I added in some paragraphs on the pre-imperial religion of ancient Rome copied from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica article. I tried to add in lots of wikilinks, but it could do with some people to look it over, verify the information, disambiguate the links, check the information is readable, etc. Singinglemon (talk) 21:45, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

Sacrificium[edit]

I've some material on sacrifice, reasonably well cited. Its original, parent article, Imperial cult (ancient Rome) was overinflated by neccessary background information. Quite a lot of it belongs here. The sacrifice material is a start. I've added a subheading for it. Haploidavey (talk) 20:21, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Almost everything under the "ritual" subheading pertained to sacrifice as the central event (as it would) so have changed header to "sacrifice". Any non-sacrificial religious ritual (and there's precious little of it, eh?) could go under a restored "ritual" header. This article's in for the long haul and a lot of work's needed on some sections. Haploidavey (talk) 20:43, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Post-edit note: some of the section on sacrificium pertains to works identified in-line only by author - will complete sometime in near future. Will also pick at the article from time to time. I know Wetman is (or was) also vaguely interested in doing the same... Haploidavey (talk) 21:45, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

If you look for material on ritual you shall find much in Ovid's Fasti, Varron's De re rustica, Livy. On a personal note I would say that the symbolic value of the pons Sublicium as well as the name of the clerics called 'pontifices' is clearly connected to the archetyp of the bridge connecting our world and the other world. See Eliade, but the image is so widespread and obvious. That the pons sublicium was connected with human sacrifice is reminded but the annual ritual of throwing straw puppets from it. Also the common expression 'octuagenari de ponte' and the fact that 'sublicium' came to mean capital punishment by methonymia since antiquity.Zanzan1 (talk) 10:03, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Fetishism and animism (and other sections on "primitive" Roman religion)[edit]

Modern scholarship on early Roman religion has severely dented many of the good-faith assumptions made by the source authors for these sections. I'll be re-writing where neccessary, using Beard et al (see article refs list) for the most part. Haploidavey (talk) 00:56, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

This article is outdated and flawed[edit]

Zanzan1 (talk) 12:43, 15 August 2009 (UTC) This article on Roman religion is based on outdated sources and reflects the understanding of the subject of the anglosaxon academic world. It is flawed as it continues the tradition of studying the subject as something historically and culturally out of context and for inappropriately using anthropological primitivist views, two streaks both charachteristic of the anglosaxon approach in the study of the classical world and of Rome in particular. Already back in the seventies G. Dumezil criticized this kind of approach and tried to put the study of Roman religion in the perspective of our knowledge of the religions of the other indo-european peoples (The religion of archaic Latium).

The most interesting issues he focused on are the triadic nature of the Roman pantheon, a typical indo-european feature; the rituals (like Asvameda-Equus October) and the religious figures who were actors and deposataries of religious authority and lore (rex, collegia, pontifices, flamines etc.) and their parallel in ancient Vedic religion and the religion of other indo-european peoples, particularly Persians, Scythians etc.

Personally I support the view that only the historical comparative perspective can lead us to a better understanding of the subject, and by the way is indeed the only correct perspective to study religions. However I see here some authors til very recently go on along the old 'bad' ways.

If you have issues with the article as it stands, it would be helpful to present sources here that could be used to expand the article and make it more balanced. Nev1 (talk) 14:06, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

It is an impossible task, in my view the only way is rewriting the article from scratch (btw this view has been already expressed by posters above). As I said it is impossible to talk about Roman religion as something standing by itself and born out of nothing. Above a poster intelligently gave a link to early indoeuropean religion. However reading Ovid's Fasti, Vergil's Aeneid, Lucanus's Pharsalia, Livy, Cicero's 'De nat. deor.', 'De divinatione', Cornelius Nepos you can get a lot of info. A German scholar collected the sources bearing relevant info to the Roman religion in the 19th century, I am not sure whether it is Roscher(s), I shall check. I also consider it noteworthy that Roman religion was indeed the religion of the Latin peoples (and of the other Italics) as Rome was founded by a Latin from Alba, btw the son of a vestal, and the second king Numa, who according to traditon was a pious priest-king and legislator, was a Sabin. Noteworthy too that the Romans used to bring the sacrificial animals for the beginning of the new year from Falerii, and the Falerians considered themselves the true depositaries of religious orthodoxy and were highly critical towards the Romans on the subject, as well as being their political enemies for many centuries.

Among the more interesting contemporary authors known to me I would list G. Dumezil (The Roman archaic religion, Flamen-bhramin and many other works on the religion of Indoeuopean people), R. Bloch (Prodiges et mysters dans l'antiquite', La religions des Celtes, Germans, Balts et Slaves), M. Eliade (Treatise of history of religions, History of religions, Techniques of yoga (on Asvameda), Schamanism and techniques of extasy (on Vedic religion and Asvameda, nature of the Gods in the pantheon of the Altaics and Ugrofinns etc. ).Zanzan1 (talk) 11:24, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

That said, Momigliano's critique of Dumezil's tri-functional schema is worth reading. Preview here (incomplete but maybe enough for the gist): [2]. Cf observations in Beard et al (see refs in article) Haploidavey (talk) 12:25, 17 August 2009 (UTC)
Further evaluation of the Indo-European perspective (Grandazzi) on Roman history - [3] and particularly here [4] Haploidavey (talk) 13:45, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Thank you, very interesting scholarly dispute. I appreciate that Dumezil gave us some good insights into Roman religion by linking it to that of other IE peoples, however I do not sign up to his views on the division of Roman society into three castes. It is easy to show that the three tribes, Ramnenses, Titienses and Luceres, reflected an ethnic division, being respectively the descendents of Latins, Sabins and Etruscans. The 7 kings were in turn a Latin and a Sabin, with at least two being Etruscans among the last 3. Nothing to do with castes as in India (or maybe the Indian castes were originally something different, perhaps ethnically determined? And btw there are 4 of them including the sudras, peasants). It has also been argued that Indoeuropean nations or group of nations were specializing in one of the 3 functions (eg Celts/Greek/Italics priests, Germans warriors and Slavonics peasants). It is a fact however that Roman 'sacerdotes' (at least flamines and pontifices) were for a long time chosen within the aristocracy (patricians). Moreover on the other hand the tripartition is to be find outside the indoeuropean world too, eg among the Jews (tribe of Levi-priests,David-warriors,Jude-peasants), Egyptians, and even in black Africa, Middle and far East etc. As a rule the king is endowed with the highest religious prerogatives and power everywhere in the world. He is a warrior and a military leader too (see G. Roheim Animism, magic and the Godking).

That tripartition may be an apriori of the human mind is btw supported by Plato's triparted vision of society (Rep.) The Manchus divide their society in banners: the yellow for the emperor and his relations, the white for the aristocracy, the red for the military and the green for the common people (shepherds, peasants, merchants). I would like to stress that religion, religious ideas, 'myths' etc. are all a product of the human mind in a peculiar attitude-state and as such broadly common to mankind. Though there might be shifts in the personality and meaning of a particular Godname and /or divine charachter the underlying functional ideas are persistent well over and above historical facts. This is well exemplified in the Greek theogony: Ouranos was supersided by Kronos and Kronos by Zeus. Ouranos is of course the first highest concept for the Heaven-Sky as a generator, absolutely void and obscure. Being a too abstruse concept he became too removed from man (a deus otiosus)and was replaced by Kronos, which implied the generative power of the bull symbolyzed by its horn, connected to the strength of both Heaven and Earth. This is confirmed by its connection to farming and fertility (see also its Roman identification with Saturnus who taught men farming). Having lost in the process his original heavenly power Kronos was replaced by Zeus who brought again heavenly (if only atmospheric) features (thunder and lightning) and as such was a fair compromise in the collective imagination between an abstruse, unreachable and indifferent entity and a diminished and weakened God. Most interestingly, regarless of the concrete features of Zeus, his name is a revealing reflection of one of the main charachters of Heavenly Gods meaning shining, luminous, glaring, daylight... Such a process can be observed almost everywhere in the world over again (see Eliade's works). As we concern ourselves here with Romans and IEs, Varuna is of course the lexical equivalent of Ouranos and shares many of his features too (nightly sky). Dyaus is the lexical equivalent of Zeus and Jupiter and He has a similar imaginative content too in early Vedic religion. Perhaps the most interesting and intellectually revealing Roman God is however Janus. We are lucky in that Ovid gave us a rather thourough descritpion Janus at the beginning of Fasti. Janus is an ancient Italic God, his most notorious feature being that He has 3 heads: one looking Eastward, one Westward and one being hidden (his true head). He says this feature of his is a remainder of the fact that he is the state of original Chaos, before any distinction has taken place. Hence he is the God of the door, of the beginning (and the end), and he says he can see what is outside and inside any door. So his temple keeps its doors closed in time of peace and open in time of war. Hence He is called Clusius and Patulcius. It is easy to see that this complex hints to the transformation and permanence-impermanence of the human world, life and our universe. The door is also of course that between our world and other worlds. Comparisons with India and China come to mind.

Mars was the father of the Roman nation and as such He was particularrly revered in Rome. To my knowledge one of the most thorough analyses of this religious figure is Geza Roheim's chapter on 'Mars and the Salii' published in the postomous book 'Animism,magic and the divine king' (London, Routledge, 1972). Zanzan1 (talk) 15:48, 17 August 2009 (UTC)Zanzan1 (talk) 04:17, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

On Roman Gods[edit]

Answering a poster here above. The charachtersitic original features of the Gods are traceable in the description of the rituals, duties, taboos, customs and dress of their flamines. This has been preserved to us thanks to the antiquary interests of Aulus Gellius (Dumezil). See his detailed description about the 'flamen dialis', for information about Jupiter. The archaic triad Jupiter, Mars, Quirinus is in itself identified through the 3 'flamines maiores', dialis, martialis, quirinalis. The nature of each God is obviously reflected in the religious acts performed by its respective flamen. Unfortunately info about the two other flamines is rather fragmentary, however it supports the traditional interpretation of Mars as the God of arms/war and of Quirinus as the the God of the free Roman people and their ancestry. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Zanzan1 (talkcontribs) 14:40, 16 August 2009 (UTC) Zanzan1 (talk) 10:55, 17 August 2009 (UTC)Zanzan1 (talk) 11:55, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Myth vs. Religion[edit]

The early part of this article suffers from lack of clarity in distinguishing between 'myth' and 'religion.' It uses the word 'mythology' as if it means something other than 'the study of myths.' The 'study of myths' is what we do; 'Roman mythology' is the study of Roman myths. The Romans didn't do 'mythology,' they did 'mythography.'

I also wonder whether it's even valid to say that Roman religion, or ritual, is myth put into practice; it's my understanding that this may be a useful way to look at Greek religion, but not necessarily Roman, where we have a greater disjunction between the elaboration of myths in elite Hellenized literature and the actual religious practice of the people, elite or not (as the article says much later). Compare, for instance, Ovid's Metamorphoses and his Fasti; the former explores myth as narrative, and the latter, while using stories (i.e., 'myths'), is concerned with religion.

Roman religion is about rituals, festivals, cult worship, templa, sacred time and space (which is the point of Ovid's Fasti); one indicator of organizational problems in the article is that the statement "Exactness was key to successful ritual" begins the section "Ritual," but the term "orthopraxy" is introduced almost near the end, under "Religious practice." This is probably evidence of the difficulties of working with preexisting material. The early sections (as noted by others commenting here) still feel intellectually dated, obsessed with anthropological primitivism, plunging the reader into obscure 'origins' and animism and the like. Many sources cited are from the 19th and early-20th century. The section "Fetishism and Animism" in particular gets the article off on the wrong foot. Surely not what the average reader looking to learn about the religious world of Cicero or Marcus Aurelius would want. Could it be moved to a "history of scholarship" section at the end that deals with organized approaches to the study of Roman religion and myth? The influence of Frazer, Dumézil, et al., who studied Roman religion to further their grand schemes. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:39, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

Studies on the subject[edit]

History of modern scientific syudies on Roman religion is perhaps the best way to start this article. I found a long list: it starts with German XIX century scholars (Klause, Hartung, Ambrosh, Preller, Mommsen, Wissowa) who were keen to differentiate Roman religion from Greek religion.

Franz Altheim started to study it in the context of the mediterranean world, assuming that it was an area of close contacts well before Rome was founded. Max Muller corrected excessive and naive methodological criticism starting Indoeuropean comparison, afterwards followed by Dumezil who points to a common IE origin of Roman and Greek religion.

In another area of studies arouse the anthropological comparison of Wilhelm Mannhardt and James G. Frazer that suggested an even broader field of comparative analysis.

This said I think the article should point out both the common heritage (be it IE or Mediterranean or even archetypal) and the peculiarities. The peculiarities in my opinion are to be traced primarily in ritualism: calendar, festivals, rituals, priesthood. In theology: Latin gods like Janus, Diana, Juppiter, Mars, Matuta throgh their rituals etc. Change, ability to adapt and permanence even in forgetting: many of the gods who had a flamen were already unknown to classic time Romans, Ovid remembers quite a few gods who had still a temple and received worship but whose meaning was obscure to him. Aldrasto (talk) 05:51, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

Yes, but the article should be about "Religion in ancient Rome", not Indo-European theories. The reader coming to look for information about (as I say above) the religious environment of Cicero or Marcus Aurelius should not have to first wade through theories of origins, which merit articles on their own. These theoretical approaches should be summarized succinctly, and interested readers directed to articles that explore these topics, after describing Roman religion as its own subject matter. Be sure to read Imperial cult (ancient Rome), which is currently the best place to learn about Roman religion on Wikipedia, because it deals with Roman religion as Roman religion. Cynwolfe (talk) 18:03, 2 January 2010 (UTC)
Just a comment on Aldrasto's statement "Ovid remembers quite a few gods who had still a temple and received worship but whose meaning was obscure to him." I assume this refers to Ovid's Fasti. This is true (obscure to him and everybody), but this poem has to be used with a great deal of caution as a source. Keep in mind that Ovid was exiled by Augustus for defying the Augustan programme through his poetry; it has also been observed that the Fasti contains astronomical notices that are completely wrong in terms of the calendar; it's possible to interpret this as Ovid saying "The divine Julius made his calendar, now I'm making mine." For instance, on the Ides of March, Ovid goes on at great length about Anna Perenna, a goddess whose festival was beloved of the plebs and was anything but decorous; then he kinda mentions, in brief but overblown language, that oh yeah, Julius Caesar got offed that day. A second point is that yes, there is an often lot about Roman religion that seems to have been obscure even to our educated men of the Late Republic — but they kept it all going anyway. They didn't just say, well, this is silly and meaningless, let's just drop it. The commitment to traditional forms of piety is characteristic of Roman religion, perhaps the characteristic. We throw those straw dogs in the river even if we don't know why. Roman religion is first and foremost about ritual, which Christians frequently contrast to "spirituality." If you regard their primary form of piety as empty, you can't possibly get a handle on the belief systems. It's a whole different way of thinking, but one which had meaning and value within that particular culture. Ritual was a form of continual realignment with the cosmos. And of course the Romans loved order, as demonstrated by their legal system and success as imperialists. Cynwolfe (talk) 23:33, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for your comment Cynewolfe. I agree with everything you write here. I enjoy very much reading Ovid's Fasti and I see that many scholars did not read them. And yes Ovid makes many mistakes when he writes about calendar and astronomy or even etimology. But what if we did not have his work? Roman religion is a complex phenomenon spanning over 1200 years. However it did have his peculiar features, as you very appropriately underline a strong attachment to rites. Rites were indeed undistinguishible from law, and law was/is the primary heritage of Rome. This stems from the fact that the right ritual was the basis of correct/successful action and ritualism was based in turn on tradition. Augural law, auspices, sacrifice all was geared to get the correct course of action or to avert disaster. Hard times had to be dealt with by reading the cause of the supposed wrath of gods. I think Dumezil has given a thorough analysis of this by expounding the decisions taken by religious authorities during the second Punic war. And I feel that probably this war marked the history of Roman religion too. It might be seen as the end, the last act of the original, authentic Roman religionwith its deep rooting in ancient Italic and Latin traditons and beliefs. As far as Dumezil is coincerned I think he has been a bit too strict and philologist in his use of the comparative method of analysis. Much of the material he uses or presents would allow deeper insights. Though the panorama had perhaps become too spoiled by anthropologists and folklorists. He wanted to distinguish himself. Frazer undoubtedly got many things wrong but also in some case he went deeper, much deeper. Eg the relatioship between a god and his female counterpart (Mars, Nerio, Anna Perenna): this theme can only be interpreted correctly in the strictly religious, archetypal way.Aldrasto (talk) 13:23, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

I don't disagree with any of this apart from the very last sentence. Admittedly, Aldrasto provides an example rather than generalisation (always a healthy sign); but isn't a "strictly religious, archetypal" interpretation one of those straw men referred to in Cynwolfe's post? One very good reason for rewriting great chunks of this article is that the basic material (ritual) is ripe with modern (well, Victorian and Edwardian for the most part) concepts of socio-religious development; quasi magical rites - savage ancestors fearfully huddled around the night-time fire, offering logs to the flames in reverent (or superstitious - take your pick) awe lest the sun not rise. Or were they just were cooking their porrige? Or is this too just modern thinking? Of course, I'm stretching towards the absurd here - but my point is that being modern, we can think only as moderns, not as Romans.
As you say, Aldrasto, "the right ritual was the basis of correct/successful action and ritualism was based in turn on tradition. Augural law, auspices, sacrifice all was geared to get the correct course of action or to avert disaster. Hard times had to be dealt with by reading the cause of the supposed wrath of gods." Spot on - how could one disagree? This is at least based on what (some) Romans said about themselves and what (some) did. Why is a different ball-game. Modern religious, psychological and anthropological interpretations are interesting and relevant to the history of the history but are not the subject itself. They need clear demarcation from substance, preferably (see discussion above) in a separate summary of modern scholarship (qv). Regards, Haploidavey (talk) 14:41, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
And not wanting to labour the point, but something I missed first time around; the same caution should apply to any claims of an "original, authentic" Roman religion; even that there was such a thing, let alone what it was. Yes, Ovid and Livy are indispensable - the only surviving sources for a great deal of this material - but this makes a critical reading even more imperative. Haploidavey (talk) 17:08, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Than you for your comments Haploidavey. They are correct and made me think a bit. Since this article is supposed to explain in a limited space what ancient Roman religion was it should of course underline its main distinctive feature(s). If we assume this is a (typical?) legalistic and pragmatic approach to events of public interest it should then focus on Roman law, which was primarily its content being religion strictly intertwined with law. Unfortunately the study of Roman law is a vast subject. It has its own specialists and normally religious historians do not concern themselves enough with it, perhaps apart some German scholars. Dumezil was in contact with historians of Roman law as he quotes some eg Pierangelo Catalano. The digest of Sextus Pomponius and the work of Gaius is the main source of what we have. In the Italian Wiki there is some material under lex regia,tabula dealbata, mos majorum. Unfortunately the author's Italian is impossible, he is not a native speaker. It is confirmed that it existed and that Romulus created the 30 curiae, the senate... However is it possible to say that religion, however grounded in rite, can be charachterised as law and customs? The concept of sacred bound everything and was the object of political infighting throughout Roman history as it bore upon social and political matters. In early times so, but later it cannot be believed. People were too skeptical since the end of Punic war 2. Plebeians had always suspected patricians of bending sacred law in their favour.Aldrasto (talk) 13:01, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

Nice point, Aldrasto, with that last sentence. I shall refrain from drawing contemporary parallels, but let me just note that I live in the U.S. Cynwolfe (talk) 01:41, 17 January 2010 (UTC)


I wonder whether what happened in Roman religion can be reduced to political or class struggle. Of course in Greece too it seems things were not so different. So how can Roman religion be charachterised as something peculiar? Social and political issues neither do bear on nor dent the essence of religion as the religious phenomenon, ie a cultural phenomenon.Aldrasto (talk) 05:07, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

I would just like to add an afterthought. From the pure, orthodox religious standpoint, Roman or other, religion becomes void, meaningless and ineffective as people start to bend it (its meaning , values, rules, laws) to make it fit their selfish aspirations, never mind patrician or plebeian. This is also the reason-cause why man can no longer communicate with heaven, god(s) in every religious tradition, often described as a kind of encroachment by man.Aldrasto (talk) 12:11, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

These are interesting wonderings. Indeed yes, history as class struggle is history to some - I'm thinking particularly of John Morris here (a British, Marxist historian, sadly deceased but he carved out a niche and quite a few acolytes over here - yes, I'm British, by the way, and I'm not one of those acolytes - and I don't know his reputation outside my own shores). His histories are quite peculiar - his interpretation of the Gracchi and their significance in an supposedly "inexorable" movement of Roman history through the various stages shown by Marxist gospel. I don't at all object - not being "right" makes him interesting in my book, stimulating rather than wrong but, I have to admit, rather dreary to read. And of course, class-struggles are historical. But over-preoccupation with supposed underlying principles (somehow self-evident in strong threads of personal enquiry - or rather, agendas) seems to start by removing all the seemingly weaker threads, mysteries, spleen, opinion and charming, obscuring fluff from the material. By the time that's done, all is rendered down to universal truth and deader than a doornail. Wiseman attempts a similar scholarly uncovering, but far more successfully, readably and provocatively - I'm thinking here of his work on Remus - because he treats the material as itself. Cherish the fluff! Haploidavey (talk) 15:51, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for your comments. I may agree or disagree with/on the political issues, however my point is: religion is a peculiar, specific phenomenon of human culture in that it tryes to deal with the unknown and with what man's life depends upon. Roman and IE religion have their own specific approach, that is very practical, being based in a hierarchy of functions and the related structures, developed through timeless experience. Dumezil's famous tripartition. This is their achievement: highest spheres do not concern man so directly but are boundlessly powerful, force comes next, it is important but cannot be overused, and the lowest sphere is the one closest to man's daily problems. This is very simple and ingenious. Nothing is revealed, it is only the wisdom that has come down through the millennia about dealing with these different spheres. This is the essence of the phenomenon and its specificity and thence its interest. As soon as man tries to alter the knowledge this heritage has to offer to justify his overbearing (or his discontent) then it loses necessarily all its value. Delphi's oracle advised Romans to be pious and not indulge in greed or overpowering if they wanted to last long. This is certainly wisdom. Romans were certainly not enough wise to listen. But perhaps at that time it was already too late. This is why correct Roman religious attitude has to be traced back to a hypothetic mythical original.Aldrasto (talk) 10:30, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

If I appear to have overlooked or ignored your main point, perhaps I was too oblique. My apologies for not expressing my own more clearly. In fact, Cynwolfe says it far more clearly than I, under previous headers on this talkpage and elsewhere. Dumezil's (for example) is an important and powerful perspective, and enormously influential (QED) but there are others, and many are critical of his interpretations and conclusions; on the whole, the most recent scholarship tends to be the most critical. Wikipedia serves no particular viewpoint as authoritative or "correct". I believe this very point has been discussed elsewhere on this talk-page. Haploidavey (talk) 16:08, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for your answer and my apologies if I missed some streaks in your kind reply. Far from me to say that Dumezil's is the correct perspective and that others's should not be allowed on Wikipedia. Me too I do not agree with his interpretations on many things, as I wrote above. And yes, sometimes he overplays his hand, I feel. I believe however he is a milestone as, say, Wissowa or Frazer. Criticising his perspective from a political standpoint or on political grounds though is in my view inadequate, something that misses the point. BTW I read the previewed part of Wiseman's Remus. His critique has clearly Dumezil as his object. (Perhaps the present generation of scholars will make his carreer criticising him?) My opinion, for what I read, is that he misses the point, at least when he tries to demolish the identification of Romulus and Remus as the divine twins Nasatya on factual grounds concerning their biography. It is self evident that this a mythologem, a mythical stereotype applied over and over again in time. Sometimes more appropriately and sometimes less. How can one ask whether they were really equal or up to the Nasatya? The case of Caeculus and of L. Caecilius Metellus are two other examples of reused mythologems, the first being the same as R&R. Ocresia impregnated by Vulcan is another mythologem. Should we consider them historical facts and try and disprove them? Maybe interpreting them as tales consciently and purposefully used by the ruling class to fool the silly folks? I do not think this is the sort of critique that will make history of religion proceed any furhter.Aldrasto (talk) 10:01, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

With respect, we offer the material as lucidly as possible and presume nothing regarding its meaning; we take an evidence-based approach to historical material and we use sources who do the same. I don't interpret Wiseman's purpose as a hatchet-job on Dumezil's theories; still less the replacement of "self-evident" (?) mythologem with a political interpretation. Wiseman handles difficult, complex and often baffling topics with scholarly rigour - when he sticks his neck out, we're told so. Dumezil, on the other hand, creates a grand edifice. Impressive, coherent and above all meaningful, until attention is drawn to the enormous spoil-heap of "irrelevant stuff" around it - whether by Wiseman, Grandazzi, Momigliano, Beard et al, etc (a much longer list than patience allows). Only evidence itself is self-evident; be that an artefact, story or a snippet from Livy. A mythologem is not - it's a modern scholarly artefact. As Momigliano says on the Roman concept of genius - "I wish we knew what it was"; and a mild, offhand remark it is too. How about addressing your questions on Dumezil to the Dumezil article? Haploidavey (talk) 12:47, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

I apologise once again, I have perhaps been too synthetic. I draw your attention to the fact that I did not write that a "mythologem" is a self evident concept. I wrote that in the given mythical or legendary historical context these legends are used as something connected to a traditonal legendary model/pattern that appeals to people. In such a context it is evident that these are not historical facts as we understand them today (since history became a science). In my view religion can exist because the minds of people are familiar with a set of traditionally handed down ideas. Even if it could be proven that these were used, as marxism holds, to justify the class structure and/or as a tool for exploitation this does not change the terms of the question. Ie how could it be possible in another cultural context? These stories could hold, ie be accepted by the populace because they fit into a certain well known traditionally handed down pattern from a timeless era. And this is my personal view, only by chance it is Dumezil's too. You also overlook that I have repeatedly criticised Dumezil on this page. I shall be specific: on Mars and Vulcan he is probably wrong. It is impossible to assign the two, in a definite and exclusive way, to any of his three functions: thier theology spans over two or even three. Also, Nerio cannot be seen as simply the personification of military prowess. etc etc. I hope I will no longer be misunderstood. It makes sense criticising a religious historian from the perspective that is relevant/appropriate. Historical facts such as those I referred to above is not the relevant one.Aldrasto (talk) 13:25, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for clarifying your personal position. I seem to have misinterpreted some of what you said; but you also seem to agree that article issues can be clearly identified and discussed point by point. We do this through our sources because we represent our sources - we offer citation. Our personal disagreements or agreements with sources - or each other, come to that - are neither here nor there. I disagree with some of what you say, but I don't think this is the place to debate such disagreements. I'd rather take this kind of generalised discussion away from here - to my talk-page, or yours - even then, I doubt I'd wish to contribute more than I already have. Haploidavey (talk) 17:40, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

intro revision[edit]

I did some revision of the introductory section, having been invited to review the article by Haploidavey. The lede remains vague, non-specific — and bloodless figuratively and literally, as there is no mention of sacrifice. The importance of state cult is expressed sorta indirectly (perhaps we need an assertion that there was no notion that "church and state" could be separated?), and there's no link in the intro to Imperial cult (ancient Rome), which is perverse. Although the emphasis on the diversity of religion within the Empire is not misplaced, the intro needs to give a better snapshot of daily religious life in the city of Rome itself, of old traditional Republican religion, and the relation of domestic and state cult. Do we get a strong enough sense of Roman religion as handed down to Caesar and Cicero?

Something is needed also about the hierarchy of gods, and the importance of temples in the topography of ancient Rome. (All this without getting bogged down in details; each of these points is a sentence or two.) We also don't mention the Greek influence, and the question of myth (which is a Greek preoccupation) and its treatment in literature vs. the Roman emphasis on cult and ritual. A mention is needed of do ut des to get at an aspect of Roman religion that's quite different from most modern conceptions of religion, that it's a contract between gods and humans. Of course, a good introduction is always the last thing that can happen, so this is to be expected for such a major and complex article.

The religious calendar and the great (if varying) number of public holidays needs a sentence. The religious reforms of Augustus and their relation to the transition from Republic to Empire needs a sentence; right now it's assumed that the visitor knows about and understands this transition. Even the fine editors at the New York Times don't grasp this; in the public mind, the loss of the Republic and the fall of the Empire are somehow the same, though centuries apart.

I'd like to see a tiny mention of the Emperor Julian's attempts at restoration in the last graf of the lede; perhaps even a mention that Symmachus et al. pointed to the adoption of Christianity and the loss of traditional religion as one reason the gods were allowing the barbarians to overrun the empire — this addresses the question of whether the Romans really "believed" in their religion.

Actually what Davey asked me to do was offer suggestions for the whole article. It's a long article, so I've started only with the intro, which I think is exactly the opposition of what he wanted (sorry). I believe it's always been recognized that the intro will have to follow the article development. Cynwolfe (talk) 13:36, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

Thank you, Cyn. The lede's heftily improved; I'll leave it that way for now (make of that what you will!). Off the top of my head on the rest of the article: TMI in some sections (possibly justifying expansions elsewhere), while others are barely started. There seems to be a basic problem in structure; where to bring in deities and festivals, in what context and how much detail. The whole "historical developments" is stalled; I don't know quite why (apart from the sheer dullness of the account). Something hasn't yet clicked into place. I'm expecting to take several more months on this, and would rather not spend too much time on re-re-writing, so any input will be very much appreciated. Haploidavey (talk) 14:12, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
Revised plan; further revision of the lede planned as per C's comments, as she seems to have many noodles on her plate. Haploidavey (talk) 00:21, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

Section expansions and whatnot[edit]

I'll edit and cite each section in User:Haploidavey/HaploidSandbox4, and will paste in here article once ready for further public cutting, slicing and trimming. Haploidavey (talk) 23:38, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

This article is way too long. The lead section itself is way too long, since, according to the Manual of Style, the lead section should not excede the lenght of four paragraphs. I believe the article should be split; for example, we should create articles such as Religion in Roman life to replace sections such as Religion in ancient Rome#Religion in Roman life. Surtsicna (talk) 22:22, 1 April 2010 (UTC)

Please note that this article is in the throes of intensive development. Your suggestions seem reasonable; but remember that the MOS offers guidelines, not a set of rules to be obeyed. The topic is complex. It requires adequate introduction: if this means the introduction is long, so be it. The various short introductory paragraphs can be joined together to make four longer ones. Nothing would be gained in terms of their readability.
At some point, some of the article sub-topics will be developed as separate articles - but please, not yet; and I strongly believe that a separate article on "Religion in Roman life" would defeat its own purpose. Roman religion was dispersed through Roman life and was present in every Roman institution. The material's difficult to understand, and difficult to turn into a coherent article; please bear with it in its development. "Religion in Roman life" is Religion in ancient Rome, minus some of its cult details. They cannot be addressed as separate issues; they form a coherent whole. Please also note that much longer articles exist as single pages and remain so for good reasons; they're as long as they need to be. Haploidavey (talk) 22:54, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
I've no desire to interfere with the "intensive development" of this article, but from the point of view of this outsider -- one who has never been involved in the article and has no great knowledge of the subject -- the article really is way too long, as Surtsicna said. (By the way, more pictures, if they can be sourced, would make the text more inviting.) Good luck! 86.138.104.152 (talk) 02:17, 12 April 2010 (UTC).
Two posts in a row have given me pause. Length would likely be less of a problem in a better-written article; and I agree about the uninviting slabs of essay-like text. There's too much detailed information and it's poorly organised. I intended much the same treatment as in Imperial cult (ancient Rome) (complex issues clarified) but the subject's run away with me and it shows in the writing. Some sections work, but overall, nothing's made clear. What I've tried to do here is present Roman religion in its own terms; an essential and everyday business - not something cynically tacked onto power politics.
Some sections will be hived off into separate articles but at the moment, many of those either don't exist or need re-writing. Thus the detailed blethering on Jupiter, for example. Any further input on the content and structure (or restructuring) of this article would be welcome. My own thoughts on this; the current confused article reads like two over-detailed and confused articles spliced together - one more or less thematic, the other more or less chronological. Should they be separate articles? Are they just too detailed? Any other thoughts? Contributions? Haploidavey (talk) 11:27, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
My own Fear of Big Topics prevents me from working on this article, but I agree that for a general introduction to the kind of non-specialist reader it's likely to attract, Religion in ancient Rome is probably too concerned with making fine points. However, as Haploidavey suggests, this is part of a process. At one point, for instance, I did take a moment to spin off Res divina. I cannot overstate my vehement opposition to an article called, what was it, "Religion in Roman life," because really, that's what this article is, or should be. The overarching question for editors is: what will the greatest number of readers be looking for when they come here? They will probably be trying to get a look at what role religion played in the daily lives of both the people and the elite. What did religious practice look like? How is it different from the great monotheistic religions?
One thing this majority of readers will NOT be looking for is a theory of origins or the Indo-European background. This type of theorizing belongs at the end of the article as it is now under a subhead.
Glancing at the article in response to the request for comments, the section I find most disproportionate is Empire and Christianity. Most of this belongs elsewhere, maybe divided between Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire and Decline of Greco-Roman polytheism. Given the thoroughness of Imperial cult (ancient Rome), that section too needs to be summarized more succinctly; readers who want more are already directed where to go.
I'm unsure of the purpose of the section on "Outline of religious developments." It's largely concerned with history, not religion; whatever religious points are addressed belong in other articles, or elsewhere in this one, as far as I can see. So too "Religion in Roman histories"; these two sections seem to be trying to do similar things, more efficiently approached as one topic; or not at all, because I'm not sure the article loses a thing without them. I'm also dubious about the necessity of "Religion and politics," which seems to be better and more concretely dealt with in a proper section on priesthoods and augural procedure; that is, the section on priesthoods and the section on divination are closely related.
The wording of "Rome's religious fringes and outsider cults" as a subhead gives me pause. Although the article on Greco-Roman magic isn't excellent, it does exist, and again, in this article magic needs only a paragraph or two. I would move "superstitio" to the Glossary of ancient Roman religion. The term deserves no more than a sentence in this article, and it dwells on too much on Christianity and Judaism, which is not the most common application of the term (where's the sentence on Lucretius?). The section "Jews and Christians" contains nothing about the Christians, nor should it. Rome's longstanding relations with Judaism ought to have its own section without mucking it up with the Christian material. The Epicureans are mentioned once in passing; the Stoics get a couple more nods; there is nothing about the Pythagoreans and no mention of Nigidius Figulus, both of which are important to Neoplatonism and the European magic tradition. Varro gets a single mention within the text (more in footnotes). The one thing I'd add is a section of one or two paragraphs on "Religion and philosophy," which touches on the question of whether there's such a thing as theology without doctrine in ancient Rome.
I'm not sure any of the sections marked for expansion require expansion per se. For instance, "Funerals in ancient Rome" should be its own article. "Household cult in ancient Rome" should also be an article; the amount of material presented here is just fine. So too should "Religion in the Roman army" be a separate article; the section is now far too long, and could be dealt with in a paragraph. The Vestals and other priesthoods also need to be reduced a paragraph each; again, they have their own article (all in need of thoughtful development).
Heroes, demigods, and divi belong as a subhead under "Deities", as entities who received cult. "Divine images" probably goes with the explanation of how deities were 'worshipped', or in the section "Religious topography," which naturally links to the main article Religious topography of ancient Rome. (Oops, where is that article?) I'm wary of a section on "Religion and medicine," for numerous reasons. In Rome, this tends to be connected closely to the cult of individual deities, a fact that can be explained in a sentence or two, or to be a matter of private ritual or magic, and thus addressed in a sentence or two there.
Basically: the article tries to do too much. I suggest that its main editor, so diligent and conscientious and deep-thinking, should consider developing other articles when he comes upon a topic like the Vestals that may not be adequately explained elsewhere. (Side note: as a woman, I'm not sure I want the Vestals thrown into the "women's studies" ghetto; they should be part of the section on Rome's priesthoods same as the men. I know I'm a bit of a lunatic on this point, but women and freedmen should be integrated throughout the article, not as something stuck on.)
In terms of organization, all the sections on forms of divination, public and private (or magical), need to be grouped together for comparison/contrast. There are also numerous "see also" and "main article" lines within the body text, contrary to usual WP style; the placement of these indicate organizational needs, like section breaks. The article will be more concrete and practical if deities, cult/ritual/sacrifice/festivals, priesthoods, and topography are dealt with first (in whatever order seems best). I might actually start with a section discussing the forms of religious practice: domestic/local, which was for the households and neighborhoods; state/public, which was a matter for priests and politicians; and private/magic. Again, how would a Roman experience religion in, say, a given month? Cynwolfe (talk) 16:51, 16 May 2010 (UTC)
Phew, I feel rescued. Thank you - I'll try as as you suggest. Haploidavey (talk) 22:39, 16 May 2010 (UTC)
I'll be working on article structure in User:Haploidavey/HaploidSandbox3. Contributions and comments are welcome there. Haploidavey (talk) 23:04, 16 May 2010 (UTC)

Name??[edit]

What was/is the religion actualy called? UNIT A4B1 (talk) 02:03, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

I think you may need to read the article again, as it is incorrect to speak of "the" religion. At one point, there was a discussion regarding the article title, that perhaps "Religions in ancient Rome" might be more accurate. It was decided that "religion" in this sense was the general term, so that the article is answering the question "What is the nature of religion in ancient Rome?" — equivalent, say, to "Religion in the United States," which would not be about "a" or "the" religion, but again the nature of religion, the roles it plays in society, the forms it takes. Diversity of religions (cultus) is characteristic of Roman religion (religio). It seems to have been rare that an individual would adhere to a single religion (cultus); rather, an elite individual might participate in or even be a priest of state religion, but could choose for instance to become an initiate into a mystery religion for his personal salvation or to guide the future path of his soul. An individual would also maintain a domestic or private cultus at home (ancestor shrines, di penates), and an ordinary person might participate in his neighborhood cultus (see for instance Compitalia). The idea that "religion" is a single monolithic dogma is characteristic of the great monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (which have names because of this dogmatic conformity), but it is not characteristic of religion in ancient Greece, ancient Rome, or (with less evidence) Celtic Gaul. Cynwolfe (talk) 12:22, 21 April 2010 (UTC)


I must congratulate the authors because this article is a great improvement on the previous one.

I have some reservations on the approach though, which is too syncretistic. Perhaps this is the approach adopted by Beard... My opinion is that Roman religion was something well defined and charachterised very clearly since its inception, ie the first two kings (and perhaps even earlier). Much space is given in the article to other religions or religious phenomena present in Rome since the relatively early times of the late republic. Of course these interacted with the original religion in some instances but never modified it significantly and do not belong to the topic.

Eg haruspicina: while it was widely used since the second century BC it was not part of Roman religion and was in fact known as Etrusca disciplina. It would be better to clarify these points. While there are many similarities between Greek and Roman religion they are also different in many respects and their mutual relationship is complex, ie two ways.

It would be of consequence to give readers a clear understanding that Roman religion had its core theology and set of beliefs as well as rituals and rules. Pontifical lore was bestowed by king Numa on Numa Marcius, the first pontifex. It would also help to put Roman religion in its natural, original cultural context, ie the Italic cultural environment. Eg Varro Lingua Latina V 73 states that Minerva is a Sabin goddess, even though many modern scholars think she is Etruscan. Some claim the triads are Etruscan even though there is no evidence of triads in Etruria, the only correspondence of the Capitolin triad being in Greece. However it is worth its while to note that triads are widespread in Roman religion and of course the concerned deities are interrelated. Eg Varro in the same place on Neptunus, Salacia and Venilia: "Neptunus a nuptu id est opertione ut antiqui a quo nuptiae nuptus dictus. Salacia ab salo, Venilia a veniendo ac vento illo quem Plautus dicit:

Quod ille dixit qui secundo vento vectus est

Tranquillo mari ventum gaudeo." Aldrasto11 Sorry I cannot sign due to a technical problem with browser that has not been fixed yet.

Another remark: the introduction says foreign cults were allowed as long as they were not in conflict with mos maiorum. This is questionble even if not uncorrect. It would be more precise to say that they were allowed aslong as they were not a threat to the pax divom. Aldrasto11

I appreciate your distinctions (if not the Latin, because I don't understand it) but I'm not going to worry about introduction details yet, nor details such as the purported origins of particular deities, which belong squarely in their own articles. As it stands, the article structure's weak and repetitious; an uninviting meander through far too many topics, some pointlessly brief and others far too long. Please see Cynwolfe's response above (with which I concur). Do you agree with her assessment and suggestions? Haploidavey (talk) 22:30, 16 May 2010 (UTC)


Sorry for the Latin: it is merely an instance. I quoted it because I think Varro LL V gives an insightful and concise presentation of Roman theology as a highly educated Roman (who had studied the pontifical archives) could do. I hope you can find a translation somewhere. (Macrobius book I too is on the same level: I already wrote about the instance of Bona Dea elsewhere). He puts Roman religion in its correct theological perspective (at least for him): it is not a case that he starts talking of Aegypt and Samothracia. Never mind the question of Pythagoras being a later philosopher in comparison with Numa, a great number of scholars, ancient and modern, acknowledge the core theology of Roman religion was a sort of esoteric philosophy strongly similar to pythagorism. Here Varro simply says everything is born from one, which cannot be spoken of (the finger of Harpocrates), this one gives two, ie Heaven and Earth (in Rome Saturnus and Ops), fire/dryness/heat and water/humidity/cold, and from their interaction everything is born. Ie the birth of Venus is due to falling of fire into water, and from Venus every form of life is generated.

In this passage he says Neptune owes his name to nuptus, ie the covering of Earth by the waters, as the ancient called marriage (nuptiae) from this fact (nuptus). Salacia and Venilia are more or less metaphorically hinting at the concrete aspects of sexual intercourse. Neptune is paradigmatic but of course every god is explained in this perspective of the mutual intrinsic relationship of the two opposites, in the pythagorean fashion.

I read Cynwolf's remarks and I agree on almost everything. Theology, rites, sacerdotia, right/law, calendar and festivals, all this is the core of Roman religion and should be talked of at some depth. I also agree that it should be reminded that quite a few Romans believed in their religion and many thought that the decline and misfortunes of Rome were due to neglect and disrepect to it: not only Symmachus but also eg Livy, who regretted prodigia were no longer procured and expiated at his times.Aldrasto11 (talk) 12:11, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

Priesthoods in ancient Rome[edit]

I was mulling over the problem of article length here and the proposals for spinning off sections. I've started an article on Priesthoods of ancient Rome, or more precisely, I've created a template for an infobox of that title on a user page. This infobox could then be used on the various priesthood pages. It isn't finished; just a start. Suggestions welcome, however. The image I've used so far is of Marcus Aurelius sacrificing, because I haven't found anything yet that shouts 'ancient Roman priest'.

The purpose of the article would be NOT to repeat the material about the individual priesthoods, but to give an overview of the relation between magistracy and priesthood, politics and priesthoods, all that kind of stuff. Sections such as: The general history of how priesthoods were opened up to plebeians. Augustan revivalism. Priesthoods in the provinces as pertains to Imperial cult (and if that article needs to divest itself of any weight, there you go). Transition to Christianity.

In part, this notion arises because I don't think there's a central place for listing all the colleges of priests. Any text you find in the article as it exists in draft on my user page will have been copied wholesale from this one or Imperial cult. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:43, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Very good idea. Haploidavey (talk) 14:55, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
Just a reminder that this has gotten nowhere. Mea culpa. Cynwolfe (talk) 18:38, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

Philosophy and religion[edit]

In creating a section on "Philosophy and religion" (and 'theology'), one readily available source is Attilio Mastrocinque, "Creating One's Own Religion: Intellectual Choices," in Rupke's A Companion to Roman Religion. Elizabeth Rawson's Intellectual Life in the Roman Republic should also be a gold mine, but not a smidge of it appears to be online. Cynwolfe (talk) 13:22, 21 May 2010 (UTC)

What to do?[edit]

I see Cynwolfe has re-assessed the article and has an eye to its further development. That's a reasonable assessment, and a Good Idea. We need to rigorously trim some content here and export it to various target articles. All that has been discussed at length under different subheadings above. I'd like to make a couple of further points. The G&R project has quite a few dedicated editors but not many who specialise in this area. Some - and I mean myself - have tended to overload here rather than develop the appropriate target articles because some of those articles need such a fundamental overhaul.

I don't really know where to start. So, getting down to specifics and in no particular order, the following personally bug me the most. Just a sample, really.

  • How far need we go in presenting an outline of historical developments in this article? Religion in Roman histories and Outline of Religious developments make for hellish dense reading and in the end, I doubt if the average reader learns much from either. I suggest we either separately summarise the content of both (which I'd be happy to see), do away with it all (hm...) or use their combined content in a list-article (dull chore, anyone?)
Well, what a hornet's next I've stirred up. It just seemed evident to me that this was not a start-class article, and certainly not a C-class article, leaving only a rating of B. Grade inflation IRL being what it is, this seemed uncharitable. The materials are in place for a GA, which requires a process that is time-consuming and no doubt excruciating. My suggestion that it could become a GA was meant entirely as a compliment, but indeed the timing for undergoing such a process may not be right, holidays being upon us and other important related articles being needier cases. I agree with Davey's observations in general: the article could be more readable and streamlined in sections that could be either spun off into independent articles or mined for content to improve existing ones. Cynwolfe (talk) 18:25, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
Soothe, soothe. Seriously, your compliment was well taken and very much appreciated; maybe I just don't feel deserving. I guess it's all down to Editor's Itch, for which there's no effective ointment except a lot more editing. Or maybe it's more like pebbles in shoes. Bits of this article have been sitting like pebbles in my editorial shoes for a year, more or less. It'll come right, sooner or later. Haploidavey (talk) 18:52, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Era convention[edit]

Just in case the issue of era convention comes up here, I searched the article's history. This (as far as I can determine) is the first appearance of a date in the article. The convention at the founding was thus BC/AD, if we are devoted to the mos maiorum. However, this article has been so thoroughly and massively rewritten that it's probably a case where you could argue on the basis of WP:ERA that substantial grounds exist for permitting a change. For instance, if all the scholarly quotations use one era convention, and the article text uses another, this would be potentially confusing for the reader. I say this only because era convention seems to be the cause du jour in articles pertaining to ancient Rome. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:15, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Very long intro[edit]

Isn't the introduction just a tad too long? I think it might need some trimming and summarising with some info moved to other places. EryZ (talk) 09:23, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

I suggest the last four paragraphs, beginning with: "The priesthoods and cult maintenance of major deities..." be moved into the appropriate history sections, and then condensed in the intro to one short paragraph. EryZ (talk) 09:51, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
EryZ, just on a very minor note, we don't change spelling, wording or orthography in quoted text; the original had "senate" (sic). On the intro: I agree it might be a little tighter, but on the whole, it represents a reasonably complete outline of the topic - not quite (yet) of the article, more an outline of what the article should be. The main text is still far from complete; some sections need expansion, some need drastic cropping, and their materials transplanting to other, more needy articles.
That said, we seem to have consensus so far (see posts above) that religious cults and practices should come before a digest of religious history. (insert: some practices and cults relate to Rome's earliest, quasi-mythological, "sacred history", and that section provides a background to the significance of Roman religion in Rome's ideas about itself; an essential aspect of the topic but not quite History as we know it.) Having started revising the article some time back, I tried a reorganisation along the lines of your recent changes - more or less - and scrapped it for various reasons (you'll find them on this talk-page, somewhere above). Assuming we had a current consensus to start with "History of Roman religion" - and we shouldn't rule out that possibility - some of the material you moved under that heading covers politics, class, priesthoods and what have you, as thematic material in chronological framework; and if we present History first, and tack on practices at the end, we're putting carts before horses. If you've not read the several discussions above, please do. I think (I hope) I see what you're getting at, but just for now, I'm going to boldly revert your changes. Then we can reason through the article's development, starting from a version familiar to the current(ish) main editors at this article. Looking forward to your responses. Haploidavey (talk) 13:01, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
For the record, I strenuously oppose moving the History section first; in my view, the section could be even cut or moved to another article without harming the overview of what ancient Roman religion is. I've linked to this article probably hundreds of times, and not once because I felt that the reader needed this information. Readers looking up the topic can be assumed to be looking for what Roman religion was in structure and practice, because it's quite unlike the major monotheistic religions, and there are many misconceptions that something called "paganism" existed in antiquity. This is a very long article, and someone would read through it all the way only if they were thoroughly into the subject. Although WP editors are entranced by "origins" and etymologies, the average reader is looking for a description of the topic. More articles, particularly long in-depth ones, could benefit from the inverted pyramid style (to some extent WP:LEDE prescribes it), also known as progressive disclosure. That said, I agree that the intro still reads a little dense and chewy. It's somewhat longer than the intro to Christianity, but on the other hand, Roman religion lacks a central narrative like that of Christianity — which is also why the history section isn't the best way to introduce the topic. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:55, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
I'd (for one) would be happy to see the History section deleted. It's little more than a list; it lacks context and meaning. It can only be expanded by reiterating material from other sections. Maybe that's what has fruitlessly bugged and frustrated me here, for at least a year; trying to work around it. There seems nothing to be done with it, except to chop it out. Make it a list. Somewhere else. Haploidavey (talk) 18:07, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
I think the History section offers an interesting look at politics and religion, an essential aspect of Roman religion. But sometimes it casts its net a little wide, so it's like we're getting a mini-history of Rome with religion thrown in, and not so much a history of the religion. I've not spent the time with the article that Davey has, so this is only my one-and-a-half cents. I don't see it as a list, though perhaps a timeline. Timeline of ancient Roman religion might be a handy thing, come to think of it: "plebeians admitted to college of pontiffs"; "cult of Cybele imported to Rome"; "suppression of the Bacchanals"; "Julius Caesar deified"; "Theodosius converts the senate en masse." Temple foundings and all that. Cynwolfe (talk) 20:43, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
Yeah. What she said. As I see it, this article seems to work best - for writers and readers alike - when it's clearly organised under themes. Like politics and religion, which contains (or should) just enough chronology to convey that aspect of the topic. The current historical mega-overview's just too much. And a timeline wouldn't be. Haploidavey (talk) 20:58, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
Thanks so much for the responses guys. It seems Wikipedia has so many conventions (as one would expect), that are currently still unknown to me! It all seems very boggling to a newbie.
I've gone through and had a look through the talk page and my edits yesterday and now I think moving the history section first was probably not the best idea. What my motivation was for the change was that a historical background or timeline as such, I have found it often the best way to introduce the topic, personally. However I agree that for this article it is probably not the best section to start off with. I merely thought that putting it last was not where I would have favoured it, even if the section is a bit all over the place. But I think having a description of what the religion consisted of is still a good, if not better option, for reasons listed by Cynwolfe.
Regarding the introduction, I would like to still re-execute some of the edits I performed yesterday, with your input. The two main bits that I would like to put back to where I edited them yesterday are:
1. "Participation in traditional religious rituals was thus considered a practical and moral necessity in personal, domestic and public life." to where I placed it yesterday, as the concluding sentence to a paragraph addressing why worship was considered a 'necessity', discussing piety and such. The main reason is that it sums up the paragraph, the sentence uses the word 'thus', which along with being less related to the following paragraph, make it unsuitable for starting off the next paragraph, which is about religion in everyday life and home.
2. "Ancient Rome had no principle equivalent to the separation of "church and state". Religious law offered curbs to personal and factional ambition, and political and social changes had to be justified in religious terms." I find these statements more related in that paragraph, as they address how religion was embedded and played a large, inescapable part of Roman life and society, for religion was embedded in politics, and was so widely seen by the public as important that even 'social changes had to be justified in religious terms'.
Again, thanks everyone for being patient and helpful. EryZ (talk) 08:23, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
That is an extremely nice way of not calling us obsessed old windbags. (If I weren't philosophically opposed to emoticons, I'd put a smiley face there.) The lack of separation between church and state applies to many aspects of Roman religion; I think I'm the one who inserted it into the introduction, perhaps because I'm an American and we are obsessed with this, if usually in its absence. I find it most important and striking in the fact that all the priesthoods, and thus control of state religion, are held by members of the ruling class, often by those who are quite prominent and powerful, as in the case of Julius Caesar being Pontifex Maximus, or Cicero being an augur. You don't have that balance or conflict of secular and religious authority that's so interesting in later European history, with the Papacy acting as a counterweight or influence in international affairs among monarchs. So as long as this point is made, I'm happy. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:58, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
Yep, all seems fine, and EryZ, that's such a nice response it almost drew a blush (I even emoted). What you're doing's fine, and so's how you're doing it. Commendable.
Back to the subject: yes, the church and state thing's right at the nub - a number of things that had puzzled me fell into place when Cyn added that (and then they crawled out, spawned and burgeoned - there's no end to it). Haploidavey (talk) 19:10, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
About the point on the separation of church and state, I see now how it is in fact more linked to the original paragraph. Thanks for clarifying. I've gone ahead and made a few small changes to the introduction such as rephrasing, rewording, clarifying paragraph themes etc. I left the separation of church and state part structurally identical, but executed edit #1 I mentioned above, along with some other changes. Is there anything that I did which is probably not the desired result? Thanks. EryZ (talk) 07:55, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Yes. Don't want to make any assumptions about what your background knowledge is here, but try to guard against bringing preconceptions. In most cases, the wording of this article has been pretty well thought through by people who have spent years studying the material — and still haven't managed to produce the most succinct and elegant wording even when accurate. The phrase you edited into the sentence that reads "Romans could offer cult to any number of the many deities, which were given Latin names" seems to be saying that the Romans had no gods of their own. "Imported" gods such as Apollo or Cybele or Epona were in fact not given Latin names, but kept their own. You are perhaps confusing interpretatio graeca. The phrase "custom of the ancestors" is not alternative with "Roman tradition" (as expressed by "or"); rather, "Roman tradition" is a way to translate "custom of the ancestors." Your changes to the sentence "Participation in traditional religious rituals was thus considered a practical and moral necessity in personal, domestic and public life" removed the crucial "traditional": participation in the cults that were not traditional to Rome, such as the mysteries, were not considered a necessity, but rather a choice. "Personal" and "domestic" are not the same to the Roman; "domestic" pertained to the domus, the household, and the concept of the individual's responsibility or pietas, that would be "personal". You added the phrase "and was served by various groups in society" to a sourced sentence: did you check to make sure that's what the source said? It's also uninformative, if your goal is to make the intro leaner: I don't know what "served by" means, since "service" is more a Christian concept than a Roman one (though there are instances where the verb colere might be translated as "serve" in the sense of "maintain, cultivate") and "various groups" is too vague to tell me anything (and is expressed later by naming groups such as women, freedmen, and slaves). I shall pass over the infelicitous "male head," which unfortunately evokes Mutunus, though the paterfamilias does indeed need a gloss. Your revision of familia is wordier and more syntactically intricate than the original without being more informative. You added the adjective "religious" to modify "priesthood"; what kind of priesthood did you have in mind that isn't religious? "However" is not the first word of a sentence in good English style. At this point, I realize how cranky I'm sounding, and will stop. Please don't be discouraged, but I'm reverting to the earlier version and incorporating some of your useful changes. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:57, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for that great response. The amount of detail that editors put into every single sentence is truly outstanding. I fully agree with all your points. Thanks for helping me become a more knowledgeable editor and contributor. Good luck with all your work on this article; it seems such an enormous task! EryZ (talk) 06:01, 9 June 2011 (UTC)
The phrase, "Romans could offer cult to..." is extremely difficult to parse for the normal reader looking for information on this topic. I agree that its meaning, "Romans could offer religious observances, rituals and devotions to…" is perfectly valid and that cult more succinct, but I've never seen the word cult used with this meaning outside a scholarly paper. I have a very wide vocabulary and a strong (if casual) familiarity with the topic and it took me a while to understand that this was not a typo. A reword would be helpful to the non-scientists among your audience.
In a similar vein, this is a SUPERB article. Some attention to shortening the intro to a few paragraphs (the reason for this Talk section) and removing the anthropological and sociological argot might bring this a lot close to Class A status. Kevin/Last1in (talk) 01:27, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
That's a very helpful criticism. I've paused at that phrase every time I've looked at it, but so far haven't come up with an alternative that's both accurate and more idiomatic. (I"ve done only copyediting on this article, not the real research and writing.) As you discern, "worship" isn't quite right, and the thought behind this locution seems to be that it represents the Latin verb colere, "cultivate" in several senses, including religious practice. I for one would welcome any further suggestions you might have (such as examples of argot to tame), as I appreciate the work others have put in here and would like to see the article have the assessment it deserves. Cynwolfe (talk) 03:33, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that's spot on, Kevin/Last1in and Cynwolfe. This is the core, introductory article for the topic, and it should aim at general reader-friendliness. To be honest, I've never been entirely happy with "cult" but it didn't occur to me as a possible stumbling block, probably because my head's been jammed into scholarly works on the topic for the past three years or so. So yes, let's find an alternative; I welcome the wake-up call, and the delightful compliment. Alas, the entire subject area is prone to argot, unintentional obfuscation, cranky scholarly debate, obscurity and the putting of carts before horses. If this article avoids the worst of that - and I think it does, despite its flaws - that'll be largely be thanks to Cynwolfe, who not only writes extraordinarily well but as usual underestimates the extent and value of her own contributions here. Haploidavey (talk) 12:18, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Ho ho no, 'tis the season to be generous, but whatever I've contributed here was only made possible by Haploidavey doing the heavy lifting (and others whose contributions I may be unaware of). Cynwolfe (talk) 15:17, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Evans1982's edit on 28 Jan 12 sloughed 90% of the lede into an Overview section without discussion. Perhaps he didn't know that this discussion was happening and didn't bother to look. WP:AGF and I don't see him in the history log much. Haploidavey just slammed the whole 932 words back without discussion. This confuses me. I thought there was a constructive discussion going on, including the invaluable knowledge of Haploidavey, with the objective of pushing this very strong B-Class article up to A-Class and eventually see it submitted as a Feature Article Candidate. It's informative, captivating in subject, well-written in style and sprinkled with precisely the kind and quantity of pretty pictures that the FA people seem to love. The lede, however, is massive. The British Empire uses four paragraphs and one of the most contentious topics around, Islam, uses three. Are we seriously saying that we cannot write an introduction to the subject of Religion in ancient Rome with less? I think that it is easier to add judiciously than to cut existing work. I've posted this to Haploidavey's talk page as well, but I think the (bad) Evans1982 version is a better starting point than the original lede which came back this week.Kevin/Last1in (talk) 21:11, 28 March 2012 (UTC)
(inserted response) Without discussion? I'm not sure what you mean. While I don't doubt the eviscerator's good faith, the edit was roughshod, and came nowhere near addressing the issues already discussed in detail at the talk-page. I simply reverted an undoubtedly well-meant but unhelpful change which seemed unjustified by any argumentation whatsoever. Haploidavey (talk) 12:36, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
Again with the caveat that I am no expert on this subject, I took a stab as rewording the intro in my sandbox from an "English Assignment" perspective. It would necessitate updating the body to return links to concepts that, while extremely important, are not ones that I (an admitted amateur) find central to introducing the subject to the lay reader. It squeaks in under 500 characters in four paragraphs, about 54% of the original. It DOES sacrifice content that was concise and well written; it DOES move several fascinating concepts out of the lede and into the body; it DOES need considerable work from experts. However, I think this might make a starting point from which the experts in this forum could craft a better intro. My recommendation, though, would be simple: for every word or concept you return to the lede, drop one back into the body. IMHO, Be Bold needs a companion when it comes to ledes: Be Brutal.Kevin/Last1in (talk) 22:50, 28 March 2012 (UTC)
A caveat of my own. My interest in the topic is not expert but amateur and personal, and my intensive reading is an attempt to understand the subject, and tease out its knots. My writing's a test I set myself; if it renders the subject comprehensible to non-specialist readers, I just might have understood something of my sources as a whole, and can thus deliver the topic. I've not the time, energy or enthusiasm to actively promote - to whatever status - this or any other article, and I dislike and distrust anything to do with hoops and tick-boxes. That said, the article and lede need work. Yes, a lede should provide a succinct overview of the subject and be of reasonable length; and I agree that apparently intractable problems are sometimes solved by merciless excision. If that works, it works, whether that's a short lede or a long; but what you're proposing here seem perilous close to dogma; a word-count of x, squeezed into four paragraphs. I've seen far too much lively, readable content (never mind the prose and its quality) shoehorned into dull compliance for the sake of a guideline. More importantly, could such a lede do the job it's supposed to? Regarding comparisons, particularly of the Christianity article's much shorter lede with this one, please consider Cynwolfe's apposite remark above: [this article's lede is] "somewhat longer than the intro to Christianity, but on the other hand, Roman religion lacks a central narrative like that of Christianity".
Anyway, I'd strongly argue against building on the eviscerated version. The longer version of the lede already contains the structural essentials; the detail can be further rendered down (or as some might prefer, "distilled") per the talk page consensus. So like you, I'll do what I can on a user-sandbox, and we'll see what's possible in terms of compromise. Haploidavey (talk) 12:36, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
My sincere apologies for the misguided tone of my 21:11 28 Mar post. It was needlessly harsh and unfairly favoured the slash-and-burn approach taken by Evans1982. Mea maxima culpa. I am certainly willing to help in the distillation; I'd avoid the rendering since it intrinsically involves butchery and the lede as written contains great (if possibly too much) information. Let me know what I can do to help, please.Kevin/Last1in (talk) 14:51, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
Please take a look at this version of the lede. It is not a slash-and-burn job, and retains much of the original flow. It is also less than half the length (both in words and in characters) of the current version. If it is acceptable, I would love the chance to work with better-informed editors like Haploidavey and Cynwolfe to (1) gain a real knowledge of the subject and (2) get this article to FA status. Please note that I have no emotional investment in the version I'm presenting. I promise that ALL criticism is welcome and encouraged. I cannot become a better Wikipedia editor without it. Kevin/Last1in (talk) 00:30, 31 March 2012 (UTC)

Very Long Lede (continued)[edit]

{see below for strike-through expl} An Anon user has helpfully added a "Lead Too Long" template. Sigh. Let's restart the conversation: I would like to offer this version as the next step in the lede's evolution. I modelled the size and scope against topics of similar scale, Ancient Egypt, Evolution, the British Empire and Hinduism. I maintained the elements discussed by Cynwolfe and most of those in Haploidavie's current lede, along with a distillation of the conversations above.

I contend that the current lede is too long and too complex to serve its function: providing readers with an overview of the article so they can determine if they want to read the whole thing (the article, by extension, provides a more-detailed summary of sources so the readers can pursue deeper research). A complex lede typically means that a reader will simply give up and go away. The concepts that I glossed or dropped are well-covered in the body and seem less critical to a reader's understanding of what the article is about. This is a monumental subject with both breadth and depth to match, so some important-but-not-essential concepts simply have to be covered in the body.

I propose that we come to an initial consensus by 31 May so we can get rid of that "Lead Too Long" template as quickly as possible. The lede does not need to be perfect (imho, writers are right: "perfect" is the enemy of "good" just as "finished" is the enemy of "ready"); it just needs to brief the reader on what to expect in the article as a whole. Cheers & Thanks, Last1in (talk) 21:21, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

A valiant effort streamlining. In such a long article, I do think the intro becomes more important as a substitute for reading the whole thing. It should leave an accurate and sufficient impression. I wonder about the emphasis on relations with foreign cults (since that isn't what the bulk of the article is about), with little or no explanation of what the Romans thought their own religion was about. At first glance, I'm most concerned that your first paragraph ends with that sentence about skepticism: not sure what the basis of that emphasis is. Also, the word "folklore" appears in your intro, and nowhere in the article itself.I don't mean to be negative, and I agree with what you say about being more reader-friendly. I'm a bit mentally tired at the moment, and will try to think about it more clearly when I'm fresh. It's a truly monumental task, since we're talking about a topic on which many full-length books have been written. Cynwolfe (talk) 02:45, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
NONE of that is 'negative' - it is incredibly valuable. I'll have a replacement by this time tomorrow. One of the challenges is to retain the breadth of info in Haploidavey's original and maintain the balance between lede and article. 'Folklore' was probably synthetic from my outside reading, and the word will be dropped Check back, please! Cheers & Thanks, Last1in (talk) 19:03, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
Oops, I was about to post the following when our edits conflicted. I feel incredibly sheepish about proceeding now that you're so diligently on the case, but here goes for what it's worth. That is, the promised thoughts following reflection.
In a very long, dense, scholarly article such as this one, I tend to assume that the average reader will read only the introduction. (Maybe because that's what I do when I'm using Wikipedia as a "civilian.") Therefore, the intro must present a complete outline of the topic, per WP:LEDE, specifically the instructions that The lead should be able to stand alone as a concise overview. It should define the topic, establish context, explain why the topic is interesting or notable, and summarize the most important points—including any prominent controversies. The emphasis given to material in the lead should roughly reflect its importance to the topic. So I see the primary task of the intro to this article as providing a concise overview of the entirety of Roman religion, what it was to the people who practiced it, and why it's historically important—in a manner that's sufficient if that's all the reader needs or wants. If the reader then scans the TOC and wants more detail, there 'tis. So my outline for the intro would be broadly historical (that is, loosely chronological), and move from first giving the reader a sense of the Romans' own religion (state, public, and private), and then to religion under Rome as an imperial power. As follows:
  1. Establish scope of topic.
  2. What the Romans themselves saw as the general value, purpose, and origin of their religion, particularly as a way of preserving tradition; this was crucial to Roman identity.
  3. The concept of public and state religion, which again has to do with the formation of Roman civic identity and the inseparability of politics and religion. Includes a nod to temples (still grossly underdeveloped in both the relevant section of this article and Roman temple).
  4. The "theological" nature of Roman religion, distinguishing it from faith-based religion. Roman religion is based on knowing what to say and do, and then doing and saying it. Which leads to:
  5. Religion in daily life; the importance of topography.
  6. Deities, and the Roman appetite for them, which admits of influence from other religious systems.
  7. On the other hand, other religious systems could seem threatening to Roman tradition. Why?
  8. How did Romans attempt to deal with the diverse religions of the peoples under their rule?
  9. Imperial cult.
  10. Christian transition.
Most alarmingly, I'm about to post a new introduction based on this. Feel free to hack it to bits, as I fear that it may be even longer than the other one. It covers some points that were omitted and minimizes others that IMHO were disproportionate. I also felt that the previous intro, while having a narrative sweep, was perhaps at points lacking in concreteness. In defense of the length (though please do look for ways to streamline it; points 6-8 above may be most susceptible to compacting), I maintain that a reader who can't sit through an introduction of this length for this topic is (A) not very interested in learning about Roman religion; and (B) unlikely to make it through a whole article that would cover the topic adequately, so we'd better give them a reasonably complete overview up front. According to my hasty calculations, this new intro constitutes about 7.5% of the total size of the article. I'm thinking any intro under 10% of the total isn't disproportionately long, but I wouldn't press that point strenuously. Cynwolfe (talk) 19:28, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
Speaking of sheepish, I dove in and started trying to align the info in my version to the article's body. Within thirty minutes my brain exploded. I therefore withdraw both the suggestion and associated comments, hence the strike-through above.
I do disagree on one point: Religion in Ancient Rome is a complex and intricate subject, true, but I would argue that it is not particularly MORE monumental in breadth or depth than Ancient Egypt or Hinduism; I think we should be able to come up with an introduction that is less intimidating. My experience has been that, no matter how interested people may be, a long lede comes prepackaged with a reaction of "OMG, if the intro is this complicated, I have no chance of understanding the topic!"
I am nothing more than a casual observer (which, of course, if why I got to the article in the first place), but I do have some editing skills that may come in handy. I'd like to propose that, starting with the version Cynwolfe just posted, I take a stab at wordsmithing as I did with Haploidavey's version. I'd also like to discuss whether certain individual concepts are essential to an introduction, and if some important ones could be glossed (intimated instead of explicated). I will NOT have a new version in 24 hours ;) . I'll post questions here. I have set an admittedly-arbitrary goal of 3000-3500 characters, about the same as articles where I've found the lede to drag me into the subject instead of either sating me (why read the rest?) or scaring me (why read at all?). One note, please: I have no emotional investment in this topic or in my wording. All criticism is welcome because it helps me (and the article) improve. Really really. Cheers & Thanks, Last1in (talk) 20:49, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

Please do not start from the end[edit]

I just glanced at the section on history and was confirmed in my views of the flawed way editors take on th esubject of RR. It would be reasonable to begin with the beginnings and we get nothing about it. I think it is certainly more convenient to write on the later developments of which we are more informed but this approach misses the target of giving readers even a faint idea of what must ahve been the originality of and the common beliefs in RR. No word on the Latin cults, Lavinium, Laurentum, the Latin League, Iuppiter Latiaris etc. No words of Romulus, Numa, Ancus and Servius Tullius 's contributions...but I hope the editors will agree it is essential that the reader knows the centrality of these issues. RR was extremely conservative and depriving it of its roots is making it void.Aldrasto11 (talk) 06:23, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

These figures in fact appear in the first section following the introduction, that is, at the beginning: Religion in ancient Rome#Founding myths and divine destiny. I agree that there are problems of emphasis in some sections, and omissions. The article is already too long, but its aim is to provide the non-specialist reader, including students, with a readable, non-technical overview. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:53, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

First things first. The origins and the myths and cults associated to it are essential. Other the reader gets the wrong idea. Watery and longwinded sociological chat cannot replace the theological substance.Aldrasto11 (talk) 05:34, 11 August 2012 (UTC)

Dubious statements in the lede[edit]

Found these:

1) the augurs are ascribed to Etruscan influence (Romulus and Remus were the first Roman augurs).

2) the augurs and pointiffs were republican magistrates (they were coopted also in the later republic when were chosen from within a list elected by a tribe, which was selected by a random process, among a list of possible candidates).

3) the Latin League predates Servius T. as it si mentioned at the time of Tullus H. Possibly it predated the foundation of Rome.Aldrasto11 (talk) 15:45, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

Recent edit[edit]

Didn't want to drive-by tag after this recent edit raised a couple of questions for me. The tone seems a little off: a little chatty and non-encyclopedic. Also, that section is getting quite long. There are lots of articles on Wikipedia about Christianity under the Roman Empire, and this should be the main one to describe the religion(s) that defined Roman identity before Christian hegemony. I would really not like to see this article become consumed by Christianity, since that feeds the historical misconception that the Romans didn't have a "real" religion, only something called "mythology" that was translated easily into pretty stories and to which very little genuine religious feeling was attached, despite the thousands of Roman votives (just counting those that are extant, and mentioning one aspect of religious life) attesting to individual devotion. Or daily devotion at the household shrine. Or the care of the dead. Or the longevity of certain religious festivals. And so on. Just wanted to know what others thought.Cynwolfe (talk) 13:06, 7 February 2013 (UTC)


#Public priesthoods and religious law[edit]

Quote from Capitoline Triad: "... ordo sacerdotum, the hierarchy of dignity of Roman priests: rex sacrorum, flamen dialis, Flamen Martialis, flamen quirinalis and pontifex maximus in order of decreasing dignity and importance.[1]" I'm not an expert on the subject, but this might be included under Religion in ancient Rome#Public priesthoods and religious law, don't you think? Please check! Michael! (talk) 20:33, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

This passage from Festus is not without its difficulties. During the Imperial era the pontifex maximus was the emperor, and the other priests could hardly have ranked above him. It seems to reflect a circumstance of archaic religion, and is used for looking at questions of how the rex sacrorum originated. It requires a secondary source to provide an interpretational context (which as I recall is provided in the Triad article in Dumézilian fashion). Cynwolfe (talk) 20:57, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
You're probably right. I just thought this religious hierarchy might reflect the situation in the (early) Roman Republic and might thus be noteworthy to include in the article. (This article isn't exclusively about the Imperial era Roman religion, is it?) Michael! (talk) 21:06, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
Not at all. That's what makes it difficult, as in this instance, to deal with so broad a span of time. Secondary sources either will make it clear that they're focusing on a particular period, or will discuss change or developments as they occur over time. The point was about using secondary sources, not excluding information. Cynwolfe (talk) 22:46, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

References

  1. ^ Festus s.v. ordo sacerdotum p. 299 L 2nd.

Human sacrifice (again)[edit]

I can't see all the pertinent pages in Beard et al., but I made this edit because it seemed overstated. Pliny regarded the ending of human sacrifice in Gaul and Britain as a positive consequence of Roman rule (so it falls in the rhetorical category of "What did the Romans ever do for us?") but I'm not aware of any Greek or Roman source that alleges ending a people's religious practices was ever grounds for a bellum iustum. Or inustum, for that matter. I'm fairly familiar in particular with the sources on the druids. Human sacrifice seems to have been regarded as a reason to suppress the druids post-conquest, but stamping out the druids was not grounds for invasion and not alleged as a cause or motivation for a war. After all, Caesar's chief Gallic ally at the start of the Gallic Wars was the druid Diviciacus, and Caesar's own description of human sacrifice in Gaul casts it as the religious disposing of those found guilty of crimes, a form of religiously sanctioned capital punishment (Caesar uses no pejorative words to describe it, though translators tend not to render this passage neutrally). Some scholars therefore see this as an instance of local law coming into conflict with Roman law, and if the druids were unwilling to relinquish their ultimate authority in administering justice, then that would be why the Romans suppressed them through gradually more restrictive prohibitions. If Beard et al. actually say ending human sacrifice was a justification for invasion and a "righteous act" (presumably meaning grounds for a bellum iustum), then I suppose we will have to restore that wording even if it's wrong. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:16, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Opening is too long[edit]

The opening is practically article-length in itself, and a lot of scrolling needs to occur to get to the table of contents. Ought to be shortened for readability.66.66.149.221 (talk) — Preceding undated comment added 23:15, 11 May 2014 (UTC)

Edit about Constantine[edit]

NebY, Stark is a reliable source and he is supported by other scholars.

Here's a quote from an academic biography by Paul Stephenson: "This book demonstrates that Constantine's conversion was not the reason for the rapid growth of Christianity in the fourth century AD." I think the search for an academic consensus is elusive.Jimjilin (talk) 17:06, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Even if Constantine himself put forward his own version of the creed doesn't mean any of Constantine's creed found its way into the Nicene Creed! Constantine deferred to the assembled bishops.Jimjilin (talk) 17:06, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

We're already discussing your insertion concerning Stark at Talk:Roman Empire#Recent edits. Let's keep that discussion there.
You deleted "Constantine and" from "Constantine and the bishops at the meeting clarified...." Now that you're accepting that Constantine was an active participant, are you still arguing for that deletion? It seems so, based on your speculative "Even if ... doesn't mean any of C's creed....". It seems also that you haven't read Constantine's creed and are unaware that (to quote Potter again) "Constantine's creed was adopted on June 19,325." You might find it interesting to read a detailed account of the events preceding the council and the council itself. NebY (talk) 17:40, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
There is no evidence that Constantine clarified any beliefs, either with or without the bishops. Inclusion of his name here seems to imply that there is some legitimacy to the crackpot historical theory described in Constantinian shift. I support this removal. Rwflammang (talk) 16:10, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
You may not be aware of the evidence; that does not mean there is none. Constantine summoned the council, moving it from Ankara to Nicaea for his convenience,addressed it, participated in it, "personally sought to establish Christian orthodoxy" and presented a creed "the words of [which] remain the best-known expressions of a Roman emperor in the modern world (albeit it in an edited form)... [and which] was adopted on June 19, 325." under his direction.[1][2]

I suggest we add:

Historian Ramsay MacMullen has stated that Constantine had an enormous impact on the rate of the church's growth. [3] Historian Paul Stephenson and Sociologist of Religion Rodney Stark maintain that Constantine did not cause the triumph of Christainity. [4][5]Jimjilin (talk) 23:17, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

I agree, RwflammangJimjilin (talk) 23:20, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

NebY, let's read more of what David Potter wrote: Constantine's version was "composed, it is said, by a Cappadocian priest" and "in terms that were very close to Eusebius of Caesarea's confession of faith". So Potter definitely does not support your thesis that Constantine helped write the Nicene Creed.Jimjilin (talk) 01:17, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

Constantine's actions as stimulus to growth of Christianity[edit]

Copying from above, Jimjilin suggests that we add:

Historian Ramsay MacMullen has stated that Constantine had an enormous impact on the rate of the church's growth. [6] Historian Paul Stephenson and Sociologist of Religion Rodney Stark maintain that Constantine did not cause the triumph of Christainity. [7][8]Jimjilin (talk) 23:17, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

It's generally accepted by leading scholars / publications that Constantine's conversion and his subsequent support of Christianity were the stimulus for its development as a mass movement (e.g. Ramsay MacMullen, Christianizing the Roman empire. A.D.100-400. Yale University Press. Chapter V, Constantine as a friend of the Church. page 51) "the chief reason for that enormous impact [Constantine] had on the rate of the church's growth, was the set of his measures making his favor explicit and official... even these benefactions... constitute only the topmost layer of his part in the history of conversion." Also Averil Cameron in the Cambridge Ancient History, XII, The Crisis of Empire, A.D. 193-337. Chapter 4. The reign of Constantine. page 109: "Constantine's promotion of Christianity, and his personal adoption of the Christian faith, were indeed to have even greater repercussions in future centuries.") It seems that Rodney Stark, Paul Stephenson, and others challenge this well-established consensus. If we are to make any comment here on this subject - and I don't think we have to - I would suggest words such as "Constantine's actions are usually regarded as causing the rapid growth of Christianity, though some modern scholars disagree." Richard Keatinge (talk) 10:28, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

Averil Cameron only mentions "even greater repercussions" which is very different from "causing". Again I think claims about a scholarly consensus are dubious. It seems inappropriate for editors to make assertions regarding scholarly consensus, isn't that original research? How about: "Constantine's actions have been regarded by some scholars as causing the rapid growth of Christianity, though other scholars disagree." I think that's more neutral. Thanks for your input.Jimjilin (talk) 13:46, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

Stark and Stephenson's ideas are clearly meant to be iconoclastic, attacks on received and generally accepted wisdom. With clear statements from two leading scholars (and the Cambridge Ancient History is as close as we get to a statement of current mainstream thinking) we should make clear the leading hypothesis. Actually I don't think we need any such comment in here either. Richard Keatinge (talk) 14:10, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
    • ^ Beard, Mary; North, John; Price, Simon (1998). Religions of Rome, Volume 1: A History. Cambridge University Press. p. 370. ISBN 9780521316828. 
    • ^ Potter, David S. (2014). The Roman Empire At Bay (2nd ed.). Routledge. pp. 410–411. ISBN 9780415840552. 
    • ^ Ramsay MacMullen, Christianizing the Roman empire. A.D.100-400. Yale University Press. p. 51
    • ^ Paul Stephenson, Constantine: Unconquered emperor, Christian victor (2009) p. 5
    • ^ Rodney Stark, The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World's Largest Religion (Harper Collins 2011) pp. 169-182
    • ^ Ramsay MacMullen, Christianizing the Roman empire. A.D.100-400. Yale University Press. p. 51
    • ^ Paul Stephenson, Constantine: Unconquered emperor, Christian victor (2009) p. 5
    • ^ Rodney Stark, The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World's Largest Religion (Harper Collins 2011) pp. 169-182