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This little book tries to tell the story of the religious life of the
Romans from the time when their history begins for us until the close of
the reign of Augustus. Each of its five essays deals with a distinct
period and is in a sense complete in itself; but the dramatic
development inherent in the whole forbids their separation save as acts
or chapters. In spite of modern interest in the study of religion, Roman
religion has been in general relegated to specialists in ancient history
and classics. This is not surprising for Roman religion is not
prepossessing in appearance, but though it is at first sight
incomparably less attractive than Greek religion, it is, if properly
understood, fully as interesting, nay, even more so. In Mr. W. Warde
Fowler's _Roman Festivals_ however the subject was presented in all its
attractiveness, and if the present book shall serve as a simple
introduction to his larger work, its purpose will have been fulfilled.

No one can write of Roman religion without being almost inestimably
indebted to Georg Wissowa whose _Religion und Cultus der Roemer_ is the
best systematic presentation of the subject. It was the author's
privilege to be Wissowa's pupil, and much that is in this book is
directly owing to him, and even the ideas that are new, if there are any
good ones, are only the bread which he cast upon the waters returning to
him after many days.

The careful student of the history of the Romans cannot doubt the
psychological reality of their religion, no matter what his personal
metaphysics may be. It is the author's hope that these essays may have a
human interest because he has tried to emphasise this reality and to
present the Romans as men of like passions to ourselves, in spite of all
differences of time and race.

Hearty thanks are due to Mr. W. Warde Fowler and to Mr. Albert W. Van
Buren for their great kindness in reading the proofs; and the dedication
of the book is at best a poor return for the help which my wife has
given me.

ROME, _November, 1905_.









Rome forms no exception to the general rule that nations, like
individuals, grow by contact with the outside world. In the middle of
the five centuries of her republic came the Punic wars and the intimate
association with Greece which made the last half of her history as a
republic so different from the first half; and in the kingdom, which
preceded the republic, there was a similar coming of foreign influence,
which made the later kingdom with its semi-historical names of the
Tarquins and Servius Tullius so different from the earlier kingdom with
its altogether legendary Romulus, Numa, Tullus Hostilius and Ancus
Martius. We have thus four distinct phases in the history of Roman
society, and a corresponding phase of religion in each period; and if we
add to this that new social structure which came into being by the
reforms of Augustus at the beginning of the empire, together with the
religious changes which accompanied it, we shall have the five periods
which these five essays try to describe: the period before the
Tarquins, that is the "Religion of Numa"; the later kingdom, that is the
"Reorganisation of Servius"; the first three centuries of the republic,
that is the "Coming of the Sibyl"; the closing centuries of the
republic, that is the "Decline of Faith"; and finally the early empire
and the "Augustan Renaissance." Like all attempts to cut history into
sections these divisions are more or less arbitrary, but their
convenience sufficiently justifies their creation. They must be thought
of however not as representing independent blocks, arbitrarily arranged
in a certain consecutive order, not as five successive religious
consciousnesses, but merely as marking the entrance of certain new ideas
into the continuous religious consciousness of the Roman people. The
history of each of these periods is simply the record of the change
which new social conditions produced in that great barometer of society,
the religious consciousness of the community. It is in the period of the
old kingdom that our story begins.

At first sight it may seem a foolish thing to try to draw a picture of
the religious condition of a time about the political history of which
we know so little, and it is only right therefore that we should inquire
what sources of knowledge we possess.

There was a time, not so very long ago, when under the banner of the
new-born science of "Comparative Philology" there gathered together a
group of men who thought they held the key to prehistoric history, and
that words themselves would tell the story where ancient monuments and
literature were silent. It was a great and beautiful thought, and the
science which encouraged it has taken its place as a useful and
reputable member of the community of sciences, but its pretensions to
the throne of the revealer of mysteries have been withdrawn by those who
are its most ardent followers, and the "Indo-Germanic religion" which is
brought into being is a pleasant thought for an idle hour rather than a
foundation and starting-point for the study of ancient religion in
general. Altogether aside from the fact that although primitive religion
and nationality are in the main identical, language and nationality are
by no means so--we have the great practical difficulty in the case of
Greece and Rome that in the earliest period of which we have knowledge
these two religions bear so little resemblance that we must either
assert for the time of Indo-Germanic unity a religious development much
more primitive than that which comparative philology has sketched, or we
must suppose the presence of a strong decadent influence in Rome's case
after the separation, which is equally difficult. If we realise that in
a primitive religion the name of the god is usually the same as the name
of the thing which he represents, the existence of a Greek god and a
Roman god with names which correspond to the same Indo-Germanic word
proves linguistically that the _thing_ existed and had a name before the
separation, but not at all that the thing was deified or that the name
was the name of a god at that time. We must therefore be content to
begin our study of religion much more humbly and at a much later period.

In fact we cannot go back appreciably before the dawn of political
history, but there are certain considerations which enable us at least
to understand the phenomena of the dawn itself, those survivals in
culture which loom up in the twilight and the understanding of which
gives us a fair start in our historical development. For this knowledge
we are indebted to the so-called "anthropological" method, which is
based on the assumption that mankind is essentially uniform, and that
this essential uniformity justifies us in drawing inferences about very
ancient thought from the very primitive thought of the barbarous and
savage peoples of our own day. At first sight the weakness of this
contention is more apparent than its strength, and it is easy to show
that the prehistoric primitive culture of a people destined to
civilisation is one thing, and the retarded primitive culture of modern
tribes stunted in their growth is quite another thing, so that, as has
so often been said, the two bear a relation to each other not unlike
that of a healthy young child to a full-grown idiot. And yet there is a
decided resemblance between the child and the idiot, and whether
prehistoric or retarded, primitive culture shows everywhere strong
likeness, and the method is productive of good if we confine our
reasoning backwards to those things in savage life which the two kinds
of primitive culture, the prehistoric and the retarded, have in common.
To do this however we must have some knowledge of the prehistoric, and
our modern retarded savage must be used merely to illumine certain
things which we see only in half-light; he must never be employed as a
lay-figure in sketching in those features of prehistoric life of which
we are totally in ignorance. It is peculiarly useful to the student of
Roman religion because he stands on the borderland and looking backwards
sees just enough dark shapes looming up behind him to crave more light.
For in many phases of early Roman religion there are present
characteristics which go back to old manners of thought, and these
manners of thought are not peculiar to the Romans but are found in many
primitive peoples of our own day. The greatest contribution which
anthropology has made to the study of early Roman religion is "animism."

Not much more than a quarter of a century ago the word "animism" began
to be used to describe that particular phase of the psychological
condition of primitive peoples by which they believe that a spirit
(_anima_) resides in everything, material and immaterial. This spirit is
generally closely associated with the thing itself, sometimes actually
identified with it. When it is thought of as distinct from the thing, it
is supposed to have the form of the thing, to be in a word its "double."
These doubles exercise an influence, often for evil, over the thing, and
it is expedient and necessary therefore that they should be propitiated
so that their evil influence may be removed and the thing itself may
prosper. These doubles are not as yet gods, they are merely powers,
potentialities, but in the course of time they develop into gods. The
first step in this direction is the obtaining of a _name_, a name the
knowledge of which gives a certain control over the power to him who
knows it. Finally these powers equipped with a name begin to take on
personal characteristics, to be thought of as individuals, and finally
represented under the form of men.

It cannot be shown that all the gods of Rome originated in this way, but
certainly many of them did, and it is not impossible that they all did;
and this theory of their origin explains better than any other theory
certain habits of thought which the early Romans cherished in regard to
their gods. At the time when our knowledge of Roman religion begins,
Rome is in possession of a great many gods, but very few of them are
much more than names for powers. They are none of them personal enough
to be connected together in myths. And this is the very simple reason
why there was no such thing as a native Roman mythology, a blank in
Rome's early development which many modern writers have refused to
admit, taking upon themselves the unnecessary trouble of positing an
original mythology later lost. The gods of early Rome were neither
married nor given in marriage; they had no children or grandchildren and
there were no divine genealogies. Instead they were thought of
occasionally as more or less individual powers, but usually as masses of
potentialities, grouped together for convenience as the "gods of the
country," the "gods of the storeroom," the "gods of the dead," etc. Even
when they were conceived of as somewhat individual, they were usually
very closely associated with the corresponding object, for example Vesta
was not so much the goddess of the hearth as the goddess "Hearth"
itself, Janus not the god of doors so much as the god "Door."

But by just as much as the human element was absent from the concept of
the deity, by just so much the element of formalism in the cult was
greater. This formalism must not be interpreted according to our modern
ideas; it was not a formalism which was the result and the successor of
a decadent spirituality; it was not a secondary product in an age of the
decline of faith; but it was itself the essence of religion in the
period of the greatest religious purity. In the careful and
conscientious fulfilment of the form consisted the whole duty of man
toward his gods. Such a state of affairs would have been intolerable in
any nation whose instincts were less purely legal. So identical were the
laws concerning the gods and the laws concerning men that though in the
earliest period of Roman jurisprudence the _ius divinum_ and the _ius
humanum_ are already separated, they are separated merely formally as
two separate fields or provinces in which the spirit of the law and
often even the letter of its enactment are the same. Such a formalism
implies a very firm belief in the existence of the gods. The dealings of
a man with the gods are quite as really reciprocal as his dealings with
his fellow citizens. But on the other hand though the existence of the
gods is never doubted for a moment, the gods themselves are an unknown
quantity; hence out of the formal relationship an intimacy never
developed, and while it is scarcely just to characterise the early cult
as exclusively a religion of fear, certainly real affection is not
present until a much later day. The potentiality of the gods always
overshadowed their personality. But this was not all loss, for the
absence of personality prevented the growth of those gross myths which
are usually found among primitive peoples, for the purer more inspiring
myths of gods are not the primitive product but result from the process
of refining which accompanies a people's growth in culture. Thus the
theory of animism illumines the religious condition of that borderland
of history in which Romulus and Numa Pompilius have their

According to that pleasant fiction of which the ancient world was so
extremely fond--the belief that all institutions could be traced back to
their establishment by some individual--the religion of Rome was
supposed to have been founded by her second king Numa, and it was the
custom to refer to all that was most antique in the cult as forming a
part of the venerable "religion of Numa." For us this can be merely a
name, and even as a name misleading, for a part of the beliefs with
which we are dealing go back for centuries before Romulus and the
traditional B.C. 753 as the foundation of Rome. But it is a convenient
term if we mean by it merely the old kingdom before foreign influences
began to work. The Romans of a later time coined an excellent name not
so much for the period as for the kind of religion which existed then,
contrasting the original deities of Rome with the new foreign gods,
calling the former the "old indigenous gods" (_Di Indigetes_) and the
latter the "newly settled gods" (_Di Novensides_). For our knowledge of
the religion of this period we are not dependent upon a mere theory, no
matter how good it may be in itself, but we have the best sort of
contemporary evidence in addition, and it is to the discovery of this
evidence that the modern study of Roman religion virtually owes its
existence. The records of early political history were largely
destroyed in B.C. 390 when the Gauls sacked Rome, but the religious
status, with the conservativeness characteristic of religion generally,
suffered very few changes during all these years, and left a record of
itself in the annually recurring festivals of the Roman year, festivals
which grew into an instinctive function of the life of the common
people. Many centuries later when the calendar was engraved on stone,
these revered old festivals were inscribed on these stone calendars in
peculiarly large letters as distinguished from all the other items. Thus
from the fragments of these stone calendars, which have been found, and
which are themselves nineteen centuries old, we can read back another
eight or ten centuries further. By the aid of this "calendar of Numa" we
are able to assert the presence of certain deities in the Rome of this
time, and the equally important absence of others. And from the
character of the deities present and of the festivals themselves a
correct and more or less detailed picture of the religious condition of
the time may be drawn. This calendar and the list of _Indigetes_
extracted from it form the foundation for all our study of the history
of Roman religion.

The religious forms of a community are always so bound up with its
social organisation that a satisfactory knowledge of the one is
practically impossible without some knowledge of the other.
Unfortunately there is no field in Roman history where theories are so
abundant and facts so rare as in regard to the question of the early
social organisation. But without coming into conflict with any of the
rival theories we may make at least the following statements. In the
main the community was fairly uniform and homogeneous, there were no
great social extremes and no conspicuous foreign element, so that each
individual, had he stopped to analyse his social position, would have
found himself in four distinct relationships: a relationship to himself
as an individual; to his family; to the group of families which formed
his clan (_gens_); and finally to the state. We may go a step further on
safe ground and assert that the least important of these relations was
that to himself, and the most important that to his family. The unit of
early Roman social life was not the individual but the family, and in
the most primitive ideas of life after death it is the family which has
immortality, not the individual. The state is not a union of individuals
but of families. The very psychological idea of the individual seems to
have taken centuries to develop, and to have reached its real
significance only under the empire. Of the four elements therefore we
have established the pre-eminence of the family and the importance of
the state as based on the family idea; the individual may be disregarded
in this early period, and there is left only the clan, which however
offers a difficult problem. The family and the state were destined to
hold their own, merely exchanging places in the course of time, so that
the state came first and the family second; the individual was to grow
into ever increasing importance, but the clan is already dying when
history begins. It is a pleasant theory and one that has a high degree
of probability that there may have been a time when the clan was to the
family what the state is when history begins, and that when the state
arose out of a union of various clans, the immediate allegiance of each
family was gradually alienated from its clan and transferred to the
state, so that the clan gave up its life in order that the state, the
child of its own creation, might live. If this be so, we can see why the
social importance of the clan ceases so early in Roman history.

The centre therefore of early religious life is the family, and the
state as a macrocosm of the family; and the father of each family is its
chief priest, and the king as the father of the state is the chief
priest of the state. As for the individual the only god which he has for
worship is his "double," called in the case of a man his _Genius_ and in
that of a woman her _Juno_, her individualisation of the goddess Juno,
quite a distinct deity, peculiar to herself. But even here the family
instinct shows itself, and though later the Genius and the Juno
represent all that is intellectual in the individual, they seem
originally to have symbolised the procreative power of the individual in
relation to the continuance of the family. The family and the state,
however, side by side worshipped a number of deities.

In the primitive hut, the model of which has come down to us in so many
little burial urns of early time (for example those that have recently
been dug up in the wonderful cemetery under the Roman Forum), with its
one door and no window, there were several elements which needed
propitiation; the door itself as the keeper away of evil, the hearth,
and the niche for the storage of food. The door-god was the god-door
Janus, the _ianua_ itself; the hearth was in the care of the womenfolk,
the wife and daughters, so it was a goddess, Vesta, whom they served;
and the storage-niche, the _penus_, was in the keeping of the
"store-closet gods" (_Di Penates_). The state itself was modelled after
the house. It had its Janus, its sacred door, down in the Forum, and the
king himself, the father of the state, was his special priest; it had
its hearth, where the sacred fire burned, and its own Vesta, tended by
the vestal virgins, the daughters of the state; and it had its
store-niche with its Penates. At a later date but still very early there
was added to the household worship the idea of the general protector of
the house, the Lar, which gave rise to the familiar expression "Lares
and Penates." The origin of this _Lar Familiaris_, as he is called, is
interesting, because it shows the intimate connection between the
farming life of the community and its religion. The Lares were
originally the group of gods who looked after the various farms; they
were in the plural because they were worshipped where the boundary lines
of several farms met, but though several of them were worshipped
together, each farm had its one individual Lar. But the care of the farm
included also the protection of the house on the farm, so that the Lar
of the farm became also the Lar of the house, first of course of houses
on farms, and then of every house everywhere even when no farm was
connected with it.

Aside from Vesta, the Genius, the Lar, and the Penates, possibly the
most important element in family worship was the cult of the dead
ancestors. This cult is, of course, common to almost all religions, and
its presence in Roman religion is in so far not surprising, but the form
in which it occurs there is curious and relatively rare. Just as the
living man has a "double," the Genius, so the dead man also must have a
double, but this double is originally not the Genius, who seems to have
been thought of at first as ceasing with the individual. On the contrary
as death is the great leveller and the remover of individuality, so the
double of the dead was not thought of at first as an individual double
but merely as forming a part of an indefinite mass of spirits, the "good
gods" (_Di Manes_) as they were called because they were feared as being
anything but good. These _Di Manes_ had therefore no specific relation
to the individual, and the individual really ceased at death; the only
human relation which the _Di Manes_ seem to have preserved was a
connection with the living members of the family to which they had
originally belonged. It is therefore very misleading to assert that the
Romans had from the beginning a belief in immortality, when we
instinctively think of the immortality of the individual. The thing that
was immortal was not the individual but the family. It is thoroughly in
keeping with the practical character of the Roman mind that they did not
concern themselves with the place in which these spirits of the dead
were supposed to reside, but merely with the door through which they
could and did return to earth. We have no accounts of the Lower World
until Greece lent her mythology to Rome, and imagination never built
anything like the Greek palace of Pluto. But while they did not waste
energy in furnishing the Lower World with the fittings of fancy, they
did keep a careful guard over the door of egress. This door they called
the _mundus_, and represented it crudely by a trench or shallow pit, at
the bottom of which there lay a stone. On certain days of the year this
stone was removed, and then the spirits came back to earth again, where
they were received and entertained by the living members of their
family. There were a number of these days in the year, three of them
scattered through the year: August 24, October 5, November 8; and two
sets of days: February 13-21 and May 9, 11, 13. The February
celebration, the so-called _Parentalia_, was calm and dignified and
represented all that was least superstitious and fearful in the
generally terrifying worship of the dead. The _Lemuria_ in May had
exactly the opposite character and belongs to the category of the
"expulsion of evil spirits," of which Mr. Frazer in his _Golden Bough_
has given so many instances.

In this connection it is interesting to notice two facts which stand
almost as corollaries to these beliefs. One fact is the religious
necessity for the continuance of the family, in order that there might
always be a living representative of the family to perform the
sacrifices to the ancestors. It was the duty of the head of the family
not only to perform these sacrifices himself as long as he lived but
also to provide a successor. The usual method was by marriage and the
rearing of a family, but, in case there was no male child in the family,
adoption was recurred to. Here it is peculiarly significant that the
sanction of the chief priest was necessary, and he never gave his
consent in case the man to be adopted was the only representative of his
family, so that his removal from that family into another would leave
his original family without a male representative. In cases of
inheritance the first lien on the income was for the maintenance of the
traditional sacrifices unless some special arrangement had been made.
These exceptional inheritances, without the deduction for sacrifices,
were naturally desired above all others and the phrase "an inheritance
without sacrifices" (_hereditas sine sacris_) became by degrees the
popular expression for a godsend. The other fact of interest in this
connection is that, inasmuch as ancestors were worshipped only _en
masse_ and not as individuals, that process could not take place in
Roman religion which is so familiar in many other religions, namely that
the great gods of the state should some of them have been originally
ancestors whose greatness during life had produced a corresponding
emphasis in their worship after death, so that ultimately they were
promoted from the ranks of the deified dead into the select Olympus of
individual gods. This has been a favourite theory of the making of a god
from the time of Euhemerus down to Herbert Spencer. There are religions
in which it is true for certain of the major gods, but there are no
traces of the process in Roman religion, and the reason is obvious in
view of the peculiar character of ancestor worship in Rome.

We have now seen the principal elements which went to make up the family
religion and that part of the state religion which was an enlargement
and an imitation of the family religion. But even in the most primitive
times a Roman's life was not bounded by his own hut and the phenomenon
of death. There was work to be done in life, a living to be gained, and
here, as everywhere, there were hosts of unseen powers who must be
propitiated. His religion was not only coincident with every phase of
private life, it was also closely related to the specific occupations
and interests of the people, and just as the interests of the community,
its means of livelihood, were agriculture and stock-raising, so the gods
were those of the crops and the herds. Some years ago the late Professor
Mommsen succeeded in extracting from the existing stone calendars a list
of the religious festivals of the old Roman year, and also in proving
that this list of festivals was complete in its present condition at a
time before the city of Rome was surrounded by the wall which Servius
Tullius built, and that it therefore goes back to the old kingdom, the
time of what has been called the "Religion of Numa." We cannot go
through all the festivals in detail, but it is extremely interesting to
notice that almost every one of them is connected with the life of the
farmer and represents the action of propitiation towards some god or
group of gods at every time in the Roman year which was at all critical
for agricultural interests.

It must not be forgotten also that this list is not absolutely complete,
because it represents merely the official state festivals, and not even
all of them but only those which fell upon the same day or days every
year, so that they could be engraved in the stone to form a perpetual
calendar. All state festivals, of which there were several, which were
appointed in each particular year according to the backward or forward
estate of the harvest, were omitted from the list, though they were
celebrated at some time in every year; and naturally the public
calendars contained no reference to the many private and semi-private
ceremonies of the year, with which the state had nothing official to do,
festivals of the family and the clan, and even local festivals of
various districts of the city.

In this list of peaceful deities of the farm there is one god whose
character has been very much misunderstood because of the company which
he keeps; this is the god Mars. It has become the fashion of late to
consider him as a god of vegetation, and a great many ingenious
arguments have been brought forward to show his agricultural character.
But the more primitive a community is, the more intense is its struggle
for existence, and the more rife its rivalries with its neighbours.
Alongside of the ploughshare there must always have been the sword or
its equivalent, and along with Flora and Ceres there must always have
been a god of strife and battle. That Mars was this god in early as well
as later times is shown above all things by the fact that he was always
worshipped outside the city, as a god who must be kept at a distance.
Naturally his cult was associated with the dominant interest of life,
the crops, and he was worshipped in the beautiful ceremony of the
purification of the fields, which Mr. Walter Pater has so exquisitely
described at the opening of _Marius the Epicurean_. But he was regarded
as the protector of the fields and the warder off of evil influences
rather than as a positive factor in the development of the crops. Then
too in the early days of the Roman militia, before the regular army had
come into existence, the war season was only during the summer after the
planting and before the harvest, so that the two festivals which marked
the beginning and the end of that season were also readily associated
with the state of the crops at that time.

But the most interesting and curious thing about this old religion is
not so much what it does contain as what it does not. It is not so much
what we find as what we miss, for more than half the gods whom we
instinctively associate with Rome were not there under this old regime.
Here is a partial list of those whose names we do not find: Minerva,
Diana, Venus, Fortuna, Hercules, Castor, Pollux, Apollo, Mercury, Dis,
Proserpina, Aesculapius, the Magna Mater. And yet their absence is not
surprising when we realise that almost all of the gods in this list
represent phases of life with which Rome in this early period was
absolutely unacquainted. She had no appreciable trade or commerce, no
manufactures or particular handicrafts, and no political interests
except the simple patriarchal government which sufficed for her present
needs. Her gods of water were the gods of rivers and springs; Neptune
was there, but he was not the ocean-god like the Greek Poseidon. Vulcan,
the god of fire, who was afterwards associated with the Greek Hephaistos
and became the patron of metal-working, was at this time merely the god
of destructive and not of constructive fire. Even the great god Juppiter
who was destined to become almost identical with the name and fame of
Rome was not yet a god of the state and politics, but merely the
sky-god, especially the lightning god, Juppiter Feretrius, the
"striker," who had a little shrine on the Capitoline where later the
great Capitoline temple of Juppiter Optimus Maximus was to stand.
Another curious characteristic of this early age, which, I think, has
never been commented on, is the extraordinarily limited number of
goddesses. Vesta is the only one who seems to stand by herself without a
male parallel. Each of the others is merely the contrasted potentiality
in a pair of which the male is much more famous, and the only ones in
these pairs who ever obtained a pronounced individuality did so because
their cult was afterwards reinforced by being associated with some
extra-Roman cult. The best illustration of this last is Juno. We may go
further and say that it-seems highly probable that the worship of female
deities was in the main confined to the women of the community, while
the men worshipped the gods. This distinction extended even to the
priesthoods where the wife of the priest of a god was the priestess of
the corresponding goddess. Such a state of affairs is doubly interesting
in view of the pre-eminence of female deities in the early Greek world,
which has been so strikingly shown by Miss Jane Harrison in her recent
book, _Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion_.

The most vital question which can be put to almost any religion is that
in regard to its expansive power and its adaptability to new conditions.
Society is bound to undergo changes, and a young social organism, if
normal, is continually growing new cells. New conditions are arising and
new interests are coming to the front. In addition, if the growth is to
be continuous, new material is being constantly absorbed, and the simple
homogeneous character of the old society is being entirely changed by
the influx of foreign elements. This is what occurred in ancient Rome,
and it is because ancient Roman religion was not capable of organic
development from within, that the curious things happened to it which
our history has to record. It is these strange external accretions which
lend the chief interest to the story, while at the same time they
conceal the original form so fully as to render the writing of a history
of Roman religion extremely difficult.

Yet it must not be supposed because Roman religion was unable to adapt
itself to the new constitution of society with its contrasted classes,
and to the new commercial and political interests which attracted the
attention of the upper classes, that it was absolutely devoid within
itself, within its own limitations, of a certain capability of
development. For several centuries after outside influences began to
affect Rome, her original religion kept on developing alongside of the
new forms. The manner in which it developed is thoroughly significant of
the original national character of the Romans.

We have seen that from the very beginning the nature of the gods as
powers rather than personalities tended to emphasise the value and
importance of the name, which usually indicated the particular function
or speciality of each deity and was very often the only thing known
about him. In the course of time as the original name of the deity began
to be thought of entirely as a proper name without any meaning, rather
than as a common noun explaining the nature of the god to which it was
attached, it became necessary to add to the original name some adjective
which would adequately describe the god and do the work which the name
by itself had originally done. And as the nature of the various deities
grew more complicated along with the increasing complications of daily
life, new adjectives were added, each one expressing some particular
phase of the god's activity. Such an adjective was called a _cognomen_,
and was often of very great importance because it began to be felt that
a god with one adjective, _i.e._ invoked for one purpose, was almost a
different god from the same god with a different adjective, _i.e._
invoked for another purpose. Thus a knowledge of these adjectives was
almost as necessary as a knowledge of the name of the god. The next step
in the development was one which followed very easily. These important
adjectives began to be thought of as having a value and an existence in
themselves, apart from the god to which they were attached. The
grammatical change which accompanied this psychological movement was the
transfer of the adjective into an abstract noun. Both adjectives and
abstract nouns express quality, but the adjective is in a condition of
dependence on a noun, while the abstract noun is independent and
self-supporting. And thus, just as in certain of the lower organisms a
group of cells breaks off and sets up an individual organism of its own,
so in old Roman religion some phase of a god's activity, expressed in an
adjective, broke off with the adjective from its original stock and set
up for itself, turning its name from the dependent adjective form into
the independent abstract noun. Thus Juppiter, worshipped as a god of
good faith in the dealings of men with one another, the god by whom
oaths were sworn under the open sky, was designated as "Juppiter,
guarding-good-faith," Juppiter Fidius. There were however many other
phases of Juppiter's work, and hence the adjective _fidius_ became very
important as the means of distinguishing this activity from all the
others. Eventually it broke off from Juppiter and formed the abstract
noun _Fides_, the goddess of good faith, where the sex of the deity as a
goddess was entirely determined by the grammatical gender of abstract
nouns as feminine.

This is all strange enough but there is one more step in the development
even more curious yet. This abstract goddess _Fides_ did not stay long
in the purely abstract sphere; she began very soon to be made concrete
again, as the Fides of this particular person or of that particular
group and as this Fides or that, until she became almost as concrete as
Juppiter himself had been, and hence we have a great many different
_Fides_ in seeming contradiction to the old grammatical rule that
abstract nouns had no plural. Now all this development in the field of
religion throws light upon the character of the Roman mind and its
instinctive methods of thought, and we see why it is that the Romans
were very great lawyers and very mediocre philosophers. Both law and
philosophy require the ability for abstract thought; in both cases the
essential qualities of a thing must be separated from the thing itself.
But in the case of philosophic thought this abstraction, these
qualities, do not immediately seek reincarnation. They continue as
abstractions and do not immediately descend to earth again, whereas for
law such a descent is absolutely necessary because jurisprudence is
interested not so much in the abstraction by itself, but rather in the
abstract as presented in concrete cases. Hence a type of mind which
found it equally easy to make the concrete into the abstract and then to
turn the abstract so made into a kind of concrete again, is _par
excellence_ the legal mind, and no better proof of the instinctive
tendency to law-making on the part of the Romans can be found than in
the fact that the same habits of mind which make laws also governed the
development of their religion.

Unfortunately however it was not these abstract deities who could save
old Roman religion. They were merely the logical outcome of the deities
already existing, merely new offspring of the old breed. They did not
represent any new interests, but were merely the individualisation of
certain phases of the old deities, phases which had always been present
and were now at most merely emphasised by being worshipped separately.


Like a lofty peak rising above the mists which cover the tops of the
lower-lying mountains, the figure of Servius Tullius towers above the
semi-legendary Tarquins on either side of him. We feel that we have to
do with a veritable character in history, and we find ourselves
wondering what sort of a man he was personally--a feeling that never
occurs to us with Romulus and the older kings, and comes to us only
faintly with the elder Tarquin, while the younger Tarquin has all the
marks of a wooden man, who was put up only to be thrown down, whose
whole _raison d'etre_ is to explain the transition from the kingdom to
the republic on the theory of a revolution. Eliminate the revolution,
suppose the change to have been a gradual and a constitutional one, and
you may discard the proud Tarquin without losing anything but a
lay-figure with its more or less gaudy trappings of later myths. But it
is not so with Servius; his wall and his constitution are very real and
defy all attempts to turn their maker into a legend. Yet on the other
hand we must be on our guard, for much of the definiteness which seems
to attach to him is rather the definiteness of a certain stage in Rome's
development, a certain well-bounded chronological and sociological
tract. It is dangerous to try to limit too strictly Servius's personal
part in this development; and far safer, though perhaps less
fascinating, to use his name as a general term for the changes which
Rome underwent from the time when foreign influences began to tell upon
her until the beginning of the republic. He forms a convenient title
therefore for certain phases of Rome's growth. And yet even this is not
strictly correct, for Servius stands not so much for the coming into
existence of certain facts, as for the recognition of the existence of
these facts. The facts themselves were of slow growth, covering probably
centuries, but the actions resulting from them, and the outward changes
in society, came thick and fast and may well have taken place, all of
them, within the limits of one man's life. The foundation fact upon
which all these changes were based is the influence of the outside world
on the Roman community. Until this time there had been little to
differentiate Rome from any other of the hill-communities of Italy, of
which there were scores in her immediate neighbourhood; nor was she the
only one to come into contact with the outside world. It was the effect
which that influence had upon her as contrasted with her neighbours
which made the difference. When we ask why this influence affected her
differently we find no satisfactory answer, and are in the presence of a
mystery--the world-old insoluble mystery of the superiority of one tribe
or one individual over others apparently of the same class. Political
history is wont to tell this chapter of Rome's story under the title of
the "Rise of the Plebeians," but the presence of the Plebeians was only
the outward symbol of an inward change. This change was the breaking up
of the monotonous one-class society of the primitive community with its
one--agricultural--interest, and the formation of a variegated
many-class society with manifold interests, such as trade, handicraft,
and politics. It was the awakening of Rome into a world-life out of her
century-long undisturbed bucolic slumber.

There were at this time two peoples in Italy, who by reason of their
older culture were able to be Rome's teachers. One lay to the north of
her, the mysterious Etruscans, whose culture fortunately for Rome had
only a very moderate influence, because the Etruscan culture had already
lost much of its virility, possibly also because it was distinctly felt
to be foreign, and hence could effect no insidious entry, and probably
because Rome was at this time too strong and young and clean to take
anything but the best from Etruria. The other lay to the south, the
Greek colonies of Magna Graecia, separated from Rome for the present by
many miles of forest and by hostile tribes. Around her in Latium were
her own next of kin, the Latins, becoming rapidly inferior to her, but
enabled to do her at least this service, that of absorbing the foreign
influences which came, and in certain cases latinising them, and thus
transmitting them to Rome in a more or less assimilated condition.

The three great facts in the life of Rome during this period are the
coming of Greek merchants and Greek trade from the south, the coming of
Etruscan artisans and handicraft from the north, and the beginnings of
her political rivalry and gradual prominence in the league of Latin
cities around her. Each one of these movements is reflected in the
religious changes of the period. In regard to the first two this is not
surprising, for the ancient traveller, like his mythical prototype
Aeneas, carried his gods with him. Thus there were worshipped in private
in Rome the gods of all the peoples who settled within her walls, and
the presence of these gods was destined to make its influence felt. Your
primitive polytheist is very catholic in his religious tastes; for, when
one is already in possession of many gods, the addition of a few more is
a minor matter, especially when, as was now the case in Rome, these
deities are the patrons of occupations and interests hitherto entirely
unknown to the Roman, and hence not provided for in his scheme of gods.
It was therefore in no spirit of disloyalty to the already existing
gods, and with no desire to introduce rival deities, that the new cults
began to spread until they became so important as to call for state

Possibly the most interesting cases are those of the two gods who came
from the south, Hercules and Castor, interesting because they were the
forerunners of that great multitude of Greek gods who later came in
proudly by special invitation, and even more interesting yet because,
though they were Greek as Greek could be, they came into Rome, as it
were, incognito, and were so far from being known as Greek, that, when
the same gods came in afterwards more directly, these new-comers were
felt to be quite a different thing, and their worship was carried on in
another part of the city away from the old-established cults.

In the Greek world Herakles and Hermes were the especial patrons of
travellers, and as travelling was never done for pleasure but always for
business, they became the patrons of the travelling merchant. It was
also natural that they should go with the settlers away from the
mother-city into the new colony. Thus it was that they came from the
mother-land into the colonies of Magna Graecia in Southern Italy, and
once being established there made their way slowly but inevitably
northwards. The story of Hermes, under the name of Mercury, belongs to a
later chapter, but that of Herakles = Hercules must be recounted here.
It is only within the last few years that the scholarly world has been
persuaded that there was no such thing as an original Italic Hercules;
at first sight it was very difficult to believe, because there seemed to
be so many apparently very old Italic legends centering in Hercules. But
it has been shown, either that these legends never existed and rest
solely upon false interpretation of monuments, or that, though they did
exist at an early date, they were introduced under Greek influence. It
was the trading merchant therefore who brought Herakles northward. And
as the god went, his name was softened into Hercules, and with the
assimilation of the name to the tongue of the Italic people, there went
hand in hand an adaptation of his nature to their needs, so that by
degrees he became thoroughly italicised both in form and content. It is
probable that the cult came into Rome as well as into the other cities
of Latium, but in Rome it was confined to a few individuals, and at
first obtained no public recognition. On the contrary, for reasons that
we are at a loss to find, this Greek cult seems to have reached very
large proportions in the little town of Tibur (Tivoli), fourteen miles
north-east of Rome. There it dominated all other worship and lost so
much of its foreign atmosphere that it became thoroughly latinised. In
the course of time the Roman state acknowledged this Tivoli cult of
Hercules and accepted a branch of it as its own. But the extraordinary
thing about this acknowledgment is that the Romans felt it to be a Latin
and not a foreign cult. They showed this intimate and friendly feeling
by permitting an altar to Hercules to be erected within the city proper,
in the Forum Boarium. But in order to understand the significance of
this act a word of digression is necessary.

Under the old Roman regime every act of life was performed under the
supervision of the gods, and this godly patronage was especially
emphasised in acts which affected the life of the community. No act was
of greater importance for the community than the choice of a home, the
location of a settlement. Thus the founding of an ancient city was
accompanied by sacred rites, chief among which was the ploughing of a
furrow around the space which was ultimately to be enclosed by the wall.
This furrow formed a symbolic wall on very much the same principle as
that on which the witch draws her circle. The furrow was called the
_pomerium_ and was to the world of the gods what the city wall was to
the world of men. It did not however always coincide with the actual
city wall, and the space it embraced was sometimes less, sometimes more,
than that embraced by the city wall; and just as new walls covering
larger territory could be built for the city, so a new _pomerium_ line
could be drawn. As was becoming for a spiritual barrier there was
nothing to mark it except the boundary stones through which the
imaginary line passed. The wall, which Servius built and which continued
to be the outer wall of Rome for a period of eight or nine hundred years
until the third Christian century, was at the time of its building
coincident in the main with the line of the _pomerium_, with one very
important exception: namely that all the region of the Aventine, which
was inside the limits of the political city and embraced by the Servian
wall, lay outside the _pomerium_ line and was in other words outside the
religious city. It continued thus all through the republic and into the
empire until the reign of Claudius. Originally the _pomerium_ line
played an important part in the religious world and it continued to do
so until the middle of the republic, during the Second Punic War, when
its sanctity was destroyed and it lost its real religious significance,
though it remained as a formal institution. As a divine barrier it
served originally in the world of the gods very much the same purpose as
the material wall of stone did in the world of men. Before the problem
of foreign gods had begun to exist for the Romans, in the good old days
when they knew only the gods of their own religion, the _pomerium_
served to keep within the bounds of Rome all the beneficent kindly gods
whose presence was not needed outside in the fields, and it served fully
as important a purpose in keeping outside of Rome the gods who were
feared rather than loved, for example the dread war-god Mars. When
foreign gods began to be introduced into Rome they might, of course, be
worshipped inside the _pomerium_ by private individuals, but when the
state acknowledged them it was more prudent that her worship should be
outside the sacred wall. Thus it came to pass that the foreign gods, who
were taken into the cult of the Roman state, were given temples in the
Campus Martius or over on the Aventine, and the two or three cases where
they were publicly worshipped inside the _pomerium_ form no real
exception to this rule--such an exception would be, in fact, quite
unthinkable in the strictly logical system of Roman worship--but these
gods were allowed inside because they came to Rome from her kinsfolk,
the Latins, and were not felt to be foreign.

Hercules is one of the cases in this last category. Though originally,
as we have seen, a Greek god, his long residence in Tibur (Tivoli) had
made him, as it were, a naturalised citizen of Latium, and hence Rome
felt it no impropriety to take him inside her _pomerium_. At first his
worship seems to have been carried on by two clans, the Potitii and the
Pinarii, but later, during the republic, the state assumed control. But
though it was really the Greek Herakles who had come in as the latinised
Hercules, the god had paid a certain price for his admission, for he
came stripped of all the various attributes which he had had in Greece
and retaining merely his function as patron of trade and travel. It was
this practical side of his nature alone which appealed to the Romans; it
found its expression in the offering of "the tenth" at the great altar
in the Forum Boarium. This altar always remained in a certain sense the
centre of Hercules-worship in Rome. It was reinforced at an early date
by no less than three temples of Hercules in the more or less immediate
neighbourhood, all of which were characterised by the same relative
simplicity of ritual. Centuries later Herakles became known to the
Romans through direct Greek channels, and it was recognised that this
new Herakles was akin to the old Hercules, so that he too was called
Hercules. There was nothing surprising in this to the Romans, because
they considered it a matter of course that there should be found a
parallel among their own gods for each Greek deity. They never
understood the true state of affairs; it is doubtful whether they could
have understood it: namely, that in almost all their other
identifications of Roman and Greek deities, they were really doing
violence to their own native gods by superimposing upon them the
attributes of a deity with whom they had really nothing in common,
whereas, in identifying the new Herakles with their old Hercules, they
were doing a perfectly legitimate thing. For one who knows the true
state of affairs there is something pathetically amusing in the fact
that they really showed more delicacy in making their old (really
originally Greek) Hercules into the new Greek Herakles-Hercules, than
they did in throwing together Neptune and Poseidon, Mars and Ares, Diana
and Artemis. As a matter of fact they always reverenced the old cult of
the great altar, and never allowed the more sensational phases of Greek
worship to be practised there, and put off into another quarter the
temples which were built to Hercules under the various new attributes
which the new Greek cult brought with it. These temples were placed, as
was proper, outside the _pomerium_, in the southern part of the Campus

But to return to the simple Hercules and the Servian regime, the Roman
state had now obtained a deity, of which, by the contagion of commerce,
they already felt a need, a god of great power from whom came success in
the practical undertakings of life. Hence he had a strong hold on the
Romans whose practical side was undergoing a rapid development. The idea
of trade was now represented in the religious world, it had received its
divine sanction.

The other god, who came up from Magna Graecia and whose formal
acceptance into the state-cult formed one of the earliest incidents in
the breakdown of the old agricultural religion, was Castor, with his
twin-brother Pollux, although brother Pollux was always an insignificant
partner, so much so that the temple which was subsequently built to them
both was referred to either as the temple of "Castor" alone or as the
temple of "the Castors." At various points in the old Greek world we
meet with a pair of brothers, at first not designated by individual
names but merely named as a pair. Even these pair-names do not agree,
but they represent all of them the same idea. Later when individual
names are substituted for the general pair-name, these individual names
also differ. They are gods of protection, and on the sea-coast--and most
of Greece is sea-coast--they are especially helpful as rescuers from the
dangers of the sea, and they are also very early and almost everywhere
connected with horses. But in spite of their usefulness they are not
very prominent, and it is doubtful whether they would ever have become
famous, except for one of those little accidents which make the fortunes
of gods as well as of men. It so happened that horses began to be used
in warfare more than for the mere drawing of chariots; a primitive sort
of cavalry came into being, produced by mounting heavy-armed
foot-soldiers on horseback. With this cavalry the "Twin-Brothers"
(_Dios-kouroi_ = "Sons of Zeus"), especially Castor, became prominent.
Just as the Greek merchants had taken Herakles with them when they set
out to plant colonies in Southern Italy, so the heavy-mounted horsemen
carried their god Castor with them wherever they went. The Italic tribes
in their turn were quick to seize upon this idea of cavalry, and with
it as an essential part went its divine patron, Castor. Thus the
Castor-cult moved steadily northward, carried, as it were, on horseback.
At last it reached Latium, and there the little town of Tusculum,
afterwards so famous as the residence of Cicero, became in some
unaccountable way an important cult-centre, and did for Castor what
Tibur had done for Hercules, _i.e._ latinised him, so that Rome received
him not as an alien but as one of her kin. There can be little doubt
that the Roman cult actually did come from Tusculum, and that in its
introduction into Rome, as in every other step on its march, it was
connected with the reorganisation of the cavalry. This would seem to
imply that Tusculum was famous for its cavalry and that Rome took the
idea of it from her--statements for which we have unfortunately no other
confirmation, though we have abundant proof of the cult at Tusculum and
of Rome's close association with it.

Castor was thus the patron of the "horsemen" (_equites_) and his great
day was July 15, when the horsemen's parade took place. Possibly this
had been the date of the festival at Tusculum, a day especially
appropriate because it was the Ides of the month, and the Ides were
sacred to Juppiter, whose sons Castor and Pollux (_Dios-kouroi_) were
supposed to be. It is extremely interesting in the light of this
knowledge of the true state of affairs to see how legend later
explained the coming of Castor and Pollux. It was an incident in the
mythical war which was supposed to have taken place after the last
Tarquin had been driven out, and the republic had been started. The
adversaries of Rome, allied with Tarquin, notably Octavius Mamilius of
Tusculum, fought against the Romans in the battle of Lake Regillus on
July 15, B.C. 499. The Romans won, and the first news of victory was
brought to Rome by the miraculous appearance of Castor and Pollux who
were seen watering their horses in the Forum at the spring of Juturna. A
temple on this spot was then vowed and fifteen years later, B.C. 484, it
was completed and dedicated. Tusculum, July 15, and the dedication of
the temple in B.C. 484 are seemingly the only historical facts in this
legend; and long before B.C. 499 Castor was worshipped in Rome,
especially on July 15. The site of his original worship was without
doubt the same locality in the Forum where his temple was subsequently
built, for it is an almost invariable rule that the earliest temples are
built on the actual site of, or close to, the old altar or shrine which
preceded the formal temple. Like Hercules therefore he was received
inside the _pomerium_, and probably for a similar reason, because it was
felt that he was a god of Tusculum, and hence a god of Rome's kinsfolk.
We have an additional confirmation of this feeling in the way in which
the later direct cult of Castor was treated. This cult, connecting
Castor with healing and the interpretation of dreams, and emphasising
his function as a rescuer from the dangers of the sea, would have been
without meaning for the old Romans who worshipped him merely as a patron
of horsemen and horsemanship. The new ideas seem to have had as their
centre a later temple in the Circus Flaminius and thus Hercules and
Castor may again be paralleled, since they have, each of them, an old
cult-centre inside the _pomerium_, Hercules in the Forum Boarium, Castor
in the Forum, and a later cult-centre, for more advanced ideas, in each
case in the Circus Flaminius.

Although it was Greek influence which ultimately caused the destruction
of Roman religion, and although the cults of Hercules and of Castor are
the first definite effects of this influence, it cannot be said that the
destruction had in any sense begun, because in their slow journey
northward, and in their long residence at Tibur and Tusculum
respectively, the two cults had lost all that was pernicious. The Roman
instinct, which felt them to be akin to itself, did not go amiss; they
were indeed akin to the new Rome with its new interest in trade and its
increased interest in warfare, for the trader and the warrior have gone
side by side in all ages of the world's history, whether it be a
primitive instinct to grasp territory for commercial purposes or a more
civilised endeavour to obtain an open port.

The beginnings of Greek influence have thus been exhibited in the case
of Hercules and of Castor, and it remains to inquire what Etruria did.
There is no race about which we know so much and yet so little as about
the Etruscans. They have always been and still are a riddle, and as our
knowledge of them increases we seem further than ever from a solution,
and what we gain in positive knowledge is more than counterbalanced by
the increased sense of our ignorance. Altogether aside from the problem
of the origin of the Etruscans, and the race to which they belonged, is
the other problem of their disappearance. In a certain sense Etruria
steps out of history quite as mysteriously as she entered into it, nay
even more mysteriously, for we are always willing to allow a certain
percentage of mystery as the legitimate accompaniment of prehistoric
history, but when in the light of more or less historic times a nation
steps off the stage of the world's history, and leaves practically no
heritage behind her, we have a right to be amazed. Of all the peoples in
Italy Rome ought in the order of events to have been her successor, and
yet when we contrast the influence of Etruria on Rome with the influence
of the Greek colonies of Southern Italy we see an amazing difference.
The influence of these Greek colonies on Rome prepared the way for the
direct influence of the Greek motherland, so that one passed over into
the other by imperceptible gradations, but the influence of Etruria on
Rome not only led to nothing but was in itself of a most superficial
sort. Etruria must have had some literature, yet we search the history
of Roman literature in vain for any traces of the influence of that
literature on Rome, with the one exception of books on divination and
the interpretation of lightning. We know too little of her manners and
customs to be able to tell exactly how much they may have influenced
Rome, and yet it is worth noting that the things which Roman writers
actually refer to Etruria, are all of them most superficial: a few of
the insignia of political office; a few of the trappings of one or two
ritualistic acts; a branch of divination, by the consultation of the
entrails (_haruspicina_), which was of secondary importance compared to
augury; and the most depraved form of Roman public sport, the
gladiatorial games. The only fundamental institution of Rome which it is
the habit to ascribe to Etruria, the idea of the so-called _templum_ or
division of the sky into regions as an axiom of augury, seems to have
been quite as much a general Italic idea as a specifically Etruscan one.
Even in art her influence was relatively slight, and though her
architects seem to have built the earliest formal temples for Rome, they
were soon succeeded in this work by the Greeks. We seek in vain for a
complete and satisfactory explanation of this limitation of her
influence, but certain thoughts suggest themselves, which, as far as
they go, are probably correct. All that we know of Etruria impresses us
with the fact that hers was an outward civilisation unaccompanied by an
inward culture, that it was a formal rather than a spiritual growth, an
artificial acquisition from without rather than a development from
within outwards. It was strong but with its strength went brutality, it
was interested in art but for its sensual rather than its spiritual
aspects. Now the idealism of youth is present in nations just as in
individuals, though probably a nation is less conscious of it than an
individual. It is with the nation one of the effects of the instinct of
self-preservation, and for a youthful nation to absorb the vices of an
old decadent one would be self-destruction. Thus the youthful Rome
rejected most of the Etruscan poison, and thus nature purified herself,
and Etruria was buried in the pit of her own nastiness.

There was however one town which acted as an interpreter between Rome
and Etruria, and was the original cult-centre for a very great goddess,
spreading her cult in both directions, into Rome and into Etruria. The
town was Falerii and the goddess was Minerva, who in a certain sense
entered Rome three times, once direct from Falerii to Rome, and once
from Falerii to Rome by way of Etruria, and finally, when Falerii was
captured by the Romans, again direct to Rome. In the earliest period
there are scarcely any traces of the worship of Minerva in Latium or
Southern Italy, and we are absolutely certain that she was not known in
Rome. In the country north of Rome, however, the situation is different
There she is found quite frequently, especially in Etruria under the
name of MENERVA or MENRVA. Yet she cannot have been an Etruscan goddess,
because the name itself is Italic and not Etruscan. She is therefore
neither Roman, nor Etruscan, nor Latin, at least so far as we know Latin
in Latium. If we can find a place however where a Latin people is under
strong Etruscan influence, we shall be near the solution. Such a place
is Falerii, in the country of the Faliscans. To the ancients it appeared
so thoroughly Etruscan that they go out of their way to explain that it
was not. As a matter of fact it was the only Latin town on the right
bank of the Tiber, and because of its locality it was early brought into
vital connection with the Etruscans, so vital that while it never lost
all of its original Latin character, it lost enough of it to exercise a
very considerable direct influence over Etruria, and to be to a very
large extent influenced by her in turn. We cannot of course positively
prove that Minerva was originally worshipped only at Falerii, and that
her cult spread entirely from this one point, but we have at least
strong negative evidence, and so far as the general history of ancient
religion is concerned there is nothing impossible in such a spread.
Religious history shows many parallels to this; for example the classic
case of the god Eros of Thespiae, in Boeotia, who would have lived and
died merely a little insignificant local god, if it had not been for the
Boeotian poet Hesiod who adopted Eros into his poetry and thus gave him
a start in life by which he ultimately succeeded in going all over the
Greek world, and then passing into Rome as Cupid; and so into all later

We are accustomed to think of Minerva as the Latin name for Athena, the
daughter of Zeus, and unconsciously we clothe Minerva with all the glory
of Athena and endow her with Athena's many-sidedness. In reality the
little peasant goddess of Falerii had originally nothing in common with
Athena except the fact that both of them were interested in handicraft
and the handicraftsman, but Athena had a hundred other interests
besides, while this one thing seems to have filled the whole of
Minerva's horizon. When Minerva went on her travels into Etruria, she
came among a people who eventually learned from the representations of
Greek art a very considerable amount of Greek mythology, and who, when
they heard of Athena, saw her resemblance to Minerva and began thus to
associate the two. But even in this association Minerva was still
pre-eminently the goddess of the artisan and the labouring man, she was
the patroness of the works of man's hands rather than of the works of
his mind, and as such she was brought into Rome by Etruscan and
Faliscan workmen. At first she was worshipped merely by these workmen in
their own houses, but by degrees as the number of these workmen
increased and as a knowledge of their handicraft spread to native
Romans, Minerva became so prominent that the state was compelled to
acknowledge her, and to accept her among the gods of the state. But it
was a very different acknowledgment from that of Hercules or Castor;
these gods had been received inside the _pomerium_, but Minerva was
given a temple outside, over on the Aventine. None the less her cult
throve, and her power was soon shown both religiously and socially. Her
great festival was on the 19th of March, a day which had been originally
sacred to Mars, but the presence of Minerva's celebrations on that day
soon caused the associations with Mars to be almost entirely forgotten.
Socially her temple became the meeting-place of all the artisans of
Rome, it was at once their religious centre and their business
headquarters. There they met in their primitive guilds (_collegia_) and
arranged their affairs, and thus it continued to be as long as pagan
Rome lasted. The respect shown to these guilds of Minerva is nowhere
more clearly exhibited than in an incident which happened in the time of
the Second Punic War, several centuries after the introduction of the
cult. Terrified by adverse portents the Roman Senate instructed the old
poet Livius Andronicus to write a hymn in honour of Juno and to train a
chorus of youths and maidens to sing it. The hymn was sung, and was such
a great success that the gratitude of the Senate took the form of
granting permission to the poets of the city to have a guild of their
own, and a meeting-place along with the older guilds in the temple of
Minerva on the Aventine. This was the Roman state's first expression of
literary appreciation; from her standpoint it was flattery indeed, for
were not poets by this decree made equal to butchers, bakers, and
cloth-makers, and was not poetry acknowledged to be of some practical
use and adjudged a legitimate occupation?

The history of the cult of Minerva is much more complicated than that of
Hercules or Castor. Like them she was subjected to strong Greek
influence, and, as we shall see later, not very long after her
introduction she was taken into the company of Juppiter and Juno, thus
forming the famous Capitoline triad. Also temples were built to her
individually under various aspects of the worship of Athena with whom
she gradually became identified, but in the old Aventine temple the
original idea of Minerva, the working man's friend, continued
practically unchanged. Doubtless the society of Servius's day, who
witnessed the coming of Minerva, did not realise what this introduction
meant, and how absolutely necessary it was for Rome's future
development that the artisan class should be among her people, and that
this class should be represented in the world of the gods. They little
knew that in the temple on the Aventine was being brought to expression
the trade-union idea, which was to pass over into the mediaeval guild of
both workmen and masters, still under religious auspices, and to find a
latter-day parody in the modern labour-union, with its spirit of
hostility to employers, and its indifference, at least as an
organisation, to things religious.

Trade and handicraft were thus added to the Roman world, of men on
earth, and of the gods above the earth, and it remains for us to
consider the awakening of the political spirit and its corresponding
religious phenomenon; but before we do this, we must clear the way by
casting aside one ancient hypothesis connected with Servius's religious
reforms, which is not correct, at least in the way in which the ancients
meant it.

The writing of the earlier period of Rome's history is sometimes
complicated rather than helped by the statements of the generally
well-meaning but often misguided historians of later times. Their real
knowledge of the facts was in many cases no greater than ours, while
they lacked what modern historians possess: a breadth of view and a
knowledge of the phenomena of history in many periods and among many
nations. The study of the social and religious movements under Servius
presents us with an interesting illustration of this. It was customary
namely to ascribe to Servius Tullius the introduction of the cult of
Fortuna, and Plutarch takes occasion twice in his _Moralia_ to describe
the interest of Servius in this cult and to recount the extraordinary
number of temples which he built to the great goddess of chance under
her various attributes. The Romans of Plutarch's day thought of Fortuna
in very much the way in which their poets, especially Horace, described
her, as a great and powerful goddess of chance, the personification of
the element of apparent caprice which seems to be present in the running
of the universe. It is very much our way of thinking of her, and of
course both our own concept and the later Roman concept go back to
Greece. But Greece had not always had this idea of the goddess of luck.
The older purer age of Greek thought was permeated with the idea of the
absolute immutable character of the divine will, a belief which
precluded the possibility of chance or caprice. The earliest Greek Tyche
(Fortuna) was the daughter of Zeus who fulfilled his will; and that his
will through her was often a beneficent will is shown in the tendency to
think of her as a goddess of plenty. It was only the growth of
scepticism, the failure of faith to bear up under the apparently
contradictory lessons of experience, which brought into being in the
Alexandrian age Tyche, the goddess of chance, the winged capricious
deity poised on the ball. It was this habit of thought which eventually
gave the Romans that idea of Fortuna which has became our idea because
it is the prevalent one in Roman literature and life in the periods with
which we are most familiar. Now if Fortuna be thought of in this latter
way, it is a very easy matter to connect her with Servius Tullius, for
the legendary accounts of Servius's career picture him as a very child
of "fortune," raised from the lowest estate to the highest power, the
little slave boy who became king. What goddess would he delight to
honour, if not the goddess of the happy chance which had made him what
he was?

All this is very pretty, but it is unfortunately quite impossible,
because whatever the time may have been when Fortuna began to be
worshipped in Rome, it is certain that the idea of chance did not enter
into the concept of her until long after Servius's day. Instead the
early Fortuna was a goddess of plenty and fertility, among mankind as a
protectress of women and of childbirth, among the crops and the herds as
a goddess of fertility and fecundity. Her full name was probably Fors
Fortuna, a name which survived in two old temples across the river from
Rome proper, in Trastevere, where she was worshipped in the country by
the farmers in behalf of the crops. Fortuna is thus merely the cult-name
added to the old goddess Fors to intensify her meaning, which finally
broke off from her and became independent, expressing the same idea of
a goddess of plenty. Later under Greek influence the concept of luck,
especially good-luck, slowly displaced the older idea. The possibility
of such a transition from fertility to good-luck is shown us in the
phrase "_arbor felix_," which originally meant a fruitful tree and later
a tree of good omen. As regards Fortuna and Servius therefore there is
no inherent reason why they should have been connected, and whenever it
was that Fortuna began to exist, be it before or after Servius, she came
into the world as a goddess of plenty and did not turn into a goddess of
luck till centuries after her birth.

It must not be supposed that Rome in this sixth century before Christ
could take into herself all these traders and artisans, and become thus
interested also among her own citizens in these new employments, without
receiving a corresponding impulse toward a larger political life. Thus
there began that ever-increasing participation in the affairs of the
Latin league, which was her first step toward acquiring a world
dominion. It is probable that Rome had always belonged to this league,
but at first as a very insignificant member. Those were the days in
which Alba Longa stood out as leader, a leadership which she afterwards
lost, but of which the recollection was retained because the Alban Mount
behind Alba Longa remained the cult-centre, connected with the worship
of the god of the league, the Juppiter of the Latins (Juppiter
Latiaris), not only until B.C. 338 when the league ceased to exist, but
even later when Rome kept up a sentimental celebration of the old
festival. In the course of time, for reasons which we do not know, Alba
Longa's power declined and the mantle of her supremacy fell upon Aricia,
a little town still in existence not far from Albano. The coming of
Aricia to the presidency of the league started a religious movement
which is one of the most extraordinary in the checkered history of Roman
religion. The ultimate result of this movement was the introduction of
the goddess Diana into the state-cult of Rome, where she was
subsequently identified with Apollo's sister Artemis. But this is a long
story, and to understand it we must go back some distance to make our

Among the more savage tribes and in the wilder mountain regions of both
Greece and Italy there was worshipped a goddess who had a different name
in each country, Artemis in Greece, Diana in Italy, but who was in
nature very much the same. This does not imply that it was the same
goddess originally or that the early Artemis of Greece had any influence
on the Diana of Italy. Their similarity was probably caused merely by
the similarity of the conditions from which they sprang, the similar
needs of the two peoples. She was a goddess of the woods, and of nature,
and especially of wild animals, a patroness of the hunt and the
huntsman, but also a goddess of all small animals, of all helpless
little ones, and a helper too of those that bore them, hence a goddess
of birth, and in the sphere of mankind a goddess of women and of
childbirth. Later in Greece Artemis was absorbed into the sea-cult of
Apollo on the island of Delos, where she became Apollo's sister, like
him the child of Latona; but naturally Diana experienced no similar
change until in Rome, centuries later, she was artificially identified
with Artemis. In the earliest times there were two places in Italy where
the cult of Diana was especially prominent, both, as we should expect,
in wooded mountainous regions: one on Mount Tifata (near Capua), the
modern St. Angelo in Formis; the other in Latium, in a grove near
Aricia. It is with this latter cult-centre that we have here to do. The
grove near Aricia became so famous that the goddess worshipped there was
known as "Diana of the Grove" (Diana Nemorensis), and the place where
she was worshipped was called the "Grove" (_nemus_), a name which is
still retained in the modern "Nemi." She was a goddess of the woods, of
the animal kingdom, of birth, and so of women; and almost all the
dedicatory inscriptions which have been found near her shrine were put
up by women. She was worshipped above all by the people of Aricia, and
she seems to have been the patron deity of the town. When it fell to
Aricia's lot to become the head of the league, her goddess Diana
promptly assumed an important position in the league, not because she
had by nature any political bearing whatsoever, but merely because she
was wedded to Aricia, and experienced all the vicissitudes of her
career. Thus there came into the league, alongside of the old Juppiter
Latiaris of the Alban Mount, the new Diana Nemorensis of Aricia, and
sacrifices to her formed a part of the solemn ritual of the united towns
of Latium. It does not take actually a great many years for a religious
custom to acquire sanctity, and before many generations had passed,
Diana was felt to be quite as original and essential a part of the
worship of the league as Juppiter himself. During these same centuries
Rome was growing in importance and influence in the league, until,
instead of being one of its insignificant towns, she was in a fair way
to become its president. Here her diplomacy stepped in to help her. The
league was of course essentially a political institution, but in a
primitive society political institutions are still in tutelage to
religious ones, and the direct road to strong political influence lies
through religious zeal. The way to leadership in the Latin league lay
through excessive devotion to Juppiter and Diana. It is therefore no
accidental coincidence that we find Rome in the period of Servius
building a temple to Juppiter Latiaris on the top of the Alban Mount,
and introducing the worship of Diana into Rome, building her a temple on
the Aventine, hence outside the _pomerium_. Yet it was not the
introduction of her worship as an ordinary state-cult, for then she
would have been taken inside the _pomerium_ with far greater right than
Hercules and Castor were. It was, on the contrary, the building of a
sanctuary of the league outside the _pomerium_, yet inside the civil
wall; not the adoption of Diana as a Roman goddess, but the close
association of the Diana of the Latin league with Rome. It was the
attempt to put Rome religiously as well as politically into the position
which Aricia held; and it was successful. Diana was still the
league-goddess; tradition has it that the league helped to build the
temple; and the dedication day of the temple, August 13, was the same as
that of the temple at Nemi. The Roman temple was outside the _pomerium_
therefore, not because she was a foreign goddess like Minerva, but
because as a league-goddess she must be outside, not inside, the sacred
wall of Rome.

Diana had been introduced for a specific purpose as part of a diplomatic
game, not because Rome felt any real religious need of her; it is hardly
to be expected therefore that her subsequent career in Rome would be of
any great importance. Naturally when once the state had taken the
responsibility of the cult upon itself, that cult was assured as long as
pagan Rome lasted, for the state was always faithful, at least in the
mechanical performance of a ritual act; but popular interest could not
be counted on, especially as many of the things which Diana stood for,
for example her relation to women, were ably represented by Juno. It is
not likely that Diana would ever have been of importance in the religion
of subsequent time, had it not been for another accident which served to
keep alive the interest in Diana, just as the accident of Diana's
connection with the Latin league had aroused that interest in the
beginning. This was the coming of Apollo and his sister Artemis. Apollo
came first, probably during the time of Servius, but Artemis seems to
have come much later, not before B.C. 431. Her identification with Diana
was inevitable, and from that time onward Diana begins a new life with
all the attributes and myths of Artemis, but this new Artemis-Diana was
quite as different a goddess from the old Aventine Diana as the new
Athena-Minerva was from the old Aventine Minerva.

The political interest of the Romans had been aroused, they had found
their life-work, their career was opening before them, and it must not
be supposed that the reflex action of this new political spirit on the
religious world was confined to the building of two league temples, one
to Juppiter Latiaris on the Alban Mount, miles away from Rome, and one
to Diana outside the _pomerium_ over in the woods of the Aventine. This
political interest was no artificial acquisition, but the inevitable
expression of an instinct. It must therefore find its representation
inside the city, in connexion with a deity who was already deep in the
hearts of the people. This deity could be none other than the sky-father
Juppiter, who had stood by them in the old days of their exclusively
farming life, sending them sunshine and rain in due season. Up on the
Capitoline he was worshipped as _Feretrius_, "the striker," in his most
fearful attribute as the god of the lightning. To him the richest spoils
of war (_spolia opima_) were due, and to him the conqueror gave thanks
on his return from battle. It was this Juppiter of the Capitoline who
was chosen to be the divine representative of Rome's political ambition;
and her confidence in the future, and the omen of her inevitable success
lay in the cult-names, the _cognomina_, with which this Juppiter was
henceforth and forever adorned, Juppiter Optimus Maximus. These
adjectives are no mere idle ornament, no purely pleasant phraseology;
they express not merely the excellence of Rome's Juppiter but his
absolute superiority to all other Juppiters, including Juppiter
Latiaris. And so while Rome with one hand was building a temple for the
league on the Alban Mount, merely as a member of the league, with the
other hand she was building a temple in the heart of her city to a god
who was to bring into subjection to himself all other gods who dared to
challenge his supremacy, just as the city which paid him honour was to
overcome all other cities which refused to acknowledge her. From
henceforth Juppiter Optimus Maximus represents all that is most truly
Roman in Rome. It was under his banner that her battles were fought, it
was to him in all time to come that returning generals gave thanks.

Tradition sets the completion of the Capitoline temple in the first year
of the republic, but the idea and the actual beginning of the work
belong to the later kingdom and hence to our present period, and the
contemplation of it forms a fitting close to the development which we
have tried to sketch. And now that this part of our work is over it may
be well to ask ourselves what we have seen, for there have been so many
bypaths which we have of necessity explored, that the main road we have
travelled may not be entirely distinct in our mind. In the period which
corresponds to the later kingdom, and roughly to the sixth century
before Christ, and which we have called "Servian" for convenience, we
have watched a primitive pastoral community, isolated from the world's
life, turning into a small city-state with political interests, the
beginnings of trade and handicraft, and various rival social classes;
and we have seen how along with the coming of these outside interests
there came various new cults connected with them, most of them implying
entirely new deities, and only one or two of them new sides of old
deities. The body of old Roman religion had received its first blows;
what Tacitus (_Hist._ i. 4) says of the downfall of the empire--"Then
was that secret of the empire disclosed, that it was possible for a
ruler to be appointed elsewhere than at Rome"--is true of Roman religion
in this period when it was discovered that the state might take into
itself deities from outside Rome. And yet while the principle itself was
fatal, the practice of it, so far, had been without much harm. Rome's
growth was inevitable, it was quite as inevitable that these new
interests should be represented in the world of the gods; her old gods
did not suffice, hence new ones were introduced. But the actual gods
brought in thus far were harmless; Hercules, Castor, Minerva, Diana
never did Rome any injury in themselves, never injured her national
_morale_, never lowered the tone of earnest sobriety which had been
characteristic of the old regime.

So far it was good, and well had it been for Rome if she could have shut
the gate of her Olympus now. What the old religion had not provided was
now present. Politics, trade, and art were now represented. With these
she was abundantly supplied for all her future career. But that was not
to be, the gate was still open, and the destructive influence of Greece
was soon to send in a host of new deities, who were destined not only to
overwhelm the old Roman gods--which in itself we might forgive--but to
sap away the old Roman virtues, to the maintenance of which the
atmosphere of these old gods was essential. The forerunner of this
influence was in himself innocent enough, it was Apollo, and it is to
his coming and the subsequent developments which set him in distinct
opposition to Juppiter Optimus Maximus that we now turn.


The Rome of the first consuls was a very different Rome from that of the
earlier kings. Not only was the population larger but it was divided
socially into different classes. The simple patriarchal one-class
community had been transformed into the complex structure of a society
which had in it virtually all those elements and interests, except the
more strictly intellectual ones, which go to make up what we call
society in the modern sense. The world of the gods also had increased in
population, and there too there was present a slight social distinction
between the old gods (_Indigetes_) and the new-comers (_Novensides_),
though it is open to question how strongly this distinction was felt.
The new gods thus far were not incommensurable with the old ones. They
formed a tolerably harmonious circle, and there was not felt to be any
need of new priesthoods; the old priests were sufficient to look after
them all. There were a few new names, and a few new temples or altars,
but everything was in the old spirit, and there was no rivalry between
the old and the new. None of the old gods was crowded into the
background by the new-comers. This was on the face of it impossible as
yet, because the new gods all represented new ideas which had not been
provided for under the old scheme. Even Diana, who afterwards usurped
somewhat the functions of Juno, stood at present pre-eminently for the
political idea pure and simple, so far as Rome was concerned. This
period of equipoise did not continue very long, but while it lasted it
was beyond doubt the best and strongest period in the whole history of
Roman religion. There was no violent religious enthusiasm, but then
there was no corresponding depression offsetting it. It was the cold but
conscientious formalism which was best adapted to the Roman character,
because so long as it held sway the excesses of superstition were

But this element of superstition was already on the way, it came in
within a few years of the opening of the republic, and it exercised its
insidious influence ever more and more powerfully until it celebrated
its wildest orgies in the time of the Second Punic War. It is in this
period of the first three centuries of the republic, roughly from B.C.
500 to B.C. 200, that this change was produced. Outwardly it resembled a
steady growth in religious feeling and enthusiasm, and it might well
have seemed so to contemporaries. It was a period of many new gods and
many new temples, but this in itself was no harm. It was the principle
behind it which did the damage. It was the essential contradiction to
what true Roman religion and Roman character demanded; and the last half
of the republic paid the price for what the first half had done, in a
decline of faith which has scarcely been exceeded in the world's

It has been customary for writers on the history of Roman morals to
attribute these changes to the coming of Greek influence; and of course
in the main this is correct, but these writers have in general neglected
to analyse this Greek influence more closely, and to distinguish the
various aspects of it in different periods, and to ask and answer the
question why this influence should be so particularly harmful to the
Romans. It is generally spoken of as the influence of Greek literature
and philosophy, but for our present period this is entirely incorrect,
for we all know that Greek literature did not begin to influence Rome
until the time of the Punic wars, and yet the Greek influence of which
we speak here began to exert its effects two hundred and fifty years
before the Punic wars. The real cause of the unnatural stimulation of
religion during these three centuries is nothing more nor less than the
books of the Sibylline oracles. It is therefore a very definite and
interesting problem which we have before us. It is to examine the
workings of these oracles and to explain why they had such an
extraordinary effect on religion and society, that in three centuries
they could entirely change both the form and the content of Roman
religion, and under the guise of increasing its zeal, so sap its
vitality that it required almost two hundred years of human experience
and suffering before true religion was in some sense at least restored
to its own place.

Like the origin of almost all the great religious movements in the
world's history, the beginnings of the Sibylline books are shrouded in
mystery. A later age, for whom history had no secrets, with a cheap
would-be omniscience told of the old woman who visited Tarquin and
offered him nine books for a certain price, and when he refused to pay
it, went away, burned three, and then returning offered him at the
original price the six that were left; on his again refusing she went
away, burned three more and finally offered at the same old price the
three that remained, which he accepted. Except as a sidelight on the
character of the early Greek trader the story is worthless. It is
doubtful even if the presence of the Sibylline books in Rome goes back
beyond the republic. The first dateable use of them was in the year B.C.
496, and there is one little fact connected with them which makes it
probable that they did not come in until the republic had begun. This is
the circumstance that in view of the great secrecy of the books it is
unthinkable that they should ever have been in Rome without especial
guardians, and yet the earliest guardians that we know of were a newly
made priesthood consisting originally of two men, the so-called "two men
in charge of the sacrifices" (_IIviri sacris faciundis_). Now the form
of this title is peculiar; it is not a proper name like the titles of
all the other priesthoods. Instead it is built on the plan of the titles
of the special committees appointed by the Senate for administrative
purposes; it bears every mark therefore of having arisen under the
republic, rather than under the kingdom, at a time when the Senate had
the supreme control. So much may be said regarding the time when they
were introduced into Rome; as for the place from which they came, this
was without doubt the Greek colonies of Southern Italy, probably the
oldest and most important of them, Cumae, so famous for its Sibyl. This
was not the first association that Rome had had with Cumae, for in all
probability the worship of Apollo had spread from there into Rome toward
the close of the kingdom. Apollo and the books were connected at Cumae,
for it was Apollo who inspired the Sibyl, and the oracles were his
commands, but it is almost certain that Apollo came to Rome in advance
of the oracles. He came there as a god of healing and was given a sacred
place outside the _pomerium_ in the Campus Martius, on the spot where
later (B.C. 431) a temple was built for him with his sister
Artemis-Diana and their mother Latona. This was the only state temple
that Apollo ever had, until Augustus built the famous one on the
Palatine. It was in the wake of Apollo that the Sibylline books came. As
for the books themselves, they were kept so secret that we cannot expect
to know much about them, but in rare cases where the seriousness of the
exigency warranted it, the Senate permitted the actual publication of
the oracle upon which its action was based, and of the oracles thus
published one or two have been preserved to us. They were of course
written in Greek and were phrased in the ambiguous style which for
obvious reasons was the most advantageous style for oracles. They
commanded the worship of certain specific deities, naturally all of them
Greek, and the performance of certain more or less complicated ritual
acts. When they were received in Rome, they were placed in the temple of
Juppiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline in the keeping of their
guardians, the new priesthood of the "two men in charge of the
sacrifices." This committee of two was enlarged to ten in B.C. 367 when
the great compromise between the Patricians and the Plebeians was made,
and the Plebeians were admitted into this one priesthood, with five
representatives. Subsequently Sulla made the number fifteen, which
continued as the official number from that time on, so that the
priesthood is ordinarily called the _Quindecemviri_, even when one of
the older periods is referred to. The real control of the books however
lay in the hands of the Senate. When the Senate saw fit, the priests
were ordered to consult the books, but without this special command even
their guardians dared not approach them. The priests reported to the
Senate what they had found, and the Senate then decreed whatever actions
the oracles commanded. The carrying out of these actions was again in
the charge of the Sibylline priests, who performed the ceremonies
demanded and were for all time to come responsible for the maintenance
of any new cults which might be introduced.

When we see how carefully these oracles were guarded and how
circumspectly their use was hedged about by senatorial control, and when
we think how relatively little harm the use of oracles had wrought in
Greece in all the centuries of her history, it may well seem as if the
statements made in the beginning of this chapter about the havoc caused
by these oracles were grossly exaggerated. But the efforts of the Senate
to safeguard these oracles only prove that the older and wiser men in
the community realised how dangerous they were, and the comparison with
Greece leads to a consideration of certain essential differences between
the Greek and the Roman temperament which made that which was meat for
one into poison for the other.

In the older purer age of Greece the gods were never far away from men,
they lived almost side by side with them; there were to be sure many
gods of whom they were afraid and from whom they desired to keep as far
away as possible, but there were a great many other gods of whom they
liked to think. In constructing the records of their history they did
not work backwards from the light of the present into an ever darkening
past, but they began from the beginning in the full light of the gods
from whom all things sprang, and mythology passed into history by
imperceptible gradations. They knew more about the beginning when all
things were completely in the hands of the gods than they did about
their immediate past. Art began very early to make them familiar with
the appearance of the gods, so that there was little that was mysterious
about their religion, so little that the element of mystery had later to
be almost artificially cultivated in the "mysteries." They respected the
gods rather than feared them, and they felt that the gods would do them
no harm unless they themselves first sinned against them or their own
fellow-men, and the oracles of Delphi were no more terrifying to them
than the coming of the word of God was to the prophets of Israel. They
were accustomed to these messages, which were almost every-day affairs.
It was all a part of that marvellous poise of nature which made the
every-day mortal Greek almost as calm as the unperturbed imperturbable
faces of their gods as their great sculptors saw them.

In Rome all was very different. The superstitious element in the Italian
character, which amazes us so much to-day when cultured twentieth
century men and women in good society persecute their fellows because of
the evil eye, is a heritage of many thousand years. Sometimes it seems
as if it were the Italian birthright, the blight of Etruria which came
into their nature in spite of themselves. It required centuries to
educate the Roman into the concept of personal individual gods. He had
begun his theological career by terror of unknown powers all about him,
and by regarding religion as the science of propitiating the right power
on the right occasion. One could not know these powers, one did not
desire to. Their gods were at once their masters and their servants, but
never their companions. The early Roman knew no such thing as an oracle,
the only messages from the gods were the expressions of their wrath, in
the sending of prodigies and portents. They did indeed consult the gods
by watching the flight of birds or studying the entrails of the
sacrifice, but it was merely to obtain a "yes or no" answer to a
categorical question as to whether a certain act was pleasing to the
gods. Otherwise all about them lay mystery, and at the point where sight
failed, since neither imagination nor faith carried them any further,
superstition stepped in, and the more they thought of the gods the more
terrified they became. Now if you present to a people thus constituted a
divine book of infallible oracles, you increase their terror in greater
measure than the book itself can assuage it, and with the use of the
book the simpler forms of their old belief will grow less and less
effective in the face of this new "witchcraft," which can work wonders.
And no matter how you may hedge the use of the book about, it will be
used more and more as the craving for magic is increasingly aroused.

The study of the outward and the inward effects of the Sibylline books
is therefore the real history of religion in the first half of the
republic. The outward effects are seen in the introduction of a series
of Greek gods, who were in themselves in the main eminently respectable,
and whose presence was in itself no offence to good morals, and if we
stop there we fail to understand why the religious interest of the
Second Punic War should change so quickly to the scepticism of the
following century. The inward effects however, which, though they are
hard to see, may yet be discovered between the lines of the chronicle,
will explain all the undermining of foundation, until we wonder not why
the structure collapsed so suddenly but how it managed to last so long.

The history of the activity of the books begins peaceably enough. In the
year B.C. 496 Rome was in a bad way; her crops had failed and the
importation of grain from Latium was rendered very difficult because of
the war with the Latins in which she was engaged. In her distress she
turned to the Sibylline books, and on the occasion of this their first
recorded use, the oracles ordered the introduction into Rome of the cult
of three Greek deities, Demeter, Dionysos, and Kore. It was a most
appropriate and characteristic choice. In the first place the deities in
question were worshipped at Cumae, the home of the books, whence Rome
could, and probably did, borrow the cult; and in the second place
Demeter was the goddess of grain, and it was from Cumae that Rome was
already beginning to obtain her imported grain supply. Thus the coming
of the Cumaean Demeter into the religious world of Rome is but the
sacred parallel to the coming of Cumaean grain into the material world
of Rome. The Greek goddess of grain came with the grain, just as Castor
had come with the Greek cavalry, with this essential distinction however
that Demeter came by the incantation of the books and the enactment of
the Senate, whereas Castor's coming was a slow and normal development.

It is important to notice closely exactly what happened when these
deities were introduced, partly because they form the first recorded
instance, and hence may well have acted as a model for subsequent
repetitions of the act, but also because we have a more definite
knowledge of the phenomena in this case than in many others. In the
first place it is clear that the deities were felt to be foreign: not
only was their temple built out the Aventine way, in the valley of the
Circus Maximus, outside the _pomerium_, but--a much more significant
fact--their Greek names were dropped, and they were given Roman names
instead, to make them seem less out of place. Then too these Roman names
were not new names, translations of their Greek titles, but were the
names of already existing Roman deities with whom they were easily
identified, so that we see at once that their coming was no real
enrichment of the Roman Olympus; what they stood for was already
represented there, and their coming was simply a reduplication, with the
consequent result that as these parvenus increased in prominence and
influence, they robbed of all their vitality the sober old Roman deities
to whom they had attached themselves. What were these original deities
who were thus doomed to death in B.C. 496? Demeter took the name of the
old Roman goddess Ceres, a goddess of fertility, about whom we know just
enough to assert that she belonged to the old religion of Numa and that
she was at heart quite a different person from Demeter. All the rest is
lost, submerged under the new Demeter-Ceres with her temple built by
Greek architects and her April games. It is this new Ceres who soon
develops an extraordinary political importance because her temple is to
the Plebeians as a class what the temple of Minerva is to the unions of
organised labour. It is there that they have their meeting-place, and
the temple itself is always their treasury as contrasted with the Saturn
temple, the treasury of the state as a whole. The very officers of the
Plebeians, the famous Plebeian aediles, get their name from association
with this temple (_aedes_). This political side of her activity is the
only real advantage, except the grain itself, connected with her
importation; the two form at best a poor economic compensation for the
ever increasing immoral effects of the public games of Ceres.

But though Ceres is the most important of the three deities economically
and politically, we must not forget the other two, both of whom are
interesting, though one of them more for what she is not than for what
she is. Along with Demeter came Dionysos and Demeter's daughter Kore:
the three were associated in the solemn mysteries of Eleusis, but none
of the beauty of these ideas went over into the Roman cult. Demeter was
merely the deified grain-traffic, and Dionysos was little else than the
god of wine, while poor Kore fell out without any particular content for
a curious reason that we shall see in a moment. The only old Roman deity
with whom Dionysos could be identified was the god Liber, who had had a
rather interesting history, and who had done enough along the line of
self-development to deserve a better fate than to be crushed to
insignificance under the prominence of his new namesake. Liber was at
this time a flourishing god of fertility and, since the introduction of
the grape into Italy, especially the patron of the fruit of the vine,
but he had made his own career, and there was a time when he had no
individuality of his own but was merely a cult-adjective of the great
god Juppiter, the giver of all fertility in every phase of life. Thus
out of the original Juppiter-Liber there had grown the independent god
Liber; and now this Liber lost his individuality by identification with
Dionysos. Finally comes Kore, Demeter's daughter. Here the Romans were
hard put to it to find a goddess who represented any similar content,
and after all this was no light task because Kore has little meaning
unless she is taken also as Persephone, Pluto's bride--a process which
required a mythological knowledge and appreciation in which the Romans
of the early republic were totally lacking. But there was an old goddess
Libera, a shadowy potentiality contrasted and paired with the masculine
Liber, and they chose her and gave Kore her name. We have a curious
proof of how little the Romans knew of Kore-Libera, and of how purely
mechanical both the introduction of Kore and her identification with
Libera were, in the fact that about two hundred and fifty years later,
as we shall see, Persephone, the real Kore, was introduced into Rome as
an altogether new deity, and existed there side by side with Libera for
at least a century before people began to realise that Proserpina and
Libera stood for the same Greek goddess.

It was necessary to go into these details in order that we might
understand as much as possible of the process by which the gods of the
Sibylline books were assimilated into the body of Roman religion. We see
how in the main they were superfluous and therefore unnecessary and even
undesirable because by their presence they robbed old Roman deities of
their existence, and how those elements in them which were least in
accord with the old Roman spirit were most apt to develop, and how in
general their adoption was a purely mechanical process, like any act in
witchcraft, where the form is all important because the meaning cannot
be understood, and how totally different therefore the estate of these
gods was in Rome from what it had been in Greece, because in Rome they
were introduced, stripped of all their mythology, worshipped only for
their practical bearings, and compelled therefore to work for their

The importation of grain from Cumae meant more to Rome than the mere
satisfaction of her physical needs; it meant much more than the addition
of three deities to her state-cult, for the grain thus imported was
carried from Cumae to Ostia by sea and so up the Tiber to Rome, and the
whole matter therefore marks one of the important steps in Rome's
interest in commerce generally but especially in ocean commerce. As yet
she did not do the actual carrying herself, but she began to be
interested in it, and the sea began to mean something to this inland
town. This increased interest in trade in general and this inceptive
interest in those who "go down to the sea in ships" have both of them
left their reflexion in the religious life of the time; two new deities
are introduced, both of them almost certainly by means of the Sibylline
oracles, though some accidental blanks in our historical tradition have
deprived us of details.

The chronicle of the year B.C. 495 tells us that there was a dispute in
that year as to who should dedicate the temple of Mercury. This is
Mercury's first appearance in our sources. The circumstances of the
vowing of the temple have been omitted through some oversight, but in
spite of this the connexion of his introduction with the Sibylline books
is beyond all reasonable doubt, for the simple reason that the guardians
of the oracles always looked after his cult in all subsequent time.
Notwithstanding the suddenness of his appearance and the silence of the
chronicle, his story is quite clear and his past history easy to
restore, at least in outline.

The versatile Hermes, who as messenger of the gods plays a part in so
many Greek myths, became in the course of time among other things
associated with travelling, as god of roads, and also with trade,
partly because trading necessitates travelling, and partly because
Hermes was also the protector of the market-place in which the trading
was done. Thus he was called "Hermes Protector of the Merchant"
(_Empolaios_) and in this capacity went into the colonies of Greece,
including those of Southern Italy. Thus Hermes travelled with the grain
merchant from Cumae and became known to the Romans. They however knew
him merely as the god of trade, and their name for him is nothing but
the translation into Latin of his Greek cult-title: _Empolaios_ =
_Mercurius_. For a long time it was thought that there had existed a
Mercurius among the original gods of Rome, but the traces of this old
god are apparent rather than real and suggest one phase of that pastime
of which the later Romans were so fond, that of writing history
backwards and putting an artificial halo of antiquity about the gods
whom they borrowed from Greece. Thus Mercury was received into the
state-cult at about the time when the grain trade began, and was, as it
were, the divine representative of the interest which the Roman state
took in the whole transaction. His temple was outside the _pomerium_ on
the Aventine side of the Circus Maximus. It was in this temple of the
merchant god that the primitive Chamber of Commerce (_collegium
mercatorum_) had its beginning, an association, partly sacral, partly
commercial, whose members, the _mercuriales_, are frequently met with
in literature and also in inscriptions, one of which has been found as
far away as the island of Delos. In the actual cult of the Romans
Mercury never regained the many-sidedness which he had lost in coming to
them merely as a god of trade. In this capacity he appears on the
sextans of the old copper coinage, and under the empire he went into the
provinces as the companion of Mars, since the merchant went side by side
with the soldier. On the contrary when in the third century before
Christ Greek literature came to Rome, this simple idea of Mercury was
reinforced by many new Greek ideas and he entered into Roman poetry with
all the attributes and functions of Hermes; but this had little or no
effect on the cult and there were no great rivals to the old temple near
the Circus Maximus, no cult-centre with advanced Greek ideas, as we have
seen spring up in the case of Hercules, Castor, Minerva, and Diana.

We have already seen how the rise of the grain trade brought four new
deities to Rome, but there is one more chapter to our story. The grain
itself and the trade itself had now obtained their divine complements,
but the sea had not yet received its due; it too must have its parallel
among the gods of Rome. And so it came to pass that again under the
influence of the fateful books, though exactly when or how we cannot
say, the Greek Poseidon came into Rome. The sea had always meant much
to the Greeks, and the joyful shout of Xenophon's troops "The sea! the
sea!" finds an echo all through the centuries of Greek history before
and after the Anabasis. But the multitude of islands and harbours in
Greece is in marked contrast to the dearth of them in Italy, where even
to-day there is no good port of call on the west coast between Naples
and Civitavecchia--and the latter would be useless, were it not for
Trajan's mole. In Italy accordingly the sea-god Poseidon was worshipped
only in the Greek colonies, where however he had two famous cults, one
at Tarentum, later called Colonia Neptunia, and one at Paestum, whose
old name was Poseidonia. The Romans had worshipped deities of water in
abundance, as became an agricultural people, for water meant life, and
drought, death; but their deities were those of the sweet waters of
springs and rivers, they knew no god of the sea. But when the oracles
brought Poseidon to Rome he was identified with an old Roman water-god
Neptune, whose cult henceforward included the sea. We do not know where
the shrine of the old sweet-water Neptune had been, but his old festival
had occurred on July 23. The new Poseidon-Neptune was given a temple
outside the _pomerium_ in the Campus Martius, but the new was connected
with the old in so far at least that the dedication day of the new
temple was July 23, the day of the old Neptune festival.

With the introduction of Neptune, the sea-god, the state had
accomplished, as it were, a sort of divine marine insurance; the
transport of the grain was now watched over by a Roman god; but it was
not to be expected that the cult of a sea-god would ever mean very much
to the Romans. The maritime commerce of the Eternal City was very slow
in developing, and it grew to its subsequent proportions, not because
the Romans of Italy engaged in it, but because those foreigners who took
to the sea by nature later became Romans. Nor did naval warfare fall to
her lot until the First Punic War, and even then her victories were
gained by the tactics of land fighting transferred to the decks of two
ships, her own and the enemy's, fastened together by landing-bridges,
and the glory of victory was due not to Neptune but to Mars. It was not
until the civil wars at the close of the republic that real naval
battles occurred, and that Neptune received his share of glory for the
victory at Actium in B.C. 31, and later over Sextus Pompeius, in a
temple erected by Agrippa in the Campus Martius, behind the beautiful
columns of which the Roman Stock-Exchange transacts its business to-day.

In the first decade of the republic therefore, as we have seen, a group
of Greek gods was introduced by the Sibylline oracles, no one of whom
can be said to have been really needed, no one of whom except the
sea-element in Neptune represented any new and vital principles not
already present in the religious world, if not of Numa, at least of
Servius. The best that can be said of these gods is that one or two of
them, notably Mercury and Neptune, exerted no positively detrimental
influences on later generations. For the next two centuries our
chronicles are silent, so far as the actual introduction of new deities
by the aid of the books is concerned, and it is not until B.C. 293 that
the narrative of new gods begins again. But in other ways the oracles
were not idle during these two hundred years. We must rid ourselves of
the idea that it was necessary that their consultation should always
result in the importation of some new Greek deity. The oracles might
order the carrying out of some new religious rite regarding the deities
already present, and these religious rites, especially the public
processions so frequently performed, feed the ever-growing superstition
of the populace. It is essential to a charm or incantation that it
should contain something strange or foreign, it is above all things help
from without; and when the gods send prodigies and portents, when their
statues weep and sweat blood, when cattle speak, and meteors fall from
the sky, something strange and unusual must be done to counteract these
things. Among the foreign acts thus ordered the sacred procession occurs
frequently. It started from the temple of Apollo in the Campus Martius
and passed into the city through the Porta Carmentalis, went across the
Forum and then outside the _pomerium_ again to the temple of Ceres, and
then to the temple of Juno Regina on the Aventine. It was therefore a
power from without which came into their city to purify them and to
carry away out of the city again the impurities of which it had rid the

It is also characteristic of such semi-magical things that they lose
their effects after a few applications, and other things must be sought
always more complicated and more strange. Thus from the beginning of the
republic down through the Second Punic War we have a series of
extraordinary measures, growing more and more complicated until in the
religious frenzy of the years after Cannae even human sacrifices are
performed at the command of the books. In this the third century before
Christ deities begin again to be introduced, and it is to this century
that we now turn.

It is probable that the Romans had always worshipped certain powers of
healing, but what their names were under the old regime we do not know,
except that possibly they were connected with the gods of water. At the
close of the kingdom they received, as we have seen, Apollo the divine
healer, Apollo Medicus, and this was originally the only side of his
activity which he exercised at Rome. At various seasons of plague during
the early centuries of the republic they called on him for help, and on
one such occasion (B.C. 431) they built him a temple. But in the course
of time men began to think lightly of the old family physician who had
stood by the Romans during more than two centuries; his methods were too
conservative, they were felt not to be thoroughly up to date. A new god
of healing had appeared in Rome, the Greek god Asklepios, whom myth
called Apollo's son, though originally he had had no connection with
Apollo. His great sanctuary was at Epidauros, and from there his cult
spread over all the Greek world. At first he was known at Rome only in
the worship of private individuals, who had brought him up from the
Greek colonies of Southern Italy, probably Tarentum or Metapontum; but
his cult was contagious, and the stories of his miraculous cures were
eagerly heard. It is no wonder then that in the presence of a great
pestilence in B.C. 293, when the Sibylline books were consulted, "it was
found in the books," as Livy says, "that Aesculapius must be brought to
Rome from Epidauros." The war with Pyrrhus however was on, and nothing
could be done that year except the setting apart of a solemn day of
prayer and supplication to Aesculapius. It is interesting to observe how
much the Romans have changed since the time exactly two centuries before
(B.C. 493), when Ceres and her companions, the first gods introduced by
the books, received their temple. That was the acknowledgment of gods
well known at Rome, and even then they were immediately identified with
already existing Roman gods; now they actually send an expedition not
only outside of Rome but of Italy itself to bring in the cult of a god
whom they accept by his Greek name. In the following year (B.C. 292) the
expedition started for Epidauros to bring back the god, that is the
sacred snake which was both his symbol and his visible presence. Such an
importation of a sacred snake from Epidauros is not unique in the case
of Rome, but was the normal method of establishing a branch cult. Snakes
were kept at Epidauros for just this purpose, and many branches were
thus established. It is an extremely interesting question as to the
practical medical value of the methods of healing practised at Epidauros
and its branches. For a long time those best fitted to express a
technical opinion, modern physicians who examined the matter, found
nothing good in them, and their opinion seems to receive confirmation
from some of the inscriptions recently discovered at Epidauros, which
tell the most extraordinary tales of miraculous cures. And yet many of
these tales are not intended as actual facts, but rather as pious
legends, proclaimed for the edification of the devout, in order that
their faith might be quickened. Before we condemn the whole affair, we
must realise two facts; one is that some of the most able minds of
Greece, men who were otherwise by no means remarkable for their
religious faith, believed implicitly in Epidauros and went there to be
cured; and the other is that the miraculous action of the god was always
supplemented by medicines, in which there may well have been some real

We are told too much rather than too little about this embassy to
Epidauros, for the atmosphere of this third century is different from
that of the early republic. Greek literature was beginning to influence
Rome, and those generations were being born who were to be the pioneers
in Roman literature. Thus Roman mythology was commencing along Greek
lines and with Greek models, and one of the points where legend grew
thickest and fastest is in this coming of Aesculapius. The plain facts
are evidently that the committee went to Epidauros, obtained the snake,
brought it back safely to Rome, and established the sanctuary on the
island in the Tiber, where a temple was built and dedicated January 1,
B.C. 291. Probably this was the first use to which the island had ever
been put, and from this time dates the first bridge connecting it with
the city; the other bridge, to the right bank, was much later. The
Romans had always considered the island a disadvantage rather than an
advantage. Even in legend it was cursed, for it sprang from the wheat of
the Tarquins. They had always desired to be cut off from it, and had
always feared lest it might act as a means of approach for the enemy
from the opposite bank. The few real facts of Aesculapius's coming grew
into a romantic account of how, to the great surprise and terror of the
sailors, the snake went of its own accord into the Roman ship; and how
it stayed aboard until they reached Antium, and then suddenly swam
ashore and coiled itself up in a sacred palm tree in the enclosure of
the temple of Apollo there; and how, when they were in despair of ever
getting it back again, it returned peaceably to them at the end of three
days, and all went well on the journey to Ostia and up the Tiber until
they were passing the island, when the snake went ashore to make its
permanent home there.

It was a pretty fancy which at a later date formed the island into the
likeness of a boat by building a prow and stem of travertine at either
end, the traces of which may still be seen; and it is a curious instance
of the many survivals of ancient Rome in the modern city, that the
Hospital of S. Bartolommeo stands on the site of the old Aesculapius
sanctuary, and so far as we can tell, twenty-two centuries of suffering
humanity have had the burden of their pain lightened there, in
uninterrupted succession since that new year's day, above three hundred
years before Christ, when the hospital of Aesculapius of Epidauros was
formally opened.

The coming of the god of healing in the opening years of the third
century may well be regarded as an omen of the great suffering which
that century was to bring to Rome. It was a century of almost
uninterrupted warfare: first the Samnite war; then the war with Pyrrhus
and Rome's conquest of Southern Italy; then after a breathing spell of
about a decade the first war with Carthage, and Rome's bitter
apprenticeship in fighting at sea; then campaigns in Cisalpine Gaul; and
finally the war with Hannibal roughly filling the last two decades, the
most fearful contest in all Rome's history, with her most terrible enemy
in her own land of Italy. It is little to be wondered at therefore that
this was in the main a century of religious depression, a time when the
fear of the gods filled every man's heart and when every trifling
apparent irregularity in the course of nature was exaggerated into a
portent declaring the wrath of the gods and needing some immediate and
extraordinary propitiation. It is in just such a moment as this in the
middle of the century (B.C. 249) that the next recorded instance of new
gods occurs. The first war with Carthage was in progress, Rome had just
suffered a terrible defeat off the north-western point of Sicily, at
Drepana, a defeat all the more hideous because it was supposed to have
been caused by the impiety of the Consul Clodius, who, hearing that the
sacred chickens would not eat, perpetrated his grim jest by saying "let
them drink then instead," and drowning them all. But to cap it all the
wall of Rome was struck by lightning. Then action was necessary and the
books were consulted. They ordered that sacrifice should be made to Dis
and Proserpina, a black steer to Dis, and a black cow to Proserpina,
three successive nights, out on the Campus Martius, at an altar which
was called the _Tarentum_, and that the ceremony should be repeated at
the end of a hundred years. Here the myth-makers of later times have
been even more busily at work than they were in the case of Aesculapius.
The Aesculapius story was fitted out by them merely with a few
miraculous details, a few legendary ornaments, but the story of Dis and
Proserpina was so covered with their fabrications that it has only
recently been freed from them and seen in its true light, and certain
phases were so absolutely perverted that there are still a number of
very difficult points. To get a clear understanding of the situation we
must begin quite a distance back.

Taken as a whole, religious beliefs are among the most conservative
things in the world; the individual may grow as radical as you please,
but his effect on the general religious consciousness of his time is
extremely slight. Occasionally the number of radical individuals grows
larger and certain classes of society are affected by their views, but
even, in the periods of religious development which we are apt to think
of as most iconoclastic, society taken in the large, and on the average
of all classes, is not much more radical than in apparently normal
times. And while religion as a whole is conservative, there is one
section of it more conservative than all the rest, a section from which
change is almost excluded, that is the beliefs concerning the dead. In
our discussion of the religion of Numa we saw the very primitive
character of Roman beliefs in this field, the firm retention of the old
animistic idea of the dead, the tendency to class the dead together as a
mass and to believe in a collective rather than an individual
immortality, and above all the abhorrence of the dead and the
disinclination to dwell on their condition and to paint imaginary
pictures of life beyond the grave. In view of these feelings it is not
strange that we have great difficulty in finding any old Roman gods of
the dead, aside from the dead who are themselves all gods. These dead as
gods (_Di Manes_) and possibly Mother Earth (_Terra Mater_) are the only
rulers in the Lower World. In Greece on the contrary death was almost as
natural as life, and though the conditions in early times were not
unlike those in Rome, as Rohde in his _Psyche_ has so wonderfully
described them, the Greek soon grew beyond this, and the world of the
dead became almost as well known to him as the world of the living.
There was a kingdom of the dead, and a king and queen ruled over them.
These rulers were called by different names in different parts of
Greece, but the names which they had in certain parts of the
Peloponnesus, Hades the king of the dead and Persephone his bride, were
destined to survive the rest. The cult of this royal pair travelled far
and wide, but its most notable development occurred in Attica, where
Persephone became Kore the daughter of Demeter, stolen by Hades to
become his bride, while Hades himself under the sunny skies of Athens
lost some of his terrors and became Pluto, the god of riches, especially
the rich blessings of the earth. But all this was very foreign to Rome,
and while the Greeks were thinking these thoughts, the Romans were going
quietly along, content with their simple _Di Manes_. No better proof of
this can be desired than the one accidentally given us in the
introduction of Demeter and her daughter Kore into Rome as Ceres and
Libera in B.C. 493, and the absolute colourlessness and pointlessness of
Libera, in a word the entire lack of connexion in the religious
consciousness of Rome between Libera and Persephone. But in B.C. 249,
almost two and a half centuries later, matters were on a different
basis; Rome had been learning a great deal that was foreign to her old
beliefs, and there was no longer anything impossible to her in the idea
of individual rulers of the dead. Thus at the command of the books Pluto
and Persephone were received into the state-cult, though the strangeness
of the situation was acknowledged, at least in so far that they
translated Pluto into the Latin Dis; Persephone to be sure was left
alone, or more strictly speaking was accommodated to the Latin tongue by
being changed to Proserpina. It is of course impossible that the Romans
of B.C. 249 were entirely ignorant of Pluto and Persephone until the
Sibylline books bade them be brought in. Here again the traders from
Southern Italy had been their teachers; and the name _Tarentum_ of the
altar where the sacrifice was to be made may possibly indicate the town
of Tarentum as the source of the cult. The Romans knew Tarentum only too
well since the eventful war with Pyrrhus, which lay only a generation
back in their history.

And so the Romans adopted the Greek gods of the dead, and thus, at least
theoretically, put their dead ancestors into subjection to the Greeks
just as they themselves, the descendants, were sitting at the feet of
the Greeks in this life. But though the enactment of the Senate gave
these gods Roman citizenship, and the priests of the Sibylline books
were in duty bound to perform the ritual of the cult, be it said to the
credit of the Romans, the gods themselves never took a very deep hold of
the religious life of the people in general. Their names, to be sure,
crept into a few of the old formulae and stood side by side with the
older deities, and Proserpina was made much of by the Roman poets; but
the real tests of devotion, dedicatory inscriptions, are almost entirely
absent. Strangely enough the only thing which seems to have caught
their fancy was the weird ritual of the nightly sacrifice at the
Tarentum, and especially its repetition after one hundred years. This
idea of the hundred years is Roman rather than Greek, and it is at least
open to question whether it may not have been added to the instructions
in the oracle to give the whole matter an added Roman colour. Thus in
B.C. 249 were instituted the Secular Games, which were repeated with
approximate accuracy in B.C. 146, and would doubtless have been again
between B.C. 49 and 46, had not the Civil War completely filled men's
minds and made human sacrifices to the dead, in battle, an almost daily
occurrence. Meantime the Roman annalists were working backwards in their
own peculiar fashion, and building out into the past a series of
fictitious celebrations preceding B.C. 249, one hundred years apart,
back into the time of the kingdom. On the other hand we shall have
occasion later to speak of the restoration of the games and their
reorganisation by Augustus.

Under the test of adversity nations are very much like individuals, and
a national weakness, which is often entirely concealed in normal
conditions, comes prominently and disastrously to the surface in the
hour when strength is most needed. The war with Hannibal was just such a
crisis in Rome's history, and under its influence Rome's dependence upon
the Sibylline books was more pronounced than ever. The seeds of
superstition sown during the earlier centuries burst now into full
blossom, destined to produce the fruit, the gathering of which was to be
the bitter task of the closing centuries of the republic. The story of
the Second Punic War, regarded merely from the military standpoint,
reads for Rome almost like a nightmare, with its long succession of
apparently easy victories turning one by one into defeats; but when we
add to this that other chronicle, of which Livy is equally fond, the
long lists of portents and prodigies sent by the angered gods, and when
we realise that to the masses of the people the wrath of the gods was
more terrible and just as real as the hostility of Hannibal, then we
have not the heart to reproach them for their religious frenzy. Seen by
themselves, the jumping of a cow out of a second-story window, or the
images of the gods shedding tears, do not seem very serious matters, but
endow us with three hundred years of hereditary dread of these things,
give us the instinctive interpretation of them as the turning away from
us of the powers upon which we rely for help, nay their positive
opposition to us and our hopes--and our condition in the presence of
these phenomena would be very different.

Thus almost every year between B.C. 218 and 201 had its share of
religious ceremonial, and the Sibylline books, which had hitherto been,
in theory at least, merely an alternative method of religious procedure
permitted to exist alongside of the older and more conservative forms,
became now the order of the day. Like a Homeric picture in which the
quarrels of the gods in Olympus run parallel to the battles of Greeks
and Trojans on the plains of Troy, so every victory which Rome won over
Hannibal on the field of battle was bought at the price of a victory of
Greek gods over Roman gods in the field of religion; and further,
although Rome succeeded in keeping Hannibal outside of her own walls,
her gods did not succeed in defending the _pomerium_ against the Greek
gods, and it is during this Second Punic War that this, the greatest
safeguard of old Roman religion and customs, was broken down, and the
new gods gained entire possession of the city, placing their temples on
the spots hitherto held most sacred. From now on all distinction ceases,
and it is scarcely possible to speak of a Roman in contrast to a
Graeco-Roman cult. It is important however to observe that this
breakdown occurred because of excess of religious zeal rather than
through neglect and indifference, and though we may indeed notice a
gradual deterioration of the deities introduced by the books, all the
way down from the busy working gods like Ceres and Mercury and Neptune
to the more miraculous Aesculapius, and the cult of Dis or Proserpina
with its possibilities of weird fantastic worship, there have been
however as yet only scanty traces of the orgiastic element. But this was
the next step, and it was not long in coming. The rapid campaigns of the
earlier years of the war with Hannibal had passed, Cannae (B.C. 216) had
been somewhat retrieved by Metaurus (B.C. 207), where the reinforcements
for Hannibal, led by Hasdrubal, had been cut to pieces, but the result
was not what had been hoped for, and Hannibal had not left Italy, but
entrenched in the mountains of the south he seemed to be preparing to
pass the rest of his life there. It was in this the year B.C. 205 that
the help of the books was again sought, if peradventure they might show
the way to drive Hannibal out of the country. The reply came that, when
a foreign-born enemy should wage war upon the land, he could be
conquered and driven from Italy, if the Great Mother of the gods should
be brought to Rome from Phrygia. The rest of the story is so quaintly
and withal so truthfully told by Livy (Bk. xxix.) that it will not be
amiss to quote his words:--"The oracle discovered by the Decemviri
affected the Senate the more on this account because the ambassadors who
had brought the gifts [vowed at the battle of Metaurus] to Delphi
reported that when they were sacrificing to the Pythian Apollo the omens
were all favourable, and that the oracle had given response that a
greater victory was at hand for the Roman people than that one from
whose spoils they were then bringing gifts. And as a finishing touch to
this same hope they dwelt upon the prophetic opinion of Publius Scipio
regarding the end of the war, because he had asked for Africa as his
province. And so in order that they might the more quickly obtain that
victory which promised itself to them by the omens and oracles of fate,
they began to consider what means there was of bringing the goddess to
Rome. As yet the Roman people had no states in alliance with them in
Asia Minor; however they remembered that formerly Aesculapius had been
brought from Greece for the sake of the health of the people, though
they had no alliance with Greece. They realised too that a friendship
had been begun with King Attalus [of Pergamon] ... and that Attalus
would do what he could in behalf of the Roman people; and so they
decided to send ambassadors to him, ... and they allotted them five
ships-of-war in order that they might approach in a fitting manner the
countries which they desired to interest in their favour. Now when the
ambassadors were on their way to Asia they disembarked at Delphi, and
approaching the oracle asked what prospect it offered them and the Roman
people of accomplishing the things which they had been sent to do. It is
said that the reply was that through King Attalus they would obtain what
they sought, but that when they brought the goddess to Rome they should
see to it that the best man in Rome should be at hand to receive her.
Then they came to Pergamon to the king [Attalus], and he received them
graciously and led them to Pessinus in Phrygia, and he gave over to them
the sacred stone which, the natives said, was the Mother of the gods,
and bade them carry it to Rome. And Marcus Valerius Falto was sent ahead
by the ambassadors and he announced that the goddess was coming, and
that the best man in the state must be sought out to receive her with
due ceremony." In the next year (B.C. 204) after recounting new
prodigies Livy continues:--"Then too the matter of the Idaean Mother
must be attended to, for aside from the fact that Marcus Valerius, one
of the ambassadors who had been sent ahead, had announced that she would
soon be in Italy, there was also a fresh message that she was already at
Tarracina. The Senate had to decide a very important matter, namely who
was the best man in the state, for every man in the state preferred a
victory in such a contest as this to any commands or offices which the
vote of the Senate or the people might give him. They decided that of
all the good men in the state the best was Publius Scipio.... He then
with all the matrons was ordered to go to Ostia to meet the goddess and
to receive her from the ship, to carry her to land and to give her over
to the women to carry. After the ship came to the mouth of the Tiber,
Scipio, going out in a small boat, as he had been commanded, received
the goddess from the priests and carried her to land. And the noblest
women of the land ... received her ... and they carried the goddess in
their arms, taking turn about while all Rome poured out to meet her, and
incense-burners were placed before the doors where she was carried by,
and incense was burned in her honour. And thus praying that she might
enter willingly and propitiously into the city, they carried her into
the temple of Victory, which is on the Palatine, on the day before the
Nones of April [April 4]. And this was a festal day and the people in
great numbers gave gifts to the goddess, and a banquet for the gods was
held, and games were performed which were called _Megalesia_." This
extraordinary picture is probably in the main historically correct. The
most striking part of it, the enthusiasm of the Roman populace, is
certainly not overdrawn. Thus was introduced into Rome the last deity
ever summoned by means of the books, the one whose cult was destined to
outlast that of all the others, and to do more harm and produce more
demoralisation than all the other cults together. To understand why this
was so, we must go back for a moment.

The influence of Greece on Rome was progressive, and we are able to
indicate at least three distinct periods and phases of it, so far as
religion is concerned: first, the informal coming of a few Greek gods
who adapted themselves more or less completely to the old Roman
character; such are Hercules and Castor and even Apollo, though Apollo
was indirectly responsible for the second period, because he was the
cause of the coming of the Sibylline books. The influence of these books
produced the second period, with its characteristics of ever-growing
superstition, and greater pomp in cult acts, but though the sobriety of
the old days had changed into a restless activity, the new gods who came
in and the new cult acts introduced were still of such a character that
Romans could take part in the worship without shame. But just as the
staid Apollo had produced the books, so now as their last bequest the
books brought in the Great Mother, and the third period had begun, the
period of orgiastic Oriental worship, which prevailed, at least among
certain classes, until the establishment of Christianity. We may well
ask who this Great Mother was, and why this one Greek cult should be so
different from all the rest.

At different points in Asia Minor and in Crete a goddess was worshipped,
originally without proper name, as the great source of all fertility,
the mother of all things, even of the gods. Mount Dindymos in Phrygia
was one of the chief centres of the cult, and there the Great Mother was
known also as Cybele. From these various centres the cult spread over
all the Greek world, but wherever it went, it always gave evidence of
its birthplace by certain strange Oriental elements both in its myths
and in its rites. Its devotees were a noisy orgiastic band, who filled
the streets with their dances, and the air with their singing and the
clashing of their symbols, to the accompaniment of the rattling of coin
in the money box--for the collection of money from the bystanders was
always a part of the performance.

This then was what the "best man in the state" and the grave Roman
matrons went forth from Rome to receive--a sacred stone representing the
goddess, and a band of noisy emasculated priests; and this was what they
opened their gates to, and took up into their holy of holies, the
Palatine hill, the birthplace of Rome. The Greeks had again come bearing
gifts, and like the Trojans who broke down their walls and took the
wooden horse up into their citadel, Romans, the reputed descendents of
these Trojans, were carrying up to their most sacred hill another gift
of Greece which was to capture their city. They put the image in the
temple of Victoria on the Palatine until such time as its own temple was
ready to receive it, and the goddess of Victory seemed to respond to its
presence, for did not Hannibal leave Italy the very next year? And who
would be so impious as to suggest that to Scipio and not Cybele belonged
the glory, and that a strong Roman army in Africa affected Hannibal
more than a sacred stone on the Palatine?

It may well be doubted whether anything but such a great exigency would
ever have induced Rome to accept such an utterly foreign cult; and when
the nightmare of the war was past, the Senate awoke to the realisation
that a very serious act had been committed. To their credit be it said
that they did what they could to minimise the evil. The goddess had
brought her own priests with her, the cult was in their hands, and there
the law decreed it must stay, and no Roman citizen could become a
priest. That this law was really enforced is shown by several cases
where punishment, even transportation across the sea, was meted out to
transgressors. Then too the worship must be in the main confined to the
precincts of the temple on the Palatine, and only on certain days of the
year were the priests allowed to perform in the streets of the city. It
is significant of the strength of Roman law that these enactments held
good for three and a half centuries, and were not changed until the
reign of Antoninus Pius.

In the introduction of the Great Mother the Sibylline books performed
their last and most notable achievement. Hereafter they introduced no
new deities, and were consulted only occasionally, chiefly for political
purposes, for example in B.C. 87 against the followers of Sulla, and in
B.C. 56 in connexion with a scheme of purely political import. Their
work was done, and we have seen in what it consisted. For three hundred
years they had been encouraging the growth of superstition. From their
vantage ground of the temple of Juppiter Optimus Maximus, the essence of
all that was most patriotically Roman in Rome, they had been giving
forth these infallible oracles which seemed so much superior to the
simple "yes and no" answers with which the old Romans had been content
in their dealings with the gods. In times of peril by pestilence and by
battle they had given advice, and the pestilence had ceased and the
battle had turned to victory. It seemed indeed that the Sibyl deserved
the gratitude of Rome. Time alone could teach them what the books had
really given them. It was only in the coming generations that it became
evident that the abuse of faith, the substitution of incantation for
devotion, was destructive of true religion. It is the effect of this
substitution on the various classes of society under the new and trying
social conditions of the last two centuries of the republic that forms
the theme of our next chapter.


It is the fashion of our day to think no evil of Greece. In art we are
experiencing another Renaissance, not like that of the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries in a revival of ancient Rome, but in a movement
leading behind Rome to the classic and even the pre-classic models of
Greece. In itself it is a healthful tendency, a needed corrective to the
sensational search for novelty which characterised the closing years of
the nineteenth century. But in our admiration for the Greek spirit we
ought not to forget that after Alexander that spirit lost much of its
beauty, and aged very rapidly. We may indeed regret the fact that Rome,
like certain persons of our acquaintance, seemed at times to possess a
strong faculty for assimilating the worst of her surroundings, while
occasionally curiously unresponsive to the better things; and yet we
ought in justice to strive to realise the fact that not only is the
Greek spirit at its best an unteachable thing, but that at the
historical moment when Rome came under that influence the Greek world
was very old and weary. It was Rome's misfortune and not her fault that
when she was old enough to go to school, Alexandrianism with its
pedantic detail was the order of the day in mythology, and the timorous
post-Socratic schools were the teachers of philosophy. Naturally if Rome
had been another Greece she would have worked back from these later
forms to the truer, purer spirit, but Rome was not Greece, and no
thoughtful man ever pretended that she was. In the third century before
Christ Greece began actively to influence Rome; before that time
Hellenic influence had been confined largely to the effects on religion
produced by the Sibylline books, and to the effects on society caused by
the presence of Greek traders. But now Greek thought as embodied in the
literature began to affect Roman thought, and to bring into being a
literature based on Greek models. Three centuries of Sibylline oracles
had produced for Rome the pathological religious condition of the Second
Punic War, when she did not think twice before breaking down the
religious barrier which had hitherto separated the national from the
adopted elements in her religion, and at the same time unhesitatingly
reached out to Asia Minor for an Oriental cult, masquerading in Greek
colours, and placed on the Palatine the Great Mother of Pessinus. From
this time on two influences were steadily at work which shaped the
history of Roman religion in the two remaining centuries till the close
of the republic: one, mythology, directly affecting the forms of the
cult and the beliefs concerning the individual gods; the other,
philosophy, attacking the whole foundation of religious belief in

Greece gave her gods to Rome when she herself was weary of them, she
gave her the tired gods, exhausted by centuries of handling, long ago
dragged down from Olympus, and weary with serving as lay-figures for
poets and artists, and being for ever rigged out in new mythological
garments, or jaded with the laboratory experiments of philosophers who
tried to interpret them in every conceivable fashion or else to do away
with them entirely. It is no wonder that it did not take the Romans more
than a century to come to the end of these gods, to find that the only
one among them who could satisfy their religious desires was the least
Greek of them all, the Magna Mater, and having found this to go forth to
take to themselves more like unto her, in a word, to crave the
sensational cults of the Orient. And the philosophy which Greece gave
Rome was no better than the mythology. It is not strange that human
thought experienced a reaction after a century which contained both
Plato and Aristotle, but it is a pity that Rome should have learned her
philosophy from a period of doubt and scepticism, an age in which the
lesser masters, who had known the greater ones, had gone, leaving
nothing but pupils' pupils.

The history of religion in Rome during the last two centuries of the
republic is the story of the action and reaction of these two
tendencies--the one toward the novel and sensational in worship, which
we may call superstition, the other the philosophy of doubt, which we
may call scepticism--in the presence of the established religion of the
state. This much the two centuries have in common, but here their
resemblance ends. In the first of these centuries (B.C. 200-100) the
state religion was able to hold her own, at least in outward appearance,
and to wage war against both tendencies. In the other century (B.C. 100
to Augustus) politics gained control of the state religion and so robbed
her of her strength that she was crushed between the opposing forces of
superstition and scepticism. It is to the story of the earlier of these
two centuries, the second before Christ, that we now turn.

With the close of the Second Punic War there began for Rome a period of
very great material prosperity. This prosperity was, to be sure, not
exactly distributed, and it is not without its resemblance to some of
our modern instances of commercial prosperity, in that it was not so
much a general bettering of economic conditions as the very rapid
increase of the wealth of a relatively small number, an increase gained
at the expense of positive detriment to a large element in the
population. Thus it was that a century of which the first seventy years
provide an almost unparalleled spectacle of the increase of national
territory, accompanied, according to the ancient methods of taxation, by
a vast increase in national wealth, should close with the tragedies of
Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus and the legacy of class hatred which
produced the civil wars. This growth in wealth and territory was not
without its effects on the outward appearance of the state religion. The
territory was gained by a series of minor wars in the course of which
many temples were vowed; and the spoils of the war provided the means
for the fulfilment of the vows. Thus to the outward observer it might
well have seemed that the religion of the state was enjoying a time of
great prosperity. Between the close of the Punic War (B.C. 201) and the
year of Tiberius Gracchus (B.C. 133) we have accurate knowledge of the
dedication of no less than nineteen state temples, and there were
undoubtedly many others of which we have no record. Another apparently
good sign is the fact that the Sibylline books are silent, so far as the
introduction of new deities is concerned. Yet these surface indications
are deceptive. As for the Sibylline books, now that the _pomerium_ line
had been broken down, and the temples of Greek gods might be placed
anywhere in the city, it was a very simple matter for the state to bring
in any Greek god that it pleased, and likening him to a more or less
similar Roman god and calling him by the Roman name, to put up a temple
to him anywhere. It was also true that, as Roman theology was now based
on the principle that every Roman god had his Greek parallel and _vice
versa_, there were no gods left, whose names would have occurred at all
in the Sibylline books, who could not be brought in now without them.
And as for the vowing of new temples, this represented at best merely
the habit formed during more devout days; religion was moving by the
momentum acquired during the Second Punic War, and the gods to whom
these temples were erected were really Greek gods under Roman names. In
a word, not only was the state religion becoming more and more of a form
day by day, but the form was that of Greece and not of Rome. It is
extremely interesting to trace this movement in detail, to look behind
the outward appearance and see the remarkable changes that were really
taking place.

If we look at the temples which were built in the years following the
Second Punic War, we shall have no difficulty in finding examples of the
introduction of Greek gods under Roman names. During the war itself in
the year B.C. 207 a Roman general had vowed a temple to Juventas on the
occasion of a battle near Siena. Juventas was an old Roman goddess, one
of those abstract deities which had been produced by the breaking off
and becoming independent of a cult-title. She was intimately associated
with Juppiter, and had a special shrine in the Capitoline temple.
Juventas was the divine representative of the putting away of childish
things and the assumption of the responsibilities and privileges of
young manhood. This act was symbolised by the Romans in the beautiful
ceremony of putting on the toga of manhood (_toga virilis_), when the
lad was led by his father to the Capitoline temple to make sacrifices to
Juppiter, and at the same time a contribution was made to the treasury
of Juventas. But this was not the goddess in whose honour the temple
vowed at Siena was built at the Circus Maximus and dedicated B.C. 191.
This Juventas was nothing more or less than the Greek Hebe, the female
counterpart of Ganymedes, as cupbearer to the gods. Similarly in B.C.
179 a temple was dedicated to Diana at the Circus Flaminius, but this
was not the old goddess of Aricia, whose cult Rome had adopted for the
sake of increasing her influence in the Latin league. It was the Greek
Artemis, who at her first coming into Rome had been associated with
Apollo in the temple built in B.C. 431, and was now given a temple of
her own. Perhaps the strangest of all is the temple which was erected to
Mars in the Campus Martius in B.C. 138. It might well be supposed that
the Romans would keep holy the reputed father of their race, the god to
whom, under Juppiter, their success was due. On the contrary in B.C.
217, when they were carrying out a Greek ceremony of offering a banquet
to a set of gods, arranged in pairs, they showed no hesitation in
grouping together Mars and Venus to represent the Greek pair Ares and
Aphrodite, thus doing violence to Mars by bringing him into a
relationship with Venus which was entirely foreign to old Roman thought,
and identifying him with Ares, with whom he had nothing to do. Now in
B.C. 138 a temple is built to Ares under the name of Mars, close beside
the venerable old altar of Mars, one of the oldest and most sacred of
Roman shrines.

But this passion for identifying Greek gods with Roman ones did not
confine itself to finding a parallel for the greater gods of Greece; and
less known deities were introduced into Rome in the same way. The old
Roman god, Faunus, in whose honour the ancient festival of the
_Lupercalia_ was yearly celebrated, had as his associate a goddess,
Fauna, who was better known as the "good goddess" (Bona Dea). Eventually
this new title Bona Dea crowded out the old title Fauna, so that it was
almost entirely forgotten. Bona Dea was a goddess of women, and the most
characteristic feature of her worship was the exclusion of men from
taking part in it. Now there was a Greek goddess, called Damia, also a
goddess of women, from whose cult also men were excluded, and her cult
spread from Greece to the Greek colonies of Southern Italy, especially
Tarentum, and so eventually to Rome. But by the time she arrived in Rome
the connexion of Fauna and Bona Dea had been entirely forgotten. Damia
was surely a Bona Dea, yes she was _the_ Bona Dea, for was not the proof
at hand in the fact that men were excluded from both cults? So a temple
was built for her, probably shortly after the Second Punic War, and from
the time no one ever thought of poor Fauna again, except scholars and
poets, who amused themselves, as was their wont, by putting her in
various genealogical relationships to Faunus, as sister, wife, or
daughter, while Damia lived and prospered under the stolen title of the
Bona Dea.

We see from this on what a small resemblance such identifications were
based, in this case merely on the presence of a similar minor injunction
in the laws of each cult. But we have here at least a genuine cult which
had arrived and was asking for admission, and in so far we are better
off than in most instances, where nothing substantial was gained by the
identification. Two forces were now at work assisting in this fusion of
Greek and Roman gods, namely art and literature. The capture of Syracuse
marked an epoch in Rome's artistic career; for several centuries she had
employed Greek architects and had also become acquainted with the
artistic types of certain Greek gods, but now all at once a wealth of
Greek sculpture was disclosed to her, and she could not rest content
until all her gods were represented in the fashion of man. The adoption
of the Greek type, in those cases where an identification had already
been effected, was not difficult and was in the main successful, though
there followed almost inevitably an enrichment of the Greek element in
the Roman god because of the presence of some attribute in the statue,
which brought its own myth with it. But there were certain Roman gods
for whom Greek parallels could not be found, and in these cases a
compromise, usually rather an awkward one, had to be effected, as for
example when the Roman gods of the storeroom, the _Di Penates_, were
represented by statues of the Greek Castor and Pollux. In such cases
confusion was sure to follow, and subsequent antiquarians would be
tempted to write treatises proving the original connexion of Castor or
Pollux with the Penates, as gods of protection in general, etc.
Literature too in its own way was fully as misleading, and Roman
scholars became fascinated with the labyrinths of Alexandrian mythology,
and straightway began to build Roman myths as rapidly as possible,
establishing lists of old Latin kings and all sorts of genealogies, and
weaving as many Greek mythological figures as possible into the legends
of the foundation of Italic towns.

It was the ceremonial of the cult however which most often offered the
best means of identification, as we have seen above in the case of Bona
Dea-Damia, where the exclusion of men from the rites was the main point
of similarity. In a similar way the old Roman god of the harvest,
Consus, was identified with the Greek ocean-god Poseidon because
horse-races were a characteristic feature of the festivals of each; and
the old Roman goddess of women and of childbirth was given as her Greek
parallel the Greek goddess Leukothea, the helper of those in peril at
sea, because in both cases slaves were forbidden to take part in the

But the effect of the capture of Rome by these Greek gods and Greek
ceremonials was not confined to the mere addition of new ideas, and the
transformation of certain old Roman deities. This would have been
comparatively harmless, but there was inevitably another result: the
consequent neglect of all Roman deities for whom no Greek parallels were
forthcoming, and the forgetting of all the original Roman ideas which
were crowded into the background by the novel and more brilliant Greek
ideas. Even the festivals of the old Roman year were treated in the same
cavalier manner. The interest of the people continued only with those
ceremonies which frightened them or pleased them. There were certain
festivals, for example the _Lupercalia_, the old ceremony of
purification on February 15, for which a reverence was still felt; and
others like the _Parilia_, the birthday of Rome, on April 21, or the
Anna Perenna festival on March 15, which involved open-air celebrations
and picnics. These and others like them were always kept up, while many
others were totally neglected. Naturally for the present the forms were
continued by the state; the festivals were celebrated at least by the
priests; and every temple received sacrifice on its birthday. The wheels
of the state religion were still running, but the power behind them had
stopped, and it was only momentum which kept them in motion.

It is only when we realise these things that we can understand how it
was possible that the most learned scholars at the close of the republic
were so desperately ignorant concerning old Roman religion. In regard to
many of the old Roman gods they know absolutely nothing, and try to
disguise their ignorance behind a show of learning based on etymological
sleight-of-hand; in regard to the rest their information is so tangled
with Greek ideas that it is often almost impossible to unravel the mass
and separate the old from the new. This unravelling has been the tedious
occupation of the last half century in the study of Roman religion; and
so patiently and successfully has it been accomplished that, although we
would give almost anything for a few books of Varro's _Divine
Antiquities_, it is tolerably certain that the possession of these books
would not change in the least the fundamental concepts underlying the
modern reconstruction of ancient Roman religion; though it is equally
certain that these books would emphasise just so much more strongly,
what we already realise, that this modern reconstruction is in distinct
contradiction to many of Varro's favourite theories. It is an
accomplishment of which History may well be modestly proud, that modern
scholars have been able to eliminate, to a large degree, the personal
equation and the myopic effects of his own time from the statements of
the greatest scholar of Roman antiquity, and thus though handicapped by
the possession of merely a small percentage of the facts which Varro
knew, to arrive at a concept of the whole matter infinitely more correct
than that which his books contained.

During this second century before Christ, therefore, the state religion
was apparently unchanged so far as the outward form was concerned. The
terminology and the ceremonies were much the same as before, but the
content was quite different: Greek gods and Greek ideas had displaced
Roman gods and Roman ideas, and the official representatives of
religion, the state priests, were carrying the whole burden of worship
on their own shoulders, because popular interest had been in the main
deflected and was working along other lines. These lines of rival
interest were superstition and scepticism, phenomena which at first
sight appear as distinct opposites, but which are on the contrary very
closely akin, so that they usually occur together not only in the same
age, but frequently even in the same individual. They are purely
relative terms, and the essence of superstition consists in its surplus
element, just as the essence of scepticism lies in its deficiency. No
religion judged from the standpoint of the worshipper can properly be
called a superstition, but if once we can establish the essential things
in a religion, then any large addition to those essential things savours
of superstition. Speaking with historical sympathy we have no right
therefore to designate early Roman religion as a superstition--it may of
course be relatively so in comparison with other religious forms--but
once we have established the essential elements in that early religion,
we may consider the introduction of new and entirely different elements
as superstition. The old religion of Rome consisted in the exact and
scrupulous fulfilment of a large number of minute ceremonials. The
result of this careful fulfilment of ritual was that the powers around
man did him no harm but rather good, and that was the end of the whole
matter. Religion did not command or even permit special inquiries into
these powers; it was not only not man's duty to try to know the gods, it
was his positive duty to try not to. Through the influence of Greece
there had now come into Rome an altogether new idea, nourished largely
by the Sibylline books, and represented most fully in the Magna Mater,
the idea of the perpetual service of a god, a consecration to him, to
the exclusion of all other things, and a life given over to the
orgiastic performance of cult acts, which produced a state of ecstasy
and consequently a communion with the deity. Along with this there went
a belief in the possibility, by means of certain books and certain men,
of obtaining from the gods a knowledge of the future. It is these
surplus beliefs, quite contrary to the spirit of old Roman religion,
which may justly be called superstition.

The Sibylline books had aroused these feelings, a knowledge of the
oracle at Delphi had increased them, the rites of Aesculapius had
carried them farther, but it was not until the Magna Mater came that
they seem to have burst forth in any large degree. But aside from the
rapid growth of the Magna Mater cult itself we have in this second
century two instances of this tendency. The first was connected with the
god Dionysos-Liber, innocent enough at his first reception in B.C. 493,
in the company of Demeter-Ceres and Kore-Libera. To be sure the state
had introduced him merely as the god of wine, but the mystery element in
Dionysos took firm hold on private worship, and the Bacchanalian clubs
or societies began to spread over Italy. In the course of about three
centuries they had become a formidable menace to the morals and even the
physical security of the inhabitants of Rome. Their meetings instead of
occurring three times a year took place five times a month, and finally
in B.C. 186 the famous Bacchanalian trial took place, of which Livy (Bk.
xxxix.) gives such a graphic account, and to which a copy of the
inscription of the decree of the Senate, preserved to our day, gives
such eloquent testimony, providing as it does severe penalties for
subsequent offenders, and recognising on the other hand large liberty of

The same love of mystery and longing for knowledge which produced the
Bacchanalian clubs accorded a warm reception to astrology and made men
listen with eagerness to those who could tell their fortunes or guide
their lives by means of the stars. We do not know when the bearers of
this knowledge first arrived in Rome, but Cato, in his _Farm Almanac_,
our earliest piece of prose literature, in giving rules for the
behaviour of the farm bailiff especially enjoins the intending landowner
that his bailiff should not be given to the consultation of Chaldaean
astrologers. Within half a century the problem of the Chaldaeans grew so
serious that state interference was necessary, and in B.C. 139 the
praetor Cn. Cornelius Hispalus issued an edict ordering the Chaldaeans
to leave Rome and Italy within ten days.

The same age which produced this growth of superstition brought also the
antidote for it in the shape of a sceptical philosophy, but the only
trouble was that this philosophy not only cured superstition but in
doing so killed the genuine religious spirit underlying it. It cast out,
to be sure, the seven devils of superstition, but when men returned to
themselves again, they found their whole spiritual house swept and
garnished. With the death of the direct pupils of Aristotle, the Greek
mind had thought out all the problems of philosophy of which man at that
time was able to conceive. The following generations of philosophers
devoted themselves either to the elaboration of detail or to a renewed
examination of the foundations of belief, with the result that their
smaller minds came to smaller conclusions, and the end of their
investigations was one increased scepticism. The schools of the day
showed many slight variations and bore many different names, but they
all agreed in being more or less pervaded by a sceptical spirit, and by
accenting ethics as against metaphysics, though they defined ethics very
differently according to their starting point.

One of the earliest philosophical influences which reached Rome was
however that of a pre-Socratic school, the school of Pythagoras. This
was natural enough in itself, as the headquarters of the school was in
Southern Italy, but it is curious and significant that the first
pronounced instance of its influence occurred shortly after the Second
Punic War, and in connexion with a clever fraud which was perpetrated
with a view to influencing religion. In the year B.C. 181 a certain man
reported that when he was ploughing his field, which lay on the other
side of the Tiber, at the foot of the Janiculum, the plough had laid
bare two stone sarcophagi, stoutly sealed with lead, and bearing
inscriptions in Greek and Latin according to which they purported to
contain, one of them the body of King Numa, the other, his writings.
When they were opened the one which ought to have contained the body was
empty, in the other lay two rolls, each roll consisting of seven books;
the one set of seven was written in Latin and treated of pontifical law,
the other consisted of philosophical writings. They were examined, found
to be heretical and subversive to true religion, and were accordingly
burned in the Comitium. The connexion of Numa and Pythagoras,
historically impossible but believed in at this time, makes it
practically certain that this was a clever attempt to introduce the
philosophy of Pythagoras into Rome under the holy sanction of the name
of Numa. Fortunately the zeal of the city praetor frustrated the scheme.
But the doctrines of philosophy, which thus failed to enter by the door
of religion, found the door of literature wide open for them. As the
irony of fate would have it, Cato, the stalwart enemy of Greek
influence, had brought back from Sardinia with him the poet Ennius, and
at about the time when the false books of Numa were burning in the
Comitium Ennius was giving to the world a Latin translation of the
_Sacred History_ of the Greek Euhemerus. This Euhemerus, a Sicilian who
had lived about a century before this time, earned his title to fame by
writing a novel of adventure and travel, in which he described a trip
which he had taken in the Red Sea along the coast of Arabia to the
wonderful island of Panchaia, where he found a column with an
inscription on it telling the life history of Ouranos, Kronos, and Zeus,
who were thus shown to have been historical characters afterwards
elevated into deities. It was this theological element in his book which
made him famous. This theory of the historical origin of the gods is
even to-day called Euhemerism, and has exerted a baleful influence over
writers on mythology from its author's day down to our own. These then
were the doctrines which Ennius presented to the Romans in their own
tongue, and it is pathetic to realise that his _Sacred History_ formed
the first formal treatise on theology which Rome ever possessed. Born
under such an evil star, it is small wonder that her theological
speculations never reached great metaphysical heights.

In these days it seemed to the Senate that the question of philosophy
was beginning to be so serious that it might be considered as a public
danger, and that it was therefore their duty to try to cope with it.
They chose, of course, the typical Roman method of dealing with such
matters, and the philosophers were expelled from Rome. At first in B.C.
173 it was only the Epicureans who were sent out, but in B.C. 161 the
edict was broadened to include philosophers in general. However six
years later, in B.C. 155, there came to Rome an embassy of philosophers
whose mission was avowedly political and not philosophical, and who thus
could not be excluded, while at the same time they took occasion to
preach their philosophical doctrines. It was fortunate for Rome that
Stoicism, the best among all these philosophies, appealed to her most
strongly and became thus the national philosophy of Rome. Stoicism was
in many respects quite as sceptical as the others, but it had at least
this great advantage that it laid a strong emphasis on ethics, and was
in so far capable of becoming a guide of life. It might be well enough
for Greeks, whose aggressive work in the world had been done, to settle
down to an idle old age with a theory of life which practically excluded
the possibility of strong decisive action, but Rome was still young, and
most of her work was still before her. She might think herself very old
and pretend to take peculiar delight in many of the more decadent forms
of Greek thought, but in reality her leaders instinctively turned to
Stoicism, as affording a compromise between the mere thoughtless
activity of youth, which acts for the love of acting, and the jaded
philosophy of the vanity of all effort. About the middle of the century
(_circa_ B.C. 150) there existed in Rome a centre of culture and
intellectual influence, a little group of men peculiarly interesting,
because they form practically the first instance of an intellectual
coterie in the history of Rome. Their leader was the younger Scipio, who
had as his associates his friend Laelius, the poet Lucilius, whose
brilliant writings, submerged by the more brilliant satires of Horace,
form one of the most deplorable losses in Roman literature, and the
Stoic philosopher Panaitios of Rhodes. Terence had also belonged to the
circle, but he was now dead. Stoicism was the avowed philosophy of these
men, and their influence, especially that of Panaitios and Lucilius, did
much to popularise their chosen philosophical creed.

While Stoicism claimed superiority to religion and showed the
impossibility of attaching any value to religious knowledge, it
recognised the necessity of religion for the common people on grounds of
expediency, and effected a reconciliation between this denial of
religion on the one hand, and the recognition of it on the other, by
asserting that the religion of the state was justified not only by
expediency but much more by the fact that it was after all only the
presentation of the truths of Stoicism in a form which was intelligible
to the lower classes. Had this group of Scipio and his associates made
an effort to emphasise these particular doctrines of Stoicism in
relation to religion, the downfall of the state religion, which occurred
in the following century, might have been hindered. But for reasons,
which we shall see in a moment, this downfall could not have been
prevented, and it is doubtful whether the influence of any philosophical
system, even when supported by such prominent men, could have
perceptibly postponed the catastrophe. Meantime the only visible
contribution of Stoicism to the problem of religion was the growth under
her influence of the idea of a "double truth," one truth for the
intellectual classes and one for the common people, reaching its climax
in the phrase "It is expedient for the state to be deceived in matters
of religion" (_expedit igitur falli in religione civitatem_). This was
the attitude toward religion of the most intellectual men in the
community at the beginning of what was in many ways the most terrible
period in Rome's history.

The last century before Christ (more exactly B.C. 133-B.C. 27) is the
story of how Rome became an empire because she was no longer able to be
a republic; it is the history of the growth of one-man power because
many-men power had become impossible. This growth was caused not only,
nor at first even chiefly, by the grasping character of Rome's
statesmen, but by the increase of the rabble and the consequent
unmanageable character of her population, except under the firm hand of
a single master. And the reason why it took one hundred years of civil
war to change the republic into the empire was not because the spirit of
the republic was so slow in dying that its death struggles filled a
century, but merely because the republic died too easily and the way to
one-man power was so simple that there were too many candidates for the
position, and hence the civil wars between them. These civil wars were
bound to continue until the bitter lessons of experience had taught men
not only how to gain the supreme control, which was relatively easy, but
how to keep it and exclude rivals, which was much more difficult. The
ambitious leaders of this century did not have to create a throne; that
was ready to their hand. Their task was only to put defences around it.
Even these defences of it were not directly against the people, for the
people had no desire to overthrow the throne, but merely against the
rival candidates. Step by step from Tiberius Gracchus to Gaius Gracchus,
and on to Marius, to Sulla, to Pompey, to Julius Caesar, possession
became more and more permanent; until from being a mere momentary
position, it became nine points of the law, and Octavian made the tenure
perfect by adding an almost religious reverence to his person in the
title _Augustus_.

In the main the foreign wars of the second century before Christ gave
place to the Civil War at home, but there was one exception to this, the
war with Mithradates, king of Pontus, which on various occasions during
the early part of the century took large bodies of Romans to the Orient.
And as though to supplement this knowledge of the East, in the closing
half of the century the field of the civil struggle was enlarged so that
it too included the East and South-East. We have already seen so many
instances of the effects of political events on the course of Roman
religion that it is a matter of no surprise to us to see that both of
these struggles, the Civil War and the Oriental wars, left their marks
on religion. It would be much more surprising if they had not done so.
In the struggle of the rivals at home every possible weapon was
employed, and it was soon discovered that the priests and the
paraphernalia of religion were excellent means of political power and
influence. The religion of the state therefore became enslaved to
politics. On the other hand the campaigns in the East made the soldiers,
and eventually on their return the whole populace, acquainted with
various Oriental deities, which helped to satisfy their craving for the
sensational and the superstitious. Thus while the state religion in its
debauched condition was losing influence, the orgiastic element in
worship was gaining power through these newly acquired Oriental cults.
The story of the religion of the last century of the republic is
accordingly the history of the control of state religion by politics and
its consequent destruction, and the growth of superstition because of
the coming of new Oriental worships; and we may add to these two topics
a third: the pathetic attempts of philosophy to breathe new life into
the dead religion of the state.

When it comes to the question of the human characters whose names are
writ large on this page of religious history, the Dictator Lucius
Cornelius Sulla towers above all others. To his political insight is
largely owing the harnessing of the state religion to the chariot of the
politician, now and hereafter; and it was he who was the foremost leader
of Roman armies to the Orient, and the man who, because of his
peculiarly superstitious character, encouraged the worship of the
strange deities which were found there. In both these directions he was
ably seconded by Pompey, half a generation later. On the other hand the
futile efforts of philosophy to improve the situation were inspired
during the earlier period by the chief priest Scaevola, a contemporary
of Sulla, and during Pompey's and Caesar's time by Varro, the greatest
scholar that Rome ever produced.

Let us follow first the fortunes of the religion of the state at the
hands of the politicians. The upper and influential classes of Roman
society were now thoroughly imbued with Stoic philosophy and accordingly
with the doctrine of the "double truth" in the field of religion--the
real philosophical truth which was their own peculiar property and
which showed them clearly that all the forms of religion were vain, and
its doctrines at best a clumsy statement in roundabout parables of a
truth which they saw face to face; and that lower "truth" intended for
the masses and dictated by the pressure of necessity, the concrete state
religion in all its details, which must be preserved among the lower
classes in the interest of the state and of society. The state religion
was thus a matter of expediency and of usefulness. But once this idea of
its usefulness was put into the foreground, it was natural that the
question should immediately be asked: Was this state religion as useful
after all as it might be? Could it not be put to greater uses? If
religion existed in general for its political effects, why should it not
be used by the individual, like any other political apparatus, for his
own individual advancement? The man to whom this idea seems to have come
first in all its fullness was Sulla, and he proceeded immediately to act
upon it. The control of religion could, of course, be obtained best
through the priesthoods, and those priesthoods were naturally most worth
gaining which possessed the greatest right of interference in affairs of
state. These priesthoods were: first the Augurs, with their traditional
right to break up assemblies and to declare legislative action null and
void; then the Pontiffs, with their general control of all vexed
questions concerning the intersection of divine and human law; and
lastly the XVviri, or the keepers of the Sibylline books, in charge also
of the cults to which the oracles had given birth. Accordingly he
increased the numbers of these three priesthoods, raising each to
fifteen; and inasmuch as the old right of the colleges of the priests to
fill vacancies in their own bodies themselves had been taken away from
them in B.C. 103, and such vacancies were now filled by popular vote, it
was an easy thing for him to fill the new positions with his own men.

The result of accentuating the political importance of these three
colleges was that the whole body of the state religion became actuated
with a political spirit, and the whole structure was remodelled along
the lines of this new valuation. The immediate effect of this was that
the priests themselves became entirely absorbed in politics. To be sure
Sulla was not responsible for all of this, because the tendency had been
in this direction ever since the time of the Punic wars. In the good old
days of Roman religion the office of priest had been in the main its own
reward, and though the priests formed by no means a separate class, and
the individual priest had many secular interests and occasionally some
political ones, he was not supposed to hold political office. In the
time of the Punic wars, however, the tide began to turn. The earliest
recorded instance of a priest holding a high political office is in the
year B.C. 242 when the Flamen Martialis or special priest of Mars was
chosen Consul; but when the gentleman in question started to go to the
war, he was forbidden by the Pontifex Maximus. In B.C. 200 the Flamen
Dialis, or special priest of Juppiter, was allowed to be made aedile,
but his brother had to be especially authorised to take the oath of
office in his stead, since the priest of Juppiter, the god of oaths, was
himself not allowed to take an oath. In the course of the next century
such cases became more common, and where the thing was not allowed, the
priesthood became unpopular, and was sometimes left entirely vacant.
This last thing happened, for instance, in the case of the Flaminium
Diale, a position which was unfilled from B.C. 87 till B.C. 11. But the
evil effects of politics were not confined to the emptying of certain
priesthoods, which after all were of no very great importance, except as
their presence tended to sustain the _morale_ of the old religious
ritual. Its effects were much more disastrous in the very important
priesthoods which had now become essentially political offices. The
exclusively political interests of the incumbents, combined with the
fact that each man was elected by general vote of the people and without
any special fitness for the position, as had been the case in the old
days, tended to break down all the traditions of the college, and thus
to destroy much of the knowledge which was being handed down largely by
oral tradition. There arose therefore an ignorance of the ritual of the
cult which was great just in proportion as the knowledge originally
present had been accurate and intricate. But even this was not all; the
arranging of the yearly calendar, with its complicated intercalation of
days to bring into harmony the solar and the lunar years, was still in
the hands of the priests, and here the results of their growing
ignorance were most appalling. The calendar became terribly disordered;
and this again had its reaction on religion, for the calendar month
occasionally fell so out of gear with the natural seasons that it was
impossible to celebrate some of the old Roman festivals, which had a
distinct bearing on certain seasons of the year.

Thus the greatest enemies of the religion of the state were those of its
own household, the priests, who turned the reverent formalism of the old
days into a mockery, and made their priesthood merely a means of
political influence.

Now that the old Roman gods had been changed into new-fangled Greek
gods, and the old Roman priesthoods into modern political clubs, it is
little wonder that the religion of the fathers ceased to satisfy their
descendants. But while history shows that specific religious creeds have
often proved mortal and subject to change and decay, the same history
makes clear that the religious instinct is a constant factor in
humanity; and we must not suppose for a moment that the religious need
of the Roman community had ceased to exist, simply because the religion
of the state had ceased to satisfy it. From the day when the Sibyl gave
her first oracles to Rome on down to the time of Sulla, the desire for
the sensational and the extraordinary in religion had been steadily
growing. It had its birth in the idea that there was such a thing as a
direct communion with the deity, and that the oracles were an immediate
command from him. It was nourished by the sense of foreignness in the
Greek ceremonies gradually introduced into the cult. It fed on the more
sensational aspects of certain of the gods brought in: on the
enthusiastic rites of Bacchus, on the miracle-working of Aesculapius, on
the Stygian mystery of Dis and Proserpina. But its fulfilment was to
come from the East, that inexhaustible fountain of religious energy. In
the Magna Mater it recognised its own. This was the first undiluted
Orientalism which came to Rome. But the state itself had received it,
and had managed in some unaccountable way to put upon this outlandish
Eastern cult the stamp of Rome's nationality, that stamp which no nation
ever successfully and permanently resisted; and thus the reception of
the cult on the part of the state was not only a disgraceful thing,
tending to degrade true religion and spread the contagion of
Orientalism, but it also made those whose appetite had been aroused
eager for other deities, whose cult would have the great additional
charm of being unlicensed by the state, and hence savouring of

Such a cult, long half-consciously desired, was at length found, when in
B.C. 92 the Roman soldiery commanded by Sulla penetrated into the valley
of Comana in Cappadocia. There was a whole community, a miniature state,
devoted to the service of a goddess not unlike the Great Mother of
Pessinus, but whose cult was more ecstatic, more orgiastic, than that of
the Magna Mater, at least as Rome knew her. The king was the chief
priest, and the citizens were priests and priestesses. The war with
Mithradates brought the Roman army there again and also to another
Comana in Pontus, where there was a branch of the Cappadocian cult. It
was not the ignorant soldiery alone who were impressed by what they saw;
their leader, Sulla, was fully as much affected, and on his return to
Italy when the great crisis in his career, his march on Rome and his
storming of the Eternal City, lay before him, it was the goddess of
Comana who appeared to him in a dream and gave him courage. Thus her
cult entered Rome, and the capture of the city by Sulla has its parallel
in the capture of the hearts of the people by his companion, the goddess
of Comana. The original name of this goddess seems to have been Ma, but
the Greeks, who also knew her, had likened her to Enyo, their goddess
of strife and warfare; hence in these days of facile identification the
Romans' course was clear, and she became straightway Bellona, called by
the name of their old goddess of war. Of all the chapters of the history
of such identifications none is more curious than this. The old Bellona
had borne to Mars the same relation that Fides, the goddess of good
faith, had borne to Juppiter. She was the result of the separate
deification of one of the qualities of Mars, the breaking off of an
adjective and the turning of it into a noun; but from now on, though the
old goddess still existed and had her own temple and her own worship,
the name was also applied to this strange Oriental goddess who came in
the train of the debauched Roman army on its return from the East. But
though men might call this new-comer by the name of a sacred old
national goddess and worship her in private as they pleased, the
religion of the state, even in its sunken condition, refused to admit
her among its deities, and the priests, the _Fanatici_, with their wild
dances, to the music of cymbals and trumpets, slashing themselves with
their double axes until their arms streamed with blood, were not, at
least as yet, the official representatives of the state, the companions
of the reverend old Salii with their dignified "three-step." Even the
sanctuaries of the private cult must be kept outside the city, and the
violation of this law in B.C. 48 resulted in the raiding and
destruction of one of these private chapels. Her cult does not seem to
have become a state affair until the beginning of the third century
A.D., when Caracalla, who had extended Roman citizenship to all the
inhabitants of the provinces, gave a similar citizenship to all the
foreign deities resident in Rome. It is a curious coincidence that this
action of Caracalla's occurred just about the same year A.D. in which
the breakdown of the _pomerium_ for state cults had occurred B.C. For
the present, however, that is to say in the first century B.C., the
state retained her dignity, though the resultant unorthodox character of
the cult increased its power and influence, and made it more subversive
to morals than the Magna Mater was.

An even more interesting instance, both of the popularity of sensational
foreign cults and of the struggle of the state religion against them, is
found in the case of the Egyptian goddess Isis. The spread of Isis
worship into the Greek, and consequently also into the Roman world,
began relatively early. In the third century Isis and her companion
Serapis were well established on the island of Delos; and in the second
century we find traces of their worship in Campania, especially at
Pompeii and Puteoli. This last-named place, the seaport Puteoli, the
modern Pozzuoli, outside of Naples, was probably the door through which
Isis and her train came into Italy. Puteoli was the chief port for
Oriental ships, including Egypt, and it also had commercial relations
with Delos. At this later date it supplied Rome with gods in somewhat
the same way that Cumae, in the same neighbourhood, had done centuries
before. So far as the city of Rome itself is concerned, an apparently
trustworthy tradition traces the private cult back to the time of Sulla;
and it certainly cannot have been introduced much later than this time,
because in B.C. 58 it had became so prominent and so offensive to the
authorities of the state that they destroyed an altar of Isis on the
Capitoline. Apparently Isis was no exception to the general law of
growth by persecution, because in the course of the next decade the
state found it necessary to interfere no less than three times, _i.e._
in B.C. 53, 50, and 48. Finally the policy of suppression proved so
ineffectual that it was decided to try the opposite extreme, and to see
what could be done by state acknowledgment and state control, and so the
Triumvirs, Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus, in B.C. 43 decreed the
building of a state temple for Isis. But although they had decreed the
erection of a temple, they were too much engaged in their own affairs to
build it immediately, and until the temple was built Isis could not
properly be considered among the state gods. As events turned out this
temple was never built, for in the course of the next few years the
trouble with Antony and Cleopatra began, and thus the gods of Egypt
became the gods of Rome's enemies, and so far as the state was concerned
an acknowledgment of these gods was impossible. Instead Augustus forbade
even private chapels inside the _pomerium_. The subsequent history of
Isis does not directly concern us; suffice it to say that after various
vicissitudes she was admitted to the state cult by Caracalla along with
all the other foreign deities.

But it was not only Asia Minor and Egypt which gave their cults to Rome;
the deities of Syria came too. Prominent among them was Atargatis, whose
cult seems to have touched the Italian mainland first at Puteoli. In
B.C. 54 the army of Crassus on its Eastern expedition, which was
destined to come to such a tragic end in the terrible defeat at Carrhae,
visited and plundered the sanctuary of the goddess in Syria. Thus she
became known at Rome, where she was called simply the "Syrian goddess"
(_dea Syria_) and was worshipped in a way very similar to the Magna
Mater and Bellona.

Lastly when Pompey swept the Mediterranean clean of Cilician pirates,
the sailors became acquainted with a Persian deity, Mithras, whose cult
in Rome began during our period and subsequently crowded all the other
orgiastic cults into insignificance.

We have now seen how the politicians were turning the state religion
into a tool for the accomplishment of their own selfish ends, and how
the masses of the people were seeking satisfaction for their religious
needs in sensational foreign worships, introduced from Asia Minor,
Egypt, Syria, and Persia. We must now see whether any efforts were being
made by any members of the community in behalf of the old religion, and
whether there were still in existence any traces of the pure old Roman

The latter-day philosophies of Greece had dealt a severe blow at Roman
religion by convincing the intellectual classes in the community that in
the nature of things there could be no such knowledge as that upon which
religion was based, and hence that religion was an idle thing unworthy
of a true man's interest. Yet all the philosophy in the world could not
take away from a Roman his sense of duty to the state. Now the state in
its experience had found religion so necessary that she had built up a
formal system of it and made it a part of herself. As it was the duty of
the citizen to support the state in every part of her activity, it was
clearly his duty to support the state religion. Hence there arose that
crass contradiction, which existed in Rome to a large degree as long as
these particular systems of philosophy prevailed, between the duty which
a man, as a thinking man, owed to himself, and the duty which he, as a
good citizen, owed to the state. We have seen how during the second
century before Christ no attempt was made to reconcile these two views
and how they existed side by side in such a man, for example, as Ennius,
who wrote certain treatises embodying the most extraordinary sceptical
doctrines, and certain patriotic poems in which the whole apparatus of
the Roman gods is prominently exhibited and most reverently treated. We
have also seen how this "double truth" could not but have disastrous
results on the state religion in spite of all efforts to the contrary.
The first effort which was made to improve the situation was not so much
an attempt at reconciliation as a frank statement of the difficulties of
the case. The problem had advanced considerably toward solution when
once it had been clearly stated. The man who had the courage to make the
statement was Quintus Mucius Scaevola, a famous lawyer as well as the
head of the college of Pontiffs (Pontifex Maximus). He was a
contemporary of Sulla, and was admirably fitted for his task because he
not only represented religion in his position as Pontifex Maximus, but
could speak also in behalf of the state both theoretically as a lawyer,
and practically because he had filled almost all the important political
offices (consul, B.C. 95). The treatise in which he made his statements
has been lost to us, but we may obtain a fair idea of what he said from
a quotation by the Christian writer Augustine in his wonderful book _The
City of God_ (iv. 27). For Scaevola the double truth of Ennius has grown
into a triple truth, and there are no less than three distinct
religions: the religion of poets, of philosophers, and of statesmen. The
religion of the poets, by which he means the mythological treatment of
the gods, he condemns as worthless because it tells a great many things
about the gods which are not true and which are entirely unworthy of
them. The religion of philosophers he does not consider suitable to the
state, because it contains many things which are superfluous, and some
which are injurious. The superfluous things may be allowed to pass, but
the injurious things, by which he evidently means the doctrines of
Euhemeros, are a very serious matter, not because they are untrue but
because the knowledge of them is inexpedient for the masses. The
religion of the statesman can have no part in these things, even if they
are true; and a man as a citizen of the state must believe in many
things, or profess belief in them, which the same man, as an individual
and a philosopher, knows are false. Scaevola's honest well-intentioned
effort to support the religion of the state was naturally a failure. The
very "masses" in whose behalf Scaevola was calling on his
fellow-citizens to undergo these casuistical gymnastics soon cared more
for Bellona and Isis than for all the gods of Numa together. But we
cannot help admiring Scaevola for his patriotism, though we may not envy
him his ethics. The state religion could never be supported on the
arguments of expediency; every one granted its expediency, and still it
fell; its worst enemies, the politicians, granted it most of all, and
they were the only ones who put the doctrine to any practical use. It
was precisely this discovery of its expediency and its great practical
value which caused its downfall. From the practical standpoint the
problem was settled once and for all, but as a matter of theory it
remained for the next generation, in the person of Varro, to provide a
more satisfactory solution, and to effect something of a compromise
between the truth of philosophy and the truth of religion.

Marcus Terentius Varro came to the work equipped with all the learning
of his time and possessed of a greater knowledge of facts than any other
Roman of his or any other day. So far as the problem of religion was
concerned, he embodied this learning in the sixteen books of _Divine
Antiquities_, which he very appropriately dedicated to Julius Caesar in
his capacity as Pontifex Maximus. If Ennius's _Sacra Historia_ be left
out of account, his book was the first treatise on systematic theology
which Rome ever had. In this work he desired to accomplish three things:
first, by a review of the history of Rome to show how essential the
state religion was; second, by an examination of Greek mythology to
purify the state religion from its immoral influences; third, to show
that the state religion so purified was fully in accord with Stoic
philosophy. In regard to the "three religions," therefore, he agreed
with Scaevola in casting out entirely the religion of the poets, and in
accepting both the others, but he differed from Scaevola in that he
denied the contradiction between them and asserted that they were not
two truths but two forms of the same truth. We are not able to go into
the details of his attempt, because unfortunately the books in which he
wrote it have been lost to us, and we have again merely the quotation in
Augustine's _City of God_. But we know that in general he tried to show
that the formal doctrines of the state religion were merely a popular
presentation of the truths of the Stoic philosophy, and that the whole
system of Roman gods could be reduced in theory to the great
philosophical contrast between the sky and the earth, the procreative
and the conceptive elements. A man might therefore hold fast to both
religions as to a simpler creed and a more abstruse one. Hence a man's
belief as a good citizen and his belief as an intelligent individual
were not in contrast so far as the truth was concerned, but merely in
the matter of form, in the manner of presentation. Varro's heroic
effort, supported as it was by all the learning of his day and all the
influence that his fame lent to his words, was nevertheless a failure.
The religion of the state was dead; politics had killed it. It was a
political power alone which could restore life to it, but that was the
work of an emperor, Augustus, and not of a scholar, Varro.

While Varro, with the weapon of philosophy, was attempting to defend the
religion of the state against its enemies, the poets and the
philosophers, a poet, also armed with philosophy, was trying to defend
the Roman people against its worst enemy, superstition. It may not seem
as though Lucretius belonged among the friends of old Roman religion,
and as though the _De Rerum Natura_ were exactly a religious poem, and
yet his work was in so far helpful to old Roman religion in that it
attacked the excesses of a latter-day superstition which had alienated
the hearts of the people from their old beliefs. Superstition is a
parasite which lives on scepticism, and with the killing of the parasite
scepticism sometimes dies as well; and it is open to question whether
Lucretius's book was not of considerable service in the cause of
religion. For religion still lived at Rome, though it is the fashion of
the writers on the ethics of the close of the republic to emphasise
almost entirely the scepticism of the day, dwelling on the attitude of a
Cicero or a Caesar, and forgetting the infinite number of "little
people," especially outside of Rome in the country, who still believed
in the old religion of the fathers, and who still performed the old
festivals of Numa, people who knew no more about Isis than they did
about Stoic philosophy. Their presence is disclosed to us in a few
republican inscriptions, but better yet in the continuance of the rites
of family worship down into the latest days of Rome, rites which did not
form a part of the restoration of Augustus, and which therefore, had
they died now, would never have come to life again. It is by just so
much more our duty to remember these people, as they have been forgotten
by history, if we ever expect to obtain a picture of Roman religion in
its true proportions. They were besides the people upon whom Augustus
built in the restoration, to which we now turn.


Politics had caused the downfall of the state religion. Weakened by the
attacks of a sceptical philosophy, driven from the hearts of the common
people by the rival cults of the Orient, the state religion had finally
lost all its influence by the abuse of it as a political tool. Its
priesthoods were deserted, its temples were falling into ruins with the
grass carpeting their mosaic pavements and the spiders weaving new altar
cloths. To us with our modern ideas it would have seemed impossible that
this state religion could ever rise again; and probably no other state
religion that the world has ever seen could have been brought to life
again, because no other state religion has ever been so absolutely a
part of the state, unless the state itself were a theocracy; and
possibly no lesser genius than Augustus could have accomplished the task
even under the slightly more favourable conditions which the state
religion of Rome offered. Whether Julius Caesar would have attempted the
restoration is one of the many questions which his death left
unanswered. Certainly thoughtful men of his day hoped that he would, and
it was in this hope that Varro dedicated his _Divine Antiquities_ to
him; and another contemporary, Granius Flaccus, his book _On the
Invocation of the Gods_. But except for one law which he caused to be
enacted "concerning the priesthoods," we have no knowledge either of his
accomplishment or of his intentions, and the great task was left
practically untouched for the master-hand of Augustus.

In order that we may understand what Augustus did and how he managed to
succeed in relation to the state religion we must obtain some idea of
the whole scheme of Augustus in relation to the state at large, of which
his religious reorganisation was merely a part. One of the cleverest
characterisations of the Emperor Augustus which has ever been written
was that by the late Professor Mommsen, but its relatively secluded
position in the Latin preface to an edition of Augustus's great
autobiography, the _Res Gestae_, has prevented it from being generally
known. Mommsen describes Augustus as "a man who wore most skilfully the
mask of a great man, though himself not great." This epigrammatic
statement is undoubtedly clever but it is not just, although it is the
opinion concerning Augustus which we would expect a man to hold who,
like Mommsen, had an almost unbounded admiration for Julius Caesar.
There have been scattered through the pages of history even down to our
own day men of whom we say that they were not great men, though they did
a great work. In certain cases doubtless we can separate the man from
his work and justify the assertion, but in other cases we are deceived
by the man himself just as his contemporaries were and as he wished them
to be. For it occasionally happens that a man who is called to rule over
men and to reorganise a disordered government is able best to accomplish
his end by a gentle diplomacy, a conciliatory manner, which is often
misunderstood by those who surround him and who interpret gentleness of
spirit as smallness of spirit and self-restraint as weakness. It would
be truer to describe Augustus as a man who wore most skilfully the mask
of an ordinary man though himself an extraordinary man. The more we
study the chaotic condition of Rome under the Second Triumvirate and the
more fully we realise not only the total disorganisation of the forms of
government but also the absolute demoralisation of the individual
citizen, the more we appreciate the almost impossible task which was set
for Augustus and which he successfully accomplished. For one hundred
years (B.C. 133-31), from Tiberius Gracchus to Actium, hardly a decade
had passed which had not brought forth some terrible revolution for
Rome. Even the great Caesar had failed, had not divined aright the only
treatment to which the disease of the age would yield, for although the
blows which actually killed Caesar may have been merely an accident in
history, the deed of irresponsible men, his fall was no accident but was
the inevitable logical outcome of his imperial policy. But Augustus
succeeded in establishing a form of government which enabled himself and
his connexion to occupy the throne for almost a hundred years, and even
then though revolutions came, his constitution was the main bulwark of
government in succeeding centuries. It would take us too far from our
present subject to answer in any completeness the question of how he
succeeded, but a word or two may be said in general, and the rest will
become clearer when we examine his reorganisation of religion.

The secret of Augustus's success was the infinite tact and diplomacy by
which he managed to strengthen the throne and his own position on it
while apparently restoring the form of the republic and the manners of
the old days. It is open to question whether he was actuated by a
consideration of the good of the state, or by a regard for his own
selfish ends, but it is beyond question that he gave to Rome the only
form of government which could eradicate the habit of revolution, and
thus saved the state. He succeeded because he did not underestimate the
difficulty of the task, and accordingly brought to bear on it every
possible influence, emphasising especially the psychological element
and being willing to go a long way around in order to arrive at his
goal. He was not content with a mere temporary makeshift, which might
carry him to the end of his own life; he was laying foundations for the
future. Nowhere is this more clearly stated than in one of his edicts,
where he says:--"May it fall to my lot to establish the state firm and
strong and to obtain the wished-for fruit of my labours, that I may be
called the author of it and that when I die I may carry with me the hope
that the foundations which I have laid may abide." These abiding
foundations must be laid deep in the national psychology, and it was his
grasp of the psychological problem which explains his reorganisation of
religion. A century of civil war had totally destroyed the spirit of
unity and created an infinite number of petty hatreds between man and
man. Men had looked so long at their individual interests that they had
almost forgotten the existence of the state. But if the spirit of
patriotism could be quickened into a new life, then men would think of
the state and forget themselves, and united in their love of this one
universal object of devotion they would learn a lesson of union which
might gradually be extended to their whole life. But the state must be
presented not as it was in all its wretchedness, lacerated by civil
struggle; the sight of the present would serve only to start the quarrel
over again; instead it must be the ideal state, a state so far away, so
distant from all the citizens, that they all seemed equally near. If
this state were to be something more than a mere abstraction, it could
be clothed only in the reverential garments of the past, it must be the
Rome of the good old days. Yet if they were not for ever to mourn a
"Golden Age" in the past and a paradise that was lost, there must also
be a hope for the future, a paradise to be regained. In a word the
belief in the eternity of Rome must be instilled into men's hearts. Thus
was the idea of the "eternal city" born, and it is no mere coincidence
that the first instance of this phrase in literature occurs in Tibullus,
a poet of the Augustan age. Once convinced of the eternity of Rome men
could look at the past for inspiration in full confidence that the
beauties which had been could be obtained again. But Augustus was more
than a sentimental enthusiast, and he saw that it was not enough for men
to drop their swords at the epiphany of "Roma Aeterna," that their eyes
would grow weary and looking to earth would behold the swords again.
These swords must be beaten into ploughshares and pruning hooks; the
deserted farms of Italy must be filled again, and the stability of the
state must be increased by an enlargement of the agricultural community.
But for the accomplishment of these reforms something was needed which
was at once gentler and stronger than legal enactments. The poet must
make smooth the way of the law. It was the poet who could best interest
men in the past; and thus Augustan poetry was encouraged and directed by
the emperor, that by pointing out the glories of old Rome it might
inspire men to make a new Rome more glorious than the old. Practically
every poet of the age was directly or indirectly under the influence of
the ruler. It was the emperor's counsellor, Maecenas, who encouraged
Virgil to write his _Georgics_, and these glowing pictures of farm life
did quite as much to carry out the emperor's plans as the _Aeneid_
later. And Virgil was not alone in writing of country life; Tibullus,
even more gentle than the gentle bard of Mantua, was telling the same
story in another form.

By this time the myths which Greece had given to Rome or which Rome had
made for herself on Greek models were absolutely a part of the national
past. These too entered into Augustus's scheme. Thus another protege of
Maecenas, the poet Propertius, was gradually weaned from love poetry and
filled instead with a hunger for the myths of Roman temples and of old
Roman customs, so that Cynthia slowly gives way to Tarpeia and
Vertumnus, and the Rome of Augustus to the Rome of Romulus. Even the
irrepressible Ovid tried in his exuberant fashion to assist in this work
and started in his _Fasti_ to write a history of the religious
festivals of the Roman year. But above all these, and infinitely more
important in its influence, towers the _Aeneid_ of Virgil. All through
the varied incidents of the twelve books there runs the scarlet thread
of a great purpose, the glorification of Rome and of Augustus. From the
sack of Troy, through the long wanderings and the fierce wars in Latium,
down to the final conquest of the enemy, we see Aeneas led by the hand
of the gods whose will it was that Rome should be. The lesson is very
evident. The providence which guided us in the past still protects us;
we have no right to be discouraged, and our future is assured us under
the same gods who brought our fathers out of the land of the Trojans,
through the midst of the Greeks. But there is concealed in the _Aeneid_
another lesson, much more directly useful to Augustus. Its hero, the
immaculate pious Aeneas, is the direct ancestor of the Julian house to
which Augustus belongs, and the founding of Rome shows not only the good
will of the gods toward the city, but in no less degree their special
appointment and protection of the leader. The descendants of the house
of Aeneas are therefore the divinely appointed rulers of Rome.

There can be no question but that this poetry had an effect none the
less far reaching because its influence was difficult to estimate and
analyse. It was not necessary for the psychological result that men
should actually believe in these myths; much was gained if they allowed
their thoughts to dwell on the ideas presented in them. It was the
sedimentary deposit thus formed which was to fertilise the soil of
patriotism which had grown so barren in the civil wars. But while
Augustus was broad-minded enough to realise the value of the influence
of literature, he did not fail to recognise that men could not live by
myths alone, that they must be surrounded by visible cult acts and
tangible temples of the gods in order that their faith might be aided by
sight and their life filled with action. Literature was to encourage
patriotism, and patriotism was the foundation for the spiritual
restoration of the state religion, but the state itself must by legal
enactment prepare the outward form which the religious activity was to
take. The question of the sincerity of Augustus in these religious
reforms is a very difficult one to answer. If the essence of religion
consisted in acts and not in belief, in works and not in faith, Augustus
was a devoutly religious man. Beyond that we cannot go, for our judgment
is hampered not only by ignorance of the facts but by our inability to
free ourselves from the modern standpoint in the interpretation of the
few facts that we do know. There can be no question of the emperor's
fitness for the task so far as priestly learning went, for he was from a
very early age a member of three priesthoods: a pontiff, an augur, and
a guardian of the Sibylline books. With characteristic modesty however
he refrained from becoming Chief Pontiff until in B.C. 12 the death of
Lepidus, the discarded member of the Second Triumvirate, left the
position vacant.

One who understands the political reforms of Augustus will have no
difficulty in understanding his reorganisation of religion, for they
were both undertaken with the same general underlying principles and
along similar lines. In both cases innovations and novelties were
strenuously avoided, except of course those of a merely administrative
character. In each case a successful effort was made to have it appear
as if the old institutions of the republic were being reinstated,
whereas as a matter of fact the form alone was old with its age
artificially emphasised occasionally by an archaistic touch, while the
content was quite new. The real result in each case was the
strengthening of the monarchy and the emphasising of the divine right of
the Julian house. In our study of Augustus's restoration of religion we
must not be content therefore with chronicling the old forms which were
re-established, but we must examine in each case the new content which
was put into them, even though the evidence of that content consists
oftentimes of a mere tendency. The fondness of Augustus for the archaic
is nowhere more clearly exhibited than in one of his earliest religious
acts: the formal declaration of war against Antony and Cleopatra, in
B.C. 32, by means of the Fetiales. The Fetiales were a very ancient
priestly college which acted, under the direction of the Senate, as the
representatives of international law. It was through them that all
treaties and all declarations of war had been made, but it seems
probable that this custom had fallen into desuetude after the Punic
wars, and that accordingly the college had lapsed into insignificance,
if it had not died out altogether. But now as the first step in the
rebuilding of the priesthoods Octavian restored the college to its old
rank and gained also the additional advantage that the people were
impressed with the moral righteousness of their cause against Antony and
Cleopatra, and also with the fact that it was a foreign, _i.e._ an
international war, and not a civil one, in which they were about to
engage. The effect of Octavian's restoration was a lasting one, for from
this time on this priesthood was held in high honour during the whole of
the empire, and the emperors themselves were members of it.

This was a very characteristic beginning to Augustus's activity. It was
primarily the human element to which he was appealing in his religious
changes, and hence the priesthoods needed especial attention. It was not
long after the battle of Actium that he restored another very ancient
priesthood, that of the Arval brothers. This was a very old priesthood
consisting of twelve men who took part in the purification of the land,
the _Ambarvalia_, so called because the ceremony consisted of a solemn
procession around the boundaries of the fields. But as the Roman
territory grew and such a ceremony in the old fashion became impossible
and was carried out merely symbolically by sacrifices at various
boundary points, the Arval brothers lost all their importance, so that
even in these symbolic sacrifices their place was taken by the pontiffs.
Augustus however recognised in this priesthood an effectual means of
emphasising the agricultural side of Roman life, and of connecting the
imperial family with the farming population. The centre of this new
worship was the sanctuary in the sacred grove at the fifth milestone of
the Via Campana, and it is there that the wonderful discoveries have
been made of the inscriptions giving the "minutes" of the meetings of
this curious corporation, beginning with Augustus. But the pastoral side
of their worship was an insignificant matter, even in the age of
Augustus, compared with their prayers and supplications in behalf of the
imperial house, so that the records of this supposedly agricultural
priesthood form one of our best sources for the study of

Three other priesthoods, the pontiffs, the augurs, and the guardians of
the Sibylline books (_XVviri_) did not need actual restoration, for
their ability to interfere in politics had kept them alive during the
closing centuries of the republic, when political usefulness was the
surest means of surviving in the struggle for existence. But the fact
that they had been politically powerful made the control of them all the
more necessary for an emperor who wished to have in his hands all the
possibilities of political influence. It was contrary to Augustus's
policy openly to crush any of the institutions which had really been or,
what was from his standpoint very much the same thing, had been thought
to be a bulwark of republicanism. As a matter of fact however these
priesthoods had been one of the chief means of bringing the republic
into the control of one man. Hence for Augustus the problem was easy to
solve; it was only necessary to appear to honour these priesthoods by
raising their dignity still higher and by making only men of senatorial
rank eligible, and then to take the chief position in them himself and
to fill them with his own supporters. Thus the republic was apparently
saved and the empire was really strengthened.

But the priesthood to which Augustus devoted his most especial attention
was the priesthood of Vesta, the Vestal virgins. Here he was guided not
only by his desire to improve the condition of the priesthoods in
general but also by his especial interest in the cult of Vesta. The
reasons for this interest in Vesta will be explained in a moment when
we discuss the emperor's favourite cults; but a word about its effects
on the priestesses of Vesta may be said here. The Vestal virgins had
been relatively little contaminated by politics, but the priesthood had
suffered along with all the rest of the religion of the state because of
the general indifferentism and neglect of religious things which
characterised the closing centuries of the republic. The best families
in the state were not as ready as in the earlier days to devote their
daughters to the service, and thus the rank and consequently the
influence of the Vestals had to some extent declined. But now all this
was immediately changed, the outward honour and the insignia of the
Vestals were increased until they were allowed such privileges as not
even the emperors possessed. When they went through the street, they
were attended by a lictor as the higher officers of the state were, and
they were given special seats at the theatre. But the most
characteristic thing which Augustus did for them and that which helped
their cause the most was the emperor's declaration, made to be repeated
in public gossip, that if he had a grand-daughter of the proper age he
would unhesitatingly make her a Vestal virgin.

Toward the close of his life Augustus prepared a statement of what he
had accomplished during his reign, a sort of _compte rendu_ of his
stewardship. In a roundabout way almost all of this has been preserved
to us and it naturally forms the greatest source of our knowledge of
his activity. After reciting a large number of his religious reforms he
adds:--"The spoils of war I have consecrated to the gods in the
Capitoline temple, in the temple of the god Julius, in the temple of
Apollo, in the temple of Vesta, in the temple of Mars the Avenger."
These words give us a clue to the more especial religious interests of
Augustus, a clue which is all the more needed because of his apparently
catholic spirit, and his seemingly general interest in all the forms of
old Roman religion. No man who restored and in some cases entirely
rebuilt eighty-two temples to various deities could be accused of undue
partiality in emphasising certain phases of religion to the total
exclusion of others. But as a matter of fact underneath this general
interest there were present certain very specific interests, and this
passage in his own writing adds great strength to the other evidence as
to what these gods were. Naturally in every list of pre-eminent deities
Juppiter must be present, hence the mention of the Capitoline temple
first; as a matter of fact however Augustus's worship of Juppiter was
much more a matter of form than of real interest. His attitude was one
of graceful acceptance of the inevitable rather than of enthusiastic
homage. Juppiter was not adapted to his purpose, because it was almost
impossible to connect Juppiter with a specific form of government other
than the republic, much less with a particular royal family like the
Julian house. Juppiter had come to mean republicanism. The Capitoline
temple had ushered in the republic in B.C. 509 and there was a halo of
republicanism about it which was too genuine to be used as a mask for
concealing imperial features. With the four other deities matters stood
very differently. The god Julius, Apollo, Vesta, and Mars the Avenger
were either already identical with the imperial family or could easily
be connected with it.

The central feature of the religion of the empire was a thing altogether
unique and unknown in the republic: the worship of the emperors as gods.
From Augustus on this was the chief characteristic of the state
religion; its beginnings must be sought therefore under his reign and he
is largely accountable for it. According to our modern ideas it seems a
very strange thing to worship a living man as a god; it seems also
strange to worship a dead man as a god, but there we have at least the
analogy of the worship of the saints, and the inherent instinct of the
race toward ancestor-worship which unexpectedly crops out in all of us
at intervals. But we must rid ourselves of modern ideas and try to
appreciate the historical evolution of emperor-worship. This evolution
is perfectly clear and we can trace every step of it, though in doing so
we must remember that the various processes which we are compelled to
take up one after another in our explanation went on in nature side by
side, and exercised a sympathetic influence one upon the other, which we
have to eliminate from our explanation but make allowance for in our
finished concept.

We have seen that from the very beginning of religious life in Rome the
idea was present that everything, each individual and each family, had
its divine double, the individual in the shape of his Genius, the family
in the shape of protecting spirits, Vesta, the Penates, and later the
Lar. In addition to this, under the influence of the Greek myths which
various families adopted, certain gods originally independent became
especially associated with these families. Each family was naturally
interested in the worship of its own gods, but this particular worship
was quite as naturally confined to the particular family or its
dependents. Now the first preliminary step toward emperor-worship was
taken when the gods of the imperial family began to be worshipped by
other families, then by all other families, and officially by the state.
But from the very beginning the gods of each family had included also
the deified ancestors, the _Di Manes_, at first thought of _en masse_
and not as individuals, but toward the close of the republic they began
to be individualised, so that the next step in emperor-worship was when
the dead Julius, a particular ancestor therefore of Augustus, began to
be worshipped by the whole people and officially by the state. But also
from the beginning there had been still another element in family
worship, the cult paid to the Genius or divine double of the living
master of the house. There followed then correspondingly as another step
toward emperor-worship, the homage paid by the whole state to the Genius
of the living emperor. These three steps: the worship by the whole state
of the gods of the emperor's family, in its three forms, the gods of the
family in general, and in particular the deified ancestor, and the
Genius of the living representative, were all encouraged and officially
established by Augustus. Lastly there came from the Orient a habit of
thought in distinct contradiction to Roman ideas whereby not the Genius
of the living emperor but the very man himself was divine in life and in
death. Augustus fought against this concept but had to yield to it and
allow himself to be worshipped directly as a god in the Orient itself
and in certain coast towns of Italy which were under strong Oriental
influence, but he forbade it in Rome, and thus established a precedent
which was followed by all the better ones among the emperors who came
after him.

This digression was necessary in order that we might appreciate the
reasons for Augustus's preferences in emphasising certain cults.
Unquestionably he did not foresee or plan for an emperor-worship such as
eventually grew up out of his arrangements; he was however deeply
interested in emphasising the worship of the special deities of his own
family. The four gods therefore whose names he couples with that of
Juppiter in the summary of his religious activity--Apollo, Vesta, Mars
the Avenger, and the god Julius--are all intimately connected with his
family; and if we add to this the worship of his own Genius, the Genius
Augusti, we shall have the real kernel of his religious restoration. It
remains for us to see in what way these deities are connected with his
family, and how he managed to emphasise their cult and at the same time
to bring them into close relationship to himself.

From the time of his first introduction into Rome Apollo had stood in a
relation of contrast to Juppiter. Apollo's oracles, the Sibylline books,
had brought in a host of Greek gods whose presence tended inevitably to
lessen the unique position and the unparalleled prestige of Juppiter
Optimus Maximus, the great representative of nationalism in Roman
religion. At first this contrast was scarcely marked, and the very
oracles of Apollo which were destined to undermine Juppiter's
omnipotence were stored in Juppiter's temple and under his protection.
The difference was felt more strongly as the priesthood of the Sibylline
books began to grow in influence alongside of the pontiffs, the priests
of the Juppiter cults. This opposition was emphasised in B.C. 367, when
the priesthood of the oracles was opened to the plebeians, while the
pontiffs were still patricians. At first unquestionably the object of
the patricians was to keep for themselves the more sacred and the then
more important college and to open the lesser priesthood to the
plebeians. But in the struggle of the two orders those things which were
opened to the plebeians grew in importance and entirely overshadowed
those which were so scrupulously hedged about, and the elements which
strove to resist progress were crushed beneath it; and just as the old
assembly, the Comitia Curiata, which the patricians had kept for
themselves, was later of no account compared with the Comitia
Centuriata, which belonged to both orders, so the college of pontiffs
lost significance while the keepers of the oracles gained steadily in
power and influence. But it was not merely because Apollo was the great
leader of the Greek movement in Roman religion that Augustus chose to
honour him. A far more important consideration guided him, for Apollo
was especially attached to the Julian house in all its mythical and
historical fortunes. The first great public evidence of Apollo's favour
in Augustus's career was at the battle of Actium; but while this led to
the first proclamation of the emperor's devotion to Apollo, it was not
Actium which made him a worshipper of the god, but it was because he was
a worshipper of Apollo from the beginning that Actium and all subsequent
tokens of the god's favour were emphasised by him. However much or
little the people of the day may have known about Apollo's previous
relations to the Julian family, the legend of his assistance at Actium,
and the immortalisation of that legend in the great temple on the
Palatine were proofs enough. The moral effect of the Palatine temple
cannot be overestimated, especially when we realise one fact, which is
often neglected, that this temple gained infinitely in significance
because it was on private ground, attached to the emperor's own private
house, for we must not forget that the Palatine was only in process of
transition into the imperial residence, and though the house of
Augustus, when he left it, was the palace, during his lifetime it was
merely his private residence. The temple of Apollo was therefore in its
origin theoretically the private chapel of a Roman family rather than
the seat of a state cult. It was the Apollo of the Julian house who was
being worshipped there. And yet it was far more than a private worship,
for it began very soon to be a cult centre in distinct rivalry to
Juppiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline. The oracles of the Sibyl,
even though they were the words of Apollo, had never been preserved in
the old temple of Apollo on the Flaminian meadow, but instead they had
always been in the custody of Juppiter on the Capitoline. But now these
oracles, after being carefully revised by the emperor, were deposited in
the new Palatine temple, and by this act the centre of all the Greek
cults in Rome was transferred from Juppiter to Apollo, from the
Capitoline to the Palatine, and the rivalry between the two was publicly
declared. The temple was dedicated in B.C. 28 and Augustus allowed its
influence to permeate the Roman people for more than a decade before he
took the next step, a step which was virtually to parallel Apollo and
his sister Artemis-Diana with Juppiter and Juno.

Among the Greek gods who came into Rome we saw the entrance in the
middle of the third century before Christ of a pair of deities of the
Lower World, Dis and Proserpina, and in connexion with the introduction
the establishment of certain games called "secular" because they were to
be repeated at the expiration of a century (_saeculum_). The initial
celebration was in B.C. 249, one hundred years later with a slight delay
they were celebrated again in B.C. 146, the next anniversary was omitted
because it fell in the midst of the civil war between Caesar and Pompey,
but now Augustus wished to celebrate them. There were chronological
difficulties, but they did not prove insurmountable. An oracle was set
in circulation, or one actually in circulation was made use of, wherein
it was declared that a great cycle of four times one hundred and ten
years had passed and that a new age was now beginning. The emperor, if
not responsible for this oracle, was very willing to accept it. It was
an essential part of his plan that all things should become new, and
that with the new age should come a new spirit. This new _saeculum_ must
be ushered in by games which should be at once like and unlike those of
past centuries. They were to be celebrated at least in part on the
hallowed spot, the _Tarentum_ in the Campus Martius, they were to extend
through three nights like the old games, but the three days were to be
added as well, and the deities worshipped in the night, while they were
no longer the old gods of the Lower World, Dis and Proserpina, were at
least mysterious deities of fate and fortune, while the gods of the day,
Apollo and Artemis, Juppiter and Juno, were as new to the games as the
day celebrations themselves were. But the equality of Apollo and
Juppiter was expressed not merely in the parallelisation of
Juppiter-Juno with Apollo-Diana. It was still more in evidence on the
third and greatest day of the festival, when the procession of three
times nine youths and three times nine maidens sang the song in honour
of Apollo and Diana, which Horace wrote and which has been preserved to
us among his writings, the _Carmen Saeculare_, and to which in addition
the recently found inscription giving an account of the games bears
witness in the words _carmen composuit Q. Horatius Flaccus_ (_C.I.L._
vi. 32323). On this day the procession started from the Apollo temple on
the Palatine, and went over to the Juppiter temple on the Capitoline,
and then back again to Apollo on the Palatine, thus indicating not only
the equality of Apollo and Juppiter but even the superiority of the
former. A new age had indeed begun, an age in which the new associations
of the Palatine and the glamour of imperialism were to overcome the more
democratic associations of the Capitoline with its incorrigibly
republican Juppiter. Greek gods which had hitherto in theory at least
been subordinated to the gods of old Rome were now granted not only
equality but superiority. The specific cult of Apollo, to be sure, did
not always retain the exalted position to which Augustus had raised it,
but even it never entirely lost its prominence, whereas the general idea
of the supremacy of the imperial cult was now established for all time
to come. But this secular celebration of Augustus is interesting aside
from the relation of Juppiter and Apollo, for it affords another
illustration of the skilful combination of new and old in the Augustan
reorganisation. In form the festival is avowedly the old one, but in two
respects at least it introduces a new element. In the first place
participation in the old festival, as in all the old festivals, had been
confined to Roman citizens. Others might look on, but they could not
take part, nor were they the recipients of any of the blessings which
were to follow. But now every free member of the community, with wife
and child, might join in the celebration, and thus the note was struck
which was to be the keynote of all that was best in the changes
introduced by the empire whose "highest and most beautiful task," as
Professor Mommsen puts it, "and the one which she fulfilled most
perfectly, was gradually to reconcile and thus to put an end to the
contrast between the ruling city and the subordinate communities, and
thus to change the old Roman law of city-citizenship into a community of
the state which embraced all the members of the empire." But even this
was not all; under the guise of this restoration of an old republican
institution a blow was struck at the very foundation of all republican
institutions, namely the power of the Senate. It was _par excellence_
Augustus's festival, arranged by him or by those to whom he had
committed the details. The Senate had little or nothing to say about it
and yet the control of such religious celebrations had hitherto formed
an inalienable part of the Senate's power. Even in the procession itself
the republican magistrates do not seem to have been officially present.
It was thus no longer the Senate inviting the magistrates and the
citizens in good and regular standing to perform a certain divine
function, but it was the emperor inviting all the members of the
community, citizens and non-citizens alike, to join with him in
worshipping the gods of the new state.

A great part of Augustus's success was unquestionably due to a certain
form of moral courage. For all his diplomacy and his desire to feel the
pulse of the people he was never lacking in the courage of his own
convictions. This can be seen nowhere better than in his attitude toward
his adoptive father Julius Caesar. From the very beginning when he took
upon himself, even at the cost of temporary impoverishment, the payment
of Caesar's legacy, he was supremely true to the man whose successor he
was, and this faithfulness is especially apparent in the field of
religion. Here there are two cults, both relating to Julius Caesar, for
which Augustus was largely responsible, that of the god Julius himself,
and that of Mars the Avenger.

In consideration of what Caesar had already done for the reorganisation
of the state, and in view of what he was planning to carry out, his
death was a national calamity, but his influence might still be rescued
and preserved by elevating him into the rank of the gods. For the
accomplishment of this it was necessary that the Senate should act, for
in the hands of the Senate alone lay the power to receive new gods into
the state. Thus the god Julius was created and the word _divus_ received
a new meaning. With that logic which was characteristic of Roman
religion from the very beginning, the elevation of Julius into the ranks
of the greater and more individual gods went side by side with his
exclusion from the ranks of the ordinary deified ancestors, so that
thereafter at the funeral processions of the Julian family his wax mask
was absent from the processions of ancestors to which he no longer
belonged, but in the parade of the circus he was present, drawn in a
waggon among the greater gods. Nothing was left undone to render his
cult both conspicuous and permanent. A special priest (_flamen_) was
appointed to look after it, and as the irony of fate would have it one
of the first incumbents of this position was Marc Antony after his
reconciliation with Augustus in B.C. 40. Then too a special festival day
was given him among the religious holidays of the year. It was intended
that this day should be July 13, his birthday, but as that day happened
to be already devoted to an important celebration in connexion with the
games of Apollo, the day preceding it, July 12, was chosen. But more was
needed than a priest and a holiday, there must be a cult centre as well,
a temple of the Divus Julius. The site of this temple was already given
in the associations connected with Caesar's death. There could be but
one place for it, and that was in the Forum near the Regia where his
body had been carried to be burned. There the temple was built and
dedicated August 18, B.C. 29. An altar had been erected on the spot
where Caesar's body had been burned, and the new temple was so placed
that the altar was included in its boundaries, occupying a niche in the
centre of the front line of the substructure. The temple had the usual
history of destruction and rebuilding in antiquity until in early
Christian times it was used for secular purposes, and the eyesore of the
pagan altar was removed by building a wall across the front, the
diameter of the semicircular niche, and by roofing the altar over on a
level with the existing platform. Thus the altar with its historical and
religious associations was entirely lost sight of, and though the temple
in its main outlines had long been excavated, the altar was not
discovered until 1898, when the wall was broken through and the whole
thing laid bare. Thus by the vote of the Senate, the appointment of a
priest, the setting apart of a holy day in the year, and the building of
a temple, the worship of the god Julius was established; but it was the
general irresistible tendency toward emperor-worship which kept it alive
and made it the model for a tremendous subsequent development. Augustus
had accomplished his desire. Men were looking on Caesar as a success
after all and not as a failure. The _Di Manes_ of a murdered emperor had
been profitably exchanged for the Divus Julius, and just as the gods had
founded the old Rome of Romulus, so again it was a god who had laid the
foundations of the empire over which his successor was ruling.

But Augustus was not content with this; it was all very well for men to
look upon the god Caesar as an illustration of justification after
death, as an example of how heaven could right the wrongs of earthly
existence, but that was not sufficient; the punishment of those who
caused his earthly downfall must be emphasised, it must be shown that
the gods were quite as much interested in punishing the sinner as in
rewarding the righteous man who was sinned against. It was one thing to
transfer one's ancestors to the gods, it was quite another thing to take
measures to keep oneself from following in their footsteps, even though
their last estate was theoretically desirable. Hence side by side with
the cult of the Divus Julius went that of Mars Ultor, Mars the Avenger.
The circumstances of the beginning of the cult show that it was no mere
poetical title but a genuine cult-name born in an earnest moment: for
the great temple subsequently built to Mars under this cognomen was
vowed by Augustus "in behalf of vengeance for his father," in the war
against the slayers of Caesar, Brutus and Cassius. This temple, vowed at
Philippi in B.C. 42, was so slow in building that in the meantime
Augustus erected a small round temple to Mars Ultor on the Capitoline.
This was dedicated May 12, B.C. 20. In the years which followed Augustus
proceeded with the difficult and extremely expensive task of purchasing
property for his own Forum, and here was built and dedicated, August 1,
B.C. 2, the great temple of Mars Ultor. But aside from being a very
present reminder of the vengeance which the gods had in store for those
who killed a Caesar, it stood also for the Julian house, for Mars was
not alone in the temple but with him was Venus, the ancestral mother of
the family of Julius and Augustus; and thus was once more emphasised the
connexion between the ancestors of the ruling house and the great
ancestor Mars, from whom all Romans were sprung.

A temple possessed of such strong associations with the imperial family
became instantly a centre of their family worship, and in this respect
produced another rival to the cult of Juppiter on the Capitoline. In
connexion namely with the putting on of the _toga virilis_ the members
of the imperial family went to the temple of Mars Ultor instead of
following the immemorial custom of ascending the Capitol to the shrine
of Juppiter Optimus Maximus. More important yet the insignia of the
triumph, which had always been in the keeping of the Capitoline Juppiter
even before he was Optimus Maximus and while he was only the "Striker,"
Feretrius, were now preserved in the temple of Mars Ultor.

With all the state worshipping Apollo, the god of the emperor's own
family, on the Palatine, celebrating the divinity of his ancestor the
god Julius in the Roman Forum, and acknowledging Mars as the avenger of
all those who did the emperor harm, in the emperor's own new Forum, it
might have seemed to a less far-seeing man that religion had been
sufficiently pressed into the service of the royal family. But so it did
not seem to Augustus. These cults were all three of them essentially
new, and new cults may, to be sure, easily become prominent; they
usually do, but the test comes with time whether there is external
pressure sufficiently continuous to give permanency to this prominence.
As a matter of fact not one of these three cults continued later to hold
the rank in importance which it had under Augustus. On the other hand if
one went low enough and looked sufficiently deep down certain elements
in the religious life of the community could be found which continued
almost unchanged from century to century. These were the simple elements
which were involved in family worship, the sacrifices at the hearth of
Vesta, and those to the Genius of the master of the house. Here simple
beliefs and elementary cult acts had continued virtually unchanged from
the very earliest period down to the present. These cults did not need
any formal restoration on the part of the emperor, for they had not
experienced the decline which the other cults had suffered, but by just
so much more they would afford a firm foundation for his empire and his
own rule if he could in some way succeed in connecting them with
himself. In the case of Vesta this was comparatively easy. The Pontifex
Maximus was the guardian of the Vestal virgins, and thus on March 6,
B.C. 12, when Augustus became Pontifex Maximus, it was quite natural
that there should be a festival to Vesta and that the day should
continue as a public holiday. The Pontifex Maximus however was supposed
to live in the Regia down in the Forum, where Julius Caesar as Pontifex
Maximus had actually lived. This Augustus did not desire to do, hence he
gracefully gave up the Regia to the Vestal virgins and made his official
residence in his own house on the Palatine, fulfilling the religious
requirements by consecrating a part of that house. On a portion of the
section thus consecrated a temple of Vesta was built and dedicated April
28, B.C. 12. This was strictly speaking his own "Vesta," the hearth of
his own house, but the prominence of the temple of Vesta there had an
effect similar to the prominence of the temple of Apollo on the
Palatine, and the whole state began thus to worship at the hearth of the
emperor, and in time the emperor was worshipped at each individual

But the crowning touch of Augustus's religious policy was yet to come;
this was the establishment of the worship of the Genius of the emperor.
After Actium and in the earlier years of his reign it is certain that
Augustus would not have thought of putting himself, even in the
spiritualised form of his Genius, before the people as an object of
worship. But the tendency to emperor-worship which Oriental influence
had brought with it was not without its effects on the emperor himself,
and perhaps these effects were all the stronger because of his valiant
struggle against it. Then too the state was already worshipping the gods
of his family, even Vesta Augusta, the goddess of his own hearth. He
had become in substance, even if not yet in name, the father of his
country. It had been an immemorial custom that the members of the
household should worship the Genius of the master of the house. In every
household in Rome that custom still existed. It was a very logical step,
and one therefore which a Roman could easily take, to carry out the
analogy of the family and to allow the whole state to worship the Genius
of the emperor, who was the head of the family of the state. The idea
therefore was not at all incongruous, nor was the way in which it was
carried out, though the latter was so ingenious as to deserve special

In the old days when Rome was a farming community, the guardianship of
the gods over the fields was one of the most important elements in
religious life. The gods were above all the protectors of the boundary
lines, and thus it came to pass that where two roads crossed and thus
the corners of four farms came together the deities protecting these
farms were worshipped together as the Lares Compitales, the Lares of the
_compita_ or cross-roads. Curiously enough this worship was later
extended to the crossing of city streets, and as was natural it became
more highly organised in the city than it had been in the country.
Regular associations, _collegia_, were formed to look after the details
of the worship, headed by the _magistri vicorum_, who were however not
public officials but merely the elected heads of these colleges, men
mainly from the lower ranks of society. The contagion of civil and
political strife affected these colleges as well as their more
aristocratic parallels, higher up in the social scale, and turned them
into local political clubs. The part played by these clubs in the civil
struggles which occupied the last century of the republic was such that
the Senate in B.C. 64 was compelled to dissolve them, though they were
restored again six years later and existed until Caesar destroyed them
entirely. But now Augustus was creating a new organisation for the city,
dividing it into fourteen regions, each region containing a certain
number of subdivisions called _vici_. The old "colleges of the
cross-roads" afforded him just the sort of opportunity which he never
failed to seize, that of seeming to restore a neglected republican
institution, and at the same time of making it into a support of the
monarchy. The colleges had antiquity in their favour, and their repeated
suppression was clear proof of their power. They must be recognised and
taken over by the state, their officials must be made into officials of
the state, but, most important, their worship must be permeated with the
imperial idea. This was where Augustus's skill showed itself. At every
shrine of the cross-roads where of old the two Lares had been worshipped
alone, a third image now took its place between them. This was the
Genius Augusti, who thus formed henceforth an integral part of the
local worship of every part of the city. Under the presiding Genius
Augusti the Lares themselves began to be known as the Lares Augusti and
the cult grew in popularity so that it began to extend through all of
Italy and even through the provinces of the empire, and wherever the
Lares went, along with them went the worship of the Genius of the

Now that we have seen what Augustus did, the question arises
irresistibly as to the measure of his success. There can be no question
but that he was successful in obtaining the immediate object which he
was seeking after. A formal religious life was unquestionably brought
into being, and such strength as that life had was exerted in behalf of
the empire. This is only in part true of the city but it is absolutely
true of the provinces, where after all in the long run the balance of
power was bound to lie. In every case the religious reform, begun in the
city, spread rapidly through the rest of Italy and out into the
provinces. There the negative elements, which hindered its growth in
Rome itself, were absent. For the provinces the empire was all gain, and
even a bad emperor was far better than none at all.

The politics of Augustus had recreated the religion which the politics
of the last century of the republic had destroyed, had recreated it in
as far as political considerations could. But the spirit of scepticism
which had made possible the political abuse of religion could not be
driven out by any further application of politics. A form might be
created, both the paraphernalia of temples and the hierarchy of priests
whose business it was to perform certain cult acts, but there the power
of enactment ceased. In the main the religious life of the people went
on for good or for ill entirely independent of these things. All that
was alive and real in the simple domestic cult went on down into the
empire, and those who were faithful were faithful still. The cults of
the Orient, against which Augustus had done all that he dared, still
captured the minds of the vast majority of the people, and a Mithras or
an Isis meant infinitely more than a Mars or a Vesta, even if Mars were
the avenger of a Caesar, and Vesta the goddess of the living emperor's
own hearth. Among the more intellectual classes the folly of the one set
of gods, the darlings of the common people, was felt as keenly as the
folly of the others, those who had been worshipped by the men of former
days. Philosophy, which had had its share in the breakdown of faith,
beginning in the days of the Punic wars, was now offering out of itself
a substitute for the faith which it had taken away. It no longer
contented itself with a destructive criticism which resulted in a
negative view of life, but in Stoicism at least it strove to provide
something sufficiently constructive to afford not only a rule of living
but also an inspiration to live.

With the death of Augustus the last chapter in the history of old Roman
religion was closed. His was the last attempt to fill the spiritual need
of the people with the old forms and the old ideas; for what he offered
was in the main old though certain new ideas were mixed with it. From
now on the lifeless platitudes of philosophy and the orgiastic excesses
of the Oriental cults divided the field between them, and it was with
them rather than with the gods of Numa or even with the deities of the
Sibylline books that Christianity fought its battles. That too is a
fascinating study, but it is quite another story and with the death of
Augustus our present tale is told. And when we look back over the whole
of it the main outlines become perhaps even clearer because of the
details into which we have been compelled to go.

We see at the start the simple religion of an agricultural people still
strongly tinged with animism and inheriting from an animistic past a
certain formalism which is so great that it almost becomes a content.
Toward the close of the kingdom we see this religion developing through
Italic influences so that it takes into itself a certain number of
elements which were absent from the older religion because they had no
concomitants in daily life, but whose presence is now rendered
necessary. These elements are especially the ideas of politics, trade,
commerce, and the liberal arts. Then for a moment under Servius an
equilibrium seems to have been reached, and a religion to have been
brought into being which was simple enough for the old lovers of
simplicity and varied enough to satisfy the new demands of the
community. But this was not for long, for the spiritual conquest of Rome
by Greece began then, three centuries before the physical conquest of
Greece by Rome. The hosts of Greek deities invaded and captured Rome
under the leadership of the Sibylline books, and though at first they
had been kept outside the _pomerium_, even this iron barrier was melted
in the heat of the Second Punic War, and the new Greek gods swarmed into
the city proper. At the same time as a last heritage from the baleful
books an Oriental goddess, the Magna Mater, was taken into the cult and
into the hearts of the people, and the elements of decay were thus all
present. These elements were threefold: the natural spiritual reaction
resulting from the excesses of the period of the Second Punic War; the
fascination of the Orient, exhibited to Rome in the cult of the Magna
Mater; and the new gift which Greece now made to Rome, the knowledge of
her literature, especially of her philosophy. In the last two centuries
of the republic then these forces alone would have been sufficient to
cause the downfall of religion, but they were aided by politics, which
fastened itself upon the formalism of the state religion and sucked the
little life-blood that was left. Rome's scholars and wise men could
deplore the result and point out the causes, but they could not cure
the state of affairs. What politics had done, politics alone could undo,
hence only the reforms of an autocrat could restore something of the
outward structure of the old state religion. But beyond this politics
and the autocrat were alike powerless. Against philosophy and Oriental
ecstasy they were of no avail. Hence the spirit had left the religion
which Augustus had restored even before the marble temples which he had
built in its honour had fallen into decay.

The age of formalism had passed, the religious demands of the individual
could no longer be satisfied by a mere ritual. For good or for evil
something more personal, more subjective, was needed. Men sought for it
in various ways and with varying success, but except in the simple forms
of family worship old Roman religion was dead.


References to the more recent literature on the subject of Roman
religion have been given in connection with the appropriate topics in
this index.

The following abbreviations have been employed:--_R.F._ = Warde Fowler,
_Roman Festivals_, London, 1899; _R.R._ = Wissowa, _Religion und Cultus
der Roemer_, Muenchen, 1902; P.W. = Pauly-Wissowa, _Encyclopaedie der
Altertumswissenschaft_, Stuttgart, 1894--; _Lex._ = Roscher, _Lexikon
der Griechischen und Roemischen Mythologie_, Leipzig, 1884--.

Actium, 81, 165

_Aeneid_, as a political treatise, 153

Aesculapius, 84.
Cp. _R.R._ 253 ff.;
_R.F._ 278;
Thraemer, P.W. _s.v._;

Agricultural character of early Roman religion, 18.
Cp. _R.F._ 335;
_R.R._ 20 ff.;
Mommsen, _C.I.L._ 1, ed. 2, p. 298.

Agrippa, erects Temple of Neptune, 81;
Richter, _Topographic der Stadt Rom._ 242;
Platner, _Ancient Rome_, 357

Alba Longa and the Latin League, 52.
Cp. Beloch, _Italische Bund_, 177;
Huelsen, in P.W. _s.v._

Altar of Caesar, 173.
Cp. Huelsen, _Forum Romanum_, ed. 2, p. 139;
Platner, _Ancient Rome_, 180

Animism, 5.
Cp. Tylor, _Primitive Culture_, i. 377 ff., ii. 1-327;
Frazer, _Golden Bough_, i. 170 ff.

Anna Perenna, 115.
Cp. _R.F._ 50-54;
_R.R._ 194;
Wissowa, in P.W. _s.v._;
Usener, _Rheinisches Museum_, xxx. 206;
Meltzer, _Lex._ _s.v._

Anthropological method, criticism of, 4, 5

Antony and the cult of Isis, 137.
Cp. _R.R._ 293

Apollo, 57, 66.
Cp. _R.F._ 180;
_R.R._ 239;
Wernicke, P.W. _s.v._;
Apollo and Augustus, 164.
Cp. Gardthausen, _Augustus_, 873, 961;
_R.R._ 67;
Apollo Medicus, 83.
Cp. _R.F._ 180;
_R.R._ 240

Aricia, 53.
Cp. Beloch, _Italische Bund_, 187;
Huelsen, P.W. _s.v._

Artemis, 53 ff.
Cp. Wernicke, P.W. _s.v._

Arval Brotherhood, restored by Augustus, 156.
Cp. _R.R._ 485;
Wissowa, P.W. _s.v._;
Henzen, _Acta Fratrum Arvalium_, Berlin, 1874;
_C.I.L._ vi. 2023-2119, 32338-32398

Asklepios, 84.
Cp. Aesculapius

Atargatis, 138.
Cp. _R.R._ 300 ff.;
Cumont, in P.W. _s.v._

Athena, contrasted with Minerva, 46

Attalus of Pergamon, 97

Augustus: his character and motives, 147-152

Bacchanalian scandal, 118, 119.
Cp. Livy, 39, 8 ff.;
_C.I.L._ 196, x. 104;
_R.R._ 58, 248

Bellona, 134.
Cp. Aust, in P.W. _s.v._;
_R.R._ 289 ff.

Bona Dea-Damia, 111.
Cp. _R.F._ 105-106;
_R.R._ 177 ff.;
Wissowa, in P.W. _s.v._;
Kern, in P.W. _s.v._;

Caesar, altar of, 173;
religious reforms of, 146, 147

Calendars, as sources for early Roman religion, 10.
Cp. Mommsen, _C.I.L._ 1, ed. 2;
_R.F._ 336;
_R.R._ 15 ff.;
disorder of, owing to ignorance of priests, 132

Cannae, 96

Carmen Saeculare, 168.
Cp. Wissowa, _Die Saecular-feier des Augustus_, Marburg, 1894;
Mommsen, _Ephem. Epigraph._ viii. 225 ff.

Carmentalis Porta, 82.
Cp. Richter, _Topographie der Stadt Rom._ 44;
Platner, _Ancient Rome_, 48

Castor, 37 ff.
Cp. Helbig, _Hermes_, xl. 1905, 101 ff.;
_R.F._ 296-297;
_R.R._ 216 ff.;
Albert, _Le Culte de Castor et Pollux en Italie_

Ceres-Demeter, 72.
Cp. _R.F._ 72-79, 105;
_R.R._ 242 ff.;
Wissowa, in P.W. _s.v._

Chaldaeans, 119.
Cp. _R.R._ 58;
Baumstark, in P.W. _s.v._

Circus Flaminius, 41

Clodius, 88

Cognomina, 24.
Cp. Carter, _De deorum Romanorum cognominibus_, Leipzig, 1898

Collegia, 47.
Cp. Waltzing, _Les Corporations chez les Romains_, Louvain, 1895-1900

Collegium mercatorum, 78

Colonia Neptunia, 80

Comitia Centuriata, 165

Comitia Curiata, 165

Commercial spirit in Rome, 107

Comparative philology, 2

Consus, 114.
Cp. _R.F._ 206-209, 212-213, 267-268;
_R.R._ 166 ff.;
Aust, P.W. _s.v._

Cumae, source of Sibylline books, 66

Damia, 111, 112.
Cp. Ceres

Dead, worship of, 14-15.
Cp. _R.R._, 187;
_R.F._. 300, 306 ff.

Demeter, 72.
Cp. Ceres

Diana, 53 ff.
Cp. _R.F._ 198 ff.;
_R.R._ 198 ff.;
Wissowa, in P.W. _s.v._

Di Indigetes, 9.
Cp. _R.R._ 15 ff.;
_R.F._ 192;
Wissowa, _De dis Romanorum indigetibus_, Marburg, 1892

Di Manes, 14, 90.
Cp. _R.R._ 192;
_R.F._ 108;
Peter, _Lex._ _s.v._

Di Novensides, 9.
Cp. _R.R._ 15 ff.

Dionysos, 72.
Cp. Liber

Dios-kouroi, 38, 39.
Cp. Castor

Di Penates, 13, 113.
Cp. _R.R._ 145 ff.;
_R.F._ 337;
De Marchi, _Culto Privato_, i. 55 ff.;
Wissowa, in _Lex._ _s.v._

Divus Julius, 171.
Cp. _R.R._ 284 ff.

Drepana, 88

Emperor-worship, 161, 162, 163.
Cp. _R.R._ 284;
Boissier, _La religion romaine_

Ennius, 121, 122.
Cp. Mommsen, _Roman History_ (Engl. transl.), 3, 112-113;
Teuffel, _Roem. Lit._ 100-104;
Skutsch, in P.W. _s.v._

Epidauros, 84

Eros of Thespiae, 46.
Cp. Preller-Robert, _Griech. Myth._ 501 ff.

Etruscans, problem of, 42 ff.

Euhemerism, 122.
Cp. Mommsen, _Roman History_ (Engl. transl.), 4, 200

Euhemerus, 17.
Cp. Rohde, _Griech. Roman._ 220 ff.

Falerii, 44.
Cp. _C.I.L._ xi. p. 464 ff.;
Deecke, _Die Falisker_, Strassburg, 1888, p. 89 ff.

Family as original social unit, 11

Fanatici, 135.
Cp. _R.R._ 291

Fauna, 111.
Cp. Bona Dea

Faunus, 111.
Cp. _R.F._ 256-265;
_R.R._ 172 ff.

Female deities, absence of, in early Roman religion, 21

Fetiales, 156.
Cp. _R.F._ 230, 231;
_R.R._ 475 ff.

Fides, 25.
Cp. _R.F._ 237;
_R.R._ 103

Flaccus, Granius, 147

Formalism in Roman religion, 7.
Cp. _R.F._ 348

Fors Fortuna, 51.
Cp. _R.F._ 161-172;
_R.R._ 206 ff.

Fortuna, 50 ff.
Cp. _R.F._ 161-172, 223-225;
_R.R._ 206 ff.

Forum Boarium, 33, 36

Frazer, _Golden Bough_, 16

Genius, 12.
Cp. _R.R._ 154 ff.

Genius Augusti, 179.
Cp. _R.R._ 72, 73, 179

Great Mother of the gods, 96.
Cp. _R.F._ 69-70;
_R.R._ 263

Greek influence in Rome, 99, 100, 104

Guilds in relation to Minerva, 47

Hannibal, 93, 94

Harrison: _Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion_, 22

Haruspicina, 43.
Cp. _R.R._ 469 ff.

Hasdrubal, 96

Hebe-Juventas, 110.
Cp. Juventas

Hercules, 32.
Cp. _R.R._ 219 ff.

Hereditas sine sacris, 17

Hermes Empolaios, 77.
Cp. Preller-Robert, _Griech. Myth._ 414

Hesiod, 46

Horace, 168

Indo-Germanic religion, 3

Isis, 136.
Cp. _R.R._ 292 ff.;
Drexler, _Lex._ _s.v._

Janus, 13.
Cp. _R.F._ 282 ff.;
_R.R._ 91 ff.

Juno, 12.
Cp. _R.F._ _passim._;
_R.R._ 113 ff.

Juppiter as symbol of republic, 160

Juppiter Feretrius, 21, 58.
Cp. _R.F._ 229, 230;
_R.R._ 103

Juppiter Fidius, 25.
Cp. _R.F._ 138;
_R.R._ 120

Juppiter Latiaris, 55.
Cp. _R.F._ 95 ff.;
_R.R._ 34 ff.

Juppiter Optimus Maximus, 21, 58.
Cp. _R.R._ 110 ff.

Jus divinum, 8

Jus humanum, 8

Juventas, 109.
Cp. _R.R._ 125 ff.

Kore, 72.
Cp. Libera

Lar Familiaris, 13.
Cp. _R.R._ 149 ff.;
Wissowa, in _Lex._ _s.v._;
Rohde, _Psyche_, ed. 2, 254;
De Marchi, i. 38 ff.

Latin League, 52 ff.
Cp. Alba Longa

Lemuria, 16.
Cp. _R.F._ 106-110;
De Marchi, 36, 37, 39;
_R.R._ 189

Lepidus, 137

Liber, 74, 75.
Cp. _R.F._ 54, 55;
_R.R._ 126 ff., 243 ff.

Libera, 75.
Cp. _R.F._ 74;
_R.R._ 243 ff.

Livius Andronicus, 48

Lucretius, 144

Ludi Saeculares, 93.
Cp. _R.R._ 364 ff.;
Mommsen, in _Ephem. Epigraph._ viii. 225 ff.

Lupercalia, 111, 114.
Cp. _R.F._ 298, 299, 310-321;
_R.R._ 172 ff.

Ma-Bellona, 134.
Cp. Bellona

Maecenas, 152

Magna Mater.
Cp. Great Mother of the gods

Marius the Epicurean, 20

Mars, 19.
Cp. _R.F._ 34 ff.;
_R.R._ 129 ff.

Mars-Ares, 110, 111

Mars Ultor, 174.
Cp. _R.R._ 70, 133

Megalesia, 99

Mercury, 77.
Cp. _R.F._ 121, 186;
_R.R._ 248 ff.

Metaurus, 96

Minerva, 44 ff.
Cp. Wissowa, in P.W. _s.v._;
_R.R._ 203 ff.

Mithradates, 127

Mithras, 138.
Cp. _R.R._ 307 ff.;
Cumont, _Textes et monuments_, etc. (2 vols.), Brussels, 1896

Mommsen, 18

Mundus, 15.
Cp. _R.F._ 211;
De Marchi, i. 184;
_R.R._ 188

Mythology, absence of, in Rome, 8.
Cp. _R.R._ 20 ff.

Name, importance of, 6.
Cp. Frazer, _Golden Bough_, i. 403 ff.

Nemi, 54

Neptune, 80.
Cp. _R.F._ 185-187;
_R.R._ 250 ff.;
Wissowa, in _Lex._ _s.v._

Numa, apocryphal books of, 120, 121.
Cp. Schwegler, _Roem. Gesch._ i. 564 ff.;
_R.R._ 62

Ocean commerce, beginnings of, 77

Octavian, 137

Octavius Mamilius, 40

Paestum--Poseidonia, 80

Parentalia, 16.
Cp. _R.R._ 187 ff.;
_R.F._ 306-310;
De Marchi, i. 199

Parilia, 114.
Cp. _R.F._ 79-85;
_R.R._ 165 ff.

Pater, Walter, 20

Persephone, 75.
Cp. Proserpina

Philosophers expelled from Rome, 122, 123.
Cp. _Athen._ xii, 547a;
Aul. Gell. 15, II, I;
Sueton. _Grammat._ 25

Pinarii, 35

Plebeian aediles, 74.
Cp. _R.R._ 245;
Mommsen, _Staatsrecht_, ii. 471

Plutarch, _Moralia_, 50

Pollux, 37.
Cp. Castor

Pomerium, 33, 34, 35

Poseidon, 79.
Cp. Neptune

Poseidonia-Paestum, 80

Potitii, 35

Priesthood of Sibylline books, 66.
Cp. Quindecemviri

Priesthoods, political value of, 129.
Cp. _R.R._ 64;
unpopularity of, in last century of republic, 131.
Cp. Marquardt, _Staatsverw._ iii. 64 ff.

Propertius, 152

Proserpina, 76.
Cp. _R.F._ 212;
_R.R._ 255 ff.;
Carter, in _Lex._ _s.v._

Puteoli, 136

Pythagorianism, 120

Quindecemviri, 68.
Cp. _R.R._ 461 ff.

Regillus, 40

Republic, character of the last century of, 125, 126

_Res Gestae of Augustus_, 147.
Cp. Mommsen's edition, Berlin, 1883

Roma Aeterna, 151

S. Bartolommeo, 87

Scaevola, theology of, 140.
Cp. _R.R._ 62;
Mommsen, _Roman History_ (Engl. transl.), iv. 205

Scipio Aemilianus and his circle, 124

Secular games, 93, 167.
Cp. Ludi Saeculares

Servius Tullius, 27, 50

Sextus Pompeius, 81

Sibyl, coming of, 62 ff.
Cp. Diels, _Sibyllinische Blaetter_, Berlin, 1890

Sibylline oracles, 64 ff.

Spencer, Herbert, 17.
Cp. _Principles of Sociology_

Stoicism, the official state philosophy of Rome, 123.
Cp. Mommsen, _Roman History_ (Engl. transl.), iv. 201 ff.

Sulla increases the priesthood of the Sibylline books, 67;
his influence on religion, 128

Syria dea, 138.
Cp. _R.R._ 300

Tarentum-Colonia Neptunia, 80

Tarentum in Campus Martius, 89.
Cp. Richter, 224 _ff._;
Platner, 322

Tarquin and the old woman, 65

Tarracina, 98

Templum, 43.
Cp. _R.R._ 403 ff.

Terra Mater, 90.
Cp. _R.F._, 294-296;
_R.R._ 162

Tiber, island in, 86

Tibullus, 152

Tibur (Tivoli), 35

Tifata, 54

Tusculum, 39, 40

Tyche, 50.
Cp. Preller-Robert, _Griech. Myth._ 50

Varro, theology of, 142.
Cp. _R.R._ 62

Vesta, 13.
Cp. _R.R._ 141 ff.;
De Marchi, _Culto Privato_, i. 64 ff.;
_R.F._ 146 ff.

Vesta and Augustus, 176, 177.
Cp. Gardthausen, _Augustus_, 868

Vestal Virgins, 158

Victoria, temple of, on Palatine, 101

Virgil, 152

Vulcan, 21.
Cp. _R.F._ 209-211;
_R.R._ 184 ff.