Children and the Transmission of Religious Knowledge

Francesca Prescendi

in Children, Memory, and Family Identity in Roman Culture

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199582570
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595271 | DOI:
Children and the Transmission of Religious Knowledge

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This chapter explores two ways, mechanical and deliberate, of transmitting and memorizing religion. The first one is a technical knowledge: children learn the rites by imitating their parents. They also accomplish religious tasks during the domestic and public rites. In public rites, only boys and girls called patrimi matrimique, whose parents are still alive, are allowed to participate as cultual servants. The second method is a more conscious learning process. The children are taught deliberately when they enter a religious priesthood; they learn from older and experienced priests how to perform the rites. Furthermore, the preceptors teach the history and/or the constitution of religious colleges to young students of prominent families, who will one day be part of them. The analysis shows that Roman citizens thus not only learned the sequence of ritual acts during their childhood, but they also acquired a sense of their religion through them, without needing further theoretical explanations.

Keywords: cult; memorization; orality; patrimi matrimique; priesthood; religion; rite; school; tradition

Chapter.  8092 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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