Chapter

Hierarchy and Structure in Roman Polytheism: Roman Methods of Conceiving Action<sup>†</sup>

John Scheid

in Roman Religion

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780748615650
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748650989 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748615650.003.0033
Hierarchy and Structure in Roman Polytheism: Roman Methods of Conceiving Action†

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Theology of Rome is seen as a strong argument in favor of Roman cultural underdevelopment. So, the well-known litanies of ‘functional’ deities, those ‘Sondergötter’ dear to the heart of Hermann Usener, are treated as fossils of the most primitive Roman piety, the presence of which in the religious practice of the Republic and Empire speaks volumes on the decadence of Roman religious feeling. This chapter shows that these litanies and their ‘Sondergötter’ were in fact an active and entirely characteristic element of Roman polytheism. It begins with one of the only archives of documentary texts that contains continuous and relatively precise evidence for Roman religious services, namely, the commentarii of the Arval Brethren. The lists here are drawn from epigraphic copies of these priests' annual reports.

Keywords: Theology of Rome; litanies; Sondergötter; Hermann Usener; polytheism; commentarii; Arval Brethren

Chapter.  11901 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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