Encyclopedia of Greek and Roman Mythology (Facts on File Library of Religion and Mythology)

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Heroism was an important theme.

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When the stories illuminate Roman religious practices, they are more concerned with ritual, augury , and institutions than with theology or cosmogony. The study of Roman religion and myth is complicated by the early influence of Greek religion on the Italian peninsula during Rome's protohistory , and by the later artistic imitation of Greek literary models by Roman authors. In matters of theology, the Romans were curiously eager to identify their own gods with those of the Greeks interpretatio graeca , and to reinterpret stories about Greek deities under the names of their Roman counterparts.

While Roman mythology may lack a body of divine narratives as extensive as that found in Greek literature, [3] Romulus and Remus suckling the she-wolf is as famous as any image from Greek mythology except for the Trojan Horse. In particular, the versions of Greek myths in Ovid 's Metamorphoses , written during the reign of Augustus , came to be regarded as canonical. Because ritual played the central role in Roman religion that myth did for the Greeks, it is sometimes doubted that the Romans had much of a native mythology. This perception is a product of Romanticism and the classical scholarship of the 19th century, which valued Greek civilization as more "authentically creative.

These narratives focus on human actors, with only occasional intervention from deities but a pervasive sense of divinely ordered destiny. In Rome's earliest period, history and myth have a mutual and complementary relationship. Wiseman notes:. The Roman stories still matter , as they mattered to Dante in and Shakespeare in and the founding fathers of the United States in What does it take to be a free citizen?

Fairy Tales, Myths, and Folklore

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Major sources for Roman myth include the Aeneid of Vergil and the first few books of Livy 's history as well as Dionysius' s Roman Antiquities. Other important sources are the Fasti of Ovid , a six-book poem structured by the Roman religious calendar , and the fourth book of elegies by Propertius. Scenes from Roman myth also appear in Roman wall painting , coins , and sculpture , particularly reliefs. The Aeneid and Livy's early history are the best extant sources for Rome's founding myths. Material from Greek heroic legend was grafted onto this native stock at an early date.

The Trojan prince Aeneas was cast as husband of Lavinia , daughter of King Latinus , patronymical ancestor of the Latini , and therefore through a convoluted revisionist genealogy as forebear of Romulus and Remus.


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By extension, the Trojans were adopted as the mythical ancestors of the Roman people. The characteristic myths of Rome are often political or moral, that is, they deal with the development of Roman government in accordance with divine law, as expressed by Roman religion , and with demonstrations of the individual's adherence to moral expectations mos maiorum or failures to do so.

Narratives of divine activity played a more important role in the system of Greek religious belief than among the Romans, for whom ritual and cult were primary.

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Although Roman religion did not have a basis in scriptures and exegesis , priestly literature was one of the earliest written forms of Latin prose. Some aspects of archaic Roman religion survived in the lost theological works of the 1st-century BC scholar Varro , known through other classical and Christian authors. The earliest pantheon included Janus, Vesta , and a leading so-called Archaic Triad of Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus, whose flamens were of the highest order.

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According to tradition, Numa Pompilius , the Sabine second king of Rome , founded Roman religion; Numa was believed to have had as his consort and adviser a Roman goddess or nymph of fountains and of prophecy, Egeria. The Etruscan-influenced Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva later became central to official religion, replacing the Archaic Triad — an unusual example within Indo-European religion of a supreme triad formed of two female deities and only one male.


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The cult of Diana became established on the Aventine Hill , but the most famous Roman manifestation of this goddess may be Diana Nemorensis , owing to the attention paid to her cult by J. Frazer in the mythographical classic The Golden Bough. The gods represented distinctly the practical needs of daily life, and Ancient Romans scrupulously accorded them the appropriate rites and offerings.

Early Roman divinities included a host of "specialist gods" whose names were invoked in the carrying out of various specific activities. Fragments of old ritual accompanying such acts as plowing or sowing reveal that at every stage of the operation a separate deity was invoked, the name of each deity being regularly derived from the verb for the operation. Tutelary deities were particularly important in ancient Rome.

Thus, Janus and Vesta guarded the door and hearth, the Lares protected the field and house, Pales the pasture, Saturn the sowing, Ceres the growth of the grain, Pomona the fruit, and Consus and Ops the harvest.

Ancient Greek religion - Wikipedia

Even the majestic Jupiter , the ruler of the gods, was honored for the aid his rains might give to the farms and vineyards. In his more encompassing character he was considered, through his weapon of lightning, the director of human activity. Due to his widespread domain, the Romans regarded him as their protector in their military activities beyond the borders of their own community. Excerpt: "The present work describes how, though we would have expected historians, philosophers, and theologians to eliminate myth, it was instead "saved" by allegory, which made it possible to associate the most scandalous of narratives and bizarre details to deep truths.

Roman Temples VS Greek Temples - Understanding The Differences

O94 Chapter 7 discusses Greek drama from an historical perspective! W57 This is a beautiful book with art and text side by side. The arrangement is somewhat akin to hypertext in cyberspace, yet this is a print book.


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An experience worth your time! P73 Gender roles, and cultural and political life explored. C67 B86 Nice map of the Greek world. Welcome Hi Dr. Library of Congress Classification Online. Go to A-Z Journal List under "online library resources" located on the left side of the library homepage. Need a faithful retelling of a myth? H45 Arranged "to give a cumulative view of classical mythology beginning with The Creation and The Birth of Zeus.

Hamilton explains in her introduction. Nothing we learn about them is alien to ourselves. B58 S67 G37 R53 B b. S18 I82 Roman Art Call Number: N S68 R36 Classical Art Call Number: N A7 C87 V W66 Have I got books for you!