The Nature of Roman Mythology

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Roman Outlook. animism vs. anthropomorphismNumen (pl. numina) from nuere (to nod")in vs. outus vs. themReligious obligations seen as contractual (do ut des")Chief Roman virtue: pietas. Some peculiarly Roman deities. Janus: god of doors, gates, beginningsLares

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The Nature of Roman Mythology

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1. Chapter 24 “The Nature of Roman Mythology”

2. Roman Outlook animism vs. anthropomorphism Numen (pl. numina) from nuere (“to nod”) in vs. out us vs. them Religious obligations seen as contractual (“do ut des”) Chief Roman virtue: pietas

3. Some peculiarly Roman deities Janus: god of doors, gates, beginnings Lares & Penates: household gods Lares – spirits of dead protecting people Penates – spirits Genius & Juno: individual guardian spirits Vesta: goddess of fire/hearth

4. Effects on mythology No myth, as myth requires personified gods & Roman gods not anthropomorphized Legend vs. mythology with Rome as central character in story of fate As Rome expands, syncretism Rome adopts/adapts Greek and other myth Mythology in the service of Roman history/destiny

5. Some Roman sources Ovid, Metamorphoses (last two books deal with Roman legend -- Julius Caesar’s divination) Vergil, Aeneid (Book VI -- Vision of Roman heroes -- ending w/ Augustus and Book VIII with Roman history on shield, ending with Actium) Livy, Ab urbe condita (Book I deals with founding of Rome and monarchy)

6. Comparisons Zeus vs. Jupiter Ju of Jupiter comes from same root as Zeus Jupiter as numen of sky Jupiter lapis

7. Comparisons Vulcan is not Roman, perhaps Etruscans Hephaestus vs. Vulcan Destructive force of fire tamed (cf. volcano)

8. Comparisons Cronus vs. Saturn Saturn would be a spirit of agricultural growth older deity seen as beneficent Italian vacation fruitful for the peninsula

9. Comparisons Mercury added later to Roman pantheon Hermes vs. Mercury merc- = “stuff” Artemis vs. Diana Diana as spirit of wood, perhaps originally associated with wood around Lake Nemi

10. Comparisons Ares vs. Mars Mars protector of the fields Mars/Venus Venus originally envisioned as numen of fresh water, and then gardens by extension and fertility in general. Mars as Romulus’/Remus’ dad; Venus as Aeneas’ mom

11. Comparisons Divine presence seen as blanket, moving out from Roman center vs. Greek sense of divine booby-traps But consider Black Forest incident Roman invitation to foreign gods to come on board – evocatio and syncretism cf. The Accidental Tourist (Anne Tyler)

12. Comparison Apollo vs. Apollo There is no equivalent to Apollo, who is brought into Roman pantheon Augustus Caesar’s patron god

13. Roman Legends Romulus & Remus (Rome founded 753 BC) Original sin leading to civil wars? Rape of the Sabine Women (c. 750 BC) Rape of Lucretia (509 BC) Horatii vs. Curiatii (c. 650 BC) Horatius at the Bridge (c. 500 BC) C. Mucius Scaevola (c. 500 BC) L. Quinctius Cincinnatus (458 BC)

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