Gaius Florius Lupus wrote:Gratias tibi ago, amice. I did not know that. All the names regarding the underworld are Greek (Elysion, Tartaros, Styx, Acheron, Midas, Rhadamanthos, Aiacos). I thought the whole concept was of Greek origin.
What were the criteria of judgement in the common opinion? The Roman virtues?
What crime would demand a punishment in Tartarus? Any murder, only severe kinds of murder (e.g. patricide) or only crimes against the gods?
Well, these are probably pointless questions, since the common opinion about afterlife judgement and ethics changed over time.
C. Flor. Lupus
Pietas was the rod that judged all men. Pietas being the correct Natural relation between peoples and between peoples and gods.
If a man was cruel to his father, he would lose pietas. If a father was cruel to his son, he would lose pietas. If a man raped a woman he would lose pietas. If someone betrayed his State he would lose pietas. If a son struck his mother, he would not only lose pietas but become automarically Sacer (cursed, property of the Gods) and doomed to die. If a son longed for his father's death, he would lose pietas. If a brother tried to have more of the inheritance than his other siblings he would lose pietas. If the Di Manes were knowingly ignored, the ignorers would lose pietas. If a father raped his child he would lose pietas. If a wife or a husband betrayed their spouse they would lose pietas.
Pietas is the glue that ties society together. It is what is, even in common sense, the CORRECT and NATURAL relation between individuals and groups. It is a word that carries with it a sense of Obligation, but also Love and Devotion.
In the end, Tellus oe Dis, or Proserpina, or the Di Manes, or the Three Judges (it varies a lot from personal belief to personal belief) will weight all the Pious and Impious things a man has done in his life and judge if he was more pious or more impious. Certain crimes were thought of worse than others, but that can be inferred from common sense. Raping your daughter is far more monsterous than wanting more in the inheritance than your brothers. But they were both seen as impious actions, even if of different weight. In the end, the Judge(s) will grant Justice.
As you can see, they did not judge a man's thoughts. They did not judge a man's character per se, but his actions. In this action is more important than mental virtues to reach Elysium. It is how you maintained and was devoted to your various obligations that would grant that, not some thought crime.
Another thing that helped was the intersession of kinsmen and friends towards the Judge(s). The Di Manes could vouch for you. Your living relatives and friends could sacrifice and pray for you. All this in turn could sway the Judge(s) to be more leniant or more strict.
That is the general belief of the Romans in the Afterlife. They borrowed greek words, but the idea itself was very ingrainly Roman.