Religio Romana et Ethos

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Religio Romana et Ethos

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:47 pm

Salvete amici!

Although I personally think that ethical teachings should have no place in the sacra publica of the Religio, I have to admit that the Romans of the late Republic and the Empire had a concept of judgement in the afterlife, which was adopted from the Hellenic religion.

The common understanding was that the souls of the dead would continue to exist in the underworld (Orcus). In general this would be a shadow existence in the Asphodel Meadows. However particularly evil people could be punished in the Tartarus for a time appropriate to the severity of their crimes. On the other hand heroes who had excelled in battle could be granted entrance into the Elysium, where they would dwell with the gods.
The three judges who decided which soul would be punished or rewarded were Minos, Rhadamanthus and Aeacus.

How to interpret this mythology is up to every Roman himself. He can take this literally like the Christians who believe in a real existing hell and heaven and a day of judgement or he could take it metaphorical (A hero will be immortal in the memory of his people and hereby become similar to the gods, i.e. enter the Elysium.).

I would like to know what is the official view of the Cultus Deorum on this subject. Is this concept of an underworld and an afterlife trial encouraged and formally supported (part of the sacra publica)? What are the criteria for the verdict of the three judges? What are the virtues for being granted entry into Elysium? What are the crimes punishable in Tartarus?
Or is this all a Greek deviation of the true Religio, which is to be rejected as superstitio?

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Re: Religio Romana et Ethos

Postby Gaius Curtius Philo » Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:08 pm

Salve Lupe,

Religio is Action. Sacra Publica is Action. What you speak of is a matter of Theology, an entirely seperate thing.

The Roman views (Plural) on the Afterlife are a private matter. In regards to Beliefs the Roman Religion existed in a Multithetic System, which means that despite there existing a common chord of beliefs, they were not an integral qualifier of being part of the religion. In other words, it was a personal matter.

What was the MOST COMMON ROMAN UNDERSTANDING of the Afterlife: There are at least TWO "Seats" where the Dead can live in. One where the Pious live and another where the Impious suffer. There is absolutely NO evidence that this is a Greek import. It is one of the very foundations of traditional Roman Morals as it relates to the idea of Pietas. Many terms might be taken from Greek Mythology, but the concept is almost certainly native to the Romans from the beginning of the City (which itself was of mixed Greek, Latin, Etruscan and Trojan origin).

Further reading on the subject (as well as a very good indepth explanation of the Roman concept of "Belief") can be found on Charles William King's fantastic book on the Afterlife. I recommend it vehemently to anyone interested.

PERSONALLY I believe in three afterlives. Tartarus, Elysium and Caelum. Tartarus is the land of the impious. Where those that did not mind their responsibilities to their fellow men would go for a time. Elysium is the land of the Pious. Those who have done right in their lives to one another. And Caelum is the home of the Gods, where only the Gods and the most incredible and outstanding of humans (Hercules, Evander, Carmenta, the Dioscuri, Romulus) would go to live as Gods.
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Re: Religio Romana et Ethos

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:51 am

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.
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Re: Religio Romana et Ethos

Postby Gaius Curtius Philo » Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:09 pm

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.
Vale!
C. Flor. Lupus


Salve Lupe!

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.
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Re: Religio Romana et Ethos

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:48 am

This is quite interesting. It promotes a common sense approach to the concept of good and evil in the Religio and includes an afterlife judgement. In this way it is not much different from the later Christian understanding (with fewer superstitious extremes than the latter one).
The switch of the Roman state religion from the Cultus Deorum to Christianity must have been less radical for the common people than I thought. The general idea of afterlife punishment for ethical wrongdoings remained the same.. There is still some Romanitas in Christianity.
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Re: Religio Romana et Ethos

Postby Gaius Curtius Philo » Sat Apr 15, 2017 4:35 pm

Gaius Florius Lupus wrote:This is quite interesting. It promotes a common sense approach to the concept of good and evil in the Religio and includes an afterlife judgement. In this way it is not much different from the later Christian understanding (with fewer superstitious extremes than the latter one).
The switch of the Roman state religion from the Cultus Deorum to Christianity must have been less radical for the common people than I thought. The general idea of afterlife punishment for ethical wrongdoings remained the same.. There is still some Romanitas in Christianity.
Vale!


There certainly is, aye! One way to differentiate I think is how Orthopraxy and Orthodoxy divide them both even here. It is the ACTIONS of a Roman that define him, not his belief.
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Re: Religio Romana et Ethos

Postby Lucius Metilius Niger » Sat Apr 15, 2017 7:57 pm

Gaius Curtius Philo wrote:One way to differentiate I think is how Orthopraxy and Orthodoxy divide them both even here. It is the ACTIONS of a Roman that define him, not his belief.


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