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Roman Religion and Athletics

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In the eighth century B.C., Ancient Rome grew from a small city into a massive empire which encompassed most of Europe, Britain, Western Asia, Northern Africa, and the Mediterranean Islands. The Roman Empire declined in 190 A.D., but Roman culture is still celebrated today. Ancient Rome is known for its riveting culture, particularly its religion and athletics.
Ancient Rome had a distinct religion which held several different beliefs. The Latin word “religio” means “something that binds.” For Romans, religion was a binding force between families, peasants and their rulers, and people and the spirits. According to the journal “Roman Religion,” “Roman religion was animistic-- that is, it included the belief that spirits (called numina) dwelled within natural objects, such as trees or rocks, creating a sort of “force field” around them” (1). The animistic character of Roman religion helps explain why Rome, unlike Greece, did not have a mythology of its own: they worshiped inanimate objects rather than people. A second article entitled “Religion, Roman” declares that the forces within the inanimate objects “had to be reckoned with and that human beings should try to pacify the spirits” (1). However, the pacification of the numina did not call for strong moral behavior from Romans. For this reason, cult worship was very popular in Roman religion. “Religion, Roman” also proclaims that “Ancient Roman religion was a matter of … performing prescribed rituals to win the favor” of the spirits (1). These rituals typically involved sacrifice. The main purpose of the ritual was to communicate with the numina and to receive their approval, which they believed was necessary to be successful (“Religion, Roman” 1). The numina were believed to ha...

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... Britain, Western Asia, Northern Africa, and the Mediterranean Islands in the eighth century B.C. Though it declined in 190 A.D., Roman religion and athletics are still admired today.

Works Cited

"Athletic Games." The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Ancient Rome. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002. 144-145. World History in Context. Web. 1 Apr. 2014.
"Religion, Roman." Ancient Greece and Rome: An Encyclopedia for Students. Ed. Carroll Moulton. Vol. 3. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998. 173-176. World History in Context. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.
"Roman Games." Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean: Greece and Rome. Ed. Michael Grant and Rachel Kitzinger. New York: Scribner's, 1988. World History in Context. Web. 1 Apr. 2014.
"Roman Religion." New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Vol. 12. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 323-327. World History in Context. 1 Apr. 2014.
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