Item description for The Gods of Ancient Rome: Religion in Everyday Life from Archaic to Imperial Times by Robert Turcan & Antonia Nevill...
This book is a vivid account of what their gods meant to the Romans from archaic times to late antiquity, and an exploration of the rites and rituals connected with them. After an extensive introduction into the nature of classical religion, this book is divided into three main parts: religions of the family and land; religions of the city; and religions of the empire. The book ends with the rise and impact of Christianity. Its urbane style and lightly worn scholarship will appeal to students as well as non-academic readers with a serious interest in the classical world.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 6.25" Height: 9" Weight: 0.8 lbs.
Release Date Mar 21, 2001
ISBN 0415929741 ISBN13 9780415929745
Availability 0 units.
More About Robert Turcan & Antonia Nevill
Robert Turcan is Professor of Roman History at the Sorbonne. He is a former student of the Ecole Normale Superieure, and a member of both the Ecole Francaise in Rome and the Institut Francais. He has published widely on Roman antiquity both in France and elsewhere.
Antonia Nevill is a committed European and lifelong Francophile. She spent over thirty years teaching in further education, and has a wide variety of interests. Retirement has at last enabled her to devote more time to her favorite occupation, translating.
Robert Turcan has an academic affiliation as follows - Sorbonne University, Paris.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Gods of Ancient Rome: Religion in Everyday Life from Archaic to Imperial Times?
A short but surprisingly detailed view of Roman Polytheism Feb 20, 2005
The Roman Pagans were a deeply religious people. Turcan's book shows us a great deal about how they worshipped and what rituals they observed. And this book gives even a secular reader a chance to make some sense of it.
Unlike the monotheist god, Roman Goddesses and Gods are perfections of actual attributes. Romans hailed the Gods and Goddesses casually. But their rituals were often serious and complex, for they had to instill a sense of the importance of a vow to be worthy of a particular Goddess or God. And Turcan's book shows us some of these rituals in detail.
As Turcan mentions, when the Romans stopped worshipping the Gods and Goddesses, the Roman Empire quickly fell apart. I think the Christian religion that replaced the Pantheon with a nailed corpse gave Romans little reason to defend their Empire. The new religion was too nihilistic and atheistic. Turcan does not appear to agree with me about this, but he does cite Zosimus who did hold Constantine's failure to celebrate the Secular Games in 314 AD to be responsible for the ruin of the Empire. Turcan also explains that by celebrating the Secular Games, the Romans were in effect "taking out a new 'lease' with the gods."
This is a scholarly and interesting work. I recommend it to Pagans and non-Pagans alike.
Excellent survey Sep 12, 2004
There comes a point when any serious Romanophile has to study Roman religion outside of an elementary school mythology class. The Romans, after all, were a deeply pious people. Religion was not separated from everyday life, it was a constant in everyday life. Every communal activity had a religious aspect and every religious activity was aimed at some level of community. To reduce Roman religion to a mere carbon copy of Greek religion, as is often opined, or to treat Roman mythology as the childish delusions of a primitive people, is to ignore the religious genius of our cultural ancestors. Regardless of whether one or not sympathizes with Roman paganism, one should at least appreciate its place in religious history and its reflection of Roman mentality.
Roman religion as an academic subject has been held hostage over the years to a variety of "scholars" with pet theories. Few people treated Roman religion as the Romans themselves knew it, but rather tried to pigeonhole Roman religion into whatever fanciful idea they had concocted in the service of academic notoriety. Against the sordid legacy, Robert Turcan - a professor of Roman History at a prestigious French University - is like a breath of fresh air. In The Gods of Ancient Rome, Turcan presents Roman Religion from the perspective of the people who actually practiced it. The book is largely devoid of external theorizing and instead presents a candid portrait of the subject.
The book begins with a brief note on the attitude of Romans to their universe, a concept best expressed as pietas or piety. The book then details the religion of the Roman family and the simple farming community from which the mighty Roman Empire was to emerge. Turcan makes it clear this private worship was actually the focus of Roman religion. It was within the bonds of the family that Romans honored a variety of household and familial entities. Roman religion was almost Confucian in its respect for ancestors and spirits, and this form of worship survived long after the public cult of the Olympians fell to foreign gods. Turcan next describes the religion of the state, the level of religion most people think of in reference to Romans. While new gods were added and old ones forgotten, there is nonetheless a string of piety and traditions that unites all stages of Roman public religion. The next section of the book outlines the exotic foreign cults that prospered throughout the Empire. Some of these cults would eventually eclipse the Olympian gods in popularity and prestige, and helped pave the way for Christianity. Turcan's book concludes with the obligatory chapter on the rise and triumph of Christianity.
In less than two hundred pages, Turcan provides a comprehensive outline on Roman religion. It includes plentiful quotes from primary sources, archaeological records, and there are photographs as well. Through it all readers come to know the Romans as a people who were at once uplifted and daunted by the plurality of divinities they felt inhabited the universe. The ritualistic obligations they felt towards these powers consumed much of their time and energy. We moderns, rather than dismissing them as the wasted efforts of a naïve people, should see Roman religion for what it really was. That is, the ultimate expression of the central Roman trait - duty. The same sense of duty a Roman felt to his gods and ancestors he also felt towards his country, and in so doing created the culture we all revere and praise.
Not for the Average Reader Aug 26, 2003
I recently used this book as part of a Summer-session university course on the Archaeology of Religion. Although it contains a healthy amount of information about little known facts concerning Roman religion, it is not for the average reader. Originally written in French, the translation is somewhat poor and confusing.
The majority of the class was at a loss due to the complexity of the book. Even my somewhat rudimentary knowledge of Roman religion was barely adequate to follow the writings. The book lacks adequate chapter breaks resulting in the reader being forced to read the entirety in order not to lose his place.
It says a lot when the professor privately told me that it was a poor choice for a textbook.