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Title: Religious Transgression in the Roman Republic
Authors: Mann, Caroline Palo
Advisors: Flower, Harriet I
Contributors: Classics Department
Keywords: Auspices
Religious crimes
Roman Republic
Subjects: Ancient history
Classical studies
Religious history
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Religious transgression was an observable cultural phenomenon during the Roman Republic. It occurred in a variety of forms, from petty thefts committed out of greed, to elaborate cursing rituals. Willful, knowing actions that violated correct religious behavior caused religious crises that had potentially deleterious consequences for both the responsible individual and for the community or state. Religious transgression was most fundamentally a problem of violating the will of the gods. The Romans had underlying assumptions that the will of the gods was knowable, and that to disregard it could cause disaster. Divine vengeance was viewed as a very real threat, and operated in concert with civic methods of punishment. Moments of religious wrongdoing were opportunities to realign public actions with the preferences of the gods, both by punishing transgressors and by enacting expiatory actions. Roman political institutions, particularly the senate, played the key roles in determining what had gone wrong religiously and how to rectify it. In smaller communities, equivalent civic bodies or magistrates fulfilled that role. The goal in rectifying a transgression was to propitiate the wronged deities and to realign Roman actions with divine interests. Transgression also developed as a trope in invective and historiographical writing, an application that was effective because it was rooted in a legitimate fear of retribution from the gods. Religious misdeeds had the power to retrospectively explain misfortunes that the Romans experienced because they were regarded with genuine trepidation.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Classics

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