The role of women in Roman religion during the period of the Republic was integral to Roman religious practice, and the vitality and import of feminine roles in Republican religion should not be underestimated. Although women did not always participate as directly in public religious practice or fill as many official religious positions as the men of Republican Rome, their involvement in religion was nonetheless constant and dynamic, extending into nearly every aspect of religious observance, and was not limited to those deities associated with traditionally feminine concerns, nor was it confined to the feminine cults. The religious practices of Roman women in the Republic also incorporated deities that held sway over traditionally masculine concerns such as finance, politics, and civic or public affairs. Furthermore, certain cults in Republican Rome allowed only women to act as officials, and the presence and participation of women in various public rites was essential in the proper observance of those rites. Women also played an important part in Roman religion in an unofficial capacity, in the daily religious rituals that were tied to life at home and the family, and which were equally as significant as the public festivals tied to the religious calendar. The religious practices of the Romans were tied to beliefs rooted in ancestral traditions about the gods and their role in human survival and prosperity. As the Republic progressed and expanded, the religious practices of the other cultures it came into contact with were integrated or fused with the older Roman practices, and the Romans included these new foreign customs in their public and private religious observance.
[...] The presence and participation of the Vestals in various other religious observances was indispensable, and they accompanied and worked alongside the Pontifex Maximus and Flamen Dialis in the processions, sacrifices, and other public religious activities of the Republican period. In addition to the Vestal Virgins, the wife of the priest of Jupiter, the wives of the Flamen Dialis, and the wives of various other lesser priests had a more formalized and actively participatory role in public Republican Roman religion. The priests and their wives worked as a team, and the priests could not fulfill their public duties without their wives being present; furthermore, there were some rituals and ceremonial preparations that the wives were solely responsible for. [...]
[...] The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic. London:MacMillan and Co., Ltd. Halliday, William Reginald. (1922). Lectures on the History of Roman Religion from Numa to Augustus. Liverpool: The University Press of Liverpool Ltd. Kraemer, Ross Shepard. (1992). Her Share of the Blessings Women's Religions Among Pagans, Jews, and Christians in the Greco-Roman World. New York: Oxford University Press.Ovid (1995) Fasti Roman Holidays. Translated by Betty Rose Nagle. Bloomington:Indiana University Press.Rose, H. J. (1959). Religion in Greece and Rome. [...]
[...] A Roman woman's duties also included attending to the various religious rituals that honored the household gods, and which were, in Roman belief, necessary in guaranteeing the physical, financial, and overall well-being of the family. There were specific prayers and rituals to be offered at the inception and completion of nearly every household task and for many different aspects of domestic life, and so, religious practice permeated the everyday life of Roman women. To not properly observe these traditions was to risk incurring the gods' anger or offense and thereby jeopardize the welfare of the family. [...]
[...] There were a number of other public religious events in which women played a largely supportive or observational role, or that of a general citizen participant alongside the Roman men. Although the large part of official public religious roles were held by men, there were official positions in corporate religious worship reserved solely for women in Republican Rome. The most significant of these were the Vestal Virgins, six priestesses chosen from among the Patrician class for their perfection in form and purity to serve Vesta at her temple in the Forum and live there as virgins for a term of thirty years. [...]
[...] There were some public religious roles that were filled by women, as priestesses for foreign cults, as the wives of priests, and most notably as Vestal Virgins. The role of women in the religious practices of Republican Rome is often marginalized, but Roman women did, in fact, play an important part in the religion of Rome. Bibliography Casson, Lionel. (1975). Everyday Life in Ancient Rome. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. Fowler, W. Warde. (1922). The Religious Experience of the Roman People from the Earliest Times to the Age of Augustus. London: MacMillan and Co., Ltd. Fowler, W. Warde. (1925). [...]
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