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Roman Law, Politics, & Religion

Politics, law and religion were closely tied together in ancient Rome. Romans attributed their success as a world power to their relationship with the gods, viewing expansionism as a divine duty. Most of their public officials also served as augurs, pontiffs or priests. For example, Caesar was Pontifex Maximus before being elected consul and eventually dictator¹. Religion in ancient Rome was very practical and nature and treated as a contract by many citizens. Spirituality was based on knowledge, praying, ritualizing and sacrificing in the right way to please the forces they believed to control their existence and well-being. Romans worshiped many deities. They had twelve major gods and in some occasions, would even deify their Emperor, including Julius and Augustus¹.

Rome’s government and politics were dominated by an elite, male, landowning group. Half of Rome’s population was slaves or free non-citizens and most others were plebeians¹. Less than a quarter of adult males had voting rights and even fewer were able to exercise them. Women, as was standard at the time, had no vote². Rome had an impressive system of checks and balances in respect to other civilizations. The senate acted as advisors to the elected consuls and caretaker of the relationship of Rome with the gods².

As Rome evolved from its Kingdom to Republic to Empire, it gradually became more and more inclusionary. Eventually, most people who acknowledged Roman hegemony and were in good standing would theoretically be able to maintain their own cult and calendars².




1. Roman Religion. Retrieved from http://www.roman-empire.net/religion/religion.html

2. The Roman Empire. Or Republic. Or...Which Was It?: Crash Course World History. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPf27gAup9U

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