Religio ... Americana?

This collegium and forum are dedicated to the study, discussion, re-creation and application of classical Roman and Greek religion and philosophy.

Moderator: Aldus Marius

Religio ... Americana?

Postby Anonymous on Tue Dec 31, 2002 8:03 pm

First a little about myself so you know where I am coming from.

I've only been practicing this religion a short time, so I make no claims at all to any great spiritual or academic insights beyond the respectable basics. But I have been keeping my eye on Reconstructionism for a while, and have been a staunch admirer of Roma and Hellas since childhood. I became a Roman polytheist because I came to believe, with a little help from Jupiter, it's the right religion for me.

However, as much as I admire and agree with the Recon insistence of sound scholarship and historical validity, I think any ancient religion has to make a few concessions to modern times and existing cultures. I suppose if I were Jewish, I would be more on the Conservative or Reform end of the spectrum than the Orthodox. I think the spirit of the religion must remain intact but some of the external framework has to change for evolving circumstances. (If other Recons want to lambast the attitude for being too "fluffy" or whatnot, that's their choice, but I'm happy with my beliefs).

So, where I am going with this? Well, obviously, I don't live in ancient Rome. The Gods are eternal, but societies are not. The Festivals and Holidays and socio-political circumstances of ancient Rome are dead and buried, and despite what the Nova Romans may believe I don't think they are going to make a strong return. I don't see much sense in following the caldendars and proscribed civic festivals of long dead cultures, whether we are talking about Rome or Athens or what have you.

But I live in a perfectly good country with its own festivals, holidays, and civic culture, and I see no reason why a country so heavily grounded in the Greco-Roman tradition cannot adopt the practices of Rome for its own modern circumstances. And I believe every other society with a proud history and civic culture is entitled to do the same ... the Religio Canadia, the Religio Australia, etc.

The term Religio Americana has been bandied about before, especially during 9-11, but as far as I can see it slowly faded back into obscurity. I'd like to resurrect discussions about how to proceed with a viable Religio Americana, or in general just how one might go about adapting the Religion of the Romans to modern civic cultures, wherever those cultures may be.

Anyone interested?
Anonymous
 

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Wed Jan 01, 2003 1:54 pm

Salve Urse

You bring up several points that have interested me recently as well. First is the matter of what portion of the Religio Romana would be pertinent to us today. What is most know is that of the cultus civilis, or state religion, and like you I recognize that that cultus fell with Rome. It is therefore the cultus gentilis and the plebeian rites that interest me most. A strict reconstructionist would have to recognize that all that is allowed today would be religionis and not what was once sacra. In spite of the claims of some, I just do not see where constitute a state.

The second matter is this insistance on scrupulously following the Religio Romana as practiced in Roma anitqua. Scholars and reconstructionists point to one particular quote from Pliny the Elder on how in state rituals there was a concern to follow the verbal formula exactly as it was originally spoken, with one individual to dictate the words, another to watch that they were said correctly. The thing about that Pliny's quote, read in context, is that it attacks such scrupulous practice as being magical superstition. Much changed in the Religio Romana over the centuries. The Romans knew that, and knew that old practices had been forgotten, new practices were constantly adopted. Adjusting ancient practices for a modern practitioner is a primary concern for us here in the Collegium Religionis.

A Religio Americana...em. The Founding Fathers did look to Roman example while trying to establish our republic. There is more in the state cultus of the US that was adopted from Rome than people realize. With our national holidays - like 4 July, President's Day, Columbus Day, and so on - and then with certain government rituals concern the change of administration, the opening of congress and so forth, the US does have a kind of state religion. It should be no problem for a modern practitioner to participate in such a state religio. There are also other little reminders where we can adapt our own practices to, too. Near me is Neptune's park, no more than an old fountain with figures of Neptune on its base, a brick path and some benches to sit upon. In Cleveland there is an indoor plaza with a 30' bronze of Venus, and an old NRA bridge with colossi, and many more "secular" monuments that were made in immitation of ancient Rome, lending themselves as places to identify with the Religio Romana. Europeans have Roman sites, and national sites, to adopt into ther own practices.

Another thing of special concern in the US is the loci genii who we would have to consider are Native American. Just as Romans in ancient times related to the local gods in distant lands, our own practices on these distant shores should recognize the ancestral spirits and local deities of those who were here before us.

As modern practitioners of the Religio Romana our focus lies mainly on our private practice, our domestic practice, but you bring up a valid point on the matter of adopting personal practices towards our respective national culti.

Di deaeque te semper ament.
Moravius Piscinus
M Horatius Piscinus

Sapere aude!
User avatar
Horatius Piscinus
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2002 7:39 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Postby Anonymous on Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:57 pm

A strict reconstructionist would have to recognize that all that is allowed today would be religionis and not what was once sacra. In spite of the claims of some, I just do not see where constitute a state.


Well, some nameless organizations want to pretend they are Roma Reborn as a "micronation" on the internet. Personally I find this a bit ... silly. No one lives on a micronation on the internet. We all live in our respective 21st century cultures.

The Founding Fathers did look to Roman example while trying to establish our republic.


Indeed. And while I do not consider myself a dyed in the wool hyperpatriotic American, I have enough respect for ths country to honor its basic principles and civic concerns. If the Romans made little distinction between civic and spiritual duty, why should I. :-)

Another thing of special concern in the US is the loci genii who we would have to consider are Native American. Just as Romans in ancient times related to the local gods in distant lands, our own practices on these distant shores should recognize the ancestral spirits and local deities of those who were here before us.


Yes, absolutely. And as someone who has a bit of Native blood, those local spirits are not quite so "foreign" to me :-) Many Americans can say the same thing, and paying respects to said Native American concerns would be crucial to a Religio Americana.

I've broached this topic on one or two other forums. Perhaps if there is sufficient interest we can start a Yahoo group or other e-mail list? My main concern is adapting a state cult to American culture, but I would love to here how those in other lands could adapt thr Religio to their cultures as well. I have already seen discussions on the "Religio Britannica" for instance.

If anyone out there is interested, please say so. This is more than a passing fancy. If the Religio starts growing beyond a handful of practicioners I believe part of its success or lack thereof will depend on how modern citiizens can adapt it to their own culture.
Anonymous
 

Postby Anonymous on Thu Jan 02, 2003 9:54 pm

I just want to be absolutely clear what I mean here so I'm not understood.

When some people say "Religio Americana" they are talking about sanctifying America's so-called "civil religion." In effect creating a brand new religion with deified Founding Fathers and sacred State symbols. This new "religion" would bear little resemblance to the Religio Romana, aside perhaps from the goddess "Libertas" being considered America's patron deity.

This is not what I am interested in. I take pride in my country but I'm not interested in blending religion with politics and creating some jingoistic mumbo jumbo with pretenses to divinity. I'm not interested in creating a brand new religion for feel good American patriotism. *shivers*

What I am interested in developing a set of public rituals for the Roman polytheist to compliment the private rituals we all know and love, within the context of modern existing societies, American or otherwise.
Anonymous
 

An opportunity

Postby Aldus Marius on Fri Jan 03, 2003 4:19 am

Salvete amici...

I am surprised and pleased at the existence of this thread. It harks back to a question I'd always wanted to ask at the Other Place, but was too thoroughly intimidated by my early treatment there (yes, Marius intimidated; but then, the pagan fundies in that organization really did give me a going-over...):

"How much of the practice of ancient Roman religion was ordained by the Gods...and how much of it was imposed upon Them by men?"

If the Gods did not decree, but merely accepted, a certain practice, then we have leeway to adapt and come up with a better one, one more suited to the world we find ourselves in. Another idea: Wouldn't this be a great time to ask Them anew what Their preferences might be? W could wind up with something a lot simpler, more rustic, than what has been handed down to us...

Thoughts?


** Marius puts his helmet on in anticipation of a possible stoning...then remembers this isn't that Internet micronation and takes it off again. **
Aldus Marius Peregrinus.
User avatar
Aldus Marius
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 2173
Joined: Wed Sep 11, 2002 3:16 am
Location: Within hailing distance

Postby Anonymous on Fri Jan 03, 2003 5:49 am

It harks back to a question I'd always wanted to ask at the Other Place, but was too thoroughly intimidated by my early treatment there (yes, Marius intimidated; but then, the pagan fundies in that organization really did give me a going-over...):


My friend, what pray tell happened? Who abused you and why? :(

"How much of the practice of ancient Roman religion was ordained by the Gods...and how much of it was imposed upon Them by men?"


Heh. Good question. Who exactly denied women the right to honor their luno, thus in effect denying them their higher soul?


Another idea: Wouldn't this be a great time to ask Them anew what Their preferences might be? W could wind up with something a lot simpler, more rustic, than what has been handed down to us...


The Gods gave us reason, I think if we collectively put our heads together we could formulate a national culti pleasing to them. :D If a group can corroborate that using divinations and oracles and other mystical arts, so much the better.

Marius, I think you said you were part Native American ... as heir to the local spirits what are some of the things you think would be appropriate in an updated, American version of the Religio?
Anonymous
 

Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Fri Jan 03, 2003 2:22 pm

Salvete omnes,

Interesting topic.

As I have probably stated before, I have a somewhat odd "working relationship" with the Religio Romana. Piscinus will probably think of my approach as too theoretical and intellectualistic ;). I consider myself open to spiritual influences and I recognise that sometimes things happen which we cannot yet explain with science (note the word "yet"). Divinities, spirits, angels, gods or whatever they are called in their respective cultures and religions fall into this category. I'm very hesitant to attach characteristics to "gods" which I feel we cannot ultimately know.

However, I do feel attracted to simple representants of natural elements or places. If the powers of water and the oceans are overwhelming and vast to someone... why not worship it and call it a god? After all, the universe is a wondrous place and so are much of its phenomena. I think that most people have also had experiences with certain places they feel "at home" in without really knowing why. Is that the "spirit" of the place? Perhaps it is. I, for example, like the imagery of the sun. I'm deeply interested into astronomy, but I also give the image of the sun a spiritual meaning. I call it Sol Invictus. But does that mean that I believe the sun as such is a personal god? I'm not sure. I'm tempted to say not. Feel free to disagree with me! ;)

Back to the original topic.

I think America (the USA, I mean) is a very interesting nation. It's a nation of immigrants of various backgrounds (African, European, Asian...) mixed with the few natives that were left after several wars. It kind of reminds me of Great Britain in the early Middle Ages which was also a mixture of cultures and ethnic heritages (Celtic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Danish, Frisian, Norman...). So yes I see the use of a "Religio Americana" with a special regard for the country's own traditions.

It reminds me of a few books I read on Buddhism. The dalai lama himself said that in order to become a Buddhist, it's not necessary to adopt an eastern way of living or to redocorate your house if it's alien to your local culture. With some interest, I'm following the development of a "western" Buddhism which draws its inspiration and style from western culture. It would be interesting to see similar things happening with the Religio Romana. I'm firmly against dogmatism, so my take on the concept would be "spread the love!". The Romans, like Pisc says, also paid their respect to local deities (even though it may have been part of a political strategy...) and assimilated elements from other religions.

Countrary to what some of A Place We All Know may say, I don't believe in an orthodox reconstruction of a religion that formally died 1500 years ago. Trying to be tightly structured, dogmatic and hierarchic in the field of religion (certainly when mixed with power and politics) only advocates secession and dissent, in my opinion.

Valete bene!
Scorpio
Gn. Dionysius Draco Invictus
User avatar
Gnaeus Dionysius Draco
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 1618
Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2002 8:04 pm
Location: Belgica

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sat Jan 04, 2003 5:52 pm

Salvete Urse et omnes

Romulus Iulius Ursus wrote:
What I am interested in developing a set of public rituals for the Roman polytheist to compliment the private rituals we all know and love, within the context of modern existing societies, American or otherwise.


Ita. What you mean then is that groups form, collectively celebrating as an extension of their private practices in a community of fellow practitioners of the Relgio Romana. The Collegium Religionis definitely would like to move in that direction and we have touched on this subject before. For the present what the Col Rel can do is assist individuals to develop their own practices within the tradition of the Religio Romana. Essentially the Col Rel can act as an educational community for those interested. Then groups of individuals may form on a local level. Eventually such local groups may join together to form an organization on a national level, or an international organization. Already one of our members has formed a legally recognized church in California, the Temple Religio Romana. You can check them out at http://www.religioromana.net

Others among us hold license under their respective states and can form similar local legally organized churches, in contrast to pseudo online groups that pose themselves as religious organizations. Prior to that of course people may come together to celebrate. The Col Rel could possibly assist in developing rituals for such local groups and encourage them to become legal recognized. Is that what you mean?

This string has touched on a few issues, for which, unfortunately, I cannot provide any simple answers. So if you can bear some lenghty posts I will try to address them as I may.

Di deaeque vos semper ament. Valete optime
Moravius Piscinus
M Horatius Piscinus

Sapere aude!
User avatar
Horatius Piscinus
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2002 7:39 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: An opportunity

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sat Jan 04, 2003 5:58 pm

Salvete collegae

Marius Peregrine wrote:[color=green

"How much of the practice of ancient Roman religion was ordained by the Gods...and how much of it was imposed upon Them by men?"

[/color]


The best answer to this question would be to read Ovid's account of Numa negotiating with Jupiter at Fasti 3.327-47. Relevent too would be Cicero's discussion of the source of Law in De Legibus II.8-13. Cicero distinguishes between the laws of men and nations, and that which may he called true and primal Law. The laws of states, he says, are contractual agreements between the members of society. Where the laws of states make possible the members of their societies to have "an honourable and happy life" then they may be called laws and characterized as "just and true." Where statutes are made for personal advantage, are unjust, or oppressive, they cannot be taken as laws at all. The laws he is discussing at this point are political laws, but in his section on religious laws that shape the "practice" of the Religio Romana. The primal Law is instead derived from the mind of the gods, embodying wisdom and rational principles. "That Law is not the product of human thought, nor is it any enactment of peoples, but something eternal which rules the whole universe by its wisdom in command and prohibition. Thus...that Law is the primal and ultimate mind of the god, whose reason directs all things either by compulsion or restraint. Wherefore that Law which the gods have given to the human race has been justly praised; for it is the reason and mind of a wise lawgiver applied to command and prohibition."

Cicero's explanation in a later period would be called Natural Law. Its principles of justice held to be innately within every human mind. Cicero gives as examples that no law needed to be written for Horatius Cocles to know he must defend the bridge against Rome's enemies, even as it was being torn down behind him, and no law had to be written to prohibit Tarquinius from his rape of Lucretia for the Romans to know the evil he had done. According to Cicero man's innate understanding of right and wrong, or what we may call common decency, comes from the gods. What humans share in with the gods is mind. (See Seneca's Naturales Quaestiones for further discussion.) Cicero continues, "Therefore, just as that divine mind is the supreme Law, so, when reason is perfected in man, that also is Law, and this perfected reason exists in the mind of the wise man (in mente sapientis)."

The original tradition of the Religio Romana was intuited from the gods. In another story of Numa by Ovid (Fasti 4.641-672), it is clear that the king's meeting with the gods was through an incubation. The stories of Attus Navius (Livy 1.36.2-7), Aius Locutius (5.32.6-7) or of Silvanus (2.7.2) are all instances of the gods speaking directly to men through intuition. Varro speaks of Roman augury as intuition (De Lingua Latine 7.6.7: Quaqua intuitus erat oculi), and Servius speaks of the trance state in which "the vision of augury" is gained, and then that trance state is broken "by the intervention of the waters" as an augur drinks from a river following an augury (Ad Aen 9.24). Cicero divides divination into those that are artificiosum and those naturale (De Div 1.6.11, 18.34, 33.72; 2.11.26), repeated by Servius (Ad Aen. 3.359), where the one type is recognized as ecstatic intuition such as was experienced by the Sibyls. While tradition and augury were held in high esteem for confirming decisions, higher value was placed on the inspired words of oracles even when they conflicted with tradition, because these were regarded as pronouncements made directly from the gods.

In answer to your question then, the tradition held that the practices of the Religio Romana came from the gods. The will of the gods was then interpreted by men. Who has the "religious authority" to make such interpretations is a different question.

Valete
Moravius Piscinus
M Horatius Piscinus

Sapere aude!
User avatar
Horatius Piscinus
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2002 7:39 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: An opportunity

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sat Jan 04, 2003 6:01 pm

Salvete

Marius Peregrine wrote:[color=green
If the Gods did not decree, but merely accepted, a certain practice, then we have leeway to adapt and come up with a better one, one more suited to the world we find ourselves in. Another idea: Wouldn't this be a great time to ask Them anew what Their preferences might be? W could wind up with something a lot simpler, more rustic, than what has been handed down to us...

Thoughts?[/color]


On principle, yes, and this is what I would advocate should be done for an individual's private practice. Trust in what you intuit to be correct. For a cultus civile, however, there is a problem with the recognition of a vision as authentic. It is the same problem faced by the Catholic church with every report of a vision of Mary, or of the occurance of a miracle, and their need to authenticate such reports within their tradition. Remember that when Marcus Caedicius first reported the warning of Aius Locatus his vision was at first dismissed because he was a plebeian. And the story of Attus Navius has Tarquinius initially scoffing at the augurs' pronouncements. While many Romans trusted in the abilities of Attus Navius, he was not one of the two official augurs as established by Numa. Only in proving himself, through his miracle, did Tarquinius then make him an augur and his methods then became the Roman discipline of augury. In other words, in the tradition of the Religio Romana it is recognized that the gods speak to us through intuition, but only by a select few like Numa, who have repeatedly demonstrated a special ability or who have studied the discipline and proven themselves experienced in its methods, can their intuition be held authentic and applicable to the community as a whole and not just for an individual.

The question then returns to one of religious authority, who is to determine whether a reported communication with the gods is authentic? In the tradition of the Religio Romana we do have some examples to go by in trying to define "religious authority". Numa was called to Rome because he was already recognized by the Roman people to be a holy man, and then the auspices were taken to determine if the gods approved of his elevation to the kingship. Attus Navius was recognized by the Roman people as an augur, confirmed then by the gods, before his acceptance as one by the state acting through king Tarquinius. The religious authorities of the Roman state, being the pontifices, duoviri (later quindecimviri), augures, and other priests, came under the authority of the assemblies of the Roman people beginning in 300 BCE with the Lex Ogulnius, and were directly elected to their offices by the Comitia beginning with the Lex Domitia of 104. The Pontifex Maximus was directly elected by the Comitia a little later. The tresviri epulones were elected in the Comitia Plebis from their inception early in the second century (Livy 33.42.1-2). The aediles, who originated as officials of the Temple of Ceres, were being elected in the Comitia Plebis much earlier. Also you have Gaius' comment in Institutiones 1.11 that distinguishes sacred from religious solely based on the authority of the assemblies of the Roman people. In other words only the assemblies of the people have the authority to confirm who shall hold any state offices bearing a religious authority.

However, "religious authority" in a more abstract sense is something else. The Comitia only confirms that an individual possesses a demonstrated "religious authority." Through their actions, through their learning, through their conduct in life, an individual may demonstrate that they possess a degree of "religious authority," or by other means it may be demonstrated that an individual on a given occasion had direct contact with the gods, as in the case with Marcus Caedicius. Caedicius' experience was likewise confirmed by the Roman people when they elected to erect a shrine to Aius Locatus on the Via Nova (Livy 5.50.5). Anyone can declare himself to be a Pontifex Maximus, but it is meaningless unless he was elected to office. Anyone can claim to have studied the ancient discipline and declare himself an augur, that too is rather meaningless unless he first demonstrates his knowledge, and demonstrates his abilities, and then is recognized by the people as an augur either by consensus or by election. But the highest form of "religious authority" is possessed by those who are generally recognized to be a holy person due to their conduct in life. On this score the same is true in al religious traditions. A modern example would be the Dailai Lama who, although of one particular tradition, is generally recognized by people of many diverse traditions to be a holy man. If a person acknowledges that he engages in a disreputable profession, acts in a manner contrary to the tradition, violates the precepts of religious law, fails to fulfill his religious obligation, then even if he were coopted into the Collegium Pontificum that person possesses no religious authority. Allow me to offer two examples from Roma antiqua.

In 133 BCE a factio in the Roman Senate approached consul Mucius Scaevola, demanding that he execute the duly elected Tribunus Plebis Tiberius Gracchus. Consul Scaevola refused because all Roman jurists had already agreed that T. Gracchus' proposal was formally legal in that it sought only to enforce a previous law, and that the methods he used to pass his proposal were likewise legal and made under the auspisces. The factio then murdered Tiberius Gracchius, led by the Pontifex Maximus Nasica. Nasica had violated the authority of the assembled people who had elected Gracchus and had passed his measures. Nasica had violated the authority of consul Mucius Scaevola. Nasica had violated the Lex Sacrata in violating the sacrosanct person of a tribune. As a consequence, in spite of his own office as Pontifex Maximus, Nasica was sent into exile. It may also be said that Nasica defied the will of the gods, expressed through the voice of the people and through the auspices that had placed both T. Gracchus and Mucius Scaevola in office, and had condoned the assembly of the Comitia in the first place. Through his conduct Nasica demonstrated that he had no religious authority. And this was recognized by all parties in Rome, "For the people did not conceal their indignation even in the open streets, but railed (Nasica), whenever they met him abroad calling him murderer and a tyrant, one who had polluted the most holy and religious spot in Rome with the blood of a sacred and inviolable magistrate. And so Nasica left Italy, although he was bound, being the chief priest, to officiate in all principle sacrifices (Plutarch)."

In contrast is the story of Gaius Valerius Flaccus in Livy 27.8.4-10. The year 209 BCE. "The reason for installing a flamen under compulsion I would gladly have passed over in silence, were it not for the fact that in the process his reputation changed from bad to good. It was on account of the irresponsibility and extravagance of his youth - vices which brought him the odium of his twin brother Lucius Flaccus and other relatives - that Gaius Flaccus was chosen flamen by Publius Licinius, the pontifex maximus. As soon as his attention turned to the responsibility for religious rituals and ceremonies, he put aside his former ways so suddenly that no young man in the city was deemed more outstanding and meritorius by leading senators, both those within his own family and strangers alike. The unanimity of this apprbation enhanced his rightful sense of self confidence, and he claimed an entitlement that had long been in abeyance because of the unworthiness of former flamines, namely that he should be admitted to the Senate." The praetor then removed Valerius because no one in living memory had claimed the ancient perogative of the flamen Dialis. Valerius appealled to the Tribunes, whose judgement was, "that, as the entitlement had fallen into disuse through the indolence of the flamines, the loss should be deemed to have fallen on the individual priests themselves, not on the office." Valerius was then welcomed into the Senate by the praetor and a party of senatores. "Everyone considered that the flamen had achieved his object more because of the purity of his life than because of any particular right attached to his priestly office."

From these two stories it may be seen that in the tradition of the Religio Romana religious authority rests with an individual and never in a religious office itself. In spite of the fact that there was an office of Pontifex Maximus, there was never in the tradition an infallible pope who could dictate orthodoxy. Possession of religious authority rested with the recognition of the people, by consensus, whether you are speaking of Numa, Attus Navius, or Valerius Flaccus, and could likewise be recognized by a consensus of the people as not being possessed by an individual, as in the case of Nasica.

Valete
Moravius Piscinus
M Horatius Piscinus

Sapere aude!
User avatar
Horatius Piscinus
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2002 7:39 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: An opportunity

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sat Jan 04, 2003 6:05 pm

Salvete

A brief comment

Marius Peregrine wrote:Salvete amici...

I am surprised and pleased at the existence of this thread. It harks back to a question I'd always wanted to ask at the Other Place, but was too thoroughly intimidated by my early treatment there (yes, Marius intimidated; but then, the pagan fundies in that organization really did give me a going-over...):


Marius alluded to a streak of Christian bashing that unfortunately arises in that other place from time to time, along with occasional prejudicial statements made by individuals that are directed against other groups as well. They are not alone among online communities who must deal with "pagan fundies." Living in the XXI century, let's face it, we are in a minority. As practitioners of the Religio Romana we cannot very well assert toleration for our own faith when attacking the beliefs of other faiths, nor can we expect toleration in any society that promotes bigotry towards any social group. As a practical matter, one tenet any modern Religio Romana would have to embrace is religious tolerance, and its members would necessarily have to be active in promoting social justice and tolerance as a way to develop the kinds of societies in which we ourselves would be tolerated.


Valete
Moravius Piscinus
M Horatius Piscinus

Sapere aude!
User avatar
Horatius Piscinus
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2002 7:39 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sat Jan 04, 2003 6:11 pm

Salvete omnes

Further thoughts on authorities in the tradition that we may look to for developing a modern Religio Romana.

Marius raises the question of religious authority, an issue that could apply to Christians as well as any other faith. Christians, Muslims, and Jews refer to both their sacred books and to lines of religious authority that have been passed down from teachers of their respective faiths. The Religio Romana at one time had their own sacred texts, only scraps of which now remain, and arguments over issues in the Religio Romana today revolve around historical authorities like Cato or Cicero, neglecting other sources that would have more relevance. The fragments of Veranius' Ex Auspicium Libris and Ex Pontificalium Quaestiones Libris, Granius Flaccus' Ex Libris de iure Papiriano, Mucius Scaevola's Ex Iuris Civilis Libris, Trebatius' Ex Libris de Religionibus, Antistius' Commentari Iuris Pontifici, or Ateius Capito's De Iure Pontificio, others by Caelius, Cinnius and so forth. Our main authority today, one respected by all sides in the era of Cicero and Caesar, was Terentius Varro, who unfortunately often comes to us only through Christian commentaries. What the Religio Romana has is a certain tradition, but the lines of authority has long since been broken. The point I wish to make is that that tradition had great diversity and was continually evolving from the very beginning of Rome. There is no one right way to follow the tradition, and no one has any real authority to determine what the tradition may be.

Where should we look today for a model tradition on which to base a modern Religio Romana? What role does a tradition really have in any religious faith? What is usually cited is the example of the religio during the Republic, as there is a view that the tradition had not yet come under Greek influence. A very indefensible view I may add. The sources available to us come mainly from the Late Republic period, or from the early Principate. Cicero posed a model for his ideal religio in his De Legibus. It would be beneficial for us to look at it some time, but it should be understood that what Cicero posed was not in any sense the traditional Religio Romana. Varro too expressed his ideas on an improved version of the religio, which is very different from what Cicero posed. More relevent to us today may be the words of Symmachus. He lived in a period when the imperial authorities had abandoned the Religio Romana, and so Symmachus tried to defend maintaining the tradition under a Christian government, a situation that we would have to face today. The social sensibilities in Symmachus' time were also more like those in our own, so Symmachus represents a bridge betwen our own era and that of the Republic.

What the Romans of the Late Republic looked towards themselves as a model was a tradition held to have begun with Pompilius Numa. Early in the Republic the Lex Papiria attempted to restore the Numa tradition. Flaccus' work, dedicated to Julius Caesar, was on what pontifex maximus Papirius "reinstituted." Varro likewise looked back to the Numa reforms, in places citing Flaccus, and surprised many of his contemporaries with his reminder of what had been the earlier tradition. Varro's work is what fueled the Augustan "Restoration" of the tradition of the Religio Romana. There is a reflection of the early Principate view of the Numa tradition in Ovid's references to Numa in his Fasti. Early in our own history the Collegium Religionis decided to make the Numa reforms as the basis of its own tradition for developing a modern Religio Romana. So this too is something we should further discuss.

Valete optime
Moravius Piscinus
M Horatius Piscinus

Sapere aude!
User avatar
Horatius Piscinus
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2002 7:39 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sat Jan 04, 2003 7:00 pm

Salve Urse

Romulus Iulius Ursus wrote:
A strict reconstructionist would have to recognize that all that is allowed today would be religionis and not what was once sacra. In spite of the claims of some, I just do not see where constitute a state.


Well, some nameless organizations want to pretend they are Roma Reborn as a "micronation" on the internet. Personally I find this a bit ... silly. No one lives on a micronation on the internet. We all live in our respective 21st century cultures.


Other things I have heard advocated in that other place was a return to blood sacrifices as essential to regaining the favor of the gods (utter nonesense), reinstitution of slavery, reinstituting mortal gladiatorial contests, revoking the political rights of women, a denial that citizens of Rome had any rights (not very astute or knowledgeable about Roma antiqua if you ask me). Those are all ideas expressed by the same few individuals. Although vocal they do not represent that organization as a whole, or bring any honor to it by their words or deeds.

The same organization has at times attempted to assert religious authority over those who practice the Religio Romana. That too is a bit silly. For reasons I posted earlier, I do not think any individual can simply declare himself pope, or a group to declare themselves popes, and expect to have any authority unless they may demonstrate it. I recognize that there are different ways to demonstrate a degree of authority. In the case of that organization the pontifices are coopted, not elected, so I would question what basis they could have to assert any authority. It would be entirely legitimate if once coopted there was then a consensus of the membership that those individuals held authority, but it could not be taken to extend any further than within that organization. And individually I would have to question what basis such positions were given. I was once a non-voting member of that organization's Collegium Pontificum, holding a position as flamen Cerialis. The conduct of some I do not think warranted any respect. None at the time held any real academic credentials in Classical studies or religion, and only a couple may be considered knowledgable of the Religio Romana. Since I left I understand one individual was coopted into their collegium who I consider to be in sacer, which can only further my questioning the basis of authority they wish to claim. And their site has put up a ritual where the individual who wrote it repeatedly states his own disbelief in the gods. I really have to wonder about why the pontifices would post such if they wish to be taken seriously as a religious body.

Really I think the problem there is in their approach to establishing an organization for the Religio Romana. They began by creating positions that they are still seeking to fill, sometimes not very conientiously about who they coopt into the position. They began from the top, and try to assert authority downward. That I think is a mistake. The Religio Romana began with individuals, the culti genilis, and evolved towards the culti civilis. That I think is a better approach that any modern attempt to reestablish an organized Religio Romana should take. Thus earlier I spoke of individuals, forming local communities of worshipers, and from that later joining together to form an organization.

I, too, do not live in a virtual world but in the real world. If one is serious about reestablishing an organized Religio Romana then there are certain real world issues that would need to be addressed. Legal matters, financial matters. And those involved in such an effort should give some concern to their own credibility with regard to the conduct of their members. Recent problems of the Catholic church in the US should serve as notice to any religious organization that the reputation of the body as a whole can rest with the conduct of a few. Those who are placed in any position of authority should be scrutenized for their real world qualifications, rather than what they pose in a virtual reality. That is if you want to be taken seriously as a credible religious authority. Otherwise you are only engaged in a role-playing game.

Vale
Moravius Piscinus
M Horatius Piscinus

Sapere aude!
User avatar
Horatius Piscinus
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2002 7:39 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Postby Anonymous on Sun Jan 05, 2003 2:13 am

Vastly informative as always, Moravius Piscinus. Thank you for those posts. I will just respond to a few quick points:

What you mean then is that groups form, collectively celebrating as an extension of their private practices in a community of fellow practitioners of the Relgio Romana. ( -- snip --) The Col Rel could possibly assist in developing rituals for such local groups and encourage them to become legal recognized. Is that what you mean?


Exactly. Are you familiar with Hellenion, the organization for Hellenic Reconstructionists? They are training legally recognized clergy. They are forming local congregations. They are developing modern rituals for said congregations. I just heard their New England demos had a Festival for the Heroes on Memorial Day, and a festival to honor the dryads of the maple trees, which of course are everywhere in New England.

That's what I'm talking about. A living, breathing religio for living breathing, societies. Not pretending that there are Vestal Virgins still around to administer rights to long forgotten festivals.

Marius alluded to a streak of Christian bashing that unfortunately arises in that other place from time to time, along with occasional prejudicial statements made by individuals that are directed against other groups as well. ( -- snip --) As a practical matter, one tenet any modern Religio Romana would have to embrace is religious tolerance, and its members would necessarily have to be active in promoting social justice and tolerance as a way to develop the kinds of societies in which we ourselves would be tolerated.


The toleration of the Religio for other religions is something I cherish. I personally don't honor Christ, or Isis, or Mithras, but to those that do that is between them and the Gods concerned.

I believe in religious toleration. But we must admit there are seemingly increasing strains of monotheism that are anything but tolerant and would like to see us shut down. As far as those small but very vocal (and perhaps growing) minorities are concerned, I don't believe in turning the other cheek at all. But anyone who grants me freedom of worship I am willing to repay in kind.

Already one of our members has formed a legally recognized church in California, the Temple Religio Romana. You can check them out at http://www.religioromana.net


I'm on their mailing list and posed this same question to them. :lol:

The finer points you raised will have to be addressed by someone wiser than myself. I certainly hope this college takes an active approach in answering said points. After all, we owe it to ourselves and to the Gods of Rome.

Vale!
Anonymous
 

Religio Americana

Postby Anonymous on Sun Jan 05, 2003 11:31 pm

If the Religio Americana is to build on the Religio Romana and adapt it to modern times, what about adapting the priestesshood of the Vestals?
Anonymous
 

Postby Anonymous on Sun Jan 05, 2003 11:56 pm

Virginity and modern America are two concepts that are increasingly antithetical. :P

Personally I find celibacy for religious purposes rather outdated and patriarchal. I wouldn't ask it of anybody. If they voluntarily committ to such a path, I suppose that is their affair.

If one were to reclaim Vesta's Virgins, how would one go about doing it in the modern era?
Anonymous
 

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Mon Jan 06, 2003 5:40 pm

Salvete

Romulus Iulius Ursus wrote:Exactly. Are you familiar with Hellenion, the organization for Hellenic Reconstructionists? They are training legally recognized clergy. They are forming local congregations. They are developing modern rituals for said congregations. I just heard their New England demos had a Festival for the Heroes on Memorial Day, and a festival to honor the dryads of the maple trees, which of course are everywhere in New England.

That's what I'm talking about. A living, breathing religio for living breathing, societies. Not pretending that there are Vestal Virgins still around to administer rights to long forgotten festivals.

The finer points you raised will have to be addressed by someone wiser than myself. I certainly hope this college takes an active approach in answering said points. After all, we owe it to ourselves and to the Gods of Rome.

Vale!


I am not familiar with Hellenion. I am curious what you, or they, mean by training legally recognized clergy. In the US there are no real requirements, where as if we wanted to pursue this we would need to develop some type of training for our priesthoods. With regard to performing public rituals, initially a local group would not need legaly recognized priests until organized. Legalities revolve around taxes, which can be either individual income tax for a clergyman, or for an incorporated group.

The finer points, as you call them, we might be able to take up here. You mentioned for instance the celebration of festivals. There were many, but a few basic ones, those of the Numa calendar would be one place to begin with. At the website we have posted some reconstructist ceremonies used by a group in the UK, to use as an example to begin with. Then if you wish to form priesthoods, which would you begin with? Again, with Numa's as a model, you have a simpler form of religio to begin initially. As for public rites, there are various rites of passage that I think we need to begin developing. A marriage ceremony is already being worked on. Some others we would have to identify and begin working to produce.

Valete optime
Moravius Piscinus
M Horatius Piscinus

Sapere aude!
User avatar
Horatius Piscinus
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2002 7:39 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: Religio Americana

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Mon Jan 06, 2003 5:52 pm

Salva sis Gegania

Gegania wrote:If the Religio Americana is to build on the Religio Romana and adapt it to modern times, what about adapting the priestesshood of the Vestals?


Most definitely. I think we should look towards the role played by the Vestal Virgins, and not the ancient requirement placed on them. Ancient understanding of virginity and chastity were not the same as we have today anyway. There was a ceremony performed each spring that restored the virginity of Venus. The same would apply to women. That is, virginity in the modern sense would not be a requirment, but ritual purity. Abstinance from sexual relations during a purification period was used, the longest being nine days for women participating in rites of Ceres, and the same applied to men. Ovid mentions period of abstinance throughout the year for the flamenica Dialis, and that applied to the flamen Dialis as well. Ritual purity is an important matter to consider for any priest or priestess performing sacred rites. For our purposes though, the role played by the Vestales Virgines would be a more important consideration when first forming our local groups.

Di deaeque te semper ament
Moravius Piscinus
M Horatius Piscinus

Sapere aude!
User avatar
Horatius Piscinus
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2002 7:39 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Postby Anonymous on Mon Jan 06, 2003 6:13 pm

Salve!

I didn't avail myself of the details concerning Hellenion's clergy program, but if you're interested, here's the link: http://www.hellenion.org/members/education/clergy/index.html

Vale!
Anonymous
 

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Tue Jan 07, 2003 9:42 am

Salve Urse

Gratias. I visited the link to hellenion, looked at their curriculum and required reading. It does not appear to be much more than posed for the priesthoods of the Other Place. An Adkins & Adkins Handbook would not get my endorsment as a basis for a course outline. They seem IMHO weighted towards the magical with too little emphasis on the philosophical or theological. Some good things in their course outline though. The emphasis on practical experience in performing public rites and the relationship of the priest with his Demos.

Vale
Moravius Piscinus
M Horatius Piscinus

Sapere aude!
User avatar
Horatius Piscinus
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2002 7:39 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Next

Return to Collegium Religionum et Philosophiarum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron