POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM : RELIGIOUS PRACTICES RELIGION AT POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM For Romans the performance of one’s religious duties was an important part of being a citizen. All citizens were expected to be involved in religious rituals as they were believed to be necessary in order to win the favour of the gods. This would ensure peace, fertility of humans crops and animals and the prosperity of all. Religion bound mankind to the gods and united people in their community. The Roman religion was closely linked with the Greek religion. There were four main gods that were worshipped in Pompeii and Herculaneum including Apollo, Hercules or Herakles, Dionysos and Ceres. Other gods that were worshipped include Minerva, the goddess of crafts and wisdom, Diana, the goddess of the hunt Hermes or Mercury, the messenger god and his mother Maia. APOLLO Apollo, god of sun and music, is considered to have dominion over plague, light, healing, colonists, medicine, archery, poetry, prophecy, dance, reason, intellectualism, Shamans, and as the patron defender of herds and flocks. Apollo had a famous oracle in Crete and other notable ones in Clarus and Branchidae. Apollo is known as the leader of the Muses and director of their choir. His attributes include: swans, wolves, dolphins, bows and arrows, a laurel crown, the cithara (or lyre) and plectrum. The sacrificial tripod is another attribute, representative of his prophetic powers. It was in the time of Augustus, who considered himself under the special protection of Apollo and was even said to be his son, that his worship developed and he became one of the chief gods of Rome. After the battle of Actium, Augustus enlarged his old temple, dedicated a portion of the spoil to him, and instituted quinquennial games in his honour. He also erected a new temple on the Palatine hill and transferred the secular games, to Apollo and Diana. As god of colonization, Apollo gave guidance on colonies, especially during the height of colonization,750-550 BC. According to Greek tradition, he helped Cretan or Arcadian colonists find the city of Troy. HERCULES OR HERAKLES The hero Herakles, son of Zeus, was known for his strength, courage and perseverance. He was worshipped in pre-Roman Pompeii and Herculaneum and was continued to be worshipped until 79AD. He was worshipped by both Greeks and Samnites before the coming of the Romans. At Pompeii the Doric style temple in the Triangular forum was believed to be dedicated to Herakles. From Herculaneum there are a number of statues of Herakles and frescos depicting the god that suggest he was worshipped there. DIONYSOS Dionysos was the Greek god of fertility and divine intoxication and was worshipped in the Samnite period. A Dionysian temple was discovered outside the town in 1947. The cult of Dionysos in Roman times offered devotees a state of ecstasy that came from intoxication by the god. One message of the cult was that the natural passions had to be acknowledged as having a rightful place for a human society to be stable and balanced. Dionysian themes are popular in Pompeian decoration and the gods half animal/half human helpers, the satyrs and his female devotees, the maenads, were especially popular. CERES The Greek goddess Demeter, the Roman Ceres was associated with fertility of the earth, abundant grain and general prosperity, was especially honoured in the agricultural community. She was very popular in Greek influenced Campania and at Pompeii there was a public priest Ceres which can be seen as evidence of the gods worship. ROMAN STATE AND IMPERIAL RULER CULTS The Roman state cult centred on the worship of The Capitoline Triad: Jupiter the overall protector of the state, Juno, who’s special care was women, and Minerva, the patroness of craft workers. Fragments of the statue of the god Jupiter inside the cult temple survived the eruption. The Imperial Ruler cult From the time of Augustus onwards, an imperial ruler cult developed in the Roman world, possible under the influence of Greek hero cults and concepts of divine kingship. Julius Caesar had been declared divine by the Roman senate and his nephew Octavian was honoured as the ‘son of the divine one’. A temple dedicated to Fortuna Augusta, the divine spirit associated with peace and good fortune, and was erected at cross-roads on the north-south street two blocks away from the Pompeii forum.