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perfect time. When the great wild boar was brought in, he bore on his tusks two

baskets of palm twigs filled with dates. By the side of the huge creature lay

eight pigs, done in paste by the confectioner. Further on in the banquet the

ceiling opened overhead, and down came a silver hoop, bearing alabaster phials of

perfumes, silver coronets, and other keepsakes for the guests. When the

banqueters reached forth and took the fruit which a figure of Vertumnus, standing

in the midst of the table, carried in his bosom, they were sprinkled with little

jets of saffron water. And so caprice followed caprice to the end of the

magnificent revel, until curiosity could be no longer excited, and then the

gourmands who had consumed the treasure of a state retired, each to his place,

and slept in the shadow of mighty Rome.


Rome was one of the most religious states of antiquity. From the first to the

last of that far reaching career which extended from the founding of the city to

the overthrow of the Western Empire, the same sentiment- albeit in different

forms-of obligation to the gods pervaded the people. The notion that man's life

might be purified by oblation and sacrifice, that the supernal powers might be

appeased and brought into sympathy with mortals by their prayers and offerings,

was a belief well-nigh universal. Although the Roman sometimes mocked at the

gods, he never mocked at the sentiment of religion. Although his faith had not

much to do in con- trolling the moral conduct of his life, yet his views

respecting the deities, and what was due to them in worship, were in the nature

of convictions not to be shaken out of his mind.

The religious development of the Roman people was threefold: First, the

primitive Latin system; second, the Graeco-Italian system, and third, the

reformed paganism-the last being the form of faith which was confronted and

overthrown by Christianity. It will be appropriate to give some account of each

of these systems and of the circumstances of their transformation, one into the

other. In the first place, then, we shall consider the system of the primitive

Latins, such as it was before contact with Greek culture led to the introduction

of a Roman mythology.

Without the brilliant imagination of the Greeks, the early Latins adopted a

system, of faith consisting of simple forms of belief and a limited development.

It was not characterized by that variety and inflection from a given type which

marked the religion of the Hellenic race. The gods were not at the first raised

to the rank of persons. They were abstractions rather, which Roman thought was

able to create but unable to develop. Nevertheless, these gods of the formative

stage were sincerely believed in, and were necessary to the existence of the

social and political order. So in woven with the very fabric of society were the

fundamental concepts of religion that from the first both public and private

affairs were made dependent for their success or failure upon the will of the


Beginning with the religious system of the Latini we find that the first stage of

development was that of multiplying the gods. This came to pass under two or

three distinct influences. In the first place the early Romans- indeed the Romans

of all ages-were tolerant of foreign deities. The people of the primitive

Republic were better pleased to import than to invent new gods. In the latter

work the race had little facility. It thus came to pass that when the policy of

subduing and incorporating the surrounding nations was adopted by Rome, she

honored and retained the overthrown gods. Such a course was natural and


In the second place, the plan and process of multiplying the divinities arose

from the