This is an introduction to religion in Rome during the late republic and early empire. Written by a leading scholar, it draws on pertinent findings in archaeology and history to explain the meanings of rituals, rites, auspices and oracles, to describe the uses of temples and sacred ground, and to evoke the daily patterns of religious life and observance within the city of Rome and its environs. The book is divided into five parts. In the first the author considers the contemporary meaning of religious terms and concepts and the role religion played in the Roman sense of identity and destiny. The second describes the religious calendar, diurnal patterns of worship and observance, and the structure of religious space in temples, sanctuaries and sacred places. The third looks at the form of religious services including the rites and purposes of sacrifices, and examines when auspices were sought and how they were read. Part four describes the priests and priestesses - who they were, how they were trained and for what functions - and the gods and demi-gods of the Roman pantheon. Part five considers Roman ideology and exegesis.
Professor Scheid writes primarily for university students of ancient Rome and classical civilization: information and ideas are laid out clearly and concisely; the text is illustrated with quotations from primary sources; a chronology links religious to historical events from 750 BC to AD 494; there is a full glossary and an annotated guide to further reading. The text contains numerous summaries and suggestions for discussion.
John Scheid is Director of Studies in Ancient History at the Ecole pratiques des hautes etudes in Paris. His books include Religion et piete a Rome (1985) and, co-authored with J. Svenbro, Le metier de Zeus (1994), which was subsequently published by Harvard University Press as The Craft of Zeus: Myths of Weaving and Fabric.