Roman Religion

Definition

In many societies, ancient and modern, religion has performed a major role in their development, and the Roman Empire was no different. From the beginning Roman religion was polytheistic. From an initial array of gods and spirits, Rome added to this collection to include both Greek gods as well as a number of foreign cults. As the empire expanded, the Romans refrained from imposing their own religious beliefs upon those they conquered; however, this inclusion must not be misinterpreted as tolerance - this can be seen with their early reaction to the Jewish and Christian population. Eventually, all of their gods would be washed away, gradually replaced by Christianity, and in the eyes of some, this change brought about the decline of the western empire.

More about: Roman Religion

Timeline

  • c. 500 BCE
    Beginning of the Roman Saturnalia festival according to Livy (although there is evidence it was a much older tradition).
  • 295 BCE
    The first temple to Venus is dedicated on Rome's Aventine Hill.
  • 292 BCE
    The Romans adopt the Greek god of medicine Asclepius by stealing his sacred snake from Epidaurus and setting up a temple on the Tiber Island.
  • c. 263 BCE
    A shrine is dedicated to Minerva on the Aventine in Rome.
  • 225 BCE - 150 BCE
    The Temple of Hercules is built at Ostia.
  • 186 BCE
    The Roman Senate bans the Cult of Bacchus.
  • 146 BCE
    First Roman all-marble building is constructed, the temple of Jupiter Stater in Rome.
  • 1 CE - 100 CE
    Mithraism spreads in the Roman empire.
  • c. 14 CE
    The Temple of Rome and Augustus is built at Ostia.
  • 42 CE - 62 CE
    Paul the Apostle goes on missionary journeys across Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome.
  • c. 50 CE - c. 60 CE
    Establishment of various Christian communities in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece, Egypt, and at least the city of Rome.
  • 64 CE
    Unofficial persecution of Christians in Rome.
  • 66 CE - 73 CE
    The Jewish Revolt against Rome.
  • c. 110 CE
    First documented martydom in the Colosseum of Rome, that of St. Ignatius of Antioch.
  • c. 125 CE
    The Pantheon is completed in Rome.
  • 284 CE - 305 CE
    Reign of Roman Emperor Diocletian.
  • 306 CE - 337 CE
    Reign of Roman Emperor Constantine I.
  • 313 CE
    The Edict of Milan enacted by Constantine I.
  • 325 CE
    Roman Emperor Constantine I calls the Council of Nicaea.
  • 608 CE
    The Pantheon in Rome is converted into a Christian church.
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