By Mr Martin Henig, Martin Henig
Except Christianity and the Oriental Cults, faith in Roman Britain is usually mentioned as if it remained primarily Celtic in trust and perform, less than a skinny veneer of Roman impact. utilizing a variety of archaeological proof, Dr Henig indicates that the Roman aspect in faith used to be of a lot better value and that the traditional Roman veneration for the gods came upon meaningful expression even within the formal rituals practised within the public temples of england.
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Additional info for Religion in Roman Britain
A priesthood, submissive to the Roman Law was no The Romanisation of the celtic cults 21 threat and might be safely tolerated. Long centuries of toleration and social acceptance would allow a respectable fourth-century university professor to claim descent both from the Druids and from Roman priests of Apollo (see below). Continuity of Ancient Sanctuaries The treatment of sacred sites during the Roman period follows the same conservative approach, very much in the spirit of a ritual prayer cited by Macrobius, offering foreign gods shelter and games in their honour (Macrobius Saturnalia 3, 9, 7–8).
Before describing what happened, two points should be made, the first religious and lying at the centre of ritual, the second secular and explaining something of the nature of sacrifice in everyday life. The killing of a living creature arouses feelings of guilt, for life belongs to the gods; it can only be expiated by the use of an elaborate ritual, and even then the circumstances have to be right. 32 In contrast to the solemnity of the event was the fact that this was a major source of meat for the populace—the gods were given token and often inedible portions, entrails and fat cut from the haunches.
The beast hardly notices the priest sprinkling flour and salt on its head and cutting off a few hairs. The skilled attendants distract its attention while the popa fells it with a pole-axe, and the priest immediately stabs it with an ancient bronze knife with an inlaid handle. Blood flows over the ground. More incense is burnt and our onlooker senses that the ceremony has achieved a sacramental union with the gods. His feelings have little to do with moral excellence—though no doubt he pays his taxes, honours the emperor, is mindful of the horrible fates of Tantalus and Sisyphus (or alternatively is haunted by Romano-Celtic images of man-eating monsters like that represented by a figurine from Woodeaton).
Religion in Roman Britain by Mr Martin Henig, Martin Henig