The Ancient Romans believed in many gods as they were a polytheistic society. This meant that they believed in and worshiped more than one god. Ancient Romans worshiped thousands of gods in fact, and were continually adding deities to their already long list of supreme, local, and obscure gods. There was a god for just about everything in Ancient Rome, and because the Ancient Romans believed they had a divine mission to rule the world, worship of the gods remained a significant part of Ancient Rome and her conquests until the fall of the empire.
Ancient Romans believed that gods lived everywhere, not just in temples or in holy places. The Ancient Roman gods could live inside the home, outside under rocks or in trees, in temples or anywhere else they pleased. This is why the Ancient Romans were so careful to worship and honor the gods daily. This daily worship was for major state gods and minor local gods. The Ancient Romans believed that the gods controlled everything, and any action that was taken, or any event that occurred, was the act of the gods and their pleasure or disapproval with mankind’s actions. In other words, everything from the rainfall, good health, riches and poverty, to violent volcanic eruptions was because the Gods willed it to be that way.
Ancient Romans wanted to be sure to avoid divine retribution at any cost. By throwing lavish celebrations to honor the gods, providing sacrifices, gifts, and money regularly helped them to escape any godly wrath.
Ancient Rome from its start was based off pagan religious beliefs. Later on throughout the Empire, Christianity started to spread and take hold as the local state religion; this was a major change from Ancient Rome’s pagan roots. This change came when Constantine the Great took rule of Ancient Rome. Constantine did not start out as a Christian Emperor; however, significant events in his life led him to the religious followings of Christianity. This personal change for Constantine the Great led to major changes in the Ancient Roman Empire. Christians in the Ancient Roman Empire faced persecution and abuse prior to Constantine’s reign.
Choose one of the links below to learn about Ancient Rome’s fascinating religious belief system, the Ancient Roman gods, and how Christianity became a great religion in the Ancient Roman Empire.
- Religion: Adopted and Borrowed Gods
- Religion: Ancient Roman Gods and Goddesses
- Religion: Ancient Roman Religion in Society
- Religion: Ancient Roman Temple Worship and Holy Places
- Religion: Christianity in Ancient Rome
- Religion: Daily Life Practicing Ancient Roman Religion
- Religion: Dii Consentes – Roman Council of Twelve Gods
- Religion: Emperor Worship in Ancient Rome
- Religion: Greek Influence on Ancient Roman Religion
- Religion: Religious Disorder in Ancient Rome
- Religion: Traditional Ancient Roman Religion