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on Roman evidence; but for myself I try never to forget the words of Columella, with which a great German scholar began one of his most difficult investigations : "In universa vita pretiosissimum est intellegere quemque nescire se quod nesciat." 22


1. Mommsen, Hist. of Rome (E.T.), vol. ii. p. 433.

2. Cumont, Les Religions orientales dans le paganisme romain, p. 36. Cp. Dill, Roman Society in the Last Century of the Western Empire, p. 63. Gwatkin, The Knowledge of God, vol. ii. p. 133.

3. See some valuable remarks in Lord Cromer's Modern Egypt, vol. ii. p. 135.

4. Since this lecture was written this scholar has passed away, to the great grief of his many friends; and I refrain from mentioning his name.

5. Ira W. Howerth, in International Journal of Ethics, 1903, p. 205. I owe the reference to R. Karsten, The Origin of Worship, Wasa, 1905, p. 2, note. Cp. E. Caird, Gifford Lectures ("Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers "), vol. i. p. 32. "That which underlies all forms of religion, from the highest to the lowest, is the idea of God as an absolute power or principle." To this need only be added the desire to be in right relation to it. Mr. Marett's word "supernaturalism" seems to mean the same thing; "There arises in the region of human thought a powerful impulse to objectify, and even to personify, the mysterious or supernatural something felt; and in the region of will a corresponding impulse to render it innocuous, or, better still, propitious, by force of constraint (i.e. magic), communion, or conciliation." See his Threshold of Religion, p. 1I. Prof. Haddon, commenting on this (Magic and Fetishism, p. 93), adds that "there are thus produced the two fundamental factors of religion, the belief in some mysterious power, and the desire to enter into communication with the power by means of worship." Our succinct definition seems thus to be adequate.

6. The Golden Bough, ed. 2, vol. i. p. 62.

7. Liberal Protestantism, p. 64.

8. For religio as a feeling essentially, see Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer, p. 318 (henceforward to be cited as R.K.). For further development of the meaning of the word in Latin literature, see the author's paper in Proceedings of the Congress for the History of Religions (Oxford, 1908), vol. ii. p. 169 foll. A different view of the original meaning of the word is put forward by

W. Otto in Archiv für Religionswissenschaft, vol. xii., 1909, p. 533 (henceforward to be cited as Archiv simply). See also below, P. 459 foll.

9. See, e.g., Frazer in Anthropological Essays presented to E. B. Tylor, p. 101 foll.

10. Staatsverwaltung, iii. p. 2. This will henceforward be cited as Marquardt simply. It forms part of the great Handbuch der römischen Alterthümer of Mommsen and Marquardt, and is translated into French, but unfortunately not into English. I may add here that I have only recently become acquainted with what was, at the time it was written, a remarkably good account of the Roman religion, full of insight as well as learning, viz. Döllinger's The Gentile and the Jew, Book VII. (vol. ii. of the English translation, 1906).

II. Two fragments of ancient carmina, i.e. formulae which are partly spells and partly hymns, survive-those of the Fratres Arvales and the Salii or dancing priests of Mars. For surviving formulae of prayer see below, p. 185 foll. Our chief authority on the ritual of prayer and sacrifice comes from Iguvium in Umbria, and is in the Umbrian dialect; it will be referred to in Bücheler's Umbrica (1883), where a Latin translation will be found. The Umbrian text revised by Prof. Conway forms an important part of that eminent scholar's work on the Italian dialects.

12. F. Leo, in Die griechische und lateinische Literatur und Sprache, p. 328. Cp. Schanz, Geschichte der röm. Literatur, vol. i. P. 54 foll.

13. Among Roman poets Ovid is the worst offender, Propertius and Tibullus mislead in a less degree; but they all make up for it to some extent by preserving for us features of the worship as it existed in their own day. The confusion that has been caused in Roman religious history by mixing up Greek and Roman evidence is incalculable, and has recently been increased by Pais (Storia di Roma, and Ancient Legends of Roman History), and by Dr. Frazer in his lectures on the early history of Kingship-writers to whom in some ways we owe valuable hints for the elucidation of Roman problems. See also Soltau, Die Anfänge der römischen Geschichtsschreibung, 1909, p. 3.

14. Most welcome to English readers has been Mr. T. E. Peet's recently published volume on The Stone and Bronze Ages in Italy, and still more valuable for our purposes will be its sequel, when it appears, on the Iron Age.

15. Roman Festivals, p. 142 foll.; henceforward to be cited as R.F.

16. See Virgil's Messianic Eclogue, by Mayor, Fowler, and Conway, p. 75 foll.

17. Wissowa, R.K. p. 227.

18. An account of this in English, with photographs, will be

found in Pais's Ancient Legends of Roman History, p. 21 foll., and


19. Mannhardt, Mythologische Forschungen, p. 72 foll.

20. Ibid., p. 156 foll.

21. Lectures on the Early History of Kingship, lectures 7-9.

22. Not long after these last sentences were written, a large work appeared by Dr. Binder, a German professor of law, entitled Die Plebs, which deals freely with the oldest Roman religion, and well illustrates the difficulties under which we have to work while archaeologists, ethnologists, and philologists are still constantly in disagreement as to almost every important question in the history of early Italian culture. Dr. Binder's main thesis is that the earliest Rome was composed of two distinct communities, each with its own religion, i.e. deities, priests, and sacra; the one settled on the Palatine, a pastoral folk of primitive culture, and of pure Latin race; the other settled on the Quirinal, Sabine in origin and language, and of more advanced development in social and religious matters. So far this sounds more or less familiar to us, but when Dr. Binder goes on to identify the Latin folk with the Plebs and the Sabine settlement with the Patricians, and calls in religion to help him with the proof of this, it is necessary to look very carefully into the religious evidence he adduces. So far as I can see, the limitation of the word patrician to the Quirinal settlement is very far from being proved by this evidence (see The Year's Work in Classical Studies, 1909, p. 69). Yet the hypothesis is an extremely interesting one, and were it generally accepted, would compel us to modify in some important points our ideas of Roman religious history, and also of Roman legal history, with which Dr. Binder is mainly concerned.



My subject proper is the religion of an organised State : the religious experience of a comparatively civilised people. But I wish, in the first place, to do what has never yet been done by those who have written on the Roman religion-I wish to take a survey of the relics, surviving in later Roman practice and belief, of earlier stages of rudimentary religious experience. In these days of anthropological and sociological research, it is possible to do this without great difficulty; and if I left it undone, our story of the development of religion at Rome would be mutilated at the beginning. Also we should be at a disadvantage in trying to realise the wonderful work done by the early authorities of the State in eliminating from their rule of worship (ius divinum) almost all that was magical, barbarous, or, as later Romans would have called it, superstitious. This is a point on which I wish to lay especial stress in the next few lectures, and it entails a somewhat tiresome account of the ideas and practices of which, as I believe, they sought to get rid. These, I may as well say at once, are to be found for the most part surviving, as we might expect, outside of the religion of the State; where they survive within its limits, they will be found to have almost entirely lost their original force and meaning.

Every student of religious history knows that a religious system is a complex growth, far more complex than would appear at first sight; that it is sure to

contain relics of previous eras of human experience, embedded in the social strata as lifeless fossils. These only indeed survive because human nature is intensely conservative, especially in religious matters; and of this conservative instinct the Romans afford as striking an example as we can readily find. They clung with extraordinary tenacity, all through their history, to old forms; they seem to have had a kind of superstitious feeling that these dead forms had still a value as such, though all the life was gone out of them. It would be easy to

illustrate this curious feature of the Roman mind from the history of its religion; it never disappeared; and to this day the Catholic church in Italy retains in a thinlydisguised form many of the religious practices of the Roman people.

Stage after stage must have been passed by the Latins long before our story rightly begins; how many revolutions of thought they underwent, how much they learnt and took over from earlier inhabitants of the country in which they finally settled, we cannot even guess. As I said in the last lecture, we have no really ancient history of the Romans, as we have, for example, of the Egyptians or Babylonians; to us it is all darkness, save where a little light has been thrown on the buried strata by archaeology and anthropology. That little light, which may be expected to increase in power, shows survivals here and there of primitive modes of thought; and these I propose to deal with now in the following order. Totemism I shall mention merely to clear it out of the way; but taboo will take us some little time, and so will magic in its various forms.

About totemism all I have to say is this. As I write, Dr. Frazer's great work on this subject has just appeared; it is entirely occupied with totemism among modern savages, true totemic peoples, with the object of getting at the real principles of that curious stratum of human thought, and he leaves to others the discussion of possible survivals of it among Aryans, Semites, and

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