Glossary of Roman Religion Terms

Religion in ancient rome was very detailed, very structured, and very process-oriented. While terminology from the study of religion in general of course applies, it still has some unique terms.

Auguresdiviners. One of four priest colleges in the regal period
Augurium salutisofficial state augural inquiry about praying for the safety of the people
Augustalesa religious and social order in western Roman cities
Baccanaliaa bacchic festival officially supressed by the senate during the republic
Bona Deathe “good goddess”. The subject if a state ritual, performed by women, for the welfare of the roman state
Carmenspells or words chanted during religious rituals
Carmen arvalehymn sung during sacrifice to Dea Dia
Collegiumpriestly board of officials
Dedicatioprocess of transfering something from human to divine ownership
Di Penatesroman household spirits worshipped in Vesta’s temple. Modern writies often connect them to the Lares
Fetialesstate priests, concerned with legal procedures of declaring war and making treaties
Flaminesroman priests in the college of pontifices, 3 major, 12 minor, each assigned to a deity
Lareshousehold deities, either the collective dead or ghosts in general
Lectisterniumritual banquent for the gods, overseen by a priest, to repel enemies or disaster
Libantinaroman burial goddess
Liber Pateritalian fertility god, later identified with Dionysus
Libertaspersonified deity at Rome, name meaning ‘freedom’.
Ludireligious festivals that included formalized games and competitions
Lustrationperformance of a purification ceremony
Munusgift or service, given freely or out of duty, to friends, lovers, gods, etc.
Numenwill of a divinity
Pietasroman concept of proper respect to gods
Pomeriumreligious boundary of a city
Pontifexroman priesthood college
Quindecimviri sacris faciundisone of four major roman priestly colleges
Sanucsgod of trusts and oats
Vestalsmembers of the state cult to Vesta, goddess of the hearth, whos members were always female and required to be celibate
Votuma vow
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