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Priests of Ancient Rome Posted by on Mar 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

The ancient Romans were a religious people. They believed that the gods existed and that the gods had the power to bring upon blessings or misfortunes. The belief in the divine placed the priest class of ancient Rome in a powerful position. In ancient Rome, being a priest could boost an individual’s wealth and status. There were a variety of priests that served different roles in ancient Roman society.

One such class of prestigious priests was the Augurs. The Augurs were responsible for interpreting the will of the divine by reading the flight pattern of birds. The Augurs looked for such signs as whether the bird or birds traveled alone, and what direction they flew, what noise they made, and on and on. The people of Rome depended on the Augurs to predict and ill omen or an auspicious event. The decisions of the Augurs were very important. If the Augurs indicated that the gods gave their blessing, the ancient Romans were even prepared to go to war on the word of the Augurs.

The Flamen was a group of priests divided into flamines maiores (major priests) and flamines minores (minor priests). The flamines majores consisted of priests that descended from patrician families, while the flamines minores were priests that descended from plebian families. The Flamen class was a traditional class of priests that dated all the way back to the time Rome was ruled by kings. They were often identified by their apex or skull caps. These caps were made of leather and fastened with a chin strap. The flamen was responsible for supervising the various cults that pertained to a specific deity.

The Epulones were responsible for overseeing major festivals, feasts and games. The games and feasts were often held to honor certain gods, so the Epulones were responsible for making libations to avoid the ira deorum(divine wrath). As the Empire grew, the feasts and games became more elaborate and complex, thus making the class of Epulones ever more important. The ancient Romans believed that if the Epulones performed their tasks well, the gods would bring fortuna (fortune) upon the people of Rome.

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