Roman Gods & Religion Was Not as it Might Seem

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QUESTION: You mentioned that Rome actually believed in the freedom of religion. I am correct then that the multitude of gods was the result of that? And you are saying they were not pagans in the sense that the Christians portrayed?


ANSWER: Yes. They allowed all their conquered states to worship whoever they believed. Yet the fascinating thing is that these were more like Christians envisioned saints insofar as each was in charge of something. The Romans believed in an afterlife, but they did not believe that all these “gods” were actually those who created them. For example, you would go to Posiden if you were Greek to plead for a safe voyage and if you were Roman you would go to Neptune. Neptune is the Roman sea and freshwater god, while Poseidon is the Greek god of the sea. So there were subtle differences where Neptune was in charge of even lakes while the Greek Poseidon looked over the sea exclusively.

Here is a rare coin of Philip I (244-249AD) struck in Phrygia. The Reverse shows the story of Noah with his wife emerging from the famous Ark. This coin was sold at auction by Leu Numismatik AG in Winterthur, Switzerland for 240,000 Swiss francs. Even the story of Jesus was not so strange for Zeus was said to have sent his son to earth to help mankind. His name was Hercules.

The Christians called everyone else pagans. But these various “gods” were never seen as the person who created the earth and humans.  Athena was merely the “goddess” who was the protector of Athens. She did not create the world or humans. So the definition of what was a “pagan” is not exactly as the early Christians presented. This is also why so many then converted to Christianity for those to whom they prayed were never seen as the “almighty” who created everything.