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Clifford Ando

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780748615650

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748615650.001.0001

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Religious Toleration in Republican Rome

Religious Toleration in Republican Rome

(p.199) 9 Religious Toleration in Republican Rome
Roman Religion

John North


It is a familiar fact that the tradition in the religion of Republican Rome did not depend on overt coercion of the citizen to maintain itself and its rituals. In the courts, irreligion on the defendant's part was one of the most familiar themes of abuse; Marcus Tullius Cicero never underestimated the emotional impact of religious prejudice in his day. This does not prove that religious obligations were not felt or imposed through other forms of social pressure, but the apparatus of the state and the state's religious authorities seem not to have been directly concerned. The situation cannot, however, properly be called one of religious toleration. There are indeed circumstances in which the Roman state acts against religious aberrations within its authority. The toleration, if that is what it was, was a function of situation, not theory.

Keywords:   tradition, religion, Rome, rituals, Marcus Tullius Cicero, state, toleration

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