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By Jean-François Guédon, Hélène Sorez

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Roman religion The Romans always sought pax deorum, peace under the will of their pantheon of gods, and believed that communication with the gods was 15 ASPECTS OF ROMAN HISTORY, 82 BC– AD 14 achieved through prayer, sacrifice and divination. It could be achieved only if the state and the household both prioritised religious ritual. State religion was headed by the pontifex maximus, the chief priest, and priestly colleges looked after other specific areas of religious life. By the late Republic fifteen pontiffs acted as advisers and regulated the state calendar, and fifteen augurs interpreted the will of the gods by observation of the flight of birds.

It is clearly linked to the inscriptions that Roman nobles and other prominent men had 9 ASPECTS OF ROMAN HISTORY, 82 BC– AD 14 carved on or near their tombs, listing the offices that they had held and their main achievements. There were also inscriptions in praise of famous men on other monuments, such as columns and, interestingly, in statues on Augustus’ own Forum, built in the year 2; these were longer than the funerary inscriptions, but nothing like as long as the Res Gestae or so full of detailed statistics.

Threats from without: Jugurtha, Cimbri and Teutones, Mithridates The acquisition of an empire and the need to defend it increased Rome’s commitments in the Mediterranean. In 118 the friendly ruler of the North African kingdom of Numidia died and a struggle for power broke out between his two sons and his nephew, Jugurtha. As Rome had developed business interests in the country the Senate reluctantly became involved and a Roman commission suggested that the country should be divided. Jugurtha rejected the scheme and murdered a large number of Italian traders in the capital, Cirta.

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