Roman Religion: Current Issues

Subject ANCW40002 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2012:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

On campus

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: 10 hours per week: total time commitment 120 hours
Prerequisites: Admission to the postgraduate diploma or fourth-year honours in classics or classical studies and archaeology
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements: For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Assoc Prof Parshia Lee-Stecum


Parshia Lee-Stecum

Subject Overview:

The study of Roman religion raises many issues which are vital to the understanding of Roman culture and ancient ritual practice generally. Significant ideological questions remain open, such as the extent to which Romans of different social levels believed in their gods and what that belief entailed. Problems of evidence, such as the difficulties of recovering and defining 'popular 'religion, render the study of Roman religion more problematic, but also emphasise the operation of social and political divisions within Roman culture. The debate over the extent of religious diffusion within the provinces offers insight into the nature of Roman imperialism, which has undergone re-examination in recent years under the influence of postcolonial theory. On a more specific level, the interpretation of details of Roman religious practice, whether the ritual functions of the Vestal Virgins or the meanings of festivals such as the Lupercalia or Saturnalia, has played a central role in debates about the construction of Roman self-identity. This subject will use a series of case studies to examine these and similar issues and assess the usefulness of recent arguments and methodologies for solving the problems associated with Roman religion. Students who complete this subject should not only possess a knowledge of Roman religious practice and ideology, but be able to identify the difficulties involved in their study and the potential methodologies for overcoming those difficulties.


Students who successfully complete this subject should...

  • possess a broad knowledge of the iconographical and literary evidence for Roman religion.
  • possess a thorough understanding of the methodological problems involved in analysing Roman religion.
  • be able to apply a variety of interpretative approaches to several central issues involving Roman religious practice and the intrepretation of the evidence for it in diverse media (sculpture, coinage, literature, topography, architecture).

A 750 word seminar report 20% (due during semester), a 1750 word case study 35% (due in Week 8) and a 2500-word essay 45% (due during the examination period).

Hurdle Requirement: Students are required to attend a minimum of 75% of classes in order to pass this subject. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 2% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • be skilled in research.

  • possess advanced skills of critical thinking and analysis.

  • possess an ability to communicate knowledge intelligibly, economically and effectively.

  • have an understanding of social, ethical and cultural context.

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Ancient World Studies
Ancient and Medieval Studies
Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Classical Studies and Archaeology
Classical Studies and Archaeology
Classical Studies and Archaeology

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