The social importance of cult ceremonies for the Roman military during the principate in the light of Feriale duranum


The aim of the present paper is to thoroughly reconstruct the meaning of the official cult ceremonies for the social life of the Roman Imperial army. Crucial to the analysis is the evidence produced by the Feriale Duranum, a papyrus docu­ment dating to the reign of Severus Alexander, but supported also by other sources. The matter of loyalty to the state and ruler is characteristic of most military ceremonies. Hierarchy and social order are emphasised as well, all four being values important for the military ideology. Participation in the same rites influ­enced the morale and esprit de corps not only in a particular unit, but also within the whole army. Therefore one can view the rites as an expression of a military identity, serving also to distinguish the soldiers as a separate social group. The of­ficial holidays were also of importance for the private life of a soldier, being one of few occasions when exemption from work and free time were granted. This made such ceremonies a welcome break from camp routine. As such, the official military religious rites were vital for the social life of both individual soldiers and military communities, be it units or even the whole army.


Roman army; military religion; sacral calendar; holidays; social groups

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Published : 2015-07-15

Dziurdzik, T. (2015). The social importance of cult ceremonies for the Roman military during the principate in the light of Feriale duranum. Vox Patrum, 63, 273-286.

Tomasz Dziurdzik 
Uniwersytet Warszawski  Poland