Creative Commons License

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History


This paper is a case study dealing with cultural interaction and religion. It focuses on Roman religion, both before and during the Republic, and Celtic religion, both before and after Roman conquest. For the purpose of comparing these cultures two phases of religion are defined that exemplify the pagan religions of this period. These are natural religion and civic religion. They have different foci and are represented by different sorts of deities, rituals, and priests. Roman religion shifted from natural religion in the period of the monarchy to civic religion in the middle and late republic largely due to outside influences. Hellenistic and Etruscan beliefs entered Roman religion early in the Republic. These changed the focus of religion from agricultural production to reinforcing social order and propagation of the state. Celtic religion in Gaul changed from natural religion at the period of conquest by Caesar to civic religion during Roman occupation of Gaul. Through methods of voluntary and enforced conversion the Celts largely adopted Roman models of religious practice, which themselves had been influenced by wider Imperial trends. The druids disappeared to be replaced by provincial civic elite, and sacred groves were built over with Roman temple complexes. This paper looks mostly at primary sources to attempt to determine the early origins of religion in these two periods. Roman sources are plentiful even if they are sometimes not to be taken at face value. Celtic sources are more rare and largely are written by those with an agenda in dealing with the Celts. In spite of this the sources exist to construct a complex argument about early religion in these periods.

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