A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com - Pax Deorum (“peace of the gods”) signified the central goal of Roman state religion.
The Pax Deorum provided divine protection to the Roman Empire, which needed this kind of security as much as it needed material protection from the army’s side. Thus politics and religion cooperated with each other.
Also all the citizens of Rome had to participate in the process. In order to obtain a mutually beneficial and satisfactory state of peace between Rome and its deities, people had to provide the gods with worship and cult.
The gods, on the other hand, safeguarded Rome's public welfare.
Tellus Relief, Ara Pacis. Photo by kind permission of Dr. Janice Siegel
In religious practice, the harmony or agreement between the divine and human was the Pax Deorum and it was only given in return for correct religious practice. Religious practice was important because it secured the Pax Deorum and prevented divine retribution, which could strike the city of Rome anytime.
The Pax Deorum was a delicate affair. It could be easily broken by several errors in the performance of ritual, for instance, or religious faults and negligence, which resulted in the so-called “divine disharmony” (ira deorum), and the anger of the gods.
“The rupture in the Pax Deorum may be seen as rupturing the fundamental order of the Roman state, casting the society back into a transitional or liminal state, “a tome and place of withdrawal from normal modes of social action…” (Orlin E. Foreign Cults in Rome: Creating a Roman Empire).
Ara Pacis scenes.
The Roman system of public divination was crucial for the society and “functioned to reassure the Romans that each action they undertook had the blessing of the gods, in this way, divination was an essential part of the Romans’ belief that they were the most religious of all people and therefore had a special connection to the divine…”, Orlin continues in his book.
The Pax Deorum was understood as the “Goodwill of the Gods” and was expressed in a perfect and totally harmonious relationship between Man (Rome and its people) and Divinity (all the gods worshiped by them).
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Such good relation between the Romans (chosen people of the gods), and the heavens, was expressed in several ways such as festival arrangements, sacrifices, signs, wonders and diverse statues, which were reminders of the Pax Deorum.
The Romans truly believed that the Pax Deorum would make it possible for them to come closer to gods and master the unknown, divine forces around them and in consequence, they would be able to live successfully.
It’s worth noting that the Pax Deorum was a concept, of which variations were practiced throughout history in other ages and cultures.
Written by – A. Sutherland AncientPages.com Staff Writer
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Expand for references
Alston R. Aspects of Roman History, AD 14-117, Del 14–117
Orlin E., Foreign Cults in Rome: Creating a Roman Empire