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[T]he society of pagan Rome had a veritable college of deities. This was Rome’s boast. Each time she vanquished a people, she admitted to her already large inventory of recognized deities, with pomp and ceremony, the god or gods of the newly subjugated people…

This policy of inclusiveness was assumed to be good politics. In the Octavius by Minucius Felix, a near contemporary testimony, we read that ‘the Romans serve all gods. That is why the power and the authority of the Romans has embraced the whole world…Having stormed the ramparts, even in the first frenzy of victory, the respected the divinities of the conquered, seeking everywhere for strange gods and adopting them as Rome’s own, even setting up altars to unknown powers and the shades of the dead. Thus, by adopting the rites of all nations they of Rome became entitled to rule over them.’ For political reasons the deity or deities of a newly conquered nation were admitted into Rome’s college of deities, and from that moment on the religion of the conquered tribe was a legitimate note in the chorus of Rome’s overture to deity. One could at any time and in any place be partial to the deity of his choice-in much the same way that the medieval Christian could be partial to his patron saint. Rome’s college of deities was a federation brought about by annexation, just as the Roman state was a federation achieved by annexation” (Leonard Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid, 1976, p.14)

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