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Part VI – ‘Blending the sacred and the political’

Watch Dr Matthew Nicholls meet with Prof Christopher Smith to discuss how religion permeated every aspect of public and private life in ancient Rome.

Welcome back. Last week, we looked at political architecture in Rome and explored how the designs for these magnificent structures went hand-in-hand with religion.

If we were to step back into ancient Rome, we would have experienced religion in every aspect of public and private life. The city was full of places of worship, from the smallest shrines in individual homes to vast temples such as the Capitoline which towered over the city. In this video, I introduce you to some of these ‘grand gestures to the gods’ and explore what they tell us about the ways in which religion permeated ancient Rome.

I’ll revisit the British School at Rome to ask Professor Christopher Smith about how the Romans worshipped their gods. He’ll describe the sights, sounds and smells of the religious festivals and processions that would have taken place in the ancient city.

As you watch the video, you may like to think about the following, sharing your thoughts in the comments area:

  • Why do you think that even everyday structures such as walls and roads were considered sacred?

  • How was architecture used to serve the deities, and why were certain temples dedicated to a particular god?

You can view the Republican temples at Largo Argentina in our 360° panorama picture.

You can also view the Temple of ‘Hercules Victor’ in Rome in our 360° panorama picture.

Please note: these links take you to the external site ‘Panellum’.

Course facilitation

A reminder that you’ll see comments from myself and Bunny and we’ll aim to answer your queries in the course discussion between 12 Oct to 13 Nov, but we can’t respond to everyone. To view our comments, you can can follow our profiles.


Don’t forget you can view or download the course supplement and A-Z glossary as you go through the week.

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Rome: A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City

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