What were some of the particularities of your character's religious worship

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Question description

Roman Relligion

In this essay you will be demonstrating your ability to write a well-developed, logically organized analytical essay that relies on critical thinking skills. You will convey that you understand the difference between primary and secondary sources as you analyze and interpret them. (COLAs 7 & 8)

Step I

In this exercise you will write an essay using your textbooks, eCore online material, and primary sources, that compares Roman religious experience in the many generations before emperor Constantine adopted Christianity with the transformation religious life he initiated as ruler. The point of the exercise is not to argue what religion is better, but to use ancient sources to inform you about Romans' religious life and how things changed as the older religious ideas gave way to new ones. To do so you will assume the role a character listed below.


  • A Vestal Virgin
  • A devotee of the cult of Castor and Pollux
  • A soldier who follows Mithraism
  • A Roman devotee of the cult of Isis
  • A wife of a Roman aristocrat in Pompeii circa 70 CE (about a decade before the great destruction of the city).
  • A devotee of the cult of the sun
  • A Roman senator from Gaul
  • A Roman "new man" aristocrat in the city of Rome
  • A Jewish zealot in first century CE Judea
  • A Jewish member of the Sanhedrin in first century Judea
  • A "Pauline" Christian (one who followed the gentile, not Jewish/family of Jesus and James version of The Path)
  • Constantine
  • A Christian bishop in Greece after the Council of Nicaea.

Step 2:
From the perspective of your role/character, describe what your religious life was probably like before Constantine's conversion and the Edict of Milan. As you read, consider several of the following questions from the perspective of your role/character:

  • Describe the nature of your character's religious beliefs and practices--not that not all are associated with a particular religion; if that is the case for you character do not choose Christianity for them. Romans had a plethora of religions from which to choose--all had to honor the religion of the State.
  • What were some of the particularities of your character's religious worship?
  • How might your character have reacted to the empire's toleration (or not) of their particular religion?
  • What would the conversion of the emperor Constantine have meant to persons like your character had he or she lived in the 4th century CE?
  • What customs would your character believe to be threatened, if any?
  • What role did the emperor play in Roman religious rituals and how did all this affect your religious experiences?

Step 3:

To assist you in better understanding Roman religion you may want to consult the following sites that offer a window into the past. Source: The Internet History Sourcebook, Rome, Religion:

Step 4:

Compose your essay using the following guidelines:

Guidelines for Writing your Essay

    1. Essays should each be three full typewritten pages in length, approximately 1000 words in 12-point type. Please use a simple, clean font such as Times New Roman or Palatino. Use 1" inch margins on all sides.
    2. Essays are to be written following the rules of correct grammar and spelling, both of which will be taken into consideration in the evaluation of the essay. Be sure to proofread your essays as grammar and spell checks typically do not catch words used in incorrect contexts.
    3. Essays must be original and analytical and must be careful to include well-thought-out responses to the questions posed in the assignment. Make sure to address ALL parts of the question.
  •  Introduction which does ALL of the following: states the purpose of the essay; frames the era by providing pertinent dates for the subject; provides a solid historical background moving from general statements about the subject to increasingly more specific ones; introduces the author of the document by providing some specific information important for better understanding why the author wrote what he or she did.
  • thesis which specifically explains how the primary document reflects the issues and developments of the historical period when it was produced.
  • methodology that states what topics are covered in the primary document and how you went about analyzing it; this means you will need to explain what your secondary sources were (don't just say "the textbooks" that's too vague) and how those sources were helpful
  • body of evidence, this is main part of your essay and it is where you defend your thesis by referring to several major aspects of the primary document explaining how they reflect the concerns and issues of author in the context of the period when it was written. You rely on direct analysis of the primary document and on secondary source material to back up your assertions.
  • conclusive summary that briefly reiterates your main points, but more important, suggests how the primary source points to later historical developments. How might it be a bridge to a later time in Greek history--do not just jump to the present and make a superficial remark about how everyone was better.
You must cite your sources in text and provide a complete bibliography at the end.  A minimum of three sources -in addition to your textbook- are required. REMEMBER:  Any information or idea that is not your own MUST BE CITED. 
    • You must give specific examples from the secondary and/or primary sources used in the development of the paper and must cite these sources following the MLA style, the University of Chicago Press's Chicago Manual of Style or Kate L. Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. You are required to utilize a minimum of three sources -in addition to your textbook- for this assignment.  Refer to the online resources Guide to the MLA Style or Turabian and Chicago Styles Citations. Your instructor will specify the preferred style. You should use footnotes or endnotes and provide a full bibliography at the end of your paper.
    • If you use direct quotations, you must not only cite your source, but must also use quotation marks. Example: Columbus explains that the weapons of the natives he encountered in the islands of the Caribbean were unsophisticated, and that their javelin, a much-used weapon, was "no more than sticks" joined together.

Please include the text and bibliography in one paper--not separate documents. 

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(Top Tutor) Daniel C.
School: Boston College
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