ABSTRACT

It has been well documented how the legionary standards provide social and logistical cohesion in the legions, through their communal symbolism and logistical necessity. However, the standards have a complex religious nature that has not been fully explored. This paper will argue that this religious nature provided another aspect of cohesion in order to bring together the differing belief systems inherent within a pagan theological system. In order to accomplish this, the exact religious nature of the standards will be defined. This will begin with an examination of the rituals surrounding the standards, i.e., how the standards were used in ritual sacrifices, which festivals they were used in, and which gods they were connected to. From this examination it will be clear that their religious nature is unique in Roman culture, with an ability to make any space divine and also represent many different gods. To better define their religious nature an examination of the religious terminology connected to them will be required. Through the use of aedes and a reference in Dionysius, they seem to represent cultic statues. But through the use of altariain Tacitus they seem to also be considered a ‘high altar’. Lastly, through Tacitus’ use of numenin connection to the legions it seems that they are unique in representing a group of deities as both cultic object and high altar. The group of deities they represent are those known as the Di Militares. It is through this connection that they create religious cohesion within the legions. By representing the Di Militares they represent any deity an individual chooses to connect to the legions, and thus the rituals and belief surrounding the standards incorporates the myriad different belief system inherent within a pagan theology. Thus, legionaries with differing religious beliefs are united through the standards.