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Indo-European Sacred Space: Vedic and Roman Cult (Traditions) Hardcover – August 30, 2006

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Product Details

  • Series: Traditions
  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (August 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252029887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252029882
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #535,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Woodard fashions a point-by-point comparison between classical Latin and Greek accounts of certain archaic Roman ceremonies that demarcate, celebrate, and hallow civic space . . . and some of the many painstakingly detailed prescriptions for sacrifice in which the brahmanic literature of ancient India abounds."
--Indo-European Studies Bulletin

"A stimulating, thought-provoking, and structured account of what can appear to be random and inexplicable details in the synchronic system, a way of thinking 'outside the box' of a single culture."--Journal of the American Oriental Society


"A great and beautiful book."--History of Religions

Book Description

Explaining the survival of Proto-Indo-European cultic spaces in Vedic India and ancient Rome


In Indo-European Sacred Space, Roger D. Woodard provides a careful examination of the sacred spaces of ancient Rome, finding them remarkably consistent with older Indo-European religious practices as described in the Vedas of ancient India. Employing and expanding on the fundamental methods of Émile Benveniste, as well as Georges Dumézil’s tripartite analysis of Proto-Indo-European society, Woodard clarifies not only the spatial dynamics of the archaic Roman cult but, stemming from that, an unexpected clarification of several obscure issues in the study of Roman religion.


Looking closely at the organization of Roman religious activity, especially as regards sacrifices, festivals, and the hierarchy of priests, Woodard sheds new light on issues including the presence of the god Terminus in Jupiter's Capitoline temple, the nature of the Roman suovetaurilia, the Ambarvalia and its relationship to the rites of the Fratres Arvales, and the identification of the "Sabine" god Semo Sancus.  Perhaps most significantly, this work also presents a novel and persuasive resolution to the long-standing problem of “agrarian Mars.”

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The value goes beyond Roman, and is applicable to Germanic and Celtic scholars as well. I thoroughly enjoyed his defense of Dumezil. Further, I enjoyed his clarification on the comparative method; something that devotees of Joseph Campbell should take note of.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. Lutgens on April 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I was intrigued by its basic topic: sacred space in ancient Roman religion and Vedic practice. Sadly, this book is so scholarly that it's virtually unreadable. I'm slogging through because there are so many interesting tidbits on Roman religion, but it's like pulling teeth. Woodard constantly writes an interesting paragraph and then rather than go on, he refers the reader to another chapter and another paragraph.
There is interesting material in this book about the Ambarvalia and the Arval Brothers and also gods such as Terminus, but it takes self-discipline to get to it. Oh, and so far not much mention of goddesses except occasionally when men feature in their religious rites.
To sum up, this book is disappointing, but I still intend to wade through to the end.
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