"Lacking (apparently) a native mythology or images of its gods, Roman religion has always seemed barren to scholars. Without anything much to interpret, interpretation has regularly fallen into minutely descriptive lists of gods and rituals. Among recent efforts, Beard, North, and Price's Religions of Rome (CH, Feb'99) offers both sources and interpretations, but is essentially a reference book. Robert Turcan's The Gods of Ancient Rome (2000) offers an innovative and historically grounded interpretation (without the lists), while Valerie Warrior's Roman Religion (2002) sticks to sources without the history. Scheid (ancient history, École (Ecole) Pratiques des Hautes Études (Etudes), Paris), one of the most distinguished scholars of Roman religion, now offers a brilliant, historically grounded interpretation that will interest scholars as well as the students (French, originally) for whom it was written. The theme of each chapter—methodology, structure, rituals, actors, interpretations of Roman religion—is carefully developed. A chronology and bibliography support the whole. Lists of facts, questions (with concise, informative answers), and original sources are inset at appropriate places in the main text. Scheid is insightful, concise, and original. This is an indispensable text for the study of Roman religion and all fields that intersect with it. Summing Up: Essential. All libraries." —C. M. C. Green, University of Iowa, Choice, April 2004
About the Author
John Scheid is Director of Studies in Ancient History at the École pratiques des hautes études in Paris.