How important was fate in the everyday lives of the Romans?

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dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The concept of 'Fate', the idea that ones' life experiences are beyond their control, was held with great respect to the ancient Romans. At the founding of Rome the 'numina', a formless divine manifestation found in all nature was anthropomophized from the influence of the ancient Greek and Etruscan peoples. Known as the 'Di Consentes' the ancient Roman pantheon consisted of 12 Gods, each possessing the power to influence the life of a Roman. Romans naturally paid homage and sacrifice to these deities in return for their favor regarding a Romans life experience. For example, if a Roman soldier was boarding a ship he would give an offering to Neptune (Posiden in Greek mythology) God of the sea for a safe journey. Every aspect of a ancient Romans' life was governed by fate, fertility, childbirth, sickness, weddings, economic ventures, etc. Whatever experience they had the ancient Romans' believed that fate was responsible for it.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If the question is related to the role of divinity or the powers that be, it is obvious that the Romans believed quite powerfully in fate.  The adopted the pantheistic and mutlifaceted approach to worship that the Greeks featured, and Romans traditionally prayed to a specific God depending on what they were going to undertake.  Soldiers would pray to Mars, God of War, for example.  In addition to this many homes had their own patron deities to protect the house.  This indicates a great deal of belief in fate, or divinely ordained, having powerful control over one's existence.  While free will has a part in human activity, evidenced from the many wars waged and militaristic belief in Roman society, the Romans did not hesitate to pay homage or understand the role of fate or a higher power in the determination of the outcome of one's free will.