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Children, Memory, and Family Identity in Roman Culture$
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Véronique Dasen and Thomas Späth

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199582570

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199582570.001.0001

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Children and the Transmission of Religious Knowledge

Children and the Transmission of Religious Knowledge

(p.73) 3 Children and the Transmission of Religious Knowledge
Children, Memory, and Family Identity in Roman Culture

Francesca Prescendi

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores two ways, mechanical and deliberate, of transmitting and memorizing religion. The first one is a technical knowledge: children learn the rites by imitating their parents. They also accomplish religious tasks during the domestic and public rites. In public rites, only boys and girls called patrimi matrimique, whose parents are still alive, are allowed to participate as cultual servants. The second method is a more conscious learning process. The children are taught deliberately when they enter a religious priesthood; they learn from older and experienced priests how to perform the rites. Furthermore, the preceptors teach the history and/or the constitution of religious colleges to young students of prominent families, who will one day be part of them. The analysis shows that Roman citizens thus not only learned the sequence of ritual acts during their childhood, but they also acquired a sense of their religion through them, without needing further theoretical explanations.

Keywords:   cult, memorization, orality, patrimi matrimique, priesthood, religion, rite, school, tradition

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