The ancient Rome society was a pastoral society and Rome Animals were of immense utility. In fact, the ancient Romans used different animals for different purposes.
The ancient Rome animals were used to work on the pastures, for animal sacrifices, fortune telling, in marriage ceremonies, in public feasts, as part of the capital punishment, kept as pets, etc.
Ancient Rome Animals
The first animals in ancient Roman history were the Sheep and the Wolf. It is believed that the earliest traditional feasts of Rome, famously known as the Lupercalia, feasts in honor of the God Pan, who himself was half man and half goat.
These religious feasts were held in the month of February and involved boys running out of the cave on Palatine Hill, thrashing leather hides over those who might be near them. It proved to be very auspicious to barren women and those who were touched by those leather hides called ‘Februa’ meant to bring fertility to those barren women.
Roman Animals Mythology
There are numerous mythical stories about the Wolf, one of them stating that the She-Wolf or the ‘Lupa’ took in the human baby twins Romulus and Remus as her own and fed them with milk. The symbol of the Wolf and the suckling babies is considered of great significance for ancient Roman society.
At the domestic level, the value of animals was governed by a utility as food or as beasts of burden. Horses were used for transport and for military purposes. Oxen and donkeys were used mainly for lifting purposes, which may be used for plowing and tilling the land or for running machinery in the construction industry.
Ancient Roman pets
Elephants were used to carry very heavy loads such as Obelisks or more famously Nero’s titanic statue, also known as the Colossus. They were also used in wars. Dogs were kept as pets, as guards, and even as hunting companions.
Some animals were even used for sacrifices to the gods and goddesses. There was a specific sort of sacrifice known as a Suovetaurilia, which was practiced so as to purify an army which was about to enter into war, wherein, a pig (sus), a ram or sheep (Ovis) and a bull (Taurus) were sacrificed to the god Mars.
Following the Etruscan tradition, the ancient Romans made varied and extensive use of animals in fortune-telling, with mainly the birds employed for this purpose.
Classification of Birds
Birds were classified into classes, such as birds which flew in groups, and those which flew alone, those making nasty sounds were considered an omen,
and even the part of the sky in which a bird flew was also observed for making future predictions whether ominous or not.
Ancient Roman animal symbols
The sacrifice of a sheep or lamb, in the symbol of purity, was also part of the more traditional marriage ceremony known as “Confarreatio” used by the Patrician (noble) class.
The ancient Romans also used animals for the purposes of capital punishments. The ancient Romans had an intrinsic love for naturalistic sadism due to which they employed wild beasts for the giving capital punishments to the public. The criminal offender was mauled to death by wild and ferocious animals particularly the lion.
The ancient Roman animals played a very crucial and salient role in the Roman society. They performed a wide measure of functions and were of immense utility to the Romans. They were used as resources, food, communication as well as entertainment.