Un pantheon per le virtù II: l’utilitas come valore civico-religioso delle divinità ideali

Laura R. Bevilacqua


This paper is about a subgroup of homogeneous virtue-centered deities, usually referred to as "abstract divinities" or "personifications". As a follow up to previous research on the same topic, published in this journal (n. 8, 2016), my paper explores the "ideal divinities" which have not hitherto been taken into account for reasons of space: namely, Concordia, Honos, Mens, Pietas, Salus, Victoria, and Virtus. Such divinised virtues, together with Fides and Pudicitia, embody the divine representation of determined collective behaviours, reckoned to be righteous among Roman citizens. Furthermore, they are regarded as useful to Roman citizenship as a whole: i.e., worshipping them leads to being a good citizen. By the same token, I analyze both the religious and civic nuance of the noun utilitas as a category of public Roman thought, using as primary source Cicero, somewhat influenced by Stoic ethics. The notion of utilitas allowed citizens, ideally, to understand what is the best thing to do in a given situation, both in terms of appropriate behaviour and for the benefit of the State.

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