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6.7.1 Seneca the Younger, letter 41.3 (circa 65 CE)

This letter has been translated from the original Latin. In this letter to his friend and correspondent Lucilius Junior, Roman stoic philosopher and author Seneca the Younger (ca. 4 BCE-65 CE), reflects on the Roman “sense of the divine” inspired by nature. These ancient Roman deities were very different from the anthropomorphic Greek Olympic gods, whose features were later incorporated into the gods of Roman pantheon. The spirits or deities found in the environment were usually local and therefore limited in power. This attribution of spirits to natural phenomena such as stones, rivers, and trees is called “animism.”

Warrior, Valerie M., Translator.
2006
Book
"Seneca the Younger. ""Letters 41.3 (ca. 65 CE)."" In Roman Religion, translated by Valerie M. Warrior, 5. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Latin original: Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Ad Lucilium epistulae morales, Loeb Classical Library. 3 vols. London: W. Heinemann, 1917-1953."
This source gives you information about the earlier Roman religion, before it was influenced by other cultures. You probably heard about the Roman gods who are so similar to the Greek ones. Jupiter is like Zeus, Mars – Ares, Juno – Hera, Venus – Aphrodite, and so on. But even before the Romans described their gods as having the characteristics of Greek gods, the Romans had countless gods and spirits of their own. A lot of them were the gods of nature who helped people to farm their land, such as Flora, the goddess of flowers. The words “we build an altar” refers to an important ritual, an offering to the deity of an animal or crops on an altar. People would sacrifice the animal and burn part or all of the body.
In this letter to his friend and correspondent Lucilius Junior, Roman stoic philosopher and author Seneca the Younger (ca. 4 BCE – 65 CE) reflects on the Roman “sense of the divine” inspired by nature. These ancient Roman deities were very different from the anthropomorphic Greek Olympic gods, whose features were later incorporated into the gods of the Roman pantheon. The spirits or deities found in the environment were usually local and therefore limited in power. This attribution of spirits to natural phenomena such as stones, rivers, and trees is called animism. Point out to students the phrase “we build an altar” and alert them to the Roman religious ritual of sacrificing an animal or offering crops on an altar in (similar to such rituals in the Mesopotamian, Greek, and Hebrew religions).
"If you have ever come upon a grove that is thick with ancient trees rising far above the usual height and blocking the view of the sky with their cover of intertwining branches, the loftiness of the forest, the seclusion of the spot, and your wonder at the unbroken shade in the midst of open space will create in you a sense of the divine. . . We venerate the sources of mighty rivers, we build an altar where a great stream suddenly burst forth from a hidden source, we worship hot springs, and we deem lakes sacred because of their darkness or immeasurable depth" (5).