A Street Altar by Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema, 1883.

Behind the woman a inscription reads-

Otiosis locus hic non est.

Discede Morator

translated is-

There is no place here for the idle:

procrastinator, depart !

Many street shrines of this sort have been discovered in Pompeii, so they were probably prevalent in other ancient cities as well. And I think this is exciting, because it means people were honoring and thanking the gods with offerings of flowers, candles, and small gifts without first going through the major production of washing up, personal grooming, and putting on nice clothes. Someone made a great sale, they could’ve bought a bouquet and given thanks to Hermes here. Maybe another person had been threatened by an angry landlord, and might have stopped by to ask Nemesis for help. A lover passing by on the way to see his girlfriend may have paused to honor Venus. This is worship free of worrying about miasma. I think it casts personal religious practices in a new and less formal perspective, one that deserves a closer look from modern polytheists.


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