Disciplina

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The embodiment of discipline and a minor divinity was called Disciplina in ancient Roman religion.

The Latin noun “disciplina” has several meanings, including education and training, willpower and self-control, subject-matter expertise, and a disciplined way of life. Romans think that what is taught is feasible and that the greatest way to learn is through an honored example, therefore being disciplined in one’s obligations is to demonstrate what is being taught. For her followers, the goddess was an embodiment of these traits. She was a popular deity among imperial Roman troops, especially those who resided close to the empire’s boundaries; shrines to her have been discovered in Britain and North Africa.

An existing dedicatory inscription on a stone altar discovered in 1978 attests to the goddess Disciplina’s veneration in the Hadrian’s Wall fort at Cilurnum. Her main virtues were economy, sternness, and fidelity, or frugalitas, severitas, and fidelis. A soldier who worshiped Disciplina became thrifty in all spheres: with resources, time, and deeds. His concentrated, deliberate, not easily swayed, and definite action demonstrated the virtue of severitas. He showed loyalty to his army, his squad, his leaders, and the Roman populace. Brutality, according to Seneca, is the antithesis of severitas, which is a controlled virtue without which tight discipline might degenerate into cruelty, crudeness, and oppression.

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