The oriental religions in Roman paganism - Franz Cumont- PDF ebook

The oriental religions in Roman paganism

The oriental religions in Roman paganism


The Oriental Religions is to his knowledge of the whole field. He is thus an example of the highest type of scholar— the exhaustive searcher after evidence, and the sympathetic interpreter who mediates between his subject and the lay intellectual life of his time. And yet, admirable as is M. Cumont's presentation in The Mysteries of Mithra and The Oriental Religions, nothing is a greater mistake than to suppose that his popularizations are facile reading. 

The few specialists in ancient religions may indeed sail smoothly in the current of his thought; but the very nature of a subject which ramifies so extensively and so intricately into the whole of ancient life, concerning itself with practically all the manifestations of ancient civilization philosophy, religion, astrology, magic, mythology, literature, art, war, commerce, government — will of necessity afford some obstacle to readers unfamiliar with the study of religion. It is in the hope of lessening somewhat this natural difficulty of assimilating M. Cumont's contribution to knowledge, and above all, to life, that these brief words of introduction are undertaken. 

The presentation in the outline of the main lines of thought which underlie his conception of the importance of the Oriental religions in universal history may afford the uninitiated reader a background against which the author's depiction of the various cults of the Oriental group will be more easily and clearly seen. M. Cumont's work, then, transports us in imagination to a time when Christianity was still — at least in the eyes of Roman pagans — only one of a numerous array of foreign Eastern religions struggling for recognition in the Roman world, and especially in the city of Rome. 

To understand the conditions under which the new faith finally triumphed, we should first realize the number of these religions, and the apparently chaotic condition of paganism when viewed as a system. "Let us suppose," says M. Cumont, "that in modern Europe the faithful had deserted the Christian churches to worship Allah or Brahma, to follow the precepts of Confucius or Buddha, or to adopt the maxims of the Shinto; let us imagine a great confusion of all the races of the world in which Arabian mullahs, Chinese scholars, Japanese bonzes, Tibetan lamas and Hindu pundits should all be preaching fatalism and predestination, ancestor-worship and devotion to a deified sovereign, pessimism and deliverance through annihilation— a confusion in which all those priests should erect temples of exotic architecture in our cities am celebrated their disparate rites therein. 

Such a dream: which the future may perhaps realize, would offer a pretty accurate picture of the religious chaos in which the ancient world was struggling before the reign o Constantine." But it is no less necessary to realize, in the secon^ place, that, had there not been essential solidarity of all these different faiths, the triumph of Christian city would have been achieved with much less difficulty and in much less time. We are not to suppose that religions are long-lived and tenacious unless they possess something vital which enables them to resist. In this chapter on "The Transformation of Roman Pagar ism," 

Mr Cumont thus accounts for the vitality of the old faiths: "The mass of religions at Rome finally became so impregnated by neo-Platonism and Orientalism that paganism may be called a single religion with a fairly distinct theology, whose doctrines wei somewhat as follows: adoration of the elements, especially the cosmic bodies; the reign of one God, eternal and omnipotent, with messenger attendants; spirits; interpretation of the gross rites yet surviving from primitive times; assurance of eternal felicity to l faithful; belief that the soul was on earth to be proved before its final return to the universal spirit, of which it was a spark; the existence of an abysmal abode f( the evil, against whom the faithful must keep up an unceasing struggle; the destruction of the universe,

Some contents:

Introduction. — The Significance of Franz Cumont's Work,
By Grant Showerman v
Preface xv
Preface to the Second Edition xxv
I. Rome and the Orient i
The superiority of the Orient, i. — Its Influence on Political Institutions, 3. — Its Influence on Civil Law, 5. — Its Influence on Science, 6. — Its Influence on Literature and Art, 7. — Its Influence on Industry, 9. — Sources: Destruction of Pagan Rituals, 11. — Mythographers, 12. — Historians, 13. — Satirists, 13. — Philosophers, 14. — Christian Polemicists, 1 5. — Archeological Documents, 1 6.
11. Why the Oriental Religions Spread 20
The difference in the Religions of the Orient and the Occident, 20. — Spread of Oriental Religions, 22. — Economic Influences, 23. — Theory of Degeneration, 25. — Conversions are / of Individuals, 27. — Appeal of the Oriental Religions to
the Senses, 28. — Appeal to the Intelligence, 31. — Appeal to the Conscience, 35. — Inadequacy of the Roman Religion, 35. — Skepticism, 27- — Imperial Power, 38. — The Purification of Souls, 39. — Hope of Immortality, 42. — Conclusion, 43.
III. Asia Minor 46
The arrival of Cybele at Rome, 46. — Her Religion in Asia Minor, 47. — Religion at Rome under the Republic, s i . — Adoption of the Goddess Ma-6ellona, 53.— Politics of Claudius, 55- — Spring Festival, 56. — Spread of the Phrygian Religion in the Provinces, 57. — Causes of Its Success, 58. — Its Official Recognition, 60. — ^Arrival of Other Cults: Men, 61. — Judaism, 6z- — Sabazius, 64. — Anahita, 65, — The Taurobolium, 66. — Philosophy, 70. — Christianity, 70. — Conclusion, 7 1 .
IV. Egypt y^
Foundation of Serapis Worship, 73. — The Egyptian Religion

book details :
  • Author: Franz Cumont
  • Publication date: 1911
  • Translator:  Grant Showerman
  • Company:Chicago: The Open Court Pub. Co.

  • Download The oriental religions in Roman paganism 6.7 MB

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