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This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most impor This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work. This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work. As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.


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This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most impor This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work. This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work. As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.

30 review for Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism

  1. 4 out of 5

    Yann

    Ce livre d'histoire et civilisation est la reprise de conférences faites au Collège de France par Franz Cumont, un érudit Belge du début du XXème siècle. Il traite de la période particulière de l'histoire romaine qui va de la fin de la république à l'empire, avant l’essor du christianisme ; à partir du moment où, après la deuxième guerre punique, Rome a commencé à se tourner vers l'Orient. Une des conséquence a été non pas comme on pourrait croire l'adoption par l'Orient des mœurs et croyances r Ce livre d'histoire et civilisation est la reprise de conférences faites au Collège de France par Franz Cumont, un érudit Belge du début du XXème siècle. Il traite de la période particulière de l'histoire romaine qui va de la fin de la république à l'empire, avant l’essor du christianisme ; à partir du moment où, après la deuxième guerre punique, Rome a commencé à se tourner vers l'Orient. Une des conséquence a été non pas comme on pourrait croire l'adoption par l'Orient des mœurs et croyances romaine, mais au contraire une profonde influence Orientale sur Rome. C'est que l'Orient est le berceau de la civilisation: l'empereur Julien écrivait déjà qu'il doutait que l'Occident parvienne un jour à se civiliser. Déjà dans le domaine politique: si la république avait gardé l'organisation d'une cité, et assurait une large autonomie dans les territoires dominés, trois siècle plus tard, on trouve un état centralisé, un souverain absolu divinisé, une hiérarchie de fonctionnaires, des villes sans libertés, une bureaucratie toute puissante, des armées de mercenaires plutôt que de citoyens, d'immenses domaines accaparés par quelques uns. C'est le modèle des royaumes diadoques, comme celui par exemple, des Ptolémées d'Egypte, eux-mêmes héritiers de l'empire achéménide et de ceux qui l'ont précédé depuis temps les plus anciens. Une autre des conséquences a été l'arrivée à Rome de nombre de cultes asiatiques et nord-africains très vivaces, lesquels ont par degré gagné des adeptes en Italie, en Gaule, et dans les autres pays du couchant. La magie et l'astrologie se développent. Les facteurs sont multiples: on trouve en premier lieu l'esclavage qui faisait que les personnes transportées en Italie pour être vendues gardaient leurs croyances, et influençaient leurs maîtres, étant souvent dans la même maison, éduquant les enfants. Également, c'est le commerce, et la simple circulation des hommes qui a implanté des lieux de cultes qui ont fini par s'implanter. Ils bénéficiaient du préjugé favorable que les choses les plus anciennes étaient les plus vénérables, et les plus dignes de foi et d'intérêt. En Occident, à Rome comme en Grèce, l’antique foi païenne dans les Dieux Olympiens était par contre en perte de vitesse depuis des siècles: les philosophes n'ayant cessé d'en faire la critique. En Gaule et en Bretagne, la religion Celte des druides n’a pas survécu à la romanisation. Tous ces cultes pré-chrétiens ont laissé une empreinte profonde dans le Christianisme. Le livre présente par chapitre les différentes familles de cultes par région d'origine, comment ils sont arrivés à Rome, en quoi ils consistaient, quelles étaient les réactions des autorités, quels étaient les croyances métaphysiques et philosophiques de chacun d’eux. D’Asie mineure, on voit venir le culte phrygien de la Grande Mère d'Ida, de Cybèle d'Attis, avec les cortèges effrayants des "fanatiques" tournoyant au son des tambours et se tailladant les bras et le corps à coups de hache et de glaive, et prophétisant en aspergeant de sang le statut de la déesse. L'auteur explique comment par exemple le sang et la chair d'un animal était considéré comme un principe vital qui permettait d'acquérir les qualités de la victime quand on l'absorbait, puis comment avec la doctrine de l'immortalité de l'âme on ne pensa plus simplement acquérir la force de l'animal, mais bien une renaissance, temporaire ou éternelle, en étant purifié de ses crimes. On retrouve ces idées dans le taurobole de Cybèle, les sacrifices anciens, mais aussi les interdits alimentaires du judaïsme, ou encore la communion de la liturgie catholique. D’Égypte arrivent les cultes d’Isis et Osiris ravivés par les Ptolémées: aux antiques divinités égyptiennes dont les grecs faisaient des fables, car ils adoraient des animaux, voir des légumes, ils ont substitués des dieux à forme humaine idéale, bien plus propres à faire des adeptes par delà les frontières du pays des pharaons. Les parties des œuvres morales de Plutarque traitant de religion, comme « Isis et Osiris », sont des pièces maîtresses pour saisir cette mythologie. D'Egypte est venu cette idée qu'un rite, s'il est appliqué de manière scrupuleusement exacte, force la divinité à obéir: les prêtres égyptiens allaient jusqu'à menacer la divinité soumise par les incantations liturgiques, ce dont s'indigne Porphyre. Sinon, le mythe d'Osiris, prototype du dieu mort et ressuscité, a évidemment connu une grande fortune: A Rome même, les fidèles des dieux alexandrins inscrivent souvent sur leurs tombes le souhait : « Qu'Osiris te donne l'eau froide. » Cette eau devint bientôt au figuré la fontaine de vie qui versait aux âmes altérées l'immortalité. La métaphore entre si bien dans l'usage qu'en latin refrigerîum finit par être synonyme de réconfort et de béatitude. L'expression continua à être employée avec ce sens dans la liturgie de l'Église, et c'est pourquoi, aujourd'hui encore, bien que le paradis chrétien ne ressemble guère aux champs d'Aalou, on continue à prier pour le « rafraîchissement » spirituel des trépassés. De Syrie vont se répandre une foule de dieux et déesses, parmi lesquels les Baals Sabazius, Allat, la déesse d'Arabie qui avait sa statue dans la Kaaba, le Sol Invictus adoré par Héliogabale, Astarté apparentée à la très antique Ishtar, que ses servantes honoraient par la prostitution sacrée, et Mithra. On a gardé des traces de ces cultes au travers des écrits de fiction, comme dans l’Âne d’Or d’Apulée, ou les Ephésiaques de Xénophon d'Ephèse, ou dans les écrits satiriques du sceptique Lucien, qui raille la crédulité lorsqu'elle est la dupe de l'imposture. De Syrie viendra une nouvelle doctrine issue de l'astrologie suivant laquelle la mort n'est pas cet enfer sombre, froid et tristounet des héros de l'Iliade, ni le Shéol de la torah, mais au contraire une montée vers le ciel et les étoiles, pour une existence purifiée au milieu des astres, conduits par un dieu psychopompe. Les entrailles de la terre cèdent la place à l'infinité cosmique, siège d'un très haut maître de l'univers, source de toute vie et de toute intelligence. De Perse, le principe de lutte entre le bien et le mal, que l'on va retrouver dans cette opposition dualiste entre deux divinités rivales , l'une du bien et l'autre du mal, entre les anges et les démons, et la division entre pureté et impureté. " Au-dessous de la divinité suprême, incorporelle et indivisible, au dessous des étoiles et des planètes vivent d'innombrables démons; Ils se divisent en deux troupes : les uns sont des esprits bienfaisants, les autres sont des êtres pervers, qui habitent les espaces voisins de la terre, et il n'est aucun mal qu'ils ne s'efforcent de causer. Habiles à tromper, ils se plaisent au mensonge et aux impostures; ils favorisent la fantasmagorie et les mystifications des sorciers et viennent se repaître des sacrifices sanglants que les magiciens leur offrent, à eux tous, et surtout à celui qui les commande. Une grande partie des croyances et des visions plus ou moins orthodoxes qui donnèrent au moyen âge le cauchemar de l'enfer et du diable lui vinrent ainsi de la Perse" Un dernier chapitre traite de l'importance acquise par degré par l'astrologie et la magie. Quoiqu'elles puissent nous paraître aujourd'hui extravagantes, ces sciences s'appuyaient sur des compilations d'observations qui se sont révélées très utiles pour le progrès postérieur des sciences positives. Sans la croyance de ceux qui s'y adonnaient qu'ils étaient sur le point de percer les secret de la nature pour s'en servir, toutes ces recherches pénibles et fastidieuses en chimie et en astronomie n'auraient pas été réalisées. J'ai été fasciné par ce texte, qui a le mérite de résumer une question que je n'avais jusque là pu envisager par bribes éparses dans mes lectures diverses d'auteurs ancien: toute l'histoire de ces croyances et tout simplement passionnante. Curieusement, les auteurs patristiques se sont surtout employés à dénigrer l'ancien paganisme, lequel était alors totalement moribond depuis des siècles, mais n'ont pas laissé tant de critiques des autres systèmes contemporains avec lesquels ils étaient en compétition: Franz Cumont fait une remarque assez juste, qui est que ceux qui ont une culture livresque connaissent bien mieux les opinions des anciens que celles des contemporains.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Franz Cumont's books represent accessible introductions to religious syncretism in the classical world, how the traditional beliefs of individual peoples combined upon the rise of larger political entities and how religion moved from being particularistic to becoming universalistic. 'Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism' is especially relevant here because of its wide scope and because of its origins in a series of popular lectures the author delivered at the beginning of the twentieth century. L Franz Cumont's books represent accessible introductions to religious syncretism in the classical world, how the traditional beliefs of individual peoples combined upon the rise of larger political entities and how religion moved from being particularistic to becoming universalistic. 'Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism' is especially relevant here because of its wide scope and because of its origins in a series of popular lectures the author delivered at the beginning of the twentieth century. Late, syncretic Roman paganism is, of course, profoundly relevant to students of the rise of the Christian Church in general and of the Western, Roman Church in particular. What Cumont describes is a process which included not only Christianity, but also Judaism and the various cults and mysteries which informed the two of them--a process which, in the late Empire, might be covered by a book entitled 'Oriental Religions and Graeco-Roman Paganism in Christianity'.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Individualfrog

    I should probably read a more modern, less bigoted study on these kinds of topics one of these days. As the back cover says, this is a "general picture, on an intermediate level," of the mystery cults which spread in Rome during the few centuries before (and continued somewhat after) Constantine established Christianity in the Empire. Nothing is really covered in any kind of detail, but the bases are covered, assuming basic knowledge of the period. I found it an interesting set of signposts to f I should probably read a more modern, less bigoted study on these kinds of topics one of these days. As the back cover says, this is a "general picture, on an intermediate level," of the mystery cults which spread in Rome during the few centuries before (and continued somewhat after) Constantine established Christianity in the Empire. Nothing is really covered in any kind of detail, but the bases are covered, assuming basic knowledge of the period. I found it an interesting set of signposts to further research, so I think it did its job, more or less. Like most anthropological/religious-historical scholars from the late 19th/early 20th centuries, Cumont both assumes unconsciously a thoroughly Protestant view of religion and indeed the world -- religion is more "advanced" the closer it is to the abstract, spiritual, non-ritualistic, morally focused type of mainstream Protestantism -- and also takes a schoolboy's naughty delight, less apparent here than in Frazer at least, in insinuating that Christianity (which, like Judaism, is covered mostly by implication) is just one more entry in the melancholy record of human folly, and something of a decadent Orientalism at that. (A lot of my own contemporaries, of course, only differ in this in the sense that they wouldn't hint and insinuate, but loudly and obnoxiously proclaim, the latter view. Very few in the West but extremely self-conscious neopagans and perhaps some Nietzsche disciples or something would ever disagree with, like, Amos, that the true meaning and value of religion is moral, and many's the militant atheist who will shout at the Christians they despise that they're not doing Christianity right because of it. This passage of Cumont is interesting in that regard: "Apologists find it difficult to follow the progress of the doctrines which they oppose, and often their blows fall upon dead men.") He has a rather silly idea of the severe pure marble edifices of the Greek and especially Roman native cultures, who could only have been seduced by bright colors and exciting music, or whatever, by those effeminate, decadent Orientals. In many ways his insistence on the backwardness of Europe and its dependence on Asian models of thought, religion, and art, though no doubt sincerely meant as a corrective to colonialist triumphalism, is a backhanded compliment. All in all, a man of his time, but, as far as I can tell, an able compiler of what scanty information was available about the religions which spread West through the Empire from Asia Minor, Egypt, and the Middle East. I especially like the story of Cybele's arrival in Rome, the black meteorite goddess, who as predicted by the Sybelline Oracles, successfully defended the Eternal City from the assaults of Hannibal during the third century BC.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Leen Bokken

    Enkele ideeën zijn intussen gedateerd, maar desalniettemin enorm interessant!

  5. 5 out of 5

    James F

    We all learned in school or Sunday school the official story of the rise of Christianity: there were two very different religions, paganism, based on the classical Greek and Roman myths familiar from Ovid and Bullfinch, polytheistic and amoral, and Christianity, monotheistic and moral. By some unknown and probably miraculous process, the latter overcame the former in the popular consciousness. This has nothing to do with reality. In fact, the classical religion was dead long before the rise of Ch We all learned in school or Sunday school the official story of the rise of Christianity: there were two very different religions, paganism, based on the classical Greek and Roman myths familiar from Ovid and Bullfinch, polytheistic and amoral, and Christianity, monotheistic and moral. By some unknown and probably miraculous process, the latter overcame the former in the popular consciousness. This has nothing to do with reality. In fact, the classical religion was dead long before the rise of Christianity, persisting only in a few formal state observances, in literature and in art. Here, the "high" literary culture is misleading; being conservative, it uses the names of the traditional gods and goddesses for very different gods. Cumont's book is an attempt to reconstruct this later paganism of the first three centuries AD. It is not a treatise, but a series of popular lectures, revised and with added notes. After an introductory chapter on the social and economic conditions, which shows that apart from military power the eastern cultures were more developed in every respect than Rome, and gives a general explanation of the introduction of the eastern cults, it discusses the components of later paganism by the regions of origins -- Asia Minor (Cybele and Attis), Egypt (Isis and Serapis), Syria (Baal), Persia (Mithraism) and Babylonia (astrology and magic.) The later paganism was a blending of these components. It was largely monotheistic, had an omnipotent, incorporeal god, and usually a devil, angels and demons. It was cosmopolitan, individual, and incorporated strict moral teachings. It generally promised its believers immortality, and some cults had gods who were killed and resurrected, with the believers participating in the god's resurrection. The rites included baptism and communion. Many of the cults were already combined with Judaism (the old Testament history) and Greek philosophy (Platonism/Neoplatonism). Unlike Judaism and the classical religions, they had professional, hierarchical priesthoods. One shortcoming of the book is that Cumont still talks about Christianity as if it is something different from the pagan cults. Of course the Christians opposed Christianity to an undifferentiated "paganism", just as Catholics today divide religion into Catholicism and non-Catholics, or the Mormons into Mormons and gentiles. Undoubtedly each of the cults did the same. But the conclusion to be drawn from Cumont's description in my opinion is that Christianity was just one of many very similar competing cults, others of which at one time or another came close to becoming dominant and then lost out to political factors. There was nothing miraculous; the Christians just happened to back the right politicians. Of course, in the hundred years since this influential book was written, we have undoubtedly gotten a fuller and more refined idea of later paganism; but this is one of the most interesting books on religion I can remember having read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    A fascinating subject; occasionally Franz Cumont makes the subject come to life every now and then but for the most part, he retreats back into the hard work of making his case for the influence of various polytheistic near-eastern (sic, Oriental) religions on Roman paganism. He clearly conveys the distinction between the function of the state religion of Rome, the appeal of the near-eastern religions that its advancing empire came into contact with, and how one transformed the other. The introd A fascinating subject; occasionally Franz Cumont makes the subject come to life every now and then but for the most part, he retreats back into the hard work of making his case for the influence of various polytheistic near-eastern (sic, Oriental) religions on Roman paganism. He clearly conveys the distinction between the function of the state religion of Rome, the appeal of the near-eastern religions that its advancing empire came into contact with, and how one transformed the other. The introduction by Grant Showerman, Cumont’s preface, and the short summation in his final chapter can be read by themselves and provide the reader with some quick insight on the subject elaborated on in the body of the text. Cumont reveals relationships between pagan and Christian ceremonies; however, one is not quite sure whether he mentions this as a mere coincidence or means it to be a subtle suggestion about the darker origins of religion. What becomes clear is that religions were a natural consequence of agricultural societies linking natural forces to superhuman beings and sought to exploit this relationship as a means to promote the growth of their crops. The chapter on astrology and magic was engaging but probably the most speculative of all. Cumont proposes an explanation of the relationship between religion, magic, and astrology with the latter two being an attempt to wrest control of fate from the gods. However, in his argument, we see the development of a rational theological system that would, along with philosophy, likely provide a basis for the development of scientific thought. It would be most helpful if the reader has some footing in ancient history and the history of the Roman Empire to better appreciate Cumont’s arguments. Readers in Cumont’s day would likely have been familiar with such subjects but sufficient clues are provided in the text for the modern reader to independently research these subjects. The footnotes supporting Cumont’s arguments are copious but they are mostly references to non-English source material rather than notes providing additional insight.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Denton Holland

    So, did God create man or vice-versa? Though sometimes difficult due to terminology, the book provided many "Aha" moments in detailing the age-old origins of numerous religious concepts and practices still followed today, leading to a rational inference many adherents would find uncomfortable. So, did God create man or vice-versa? Though sometimes difficult due to terminology, the book provided many "Aha" moments in detailing the age-old origins of numerous religious concepts and practices still followed today, leading to a rational inference many adherents would find uncomfortable.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marks54

    I read this book as part of a course on "Science, Christianity, and the Western Intellectual Tradition" - a nice focused course! The punch line of the book is that the early Christians were good marketers, in that they hijacked the established pagan holidays (generally around the dates of the winter solstice and two equinoxes), along with an assortment of rituals. In retrospect, I am unsure hoe great the book is, but it earned its rating by changing how I thought about religion and other institu I read this book as part of a course on "Science, Christianity, and the Western Intellectual Tradition" - a nice focused course! The punch line of the book is that the early Christians were good marketers, in that they hijacked the established pagan holidays (generally around the dates of the winter solstice and two equinoxes), along with an assortment of rituals. In retrospect, I am unsure hoe great the book is, but it earned its rating by changing how I thought about religion and other institutions. The book was published in 1911 and copies are available on the web for next to nothing. Over 30 years later, I sill recall the.book!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mark Clements

    This is not a casual read by any means (obviously), but it's an amazing, thought-provoking reference on the many aspects of Oriental/Roman religious exchanges. This is not a casual read by any means (obviously), but it's an amazing, thought-provoking reference on the many aspects of Oriental/Roman religious exchanges.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Daria

  11. 5 out of 5

    Asails F

  12. 4 out of 5

    John Ervin

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dschreiber

  14. 5 out of 5

    Daniël De waele

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marina

  16. 5 out of 5

    David Livingstone

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kadech

  18. 5 out of 5

    TR

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bernadette Graham

  20. 5 out of 5

    C

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tania Kovaleva

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jake Struckle

  23. 4 out of 5

    Miro R

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kat

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ernest

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  27. 4 out of 5

    Yiannis

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lee Hall

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gina Sandulescu

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nullaesomines

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