The roman republic and empire roman vs. Greek values, beliefs


ROMAN RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY Roman religions



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ROMAN RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY




Roman religions

Eastern imports:

Isis/Serapis/Osiris: Story of Osiris as king of Egypt, victim of conspiracy, but in sealed coffere, put in Nile, drowned. Isis found body. Seth got the body, cut it into 14 pieces. Isis found them one by one, buried them. Isis cult offered deliverance from fate as “salvation.” Serapis manufactured by Ptolemy to replace Osiris. Despite obvious political origin, motive (merge Greek and Egyptian cultures), became popular.

Cybele/Attis: “The Great Mother”—from southern Asia Minor. In rituals, men would sacrifice selves to Cybele by castrating themselves, become priests (Galli). Standard myth: Queen Cybele loved Attis, a handsome shepherd (analogous to Titanic!) He was unfaithful, made love to a nymph (a minor goddess), which drove her insane. He became so upset by this he castrated himself [or was killed by a boar in a hunting accident, like Adonis], died. Cybele mourned for him.


See text, p. 240: Did he come alive again? Sometimes not even said to be dead, since Ovid said the wounds weren’t fatal. Gunter Wagner: “With one exception that has still to be mentioned, the rest of the version of the myth are at one in telling that Attis died and remained dead. 4th century Firmicus Maternus, influenced by Eleusinian mysteries (Demeter/Persephone). The “resurrected” Attis merely had a preserved body, his hair still grew, and his little finger could move, or being changed into an evergreen tree.
As for Osiris, according to Gunter Wagner, “Nothing is said about a resurrection in Plutarch’s account of the myth. Plutarch reports and criticizes the assertion that Osiris returns to life when the seeds begin to sprout.” Metzer said believers wanted to be buried where Osiris’ body was. Isis (or another deity) reassembled his body, various gods did magical rites to his embalmed body. Lives only in underworld of dead as king.
Mithraism: Mithras born from a rock. Battled with sun, killed the bull which was the source of life for humanity. Mithras, mediator, gave protection against demons. Each day of week controlled by a planet. All souls came from highest level of heaven (7th), lost good characteristics when descended to earth. If do right, join good god, if do wrong, sentenced to suffer forever with the forces of evil. 7 stages of initation corresponded with levels of heaven, had to prove self worthy at each one.

Mithras a judge for each soul, weighed good/bad: Also Savior who helped followers against evil. After death, souls led by Mithras through 7 planets to heaven.


Anti-woman: never initiated into this cult. “Sol Invictus”—Dec. 25 used to honor Mithras. “Invincible Sun.” Planetary week.

321 A.D. Constantine: Venerable day of the Sun. “Let all the judges and townspeople and the occupations of all trades rest upon the venerable day of the sun.” Date for Xmas partially derived from this, as from Saturnalia, which honored Saturn, god of agriculture, would exchange gifts, freed slaves temporarily (ala Carnival, misrule festivals), postponed business and war. Mithras seen as god of light, Greeks identified him with Helios, their sun-god. Winter solstice tradition “Christianized” by Catholic church in 4th century b.c.




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