Ancient Roman Cults and Worship

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2y May 28, 2019

Christianity entered a Rome undergoing dramatic transition. At the same time that the Romans were conquering the Mediterranean world, cultural and religious change was sweeping across the region.

The result was, to paraphrase the Roman poet Horace, a conquest that conquered the conquerors. When their traditional virtues which for centuries had been rooted in patriotism began to crumple as a succession of Caesars seized control of the state, the Romans along with many of those around them turned for solace to mysticism, philosophy and exotic religions.

Three faiths, in particular, rose to prominence: the cult of the earth-mother Cybele, the worship of the Egyptian goddess Isis and, hardest of all to fathom, the mysteries of Mithras which were entrusted to a secret fraternal order.

Through careful research and the study of ancient astrology, scholars have shed important, new light on the riddle of Mithraism and its rites.

All this illuminates not only the reasons Christianity ultimately succeeded but also those aspects of the religion which were particularly attractive to the denizens of imperial Rome.

Attribution to Mark L. Damen
Professor of History and Classics
Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-0710

For more information please visit: https://www.usu.edu/markdamen/1320Hist&Civ/chapters/09WOMEN.htm

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