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The Religious Experience of the Roman People

From the Earliest Times to the Age of Augustus

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Author: W. Warde Fowler
Published: 1911
Language: English
Wordcount: 189,089 / 579 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 51.2
LoC Category: BL
Downloads: 769
Added to site: 2007.11.07 18932
Genres: History, Religion, Essays

I wish to make two remarks about the subject-matter of the lectures. First, the idea running through them is that the primitive religious (or magico-religious) instinct, which was the germ of the religion of the historical Romans, was gradually atrophied by over-elaboration of ritual, but showed itself again in strange forms from the period of the Punic wars onwards. Secondly, while I have been at work on the lectures, the idea seems to have been slowly gaining ground that the patrician religion of the early City-state, which became so highly formalised, so clean and austere, and eventually so political, was really the religion of an invading race, like that of the Achaeans in Greece, engrafted on the religion of a primitive and less civilised population.

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Man as possessing Reason, and so partaking the Divine nature. Influence of these two ideas on the best type of Roman; they appeal to his idea of Duty, and ennoble his idea of Law. Weak points in Roman Stoicism: (1) doctrine of Will, (2) neglect of emotions and sympathy. It failed to rouse an "enthusiasm of humanity" 357-379



Early Pythagoreanism in S. Italy; its reappearance in last century B.C. under the influence of Posidonius, who combined Stoicism with Platonic Pythagoreanism. Cicero affected by this revival; his Somnium Scipionis and other later works. His mysticism takes practical form on the death of his daughter; letters to Atticus about a fanum. Individualisation of the Manes; freedom of belief on such questions. Further evidence of Cicero's tendency to mysticism at this time (45 B.C.), and his belief in a future life. But did the ordinary Roman so believe? Question whether he really believed in the torments of Hades. Pr



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