Romanising Oriental Gods: Myth, Salvation and Ethics in the Cults of Cybele, Isis and Mithras (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World)
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The relative sophistication of the three major 'Oriental cults' of the Roman Empire, combining unfamiliar myth with distinctive ritual, enabled them, like Early Christianity, to offer a properly ethical salvation in the Weberian sense.
2008; Bonnet, Pirenne-Delforge and Praet 2009. Some of the papers contributed were however not published in the various Proceedings. The process of revaluation was initiated by the publication of much of Cumont’s academic correspondence (Bonnet 1997; 2006; also now Bongard-Levine et al. 2007) and the conference on syncretism at Rome in 1997, organised by C. Bonnet and A. Motte in honour of the fiftieth anniversary of Cumont’s death (Bonnet and Motte 1999); note also the helpful sketch of Cumont’s
of belief 37 being with cosmic and pantocratic prerogatives’ is nowadays clearly recognised (Lancellotti 2002, 135). There are numerous references to it in the fourth century and later, such as the following passages from Sallustius, the friend of the emperor Julian, like him a proponent of the allegorical interpretation of myth and the mystical interpretation of cult-practice: The Mother of the gods is a life-giving goddess (ζωογόνος), and therefore she is called mother, while Attis is creator
Priscilla, who has betrayed the sacra of a man named Paternus (perhaps the writer) and married someone else.146 Until the discovery of this text no one 144 At Or. 5, 161c he argues that Attis is the material form of the fertile, demiurgic intelligence that brings everything into being; at 166d he says explicitly that Attis is the demiurge par excellence; at 175a he calls him the unmediated demiurge of the material world, cf. V. Ugenti, Giuliano imperatore, Alla Madre degli dei (Lecce 1992), who
This fact creates a certain amount of difficulty concerning the most appropriate terms to use, as is clear from the Proceedings of Bianchi’s Soteriology conference, for example in Turcan’s point 2 in his summary (Bianchi and Vermaseren 1982, xvii), and in Bianchi’s concession at the Seduta del 26 settembre: “et, un peu déplacé, Mithra” (p. 883, cf. 885). Burkert 1987, 8; 41f.; 84 repeatedly emphasises how untypical the cult of Mithras is in the context of Greek mystery cults. 245 I have found the
well have contributed this item to the wider concept.42 We can also, I think, adduce the fact that the oriental cults were sometimes mocked in performances of mimes, and in festival processions.43 Outsiders laughed at their gods, the very basis of the norms governing their conduct; and at the very fact that they were looking for alternatives to standard rules. Ordinary people thus experienced a brief sense of liberation in making fun, in the presence of believers, of what the latter felt to be