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Thread: Why the Romans turned their backs on the old Gods....

  1. #1

    Default Why the Romans turned their backs on the old Gods....

    ...and embraced Christianity. The rise and fall of Christianity in the west is well documented. Its recent failures have left scars across ireland and further afield. Its triumphant rise in the Autumn years of the Western Roman Empire are well understood. Even the fall of Rome is blamed on Christianity in some circles.

    So, a question. We all understand the triumphs of the new religion around the time of Constantine the Great and thereafter. But, what was deficient in the previous theologies to make them all crumble so readily ? 'Sol invictus' was a monotheistic religion, intolerant of others. It has been argued that the old theologies were very harsh on women, making them less loyal and mindful of any alternatives. It has also been argued that the old religions were not very democratic nor accommodating to poor people (lots of them around the place then as now ). It has been argued that the old religions were deficient in the promise of an afterlife ?

    So, why did the Romans turn their back on the old Gods ?
    List of Roman deities - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    How about gender-balance in immigration into ireland ? Is it currently 40 blokes arriving for every 1 woman arriving on these shores ?

  2. #2
    Politics.ie Member BlackLion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit Of Newgrange View Post
    ...and embraced Christianity. The rise and fall of Christianity in the west is well documented. Its recent failures have left scars across ireland and further afield. Its triumphant rise in the Autumn years of the Western Roman Empire are well understood. Even the fall of Rome is blamed on Christianity in some circles.

    So, a question. We all understand the triumphs of the new religion around the time of Constantine the Great and thereafter. But, what was deficient in the previous theologies to make them all crumble so readily ? 'Sol invictus' was a monotheistic religion, intolerant of others. It has been argued that the old theologies were very harsh on women, making them less loyal and mindful of any alternatives. It has also been argued that the old religions were not very democratic nor accommodating to poor people (lots of them around the place then as now ). It has been argued that the old religions were deficient in the promise of an afterlife ?

    So, why did the Romans turn their back on the old Gods ?
    List of Roman deities - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    I remember asking this question myself before and I think you answered it yourself in bold.

    Religion in it's basic form helps people have comfort in their live and people want comfort.
    All men dream: but not equally. -T. E. Lawrence

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit Of Newgrange View Post
    ...and embraced Christianity. The rise and fall of Christianity in the west is well documented. Its recent failures have left scars across ireland and further afield. Its triumphant rise in the Autumn years of the Western Roman Empire are well understood. Even the fall of Rome is blamed on Christianity in some circles.

    So, a question. We all understand the triumphs of the new religion around the time of Constantine the Great and thereafter. But, what was deficient in the previous theologies to make them all crumble so readily ? 'Sol invictus' was a monotheistic religion, intolerant of others. It has been argued that the old theologies were very harsh on women, making them less loyal and mindful of any alternatives. It has also been argued that the old religions were not very democratic nor accommodating to poor people (lots of them around the place then as now ). It has been argued that the old religions were deficient in the promise of an afterlife ?

    So, why did the Romans turn their back on the old Gods ?
    List of Roman deities - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Read Rubicon and Millennium by Tom Holland. All your questions will be answered

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    Politics.ie Member Dame_Enda's Avatar
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    Because Constantine saw what he thought was a cross in the sky when he went to battle and painted a cross onto his shields and credited the Christian God with his victory over Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. It was imposed. It was not some spontaneous embrace of a new religion.

    And the Senate remained largely Pagan until the end of the century, as probably did some remote provinces like Britannia. There was also one more Pagan Emperor Julian the Apostate.

    Personally I agree with the thesis that Christianity brought the end of the Western Roman Empire closer. Provided you were polytheistic, the Pagan Roman state left you alone to practice your faith. The Christian Emperors were obsessed with imposing a uniform version of Christianity, so that they persecuted so-called "heresies" like Arianism, Monotheism,Pelagianism and Nestorianism. There were many Arian Christians in North Africa and they supported the Vandals (also Arians) during their conquest in 429-39. These people saw the Vandals as liberators from Catholic oppression. The loss of North Africa meant the loss of Rome's grain supply and most of its tax-revenue.

    Also, Constantines sons were divided between Arians and Catholics, resulting in civil wars which weakened the Roman army. Constantius II was Arian for example and fought his Catholic brother Constantine II and Constans I. The Catholic-Arian split was also an obstacle to better relations with the largely Arian German tribes that were invading the empire. The Arians rejected the divinity of Christ and didn't believe he was the son of God.
    Last edited by Dame_Enda; 30th October 2012 at 02:12 AM.
    Fair and Balanced

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    Christianity is an odd fish of a religion really. It's a slave religion for slaves. It encourages the poor and the oppressed to turn the other cheek, keep the head down and say nuttin', and in reward for their "suffering through this life" (I mean, WTF, what a warped worldview that is) they'll get an eternity in heaven....an eternity which they imagine will contain few of their current oppressors, what with all the money is the root of all evil, Zacchaeus, camel through of the eye of a needle, parable of talents etc etc etc.

    This makes it the perfect tool for ruling elites to keep the lumpen herd under control. Constantine was a wily operator and saw the usefulness of this bizarre misanthropic cult from the East.

    I don't think the other religions offered the same toxic stew of comfort and control.

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    Politics.ie Member emulator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SideysGhost View Post
    Christianity is an odd fish of a religion really. It's a slave religion for slaves. It encourages the poor and the oppressed to turn the other cheek, keep the head down and say nuttin', and in reward for their "suffering through this life" (I mean, WTF, what a warped worldview that is) they'll get an eternity in heaven....an eternity which they imagine will contain few of their current oppressors, what with all the money is the root of all evil, Zacchaeus, camel through of the eye of a needle, parable of talents etc etc etc.

    This makes it the perfect tool for ruling elites to keep the lumpen herd under control. Constantine was a wily operator and saw the usefulness of this bizarre misanthropic cult from the East.

    I don't think the other religions offered the same toxic stew of comfort and control.
    That has to be one of the best descriptions of Christianity I've read.

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    Politics.ie Member APettigrew92's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dame_Enda View Post
    Because Constantine saw what he thought was a cross in the sky when he went to battle and painted a cross onto his shields and credited the Christian God with his victory over Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. It was imposed. It was not some spontaneous embrace of a new religion.

    And the Senate remained largely Pagan until the end of the century, as probably did some remote provinces like Britannia. There was also one more Pagan Emperor Julian the Apostate.
    That and Constantine's Mother happened to have taken up the new "Fad" that was Christianity.

    That and it was a Roman thing.

    Up until then, their entire way of life was centred around living in the now. This was an aspect highlighted by many Renaissance writers and it influenced the concept of Humanism. (And as an extension Imperialism, because Humanism goes hand in hand with Imperialism.)

    But for most Romans, life was fairly crap. You slaved away, died and didn't really have much going for yourself.

    The promise of eternal paradise as opposed to the rather average life that you could have defending the Rhine from some mental German Tribes in the dead of night was very attractive to the average Plebian.

    It "apparently" caused Romans to become apathetic?

    In reality, the Roman Empire had overextended itself by then. Very few "Roman" armies had allegiance to Rome, rather to their respective commanders. That's why there were so many insurrections. The addition of Auxillaries who had no allegiance to Rome either just further damaged the Western Empire's cohesion.

    The Eastern Roman Empire lived on until arguably the 15th Century!
    Avarus animus nullo satiatur lucro - Latin Proverb

  8. #8

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    Before Christianity there was a stigma in a woman being chaste and celebate. Christianity elevated her onto a pedestal. The early Romans treated women like livestock, christianity forced them into something approaching respect, not really equality but progress nevertheless.
    The other contender for an all encompassing faith was one based on bull sacrifice that was strong in the army, but this faith was for men only - surely thats a failed marketing strategy right from the start ?
    Another weakness of the other faiths was their lack of a written text, their lack of a coherent liturgy that could be disseminated across the realm. You could say the same for many of the new age stuff today, crystals, tree hugging, druids, sun worshippers .... lots of books, but not one coherent book.
    How about gender-balance in immigration into ireland ? Is it currently 40 blokes arriving for every 1 woman arriving on these shores ?

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    Politics.ie Member Mitsui2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by APettigrew92 View Post
    Up until then, their entire way of life was centred around living in the now. This was an aspect highlighted by many Renaissance writers and it influenced the concept of Humanism. (And as an extension Imperialism, because Humanism goes hand in hand with Imperialism.).
    I have to admit this reference leaves me scratching my head a bit. Humanism goes hand in hand with imperialism exactly how???

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    Politics.ie Member Mitsui2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit Of Newgrange View Post
    Before Christianity there was a stigma in a woman being chaste and celebate..
    Spirit, that's a plain barking mad statement.

    Where? When? In what pre-Christian societies?

    Did the Romans stigmatise the Vestal Virgins?

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