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Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


III. From the Union of Italy to the Subjugation of Carthage and the Greek States

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

Chapter XIII - Faith and Manners


The Original Greek New Testament

» Contents of this Chapter

Page 16

It could not indeed venture on open attacks, and such direct additions as were made by its means to religious conceptions --e.g. the Pater Caelus formed by Ennius from the Roman Saturnus in imitation of the Greek Uranos--were, while Hellenistic, of no great importance. But the diffusion of the doctrines of Epichar and Euhemerus in Rome was fraught with momentous consequences.

The poetical philosophy, which the later Pythagoreans had extracted from the writings of the old Sicilian comedian Epicharmus of Megara (about 280), or rather had, at least for the most part, circulated under cover of his name, saw in the Greek gods natural substances, in Zeus the atmosphere, in the soul a particle of sun-dust, and so forth. In so far as this philosophy of nature, like the Stoic doctrine in later times, had in its most general outlines a certain affinity with the Roman religion, it was calculated to undermine the national religion by resolving it into allegory.

A quasi-historical analysis of religion was given in the "Sacred Memoirs" of Euhemerus of Messene (about 450), which, under the form of reports on the travels of the author among the marvels of foreign lands, subjected to thorough and documentary sifting the accounts current as to the so-called gods, and resulted in the conclusion that there neither were nor are gods at all.

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