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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


IV. The Revolution

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 XII - Nationality, Religion, and Education


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Page 30

Oriental Religions in Italy

In sharp contrast to this ghost of religion which we have just described stand the different foreign worships, which this epoch cherished and fostered, and which were at least undeniably possessed of a very decided vitality. They meet us everywhere, among genteel ladies and lords as well as among the circles of the slaves, in the general as in the trooper, in Italy as in the provinces. It is incredible to what a height this superstition already reached.

When in the Cimbrian war a Syrian prophetess, Martha, offered to furnish the senate with ways and means for the vanquishing of the Germans, the senate dismissed her with contempt; nevertheless the Roman matrons and Marius' own wife in particular despatched her to his head-quarters, where the general readily received her and carried her about with him till the Teutones were defeated. The leaders of very different parties in the civil war, Marius, Octavius, Sulla, coincided in believing omens and oracles. During its course even the senate was under the necessity, in the troubles of 667, of consenting to issue directions in accordance with the fancies of a crazy prophetess.

It is significant of the ossification of the Romano-Greek religion as well as of the increased craving of the multitude after stronger religious stimulants, that superstition no longer, as in the Bacchic mysteries, associates itself with the national religion; even the Etruscan mysticism is already left behind; the worships matured in the sultry regions of the east appear throughout in the foremost rank. The copious introduction of elements from Asia Minor and Syria into the population, partly by the import of slaves, partly by the augmented traffic of Italy with the east, contributed very greatly to this result.

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