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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


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

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Page 31

The power of these foreign religions is very distinctly apparent in the revolts of the Sicilian slaves, who for the most part were natives of Syria. Eunus vomited fire, Athenion read the stars; the plummets thrown by the slaves in these wars bear in great part the names of gods, those of Zeus and Artemis, and especially that of the mysterious Mother who had migrated from Crete to Sicily and was zealously worshipped there. A similar effect was produced by commercial intercourse, particularly after the wares of Berytus and Alexandria were conveyed directly to the Italian ports; Ostia and Puteoli became the great marts not only for Syrian unguents and Egyptian linen, but also for the faith of the east.

Everywhere the mingling of religions was constantly on the increase along with the mingling of nations. Of all allowed worships the most popular was that of the Pessinuntine Mother of the Gods, which made a deep impression on the multitude by its eunuch-celibacy, its banquets, its music, its begging processions, and all its sensuous pomp; the collections from house to house were already felt as an economic burden. In the most dangerous time of the Cimbrian war Battaces the high-priest of Pessinus appeared in person at Rome, in order to defend the interests of the temple of his goddess there which was alleged to have been profaned, addressed the Roman people by the special orders of the Mother of the Gods, and performed also various miracles.

Men of sense were scandalized, but the women and the great multitude were not to be debarred from escorting the prophet at his departure in great crowds. Vows of pilgrimage to the east were already no longer uncommon; Marius himself, for instance, thus undertook a pilgrimage to Pessinus; in fact even thus early (first in 653) Roman burgesses devoted themselves to the eunuch-priesthood.

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