But, if in the present instance a faith no longer believed in
was maintained out of political convenience, they amply made up
for this in other respects. Unbelief and superstition, different hues
of the same historical phenomenon, went in the Roman world
of that day hand in hand, and there was no lack of individuals
who in themselves combined both--who denied the gods with Epicurus,
and yet prayed and sacrificed before every shrine.
Of course only
the gods that came from the east were still in vogue, and, as the men
continued to flock from the Greek lands to Italy, so the gods
of the east migrated in ever-increasing numbers to the west.
The importance of the Phrygian cultus at that time in Rome is shown
both by the polemical tone of the older men such as Varro and Lucretius,
and by the poetical glorification of it in the fashionable Catullus,
which concludes with the characteristic request that the goddess
may deign to turn the heads of others only, and not that
of the poet himself.