Mystery cults in graeco roman society essay

See Article History Mystery religion, any of various secret cults of the Greco-Roman world that offered to individuals religious experiences not provided by the official public religions.

Mystery cults in graeco roman society essay

Hellenistic Religions Hinells, John R. Considering the complexity of religion that exists in the Indian sub-continent and also in China, it could easily be argued that this degree of complexity is the norm and the idea of a single, unified and dominant religion shared by all members of a single culture is the aberration from that norm.

However that may be, from around 10, years BCE the development of cultural artifacts robust enough to stand the passage of time such as stone buildings and inscriptions, have combined to permit us a fairly detailed view of this period of history.

From around 1, years BCE we see the gradual rise of the technology of phonetic script and written literature and, in many ways, this is when history, as the understanding of past events through the interpretation of written records, really begins.

The Minoan Civilization One of the earliest civilizations of the Mediterranean world to leave substantial records was the Minoan civilization of the second millenium BCE. Centered on the island of Crete this civilization is best known for its palace complexes, possibly the source of the legend of the Labyrinth or maze of king Minos, for whom the culture is named.

The Minoans left records in a pre-phonetic hieroglyphic script and in the still only imperfectly understood "Linear A" script which is phonetic and most probably Semitic in origin. The most common elements of their religion are a goddess of nature, mistress of animals, mountains, sea, agriculture, and even of war, queen of both the living and the dead.

Sacrifices and offerings were made to her in caves and on mountain peaks and in special rooms in the palace complex. The Minoan culture practiced "bull-dancing," which may have also contributed to the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, the bull of Minos.

Their artistic style and luxury goods were obviously strongly influenced by the Minoans. However, their language and culture, although influenced by the Minoans, was fundamentally different. It is something of an over-simplification to attribute the triumph of male characteristics in both religion and society to the Myceneans, but it is certainly true that the advent of this culture saw the last dominance of depictions of the divine as primarily female in this part of the world.

Patriarchy and battle are the dominant themes of the Myceneans, and female deities are displaced by male sky gods of apparently Indo-European origins such as Zeus called Dyaus Pitr, the "Sky Father" in the early Hindu sacred texts, the Vedas.

Classical and Ancient Mediterranean Studies Minor

It was the Mycenean civilization that gave us the Homeric epics, the Illiad and the Odyssey--transmitted orally for a long period then written down between the eighth and sixth centuries before the Christian era.

As well as these dominant sky gods, the Myceneans had a whole pantheon of local deities to whom they sacrificed grain, wine, oil, honey, and livestock. Archaic and Classical Greek Religion As well as a very practical interaction of religion and politics the Hellenic period also continued to see the practice of Shamanic charismatic religion.

That is, figures claiming supernatural powers of prediction, ecstatic out-of-this-world trips, communication with various supernatural beings, recollection of other lives, and so on.

They were known as iatromantes by the Greeks from iatros, a healer, and mantes, a seer. No doubt the best known is Pythgaoras of Samos who gave the world the theorem that bears his name.

He believed that all things in the world were harmonious with number--a radical and revolutionary idea at the time--among other, less familiar notions. These iatromantes seem to have gradually given way to more reasoned theoreticians whose attempts to explain their experiences took on increasingly philosophical forms.

Many of these philosophers who came after Pythagoras shared his intention to systematically separate the rational functions from the influence of bodily desire although they may have disagreed with Pythagoras on practically everything else. The most effective and influential of these philosopher-mystics was undoubtedly Plato, who held that the successful resistance of the soul to bodily desires would lead to an existence in higher realms than this earthly environment.

Mystery cults in graeco roman society essay

In these higher realms the soul would be blessed with direct acquaintance with the eternal ideal forms, the most real of all entities, of which all worldly, temporal, and transient particular objects are but imperfect images, like distorted shadows or reflections.

This tradition of Platonic mysticism was profoundly influential on the development of Christianity.

Mystery cults in graeco roman society essay

For example, the concept of the Logos, the word made manifest, is found in Platonic philosophy before its appearance in the gospel of John.

Later Greek religion mainly concerns the interplay of myth and ritual. Performed rituals tended to act out or otherwise to represent mythic narratives, but both ritual and myth were local and infinitely variable, as were the deities.

For example, Apollo was known as Pythian Apollo at the oracle in Delphi, but as Delian Apollo in the island of Delos where his worship seems to have originated, and is Phoebus in the Iliad.In fact, the conventional portrayal of early Judaism, early Christianity, and Graeco-Roman religions (especially, in this case, the mystery religions) is in itself a social discourse.

The greatest influence of the mystery religions on Christianity lies in a different direction from that of doctrine and ritual. It lies in the fact that the mystery religions paved the way for the presentation of Christianity to the world of that time.

Manfred Clauss, The Roman cult of Mithras, "The evidence used in this book is essentially the archaeological remains - the Mithraic temples and their contents, the inscriptions and the reliefs, whose iconographic conventions are those of Hellenistic and Roman tradition.

Evidence for the cult has been found at some sites. As we have seen, the word "mystery" in this context has a precise technical meaning and refers to the initiatory secrets of this form of Greco-Roman religion.

These institutions seem originally to have been a combination of initiation into secret societies and agrarian (farming) religions. See Western esotericism for modern "mystery religions" in the Western cultural sphere..

The Mycenean Civilization

Template:Greek myth Mystery religions, sacred Mysteries or simply mysteries, were religious cults of the Greco-Roman world, participation in which was reserved to initiates.

The main characterization of this religion is the secrecy associated with the particulars of the initiation and the cult practice. The following article is composed of possible parallels between the New Testament and the Mystery religions. 1. The purpose for the paper is simply to demonstrate that the mystery religions help at times to elucidate background (i.e.

practices, beliefs and linguistic phenomena) for the understanding of certain N. T. texts.

Greco-Roman Religion and Philosophy |