role of 'religious cults' in Roman politics ?
'Orders from Heaven' -- Roman-era reports of 'psychic commands' from 'Divine'
Archaeological excavations, at the Roman frontier fort, at Vindolanda, in northern Britain, on Hadrian's Wall, revealed religious dedications, to the deity 'Jupiter Dolichenus', the principal high-god (Jupiter) of Doliche (modern Dülük), in south-eastern Turkey (NGC When Rome Ruled - Roman War Machine). Rome stationed Syrian archers nearby (WDV), who may have brought the cult to Britain. Several hundred sacred enscriptions, surviving from around the Roman empire, in the 2nd-3rd centuries AD, often "state that the worshipper had set them up 'by the command of the god'... sometimes it was through a dream, but Dolichenus [also] had priests in his service, who seem to have spread the cult and passed on the god's commands to their converts" (am).
Another popular, eastern-rooted, 'mystery cult', was Mithraism, whose membership also infiltrated Roman society, to an even deeper degree. One of the highest ranks that members could attain, was "Persian" -- even though, then, Rome was waging wars with Persia.
QUESTION: Has there ever been any systematic study, of the role of extra-Italian, even extra-European 'religious cults', in the Roman empire, particularly their impact upon politics? With innumerable 'eastern mystery cults', each 'covertly converting' Roman subjects, into social structures, which ranked Rome's then-political-opponents in the highest-and-most-desirable degrees; and which alleged, that they derived orders, 'direct from the Divine', 'straight from space' (as it were) in a manner blatantly bypassing Imperial command; has no one seriously studied this social phenomenon? This writer has been able to find no books about this topic, "Religion's historical role in espionage" (as it were).
Roman Religion in the First Century Before Christ
Individual Romans' reactions to the horrors of a century-long civil war (131-31 BCE) varied widely. With no effective moral authority to stop them, some turned to license and debauchery, some to the solace of literature or philosophy, others to the comforts of self-indulgence in food or gardens or collecting political honors without real power, and some—though distressingly few!—remained staunchly conservative, in the words of Rome's greatest poet Vergil, antiquâ sub relligione ("beneath their ancient faith"). But for all differences, they were each a sort of psychological life-boat and shared one thing in common: they were all foreign to Rome, either coming from outside native Italic culture or grossly out of place in their day. In fact, there was no Rome in their day, not by the first century BCE at least, only Romes.
Somewhat ironic, then, were the efforts of the early emperors who inherited the reins of Roman government after the fall of the Republic (31 BCE). Their attempt to unify the state under a single system of worship by merging of state and religion in a belief system which is called emperor-worship today welded the raising of revenues and souls into one all-encompassing tax-collection plate. Many a Roman lover of freedom who looked wistfully back to the days of private independence under the Republic must have noted snidely that the emperors were the very reason Rome was no longer unified because they had killed Roman patriotism. But tyrants can afford to ignore the public and impose harmonizing measures unilaterally. After all, when a single person controls everybody's destiny, who's to say he's not a god? And shouldn't gods be worshiped?
Thus, temples to that day's potentates rose all across the Empire, fixtures where people were expected to visit and pay their just and due respect, or just their dues. When a good emperor like Augustus or Hadrian strode across Roman domain, emperor-worship actually made a small semblance of sense, but if the throne harbored some drooler like Claudius or a sadist of Domitian's ilk, it was more difficult to squelch the common laughter as these "deities" were paraded up to heaven. And the latter was the case more and more as time went by. Indeed, as the list of emperor-deities grew ever longer—and ever weirder—this nova relligio ("new religion") of Rome began to look like just another form of taxation, which is in fact exactly what it was, and who's going to worship a tax-collector? Everyone knows you swear at tax-collectors, not by them.
Common Gods of Worship included numerous faiths that began in the fifth through fourth centuries from Etruscans and Different variations of Bulgaraen.
An example is Concordia
Her temple began in 367 BC by a Roman statesman, she served in many areas of public Roman life as a symbolic stance of peace, much like Harmonia of Northern Greece.
The name "Mithras" has deep roots in Western Civilization. It's listed among a catalogue of gods whom the Indo-Iranians worshiped, the Indo-European group that settled the Iranian plateau east of Mesopotamia around 2000 BCE. "Mithras" appears again over a millennium later as the appellation of a secondary Zoroastrian deity in Darius' day. Finally, this name is also attached to a god whose cult thrived in the Roman world beginning around the time of Christ and for centuries after. The connection linking all these different Mithrases, seen in places so distant from each other and across gaps of so many years, is hard to reconstruct. All the same, the name by itself suggests some sort of affinity. Nor is the evidence for any of these Mithradras bountiful or easy to interpret.
The first two are all but impossible to see historically: the former existed in very remote times and a place from which few historical records survive, and the second was not the principal deity of the religion to which he belonged. Though hidden behind the veil of a mystery cult, the last is the best attested, since this god rose to prominence during the final days of the Roman Republic, the well-documented first century BCE. As the only "Mithras" whose history we have any real chance of uncovering, he has been the focus of attention among scholars.
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