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Why the Romans turned their backs on the old Gods....


Spirit Of Newgrange

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...and embraced Christianity. The rise and fall of Christianity in the west is well documented. Its recent failures have left scars across ireland and further afield. Its triumphant rise in the Autumn years of the Western Roman Empire are well understood. Even the fall of Rome is blamed on Christianity in some circles.

So, a question. We all understand the triumphs of the new religion around the time of Constantine the Great and thereafter. But, what was deficient in the previous theologies to make them all crumble so readily ? 'Sol invictus' was a monotheistic religion, intolerant of others. It has been argued that the old theologies were very harsh on women, making them less loyal and mindful of any alternatives. It has also been argued that the old religions were not very democratic nor accommodating to poor people (lots of them around the place then as now ). It has been argued that the old religions were deficient in the promise of an afterlife ?

So, why did the Romans turn their back on the old Gods ?
List of Roman deities - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

BlackLion

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...and embraced Christianity. The rise and fall of Christianity in the west is well documented. Its recent failures have left scars across ireland and further afield. Its triumphant rise in the Autumn years of the Western Roman Empire are well understood. Even the fall of Rome is blamed on Christianity in some circles.

So, a question. We all understand the triumphs of the new religion around the time of Constantine the Great and thereafter. But, what was deficient in the previous theologies to make them all crumble so readily ? 'Sol invictus' was a monotheistic religion, intolerant of others. It has been argued that the old theologies were very harsh on women, making them less loyal and mindful of any alternatives. It has also been argued that the old religions were not very democratic nor accommodating to poor people (lots of them around the place then as now ). It has been argued that the old religions were deficient in the promise of an afterlife ?

So, why did the Romans turn their back on the old Gods ?
List of Roman deities - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I remember asking this question myself before and I think you answered it yourself in bold.

Religion in it's basic form helps people have comfort in their live and people want comfort.
 

sking81

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...and embraced Christianity. The rise and fall of Christianity in the west is well documented. Its recent failures have left scars across ireland and further afield. Its triumphant rise in the Autumn years of the Western Roman Empire are well understood. Even the fall of Rome is blamed on Christianity in some circles.

So, a question. We all understand the triumphs of the new religion around the time of Constantine the Great and thereafter. But, what was deficient in the previous theologies to make them all crumble so readily ? 'Sol invictus' was a monotheistic religion, intolerant of others. It has been argued that the old theologies were very harsh on women, making them less loyal and mindful of any alternatives. It has also been argued that the old religions were not very democratic nor accommodating to poor people (lots of them around the place then as now ). It has been argued that the old religions were deficient in the promise of an afterlife ?

So, why did the Romans turn their back on the old Gods ?
List of Roman deities - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Read Rubicon and Millennium by Tom Holland. All your questions will be answered :D
 

Dame_Enda

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Because Constantine saw what he thought was a cross in the sky when he went to battle and painted a cross onto his shields and credited the Christian God with his victory over Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. It was imposed. It was not some spontaneous embrace of a new religion.

And the Senate remained largely Pagan until the end of the century, as probably did some remote provinces like Britannia. There was also one more Pagan Emperor Julian the Apostate.

Personally I agree with the thesis that Christianity brought the end of the Western Roman Empire closer. Provided you were polytheistic, the Pagan Roman state left you alone to practice your faith. The Christian Emperors were obsessed with imposing a uniform version of Christianity, so that they persecuted so-called "heresies" like Arianism, Monotheism,Pelagianism and Nestorianism. There were many Arian Christians in North Africa and they supported the Vandals (also Arians) during their conquest in 429-39. These people saw the Vandals as liberators from Catholic oppression. The loss of North Africa meant the loss of Rome's grain supply and most of its tax-revenue.

Also, Constantines sons were divided between Arians and Catholics, resulting in civil wars which weakened the Roman army. Constantius II was Arian for example and fought his Catholic brother Constantine II and Constans I. The Catholic-Arian split was also an obstacle to better relations with the largely Arian German tribes that were invading the empire. The Arians rejected the divinity of Christ and didn't believe he was the son of God.
 
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SideysGhost

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Christianity is an odd fish of a religion really. It's a slave religion for slaves. It encourages the poor and the oppressed to turn the other cheek, keep the head down and say nuttin', and in reward for their "suffering through this life" (I mean, WTF, what a warped worldview that is) they'll get an eternity in heaven....an eternity which they imagine will contain few of their current oppressors, what with all the money is the root of all evil, Zacchaeus, camel through of the eye of a needle, parable of talents etc etc etc.

This makes it the perfect tool for ruling elites to keep the lumpen herd under control. Constantine was a wily operator and saw the usefulness of this bizarre misanthropic cult from the East.

I don't think the other religions offered the same toxic stew of comfort and control.
 

emulator

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Christianity is an odd fish of a religion really. It's a slave religion for slaves. It encourages the poor and the oppressed to turn the other cheek, keep the head down and say nuttin', and in reward for their "suffering through this life" (I mean, WTF, what a warped worldview that is) they'll get an eternity in heaven....an eternity which they imagine will contain few of their current oppressors, what with all the money is the root of all evil, Zacchaeus, camel through of the eye of a needle, parable of talents etc etc etc.

This makes it the perfect tool for ruling elites to keep the lumpen herd under control. Constantine was a wily operator and saw the usefulness of this bizarre misanthropic cult from the East.

I don't think the other religions offered the same toxic stew of comfort and control.
That has to be one of the best descriptions of Christianity I've read.
 

APettigrew92

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Because Constantine saw what he thought was a cross in the sky when he went to battle and painted a cross onto his shields and credited the Christian God with his victory over Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. It was imposed. It was not some spontaneous embrace of a new religion.

And the Senate remained largely Pagan until the end of the century, as probably did some remote provinces like Britannia. There was also one more Pagan Emperor Julian the Apostate.
That and Constantine's Mother happened to have taken up the new "Fad" that was Christianity.

That and it was a Roman thing.

Up until then, their entire way of life was centred around living in the now. This was an aspect highlighted by many Renaissance writers and it influenced the concept of Humanism. (And as an extension Imperialism, because Humanism goes hand in hand with Imperialism.)

But for most Romans, life was fairly crap. You slaved away, died and didn't really have much going for yourself.

The promise of eternal paradise as opposed to the rather average life that you could have defending the Rhine from some mental German Tribes in the dead of night was very attractive to the average Plebian.

It "apparently" caused Romans to become apathetic?

In reality, the Roman Empire had overextended itself by then. Very few "Roman" armies had allegiance to Rome, rather to their respective commanders. That's why there were so many insurrections. The addition of Auxillaries who had no allegiance to Rome either just further damaged the Western Empire's cohesion.

The Eastern Roman Empire lived on until arguably the 15th Century!
 

Spirit Of Newgrange

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Before Christianity there was a stigma in a woman being chaste and celebate. Christianity elevated her onto a pedestal. The early Romans treated women like livestock, christianity forced them into something approaching respect, not really equality but progress nevertheless.
The other contender for an all encompassing faith was one based on bull sacrifice that was strong in the army, but this faith was for men only - surely thats a failed marketing strategy right from the start ?
Another weakness of the other faiths was their lack of a written text, their lack of a coherent liturgy that could be disseminated across the realm. You could say the same for many of the new age stuff today, crystals, tree hugging, druids, sun worshippers .... lots of books, but not one coherent book.
 

Mitsui2

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Up until then, their entire way of life was centred around living in the now. This was an aspect highlighted by many Renaissance writers and it influenced the concept of Humanism. (And as an extension Imperialism, because Humanism goes hand in hand with Imperialism.).
I have to admit this reference leaves me scratching my head a bit. Humanism goes hand in hand with imperialism exactly how???
 

Dame_Enda

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Did the Romans stigmatise the Vestal Virgins?
They banned them around 70 yrs after Constantine.

I don't agree that the Pagans frowned on virginity/celibacy. The Vestal Virgins were the celebrities of their day. They tended to the flame of the goddess Vesta, which was to protect Rome. In return for their virginity until about their 50's, they were lavished with great wealth and social status. If they broke their vows, they were buried alive. Theodosius closed them down in 391, and Rome was sacked in 410. Many Romans blamed the latter event on the abandonment of the old religion.
 
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Mitsui2

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I don't agree that the Pagans frowned on virginity/celibacy. The Vestal Virgins were the celebrities of their day. They tended to the flame of the goddess Vesta, which was to protect Rome. In return for their virginity until about their 50's, they were lavished with great wealth and social status. If they broke their vows, they were buried alive. Theodosius closed them down in 391, and Rome was sacked in 410. Many Romans blamed the latter event on the abandonment of the old religion.
Yes indeed - that's why I cited them when asking Spirit to explain his bizarre and ahistorical reference. Though of course it is good old Spirit, so ahistorical references shouldn't exactly come as a surprise.
 

GDPR

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At the Roman Baths at Bath there are 1000s of written petitions to the gods, many of them cursing someone or other or hopeful of getting back something stolen. They were all entreaties to the gods. A lot like Christian prayer, though afaik cursing is not approved by most Christian churches I know of since there is a commandment to "Bless them that curse you".

For most Romans following a new god that allowed entreaties too would have been relatively easy.
 

DaveM

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Before Christianity there was a stigma in a woman being chaste and celebate. Christianity elevated her onto a pedestal. The early Romans treated women like livestock, christianity forced them into something approaching respect, not really equality but progress nevertheless.
This is a piss take, right?
 

nakatomi

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Was a massive rebranding exercise.
the Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire.
Same shop, different sign on the door.
 

stopdoingstuff

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Christianity is an odd fish of a religion really. It's a slave religion for slaves. It encourages the poor and the oppressed to turn the other cheek, keep the head down and say nuttin', and in reward for their "suffering through this life" (I mean, WTF, what a warped worldview that is) they'll get an eternity in heaven....an eternity which they imagine will contain few of their current oppressors, what with all the money is the root of all evil, Zacchaeus, camel through of the eye of a needle, parable of talents etc etc etc.

This makes it the perfect tool for ruling elites to keep the lumpen herd under control. Constantine was a wily operator and saw the usefulness of this bizarre misanthropic cult from the East.

I don't think the other religions offered the same toxic stew of comfort and control.
Really? The fatalism of Hinduism- that things are just meant to be and that it is all destiny? The quietism of Buddhism? The withdrawal of Daoism? The submission of Islam? No other religion? The Chinese emperors that had the "mandate of heaven" and emphasised a religion and philosophical outlook based on everyone knowing their place? My view is that all religions that are supported by the state are tools of the state and their message will be tailored accordingly. But to say that Christianity is inevitably this way is not accurate. During the slave period in American history, Christianity was simultaneously used to both justify and condemn slavery. Religions are like constitutions- interpreted in the right way, they can be used to justify anything.
 

truthandjustice

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I remember asking this question myself before and I think you answered it yourself in bold.

Religion in it's basic form helps people have comfort in their live and people want comfort.
Utter rubbish, sure isn't one invisible pixy as good as the next one.
 

Diawlbach

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Was a massive rebranding exercise.
the Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire.
Same shop, different sign on the door.
Romulus Augustus abdicated in 476 AD. Charlemagne was crowned in 800 AD. In the meantime, Italy alone was invaded by: Ostrogoths, Lombards, Byzantines intent on reconquering, Huns, Saracen raiders, and all sorts of others. In Spain, you had the fall of the Vandal kingdoms and Muslim invasion. France went from Gaul to Merovingian West Francia to the battle of Poitiers to Carolingian West Francia. Rhaetia and Pannonia were lost forever. The Eastern Empire expanded under Justinian and Heraclius, fought a death-match with the Sassanids and then got hit by the hammer-blow of losing Egypt, Syria and North Africa to the Caliphate.

Moreover, if you're going to lift stuff from Hobbes, at least get it right. He wasn't even talking about the Holy Roman Empire.
 

FrankSpeaks

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Except it's nonsense. Moreover, it's plagiarised from Nietszche and passed off as his own.
Why is it nonsense because it plagiarised from Nietzsche or passed off as his own or some other reason that you might like to enlighten us with?
 
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