When St. Paul and St. Peter reached Rome they encountered a state-sponsored religion that had been established for centuries. Amid the shrines and temples of Rome, the Romans sought to preserve and strengthen a religion especially suited to the ambitious city. But Roman religion had also proved permeable to many influences, from Greece, Egypt, Persia, and other parts of Italy. What then was truly Roman, and what had Romans done with their borrowings to stamp them with Roman character? By exhaustive study of texts, inscriptions, and archaeology of Roman sacred places, Dumezil traces the formation of archaic Roman religion from Indo-European sources through the development of the rites and beliefs of the Roman republic. He describes a religion that was not only influenced by the other religions with which it came into contact, but influenced them as well, in mutual efforts to distinguish one nation from another. Even so, certain continuities were sustained in order to achieve a religion that crossed generations and ways of life. The worship of certain gods became the special concerns of certain parts of society, all of which needed attention to assure Rome's success in war, civil administration, and the production of food and goods.
Religion is a major subfield of ancient history and classical studies, and Roman religion in particular is usually studied today by experts in two rather distinct halves: the religion of the Roman Republic, covering the fifth through first centuries B.C.; and the religious diversity of the Roman Empire, spanning the first four centuries of our era. In Time in Roman Religion, author Gary Forsythe examines both the religious history of the Republic and the religious history of the Empire. These six studies are unified by the important role played by various concepts of time in Roman religious thought and practice. Previous modern studies of early Roman religion in Republican times have discussed how the placement of religious ceremonies in the calendar was determined by their relevance to agricultural or military patterns of early Roman life, but modern scholars have failed to recognize that many aspects of Roman religious thought and behavior in later times were also preconditioned or even substantially influenced by concepts of time basic to earlier Roman religious history. This book is not a comprehensive survey of all major aspects of Roman religious history spanning one thousand years. Rather, it is a collection of six studies that are bound together by a single analytical theme: namely, time. Yet, in the process of delving into these six different topics the study surveys a large portion of Roman religious history in a representative fashion, from earliest times to the end of the ancient world and the triumph of Christianity.
The preeminent scholar of comparative studies of Indo-European society, Georges Dumézil theorized that ancient and prehistoric Indo-European culture and literature revolved around three major functions: sovereignty, force, and fertility. This work treats these functions as they are articulated through "first king" legends found in Indian, Iranian, and Celtic epics, particularly the Mahabharata. Dumézil, drawing on an extraordinarily broad range of Indo-European sources from Scandinavia to India and offering an original and provocative analytic method, set a new agenda for studies in comparative oral literature, historical linguistics, comparative mythology, and history of religions. The Destiny of a King examines one of the "little" epics within the Mahabharata—the legend of King Yayati, a distant ancestor of the Pandavas, the heroes of the larger epic. Dumézil compares Yayati's attributes and actions with those of the legendary Celtic king Eochaid Feidlech and also finds striking similarities in the stories surrounding the daughters of these two kings, the Indian Madhavi and the Celtic Medb. When he compares these two traditions with the "first king" legends from Iran, he finds such common themes as the apportionment of the earth and the "sin of the sovereign."
This introduction to the Russian folktale considers the origin, structure and language of folktales; tale-tellers and their audiences; the relationship of folktales to Russian ritual life; and the folktale types which are translated in subsequent volumes of The Complete Russian Folktale.
The world of the early Christian centuries in which the Trinity was developed as a tenet of belief included several religious and philosophical systems with similar beliefs. Triads and Trinity examines three possible areas of impact: Judaism, the religion of Egypt, and various Greek traditions. Whereas a pluralistic concept of God was inherited by Judaism, it eventually accepted a firm monotheism.