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The Ritual Systems

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Chapter Summary

This chapter briefly discusses the rituals in the mysteries, the rituals in the Phrygian cults and Egyptian cults, and the cultic practice in Mithraism. The mysteries were historically conditioned by the ambivalent attitudes of the wider society; their social catchment meant that they could never enjoy an unequivocal status. This chapter summarises this institutionalised ambivalence by invoking Victor Turner's contrasting notions of liminality and communitas. The standard accounts, ancient and modern, of the early history of the Phrygian cults at Rome insist on the fact that it was not simply a new deity that was introduced but an entire cult, complete with a liturgy, processions and cult-attendants from a religious tradition quite different from the Roman. The chapter examines the role of two basic ritual practices, sacrifice and prayer, as elements in the process of binding worshippers to the Egyptian cults.

Keywords: cultic practice; Egyptian cults; Mithraism; mysteries; Phrygian cults; ritual



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