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Religion, Cult And Mystery

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Chapter Summary

This chapter tries to enter the conceptual world of the three major cults, of Cybele and Attis, Isis and Serapis, and Mithras, comprehends their rituals. The very fact that they managed to expand all over the Roman world confirms, whatever the actual number of their adherents at any one time, that the populations of quite diverse areas of the Empire felt attracted to such religious experiences and found in them a means, alongside more traditional religious forms, of responding to some of the new anxieties lurking in the realm of the imaginaire. The chapter provides a brief presentation of author's pre-conceptions, enables the reader to understand author's view of the controversial subject of the religious character of the oriental cults. It mentions that Giulia Sfameni Gasparro has gone so far as to suggest that only the cult of Mithras can be counted a true 'mystery religion'.

Keywords: Attis; Cybele; Isis; Mithras; mystery religion; religious character; Roman world; Serapis



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