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Power and Its Redefinitions: The Vicissitudes of Attis

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Chapter Summary

The first of two themes in this chapter is the shifting perception of the figure of Attis in the debates of the past, giving priority to the contributions of books in the series launched by Maarten Vermaseren and originally called "Etudes Preliminaires aux Religions Orientales". The second interweaving theme is the issue of power: The chapter takes it in this context to mean the capacity of a religious movement or idea to sustain or increase its reach and influence by whatever means it can employ. The chapter emphasises how unlikely Attis was as a candidate for the construction of religious power in the Roman context in particular. In broad terms, one can say that the Christian writers' concern about the Attis-cult is best understood if it was viewed as a powerful rival in an environment of competition for members. Attis' weakness had at last become his strength.

Keywords: Attis-cult; Christian writer; Maarten Vermaseren; religions orientales; religious power; Roman society



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