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By Franz Valery Marie Cumont

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Se Cic, Fro Jrchia, 11, 26; cf. Tusc, I, 15, 34. 20 A F T E R L I F E I N ROMAN PAGANISM survivors liked to think that he who had gone had not entirely perished as long as his remembrance subsisted in the hearts of those who had cherished him and the minds of those who had learnt his praises. In some way, he rose from the grave in the image made of him by the successors of those who had known him. Epicurus himself stipulated in his will that the day of his birth should be commemorated every month, 67 and under the Roman Empire his disciples were still piously celebrating this recurring feast.

HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION 35 ever numerous were the initiates attracted by their renown, they were bound to the soil where they were born. Thus their influence was very limited in the Roman period and cannot be compared with that of the universal cults which were propagated through­ out the Mediterranean world. As for Orphism, which was never connected with any one temple, it is doubtful whether it still constituted an actual sect, and if it did, it certainly spread over a very narrow field. Its influence was perpetuated chiefly because it was absorbed by Pythagorism.

These religions taxxght that the soul of the just man does not go below the ground but rises to the sky, there to enjoy ^divine bliss in the midst of the stars in the eternal light. Only the wicked were condemned to roam the earth's surface, or were dragged by the demons into the dusky depths in which the spirit of evil reigned. Opinions differed as to the region of heaven in which the souls of the elect dwelt. The 11 Chaldeans/' who looked upon the sun as the master and the intelligence of the universe, made him the author of human reason, which returned to him after it had left the body, while for the priests of Mithras the spirit rose, by way of the planetary spheres, to the summit of the heavens.

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After Life in Roman Paganism: Lectures Delivered at Yale University on the Silliman Foundation by Franz Valery Marie Cumont


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