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24 February 2010. Religion under the Romans  Roman religion was polytheistic and flexible  Roman conservatism engendered respect for other religions.

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Presentation on theme: "24 February 2010. Religion under the Romans  Roman religion was polytheistic and flexible  Roman conservatism engendered respect for other religions."— Presentation transcript:

1 24 February 2010

2 Religion under the Romans  Roman religion was polytheistic and flexible  Roman conservatism engendered respect for other religions Several existed with the Empire ○ Greek Mystery Cults Celebrate god of wine (Dionysus) or grain (Demeter) Secret rites: Demeter looked to promise of eternal life ○ Cults of Isis and Mithras Gender specific Eternal life, promise of resurrection for moral behavior ○ Manichaeism Struggle between dark and light (good and evil) ○ Judaism ○ Christianity

3 The Rise of Dissent, ca. 4 B.C.E.  Roman rule caused resentment among the Jews of Judea  Many Jews believed the messiah was coming soon to overthrow the Romans and liberate the Jews from bondage. Jews in Judea began embracing messianic cults and cult leaders  Jesus of Nazareth was one of these leaders. His teachings were Jewish he did not really challenge Roman rule as such his followers considered themselves orthodox Jews (as would the earliest Christians)

4 Jesus of Nazareth  Difficult to trace him historically—no written sources Born 4 B.C.E. Age 30: Baptized by John the Baptist, who is executed by the Romans Criticized the pillar of the Jewish Establishment, the Saducees (priests and wealthy men) Rejected Zealots who sought revolt against Rome Rejected need to follow the letter of biblical law

5 The Products of Dissent  The Romans saw such messianic cult movements as threats to public order arrested and crucified many of these people, including Jesus  Immediate and later followers like Paul of Tarsus and Augustine of Hippo would re- format Christianity for a wider audience Paul becomes a missionary throughout Rome Pauline Churches prospered and departed from Jewish traditions New emphasis on differences between Judaism and Christianity Increased suppression of Judaism in the Roman Empire

6 Tacitus: Nero’s Persecution of the Christians (Burning of Rome, 64 CE)  Yet no human effort, no princely largess nor offerings to the gods could make that infamous rumor disappear that Nero had somehow ordered the fire. Therefore, in order to abolish that rumor, Nero falsely accused and executed with the most exquisite punishments those people called Christians, who were infamous for their abominations. The originator of the name, Christ, was executed as a criminal by the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius; and though repressed, this destructive superstition erupted again, not only through Judea, which was the origin of this evil, but also through the city of Rome, to which all that is horrible and shameful floods together and is celebrated. Therefore, first those were seized who admitted their faith, and then, using the information they provided, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much for the crime of burning the city, but for hatred of the human race. And perishing they were additionally made into sports: they were killed by dogs by having the hides of beasts attached to them, or they were nailed to crosses or set aflame, and, when the daylight passed away, they were used as nighttime lamps. Nero gave his own gardens for this spectacle and performed a Circus game, in the habit of a charioteer mixing with the plebs or driving about the race-course. Even though they were clearly guilty and merited being made the most recent example of the consequences of crime, people began to pity these sufferers, because they were consumed not for the public good but on account of the fierceness of one man.

7 Making Christianity Official  Constantine, Edict of Milan, 313 C.E.  Theodosius I, 391 C.E.  Challenges to Christianity’s dominance? Polytheism ○ Julian the Apostate Judaism ○ Special allowances ○ Increased restrictions  Christianity’s appeal Community Salvation Charity Roles for women

8 The Growth of the Christian Church  The words Christian Church referred to the officials who administered to Christians institutionalized as a Roman religion years after the death of Jesus of Nazareth the church was organized like the Roman state ○ Deacons ○ Priests ○ Bishops ○ Archbishops

9 Questions of Orthodoxy  Arianism Arius addressed the issue of the Trinity and co- eternal existence Council of Nicaea, 325 C.E.  Monophysitism Divine takes precedence over the human  Nestorianism Mary gives birth to a human, a vessel for the divine  Donatism Rejection of those who cooperated with Roman authority during the Great Persecution

10 Leadership and Orthodoxy  Early Christian leaders wrote intellectual treatises foundation for Christian orthodoxy pagan beliefs into Christianity Paul of Tarsus – split from Jewish ritual practice The Council of Nicaea (325 C.E Ambrose church/state Augustine of Hippo historical/philosophical base

11 In the East: The Byzantines (400-788 C.E.)  The Byzantine East kept institutions of old Roman Empire alive  The Byzantine Church was under direct control of the emperor  Secular and religious leadership was inseparable

12 Empire in the East, 500-565 C.E.  Eastern Empire avoided the massive transformation that shaped western Europe Called Byzantium (old name for Constantinople) By the 500s C.E. had attained great authority and wealth ○ Trade routes and agriculture ○ luxury goods from east Asia ○ religious festivals and events ○ Considered themselves “true” preservers of “Romanness”

13 Social and Cultural Conflict in the Byzantine East  Despite ideas about “Romanness” in the Byzantine East… Women lived more like women in classical Athens Christianity The government faced corruption

14 Justinian, 527-565 C.E.

15 The Reign of Justinian, 527-565 C.E.  constant military expedition to reclaim the West Re-occupied parts of Italy, Spain and north Africa ○ destroyed the West’s infrastructure ○ Destroyed East’s treasury ○ Unpopular taxes burdened cities and countryside

16 Justinian’s Reign, 527-565 C.E.  To create stability Justinian instituted a massive re-building campaign (constructing Hagia Sophia) centralized the government by organizing his law code Enforced religious unity  Preserved classical Latin and Greek literature viewed by Church authorities as heretical Elite Christians seeking jobs had to read Greek and Latin texts Classical rhetoric became a method for presenting Christian theology Christians incorporated classical symbols and imagery in art Kept some Platonic and lots of Aristotelian work as inspiration



19 Rise of a New Religion  As Christianity develops in the Roman Empire, a new religion emerges in Arabia  Islam, “submission to God”  Followers of these two religions (and their actions) dominate the history of the medieval West

20 The Origins of Islam  Muhammad b. 570 C.E., d. 632 C.E. came from a profitable family of merchants in Mecca (in modern day Saudi Arabia)  Some education, mainly in commerce  Married a wealthy widow and rose to some degree of status in Meccan society by age 30  Most of Arab culture recognized a series of gods/goddesses also acknowledged Judaism and Christianity because of international commerce

21 The Origins of Islam  Muhammad had his first spiritual experience in 610 C.E. experiencing visions from the archangel Gabriel message of monotheism and missionary work  An expanding citizenry of Meccan citizens joined him and helped spread his revelations Qur’an in the early 650s hadith (stories about Muhammad and his sayings and deeds)  Brought tension with the ruling elite in Mecca preferred the old religion of shrine tribute and offerings to gods/goddesses

22 The Spread of Islam  The pressure forced Muhammad and followers to flee in 622 C.E. to Medina Muhammad expanded his visions became a prophet set up a society of exile followers  In 624 C.E., Muhammad and his followers sacked Meccan temples and shrines in the Battle of Badr  Muhammad and his followers would spend the next two years conquering most of Arabia in the same way (until his death)

23 The Organization of Islam  Muhammad believed God (Allah) was speaking to him through revelation  Muhammad’s revelations called on people to submit to the will of the one true god acknowledge that one god created the universe and everything in it. Those who did so were called Muslim-- “submission” to Islam, the will of God  Muhammad presented himself as the latest prophet in a series including Noah, Moses and Jesus  Followers believed in ummah

24 The Organization of Islam  Committed to the 5 Pillars of Islam ○ Zakat, tax used for alms ○ Ramadan, fast remembering Battle of Badr ○ Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca ○ Salat, formal worship (initially) 3 times a day ○ Shahadah, profession of faith  No successor to Muhammad seemed appropriate upon his death caliphs were chosen to succeed Muhammad by elites wishing to hold economic and political sway

25 Islamic Society  Muhammad’s teachings emphasized social equality Caliphate based on social hierarchy (birth, religious distinction, wealth and talent)  Slavery and anti-African prejudice, in particular, was a mainstay of later Islamic states  The Qur’an gave women spiritual and sexual equality later Islamic states subordinated women to male rule in private and public life  Islam was an urban religion came to the countryside only with expanded trade facilitated a centralized authority  late 1200s: local Islamic communities develop their own interpretations of Islam with new religious schools and organizations emerging


27 The West: Many kingdoms  With the decline of certain Roman imperial rule, power and stability shifted to kinship networks, church authority and patronage, royal courts and wealth in land (usually from plunder)  Power diffused and wielded by Church authorities and kings

28 Europe’s Dark Ages  What makes the early medieval period “dark”?  Expansion of Christianity Germanic tribes settle former Western Empire ○ Christendom Merovingians, 5 th Century (modern-day France) ○ King Clovis Anglo-Saxon England: Council of Whitby 663  Muslim invasions 710, Iberian Peninsula Move through Iberian Peninsula, across Pyrenees into modern-day France Charles Martel, “The Hammer”


30 The West: A medley of kingdoms  During the 6 th century the Franks had established themselves as the dominant power in Roman Gaul (much of modern- day France and western Germany) Made up of decaying Roman cities due to loss of commercial and cultural Roman vitality and depopulation of the areas Organized around what would become the feudal system

31 The Powerful in Merovingian Society  Monarchs and aristocrats who held power due to hereditary wealth, status and political influence Production of children became central to keeping family lines going Because need for marriage, aristocrats embraced Christian tradition (more conservative in the West) and abandoned classical thinking Marriage held together extended families and kept land in the hands of heirs Merovingian kings bolstered their power by allying with aristocrats

32 The Early Middle Ages (700-1100 C.E.)  Charlemagne (768-814 C.E.) established the powerful Frankish state ruled his Merovingian empire from Paris Used missi dominici, counts with hereditary power to maintain order  Crowned Holy Roman Emperor on December 25, 800 C.E. Pope Leo III perpetuate Roman imperial ideas by vehicle of the Church, revive classical learning, while furthering monasticism and Christian educational reform  This empire would be divided in 3 by his successor sons and reduce the power of the Holy Roman Emperor

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