Ancient Rome welcomed with relative tolerance most of the gods of their defeated subjects (Orlin, 2010, p. 3). There were, in fact, limits: shaped by a state religion, with rituals as old as strange, the Romans were always afraid of orgiastic cults, which, in addition to the loss of self--control, fostered criminal opportunism of collective consequences: “ad summam rem publam spectat “(Livy, 39:16, on the scandal of the Bacchanals of 186 BC). However, in moments of extreme danger for the survival of the Res Publica, and faced with the impotence of the traditional pantheon, the introduction of exotic gods occurred: thus, in the Second Punic War, Rome welcomed Mater Idaea, incorporated in the founding myth of the Vrbs, but accompanied by her entourage and rituals that caused perplexity and discomfort (Beard, 1996, p. 164). The conquest of the Hellenistic world provided contact with other mystery cults, among which stands out the one based on the multifarious Egyptian myth of Isis / Osiris, already adopted and enriched by Greek culture. Even before the complex reflections of Plutarch (De Iside et Osiride) and the fervent proclamation of Apuleius (Metamorphoses), several poetic references from the late Republic and early Empire suggest the strength of the establishment of this cult, despite Augustus’ restoration of the traditional gods. Underlying the nimia pietas of the faithful, praised by Tertullian (Ad Vxorem, 1.6), there seems to be the equivalent of a conversion, motivated by the yearning for individual salvation (Bøgh, 2015).
|Translated title of the contribution||Between collective salvation and individual salvation: some Roman literary vestiges of the myths of Matres Idaea and Aegyptia|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|
- Mystery cults
- Latin literature