The Cults of the Roman Empire by Robert Turcan: Critical Review

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“Greek civilization was the daughter f the east, and Roman civilization was the product of Greek education” (Turcan, 2). The Cults of the Roman Empire by Robert Turcan tells the history of the cults of ancient Rome, ho they came into being, why people worshiped within their constraints and how they eventually branched out into new cults with borrowed deities and rules worship. This particular study is important and relevant today because it is an example of how everything in history evolves from something else and how good ideas are perpetuated and shared. Rarely if ever do ideas spring up out of complete void… with the obvious exception of creation, But even that religious myth seems to have been borrowed from another. Conflict, osmosis and symbiosis are part of the descriptive language Robert Turcan uses in his attempt to explain it is important to investigate the mystery cults of Rome. By examining differing cultures and civilizations as a collective rather than individual as well as the time and region in which they flourished, the author is better able to convey the religious syncretism that led to the development of other sister cults throughout ancient times. “Every ancient city defended its identity by imposing gods” (Turcan, 10). The cult of Isis traces its origins back to the delta region of the Nile River in Egypt. She was the goddess of corn and the earth. The wife and sister of Osiris, God of the dead, and mother to the link between the living and the dead Horus, Isis was deified because her role in the resurrection of Osiris and consequentially Egyptians’ chance at an eternal life after death. She “offered worshippers who were uneasy about their fate in this world, and the next, the pledge of a victorious omnipotence of over evil and death” (Turcan, 80). She tended to assume the universal sovereignty of her husband, therefore making her goddess of the stars, heavens, earth and sea. It was just this type of powerful plurality that attracted the...
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