Sie sind auf Seite 1von 2

and blood, had reached Italy with disastrous results, but their excesses werequi ckly curbed (see

p. 8). The cult of Bacchus is not heard of again untilthe time of Caesar when it appears as a more respectable mystery-religion. Thecult of the Great Mother Cybele was carefully regulated by the Roman author-ities: Romans, for instance, must not serve as her priests or take part in herprocessions. If, however, Lucretius famous description of these wild ecstaticprocessions re ects contemporary practice in the streets of Rome, the cultwill have attracted Roman attention if not dire ct participation. Other easternreligions, as that of Cappadocian Ma and Persian Mithras reached Italy in thelate Republic, but only gained importance later. Fro m Egypt the worship of Isis and Sarapis had reached some cities of Italy by the second century, andtraditionally was established at Rome by Sulla s day, no doubt at rst as aprivate and secret cult. In 58 . . altars to Isis on the Capitol were destroyedby the consuls; though temporarily r ecognized by the triumvirs in 43, the cultwas again suppressed by Augustus. Thus in the later Republic the authoritiesmade constant attempts to regulate, restra in or expel these foreign religions,but in the long run, especially as the popul ation of Rome was becomingmore cosmopolitan, they failed. But before the eastern cults took deeproot, the battle against them was to be fought by a doughty cham pion of theItalian tradition, Augustus. To this cause he was committed while he was stillOctavian: were not Isis and the deities of Egypt ranged on the side of Antonyand Cleopatra at Actium against the ancestral gods of Rome? Monstrous godsof every shape , wrote Virgil, and Anubis, the yelping dog, bear arms againstNeptune and Venus and against Mine rva. The battle was on The o cial cults had long been empty of any deep religious meaning formost of those th at attended them: provided that their formal celebrationmaintained the pax deorum they need inspire no personal feelings, though theywould o er at least a spectacle, if not a belief, to the poor. While somepriesthoods wer e less regarded, membership of the great priestly collegeswas increasingly sough t for political ends. No doubt the simple worship of the household continued to retain real meaning for the more old-fashioned,and in the countryside the older cults must have ourished. But if o cialcults meant little to the educated classes, it must not be supposed that Luc retiusand the philosophers had caused them to abandon all superstition, whichmus t also have been rampant among the poor. The teaching of Pythagoras,with its bel ief in the transmigration of souls, appeared in Rome in the rstcentury, and the learned praetor of 58 . . , P. Nigidius Figulus, was a followerof this Neopythagoreanism. He also wrote a treatise to expose astrology,which despite the expulsion of Chaldeans from Rome in 139, had becomepopular.

17 The way had been paved by Posidonius, whom Augustine describedas a philosopher-astrologer . He regarded astrology as a branch of appliedastronomy and believed that an all -embracing power ( sympatheia ) linkedup all the parts of the universe both large and small. This belief in co smicsympathy and the linking of a fatalistic astrology to Stoicism helped to spr eadthe doctrine widely among the upper classes. But beside rationalists, whofoun d in astrology a link between human causality and the cosmic laws tha