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Mission and ConversionProselytizing in the Religious History of the Roman Empire$
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Martin Goodman

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198263876

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198263876.001.0001

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The Diffusion of Cults and Philosophies in the Pagan Roman Empire

The Diffusion of Cults and Philosophies in the Pagan Roman Empire

Chapter:
(p.20) 2 The Diffusion of Cults and Philosophies in the Pagan Roman Empire
Source:
Mission and Conversion
Author(s):

GOODMAN MARTIN

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198263876.003.0002

This chapter examines whether any pagan at any time felt a sense of mission to encourage others to share his beliefs, whether such mission was educational, apologetic, informative, or proselytizing, and whether it was universalistic or directed to specific groups. The investigation looks first at the diffusion of pagan cults. In the second half of the chapter, it considers the spread of philosophical ideas. The attitudes to mission vary greatly in ancient polytheism. When it occurred, mission was usually apologetic and propagandistic. The inscriptions found in shrines proclaiming the power and benevolence of the divinity may be included in these categories. Such attitudes simply praise the god, on the assumption that the gods, like men, love to be honoured. There was no evidence that their ambitions were universalist in scope.

Keywords:   pagan cults, diffusion, ancient polytheism, apologetic mission, propaganda, shrines

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