Roman Mythology

The Emperor-God and Foreign Borrowings

How did the Empire use the mythologies of the people it conquered?

As noted earlier, instead of stamping out the religious traditions and deities of the people in their empire, the Romans tended to absorb them. This, of course, was true only if the peoples in question recognized the official elements of the Roman religion, including the deification of emperors. Some Jews and Christians, for instance, refused to accept what they saw as “pagan” practices and, as a result, these people suffered persecution.

Examples of “foreign” deities who became popular in Rome were Attis and the Great Mother Cybele from Phrygia in Asia Minor, Isis from Egypt, and Mithras from Persia (Iran).


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