The First Century Roman Empire was pluralistic, relativistic, and very spiritual. The Greeks and Romans shared about 15 or 16 gods and goddesses, worshipped under different names. In addition to their own deities, Rome would incorporate into their belief system the deities worshipped in newly conquered territories. PBS describes this in “The Roman Empire in the First City: Roman Gods”:
As the Empire expanded, it took control of new countries that had their own cultures and their own gods. In Egypt, Isis was a goddess of fertility; she was also a mother and a symbol of death and rebirth. She therefore combined the duties of several Roman goddesses, including Cybele, Aphrodite and Demeter.
The trade and travel that was integral to the Roman Empire made it easy for the worship of gods to spread abroad and Isis came to be worshipped across the Empire. In the same way, the Persian god Mithras was popular with the Roman legions – many of whose soldiers had served in Persia – and shrines to him have been found in Britain, Syria, and across North Africa. Such was the effect of a multicultural Empire that spanned continents and countries.
Research: Contemplative Prayer
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