Lecture 10: Early Roman Civilization, 753-509BC
Among the relatively small nations w~re the Hebrews, who after a long history of about 4000 years came to the Land of Promise (Canaan), and by 1.000 B.C. a flourishing state had been created. Their supreme achievement was in religion, and the Bible became a precious legacy to Western civilization. Frequently moving from place to place, they absorbed local civilizations, to take advantage of their knowledge. Judaism, an older religion, gave basic principles to the younger faiths, Christianity and Islam.
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hen the Greeks and the Romans conquered Egypt, was influenced by that of Egypt. Ancient pagan beliefs gradually faded and were replaced by monotheistic religions. Today, the majority of the is Muslim, with a small minority of Jews and Christians.
Hinduism evolved from the Brahman religion, it did the same and also spread to
a few other areas of Indian commercial influence in Southeast Asia.
Christianity showed an ability to win a growing minority in the Roman Empire
and at a few points beyond its borders, in the Middle East and North Africa.
The waning of the great empires so confused and reshuffled geographical
boundaries, from the Mediterranean to the Pacific, that the regional confines
of religion were modified more dramatically.
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The very history of Christianity and Judaism in the empire demonstrates that there were limits to how accommodating Roman religion could be, and these were not the only cults to be singled out for persecution.
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doctrine became increasingly organized, as the writings of several disciples
and others were collected into what became the New Testament of the Christian
Christianity Gains Ground
During the first three centuries after Christ, the new religion competed
among a number of Eastern mystery religions.
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These contrasting facts are little known for several reasons. For far too long our histories have concentrated on the rise and fall of empires, the militaristic clash of nations, and the succession of dynasties. Only lately have historians begun to trace the rise of civilization itself. Moreover, until relatively recently the West remained insular. Not until the Age of Enlightenment and the French Revolution did the history, arts and religions of Oriental countries begin to interest the Western mind.
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have fostered a greater respectability for disciplined work than had been
current in the aristocratic ethic of Mediterranean civilization, particularly
through the values promoted by Western monasticism.
Certainly, Christianity sought some changes in classical culture,
including greater emphasis on sexual restraint, beyond its central religious
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Christianity also answered cultural and spiritual needs - especially but not exclusively among the poor - left untended by mainstream Roman religion and culture.