Surviving Greco-Roman Polytheism

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by legumes, May 26, 2019.

  1. legumes Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2018
    Let's address the elephant in the room first. Suppose that for whichever reason you prefer the Roman empire never Christianizes. Maybe the persecutions are harsher, the religion itself isn't as evangelical or at least is more elitist, so Christianity just remains a small Jewish offshoot in the near east.

    I'm also aware of Mithraism, Manicheism, and other religions within the empire. However, only the former gained strong support, and even then not across the whole empire. IDK, maybe Gaul and Hispania become Mithraic.

    Now then, how would the state belief of the empire develop? I am under the impression that the old gods were rapidly losing their popularity and luster, which helped the Christians rise to power. So without them, what shape and forms would Greek Polytheism take? ​

    1. Any social predictions for this belief system?
    2. Would the Greek religion be at all similar or comparable to something like Hinduism?
    3. What theological changes would be required for it to survive?
    4. How would a Pagan Rome and Byzantium interact and deal with their neighbors like the Germans, Slavs, Celts, Huns, and others? (Also pagan, but different beliefs)
     
  2. Kaze Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2017
    Considering that the Romans adopted many of the Celtic gods - there are temples in Britannia and France that show Roman Gods and Celtic ones together / or in some cases a combined deity where Mercury or Pluto would be wearing Cernunnos's horns. There is even a case where a local legion would take the local Celtic Goddess as their patron deity.

    I would expect the same with the Germanic gods. Jupiter and Mercury would have much in common with Odin / Wotan / Thor. So I could see an above senerio where there would be temples of a combined gods.
     
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  3. A Most Sovereign Lady Princess of the Kingdom of Maryland

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    Jan 27, 2014
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    Baltimore, MD, USA
    Rome adopted most of the Celtic pantheon that they came into contact with; there's no reason to assume they wouldn't do the same to the Germanic/Slavic pantheon, the Hunnic, etc. If they're not dealing with the internal pressure of their religion being eroded steadily then there's no reason to assume it wouldn't just carry on as usual.

    You could also inquire to @Practical Lobster who seems to be very knowledgeable in this area.
     
  4. Mort the Reaper Well-Known Member

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    Feb 14, 2019
    Fun fact: the Romans actually identified Woden/Wotan/Odin with Mercury, of all deities. There are multiple theories as to why.
     
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  5. Timeline Junkie Well-Known Member

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    Aug 22, 2018
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    The Citadel, Oldtown
    Don't discount the importance of Neo-Platonism and its influence on the religious outlook of people in the Greco-Roman world. Not to mention, the worship of Sol Invictus around the time Christianity was legalized. These things will inevitably shape the existing polytheism into a variety of sects. Ultimately, some other messianic tradition might become popular albeit one more clearly Roman from the beginning Perhaps a Roman philosopher may be inspired by both Judaism and Neo-Platonism and found a religion akin to Christianity, but quite different at the same time. Honestly, there is no guarantee that if Greco-Roman polytheism persisted that it would evolve something akin to Hinduism. It might or might evolve into something we have never seen before in OTL
     
  6. A Most Sovereign Lady Princess of the Kingdom of Maryland

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    Jan 27, 2014
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD, USA
    People overplay the importance of Neo-Platonism, in fairness.
     
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