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The Sibylline texts were very important to the aristocracy of Rome. They leaned on these texts for all sorts of different advice. The people who read the texts were initiated and lived in the temple of Jupiter during their tenure, which is for life. These texts helped the Romans decide what to do in time of uncertainty in the empire. One particular instance was that weird hybrid animals and hermaphrodites were being born so they consulted the oracles. The oracles responded by telling them to give a sacrifice to Juno Queen to Zeus (Warrior, 7.18). Another instance is when there was a plague to oracles to Rome to bring a Greek god and they installed a temple to him. The writings say that the “pestilence subsided with amazing speed” so apparently this worked (Warrior 8.10).

Magic seemed to play a role in the majority of everyday peoples lives because of the many writings and inscriptions with magical attributes. It seemed all types of various incantations, potions, and spells were used by everyday people trying to change their lives. Sometimes being so specific as to curse specific body parts and even finical success on another person (Warrior, 12.12). Cato also describes magic to heal a dislocation that is fairly simple and could be done by anyone theoretically (Warrior, 12.6). The only explanation I have to the widespread interest in magical religion is that they had to have believed that these things really did affect their day to day lives. An interesting magic instance that happened was described by Pliny the Elder who describes someone magically transporting his whole farm into the courthouse (Warrior, 12.4). This is interesting because it seems to have no greater significance other than this act of magic happened.

The Cult of Mithras was an exclusively male only cult that possibly has its roots in the ancient near east. The cult was a sanctuary for all those initiated where they could move from place to place and be invited in because they were apart of the secret cult. The only primary text we have is from a Christian writer and it has to do with the initiation rituals. Being blindfolded in a cave and giving yourself over to Mithras is about all we get from the texts (Warrior, 9.13-16). It is interesting that they describe themselves as being “male brides to Venus” so they are describing the relationship as one close to marriage (Warrior, 9.15). Members also have a hierarchy and can rank up understanding maybe more and more about the cosmos as it seems their titles were that of luminaries.

There were many advantages to having multiple different esoteric religions in the Roman Empire. Multiple religions gave a way for people to worship whomever they wanted, it gave them a way to make new specific religions to fit their needs. The Sibylline Books were works that the people of Rome went to when they had any questions, to consult in Senate affairs, in case of political strife, and when a great calamity had befallen them ( Warrior, 5.7). The prophesies were vague in that the same verses might be used for different situations at different time for advice. Another example of when the Romans consulted the Sibylline Books was when they had many deformities all at once and they needed to make sure that they were on the right path (Warrior, 7.18).

The cult of Mithras is as mysterious as it is wide spread. The cult of Mithras was practiced as far as Iran and was typically worshiped along with another god, different gods depending on the different traditions. The cult of Mithras has a mysterious and complicated 7 step initiation process for its members, one step for each of the known planets.  The cave of Mithras is a very important part of the cult, the cave represents the cosmos for the people. Most of the people who joined the cult were soldiers, tax officials, people who are well integrated into the state. Something unique is that all of the members of the cult are men, it was popular for middle ranking men in society. The groups of cult followers typically stayed small and would break up if their following became too large in one location.

Warrior’s selections on magic cover the ritual, binding spells, magical cures, sorcery and witchcraft, and astrology. The Romans seemed to have utilized these methods to explain why one man was more successful than another, for example in 12.4 a farmer had a vastly more abundant crop than his neighbors so they set a day for his trial. I think that magic gave people explanations to why things were not always the same for two people who were doing the same thing. It gave them a way to blame an prosecute someone who they thought were cheating at life. This magic also seemed to be a bit centered on women, maybe giving them a power source, or blaming them, for things that were happening that men did not like.

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