Philobiblon: Speculative history

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Speculative history

I was up at the British Museum today, for a talk on the Greek and Roman gods, focusing on the Townley collection of classical sculpture. It reminded me of lots of tales that I used to know in my early teens - when I was very into the subject - but have now largely forgotten. I was posting on them earlier in the week, which pushed me to get out of bed in time for the talk.

What did take me most about the talk, however, was the comments on how in the early(ish) Roman empire there were four religions, all monotheistic or quasi-monotheistic, jostling for supremacy. Of course we know which won, but it is fascinating to ponder whether women would have been better off with one of the others.

It is easy to dismiss Mithraism; a religion very clearly aimed at, and popular with, soldiers, it held woman to be less than human.

The others were the cults of Dionysus/Bacchus, and of Isis.

What would a 20th-century Isisian world look like, I wonder?

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