"... a treasure trove of information on the nature and diversity of mystery cults." Westminster Theological Journal
From the Back Cover
This book is about the multiplicity of gods and religions thatcharacterized the Roman world before Constantine. It was not thenoble gods such as Jove, Apollo and Diana, who were crucial to thelives of the common people in the empire, but gods of an altogethermore earthly, earthy level, whose rituals and observances may nowseem bizarre.
The book opens with an account of the nature of popular religionand the way in which the gods and myths of subject peoples weretaken up by the Roman colonizers and spread throughout the empire.Successive chapters are devoted to the Great Mother, Isis, thecults of Syria, Mithras, The Horsemen, Dionysus, and to practicesrelated to the performance of magic. It was above all with thesepopular religions that the early Christians fought for supremacy.In the concluding part of the book Professor Turcan describes thiscontest and its eventual outcome in the triumph of Christianitythroughout the Roman world.
The author assumes little background or specialist knowledge.Each chapter is fully referenced and where appropriate illustratedwith photographs and diagrams. The book includes a guide forfurther reading specifically for English–speaking students.
As well as being of wide general interest, this book will appealto students of the Roman Empire and of the history of religion.