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HIST 2200 Chapter Notes -Mithraism, Mother Goddess, Migration Period

Course Code
HIST 2200
Susannah Ferreira

of 3
Early Christianity
- Roman Empire tolerant of all religious beliefs
- Allowed spread of ideas and helped maintain unity across the Empire
- Rome took Greek deities and added them to their beliefs, pantheon was
fluid with stories and gods being created – flexibility
- Cybele – Earth Mother goddess from Asian Minor
- Mithras, religion from Persia, fierce religion of the gladiators promoting
masculinity and violence Mithrauem – place of worship for this religion,
example would be bathing in blood of a bull(bull on 2nd floor, they below) to
absorb the strength
- Religions developed to fill voids in ideas
o Elaborate initiations into faith
o Activities/rites that all believers participated in, very active participation
o Worship of god of rebirth for the land, belief that there was a need for a
sacrifice, people became euphoric during worship, very public
o All faiths involved personal redemption, they were all flexible and were not
exclusive in practice(could be adherent of more than one)
Toleration and its Challenges
Church/State Tension
o Monotheism was a new idea, not widely accepted by Romans
o Persecution of Christians due to the fact they refused to sacrifice to the
Roman gods
o Christian Catacombs – decorated rooms for worship and to bury the dead,
underground hiding areas
o Officials feared this religion, faith of the common people for the first 3
o Secret meetings raised fears of plots, refused to worship states god or
participation in state requirements(army, government)
State thought that the Christians were immoral due to
misinterpretations of the language of the faith(cannibals because of
body and blood of Christ)
Diocletian’s Persecution of the Christians
o Launch last major persecution in 303
o 313 – Constantine issued Edict of Toleration
Possibly became Christian on his deathbed
o Says that all peoples and faiths could flourish under the empire with
individual decisions allowed
- Every following Emperor was Christian except Julian the Apostate (361 –
363) who tried to return the empire to previous state, failed and
pagan/Christian/state religion remained
Theodosius I(379-395)
o Outlawed all pagan religions and persecuted all faiths except Christianity
o Pagan religions remained in the countryside because of the fact that less
state influence allowed individuality to remain
- 5th century time of barbarian invasions
- Arians - Tensions arose between the Church and State, State thought they
should have final say in the faiths
o Believed that Jesus was highest of God’s creatures but was not God
o Very popular among Germanic tribes
Council of Nicea (325) – first Church council, continued on as a way for the
Church to organize and develop doctrines
- Bishops from across the empire gathered
- Decided against the Arians, decided that God was Jesus
- Arians continued to flourish in the East, but in the West the Catholics took
power and popularity
- Constantine’s son became Arian, tried to force the Catholics to adhere to
the State, rebuked and set precedent for division between state and Church
Council of Constantinople
- Attempt to force the Catholic faith on everyone
Church Fathers
- Augustine of Hippo, wrote The City of God to explain barbarian invasions,
due to the fact that Romans had converted from the old gods and were now
being punished, supported state persecution of Donatist ‘heretics’
- Died leading defence of Hippo against Vandals
- Ambrose, Bishop of Milan – went from pagan Roman Governor
o Excommunicated Theodosius for political reasons, forced the Emperor to
pay public penance for misdeeds
o Refused to allow state interference in religion
- Jerome, Bishop who translated the Bible into the vulgate
- Old religious ideas were incorporated into Christian faith (holy well became
Mary’s well, etc), Eastern areas paid lip service to the Church
Administrative Developments
- Religion began to develop administration similar to Romans
- Bishops
o Attendants followed the bishops everywhere
o Schools grew around the bishops, started in the 5th century and endured to
the 12th century with the development of universities
o Clerics were considered sacred and above state law
Differentiated themselves from others(Friar Tuck haircut)
o 7th to 8th centuries, growth of monasteries, important in converting
northern peoples, monk was not a priest for some reason, here people fled to
become educated
o Leo I (440- 461) – becomes most important negotiator during the invasions,
turned away Attila but failed to dissuade the Vandals
o Gregory the Great (590-604) – began career as civil servant, 574 in
monastery, 576 was envoy to Constantinople
Encouraged social service and increased revenues for church
through trade
Gave financial aid to those who needed it
Influenced development of religion in the northern areas
Dispatched missionaries to convert the Anglo-Saxons, did this at
a time
when Rome was in chaos, reasserted Rome’s primacy
- Council of Sardica (344) – decreed bishops who were deposed by local
councils could appeal to Rome for final judgement
Council of Constantinople in 381 decreed the bishop of Rome was first and
the bishop of Constantinople was second( Petrine Doctrine by Leo)
- Pope is seen as the heir to St Peter and final word on faith issues
Council of Chalcedon – assessing Nestorianism – emphasised the humanity of
Christ, Nestor was
exiled to Persia and his ideas flourished in Asia, spread to China