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Romans, though you’re guiltless, you’ll still expiate
your fathers’ sins, till you’ve restored the temples,
and the tumbling shrines of all the gods,
and their images, soiled with black smoke.
~Horace, Odes, III, 6; A. S. Kline trans.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Priesthoods and the Cultus Deorum

Our friends at Neos Alexandria have an interesting post on the reconstruction of priesthoods. They suggest an important reason for us to be interested in this:
" create religions that provide for the spiritual needs of the people who follow it, and help cement the chances of our survival as a faith in the modern world. Many of the successful and still surviving ancient religions have such divisions, and it is one reason why they still exist, despite pressures from Western Monotheisms." (1)
Neos Alexandria is a multicultural group, and they mention the case of Roman reconstructionism:
"The Romans had similar divisions [of society] particularly with the Pontifices who oversaw the priesthoods, the Flamines who carried the rituals out, and the Augurs who served as diviners." (1)
I agree that our survival and growth depends in great measure on our ability to speak to people's spiritual needs. More than that, we need to agree upon and promote a set of core values and procedures that we can keep in common. I don't mean that we need to have a "Spanish Inquisition" type obsession with orthodoxy, but if we are to be anything we have to be something. This is the reason, for example, that we carry the "Basic Principles" statement at the bottom of every page of this blog. (That statement came out of both scholarly research and discussions with a fairly large group of self-identified followers of the Cultus Deorum.)

What I disagree with, though, is the suggestion that the best way to do this is through establishment of formal priesthoods such as the College of Pontifices. There are several reasons for this.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Benefits of Stoicism: via Lifehacker

Back in October 2011, Lifehacker posted a brief but useful introduction to Stoicism. It is good to see that such a widely read and practical site as Lifehacker is talking about Stoicism, and doing it accurately.

What I really like about this piece is that it relates Stoicism directly to the modern-day life issue of how to have "a good and meaningful life". Lifehacker's post was triggered by What is Stoicism and How Can it Turn your Life to Solid Gold by "Mr. Money Mustache".

Many Romans, at least, many educated Romans (we know too little about the non-literate classes) embraced Stoicism (for example, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius). Stoicism was and is consistent with a life of pietas and a pursuit of the Roman virtues. Modern followers of the Cultus Deorum are under no obligation to follow any particular philosophical path, but those who do not take a serious look at Stoicism are missing out not only on a major part of our cultural heritage, but also on what has been for many a practical guide to a happy life.

Recommended reading: "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" by William B. Irvine.

 EDIT: I bought the book and I review it here