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Did Oathbreaking Lead to the Dark Ages?

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icymist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-23-11 10:30 PM
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Did Oathbreaking Lead to the Dark Ages?
History is written by the victors. This we all know well, yet there is a portion of our history that I dont hear Pagans talk about a lot. The fall of the Roman Empire is generally seen as a failure of Paganism and Pagan culture. The fact of Paganism collapsing under its own decadence has been repeated so often that it would be surprising to hear it contradicted. Yet if you put on your Pagan glasses and look at the situation from a religious perspective, it actually appears to be a pretty clear example of what happens when sacred oaths are broken.

Today most Pagans, who arent active in Nova Roma, tend to focus on the private cultus and home worship of the ancient Romans, but the State cult was an integral part of Roman life. In fact, neglect of the State cult was ruinous both personally and nationally. Every citizen was required to make sacrifice to the State cult. The only exceptions were the Jews, who were allowed to make a sacrifice to their God on behalf of the State and their temples were recognized as part of the legitimate college of religious cults. A breakdown in communication occurred when the Christians refused to make the civic sacrifice yet insisted they werent Jews, who were the only group exempt. Aside from the madness of Nero, the persecution of Christians under Pagan Rome was originally due to this atheism that the Pagans found abhorrent, not the Christian religion itself. To deny the State cult its civic sacrifice was tantamount to refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance today.

The civic sacrifice was important because the Roman government had contracts with the Gods of Rome. Thats right, the State government was oathbound to uphold certain religious rites in return for the protection and favor of the Gods of Rome. Any citizen refusing to do their civic duty was essentially breaking the contract the Romans had made with their Gods. This was not dealt with lightly, as the safety and prosperity of Rome was at stake.
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