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After Life in Roman Paganism

After Life in Roman Paganism
by Franz Cumont

After Life in Roman Paganism: lectures delivered at Yale University on the Silliman Foundation


At the invitation of the President of Yale University and of Professor Eussell H. Chittenden, chairman of the committee in charge of the Silliman Foimdation, the lectures which are here presented to a wider public were delivered in New Haven during the month of March of the year 1921. It was the wish of the committee that I should speak upon some subject from the history of religion. I chose therefore as my theme a matter which had occupied my attention for many years, viz., the ideas current in Roman paganism concerning the lot of the soul after death. The argument has been treated more than once by distinguished scholars
and notably — ^to mention only an English book — ^by Mrs. Arthur Strong in her recent work Apotheosis and After Life, a study characterised by penetrating interpretation, especially of archaeological monuments. But we do not yet possess for the Roman imperial epoch a counterpart to Rohde^s classical volume, Psyche, for the earlier Greek period, that is, a work in which the whole evolution of Roman belief and speculation regarding a future life is set forth. These lectures cannot claim to fill this gap. They may however be looked upon as a sketch of the desired investigation, in which, though without the detailed citation of supporting evidence, an attempt at least has been made to trace the broad outlines of the subject in all its magnitude.

The lectures are printed in the form in which they were delivered. The necessity of making each one intelligible to an audience which was not always the same, has made inevitable some repetitions. Cross references have been added, where the same topics are treated in different connections. However, in a book intended primarily for the general reader, the scholarly apparatus has been reduced to a minimum and as a rule indicates only the source of passages quoted in the text.

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