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Definition Pagan and Mithraism

To: alt.pagan
From: Raven 
Subject: Definition Pagan and Mithraism
Date: 49941022

Quoting: | (LeGrand Cinq-Mars) writes:

|Here's the beginning of the OED entry on "pagan" --
|pagan ('peIg&schwa.n), sb. and a. Forms: 4 paygane, 5 pagayne, 5-6
|pagane, 5-
|pagan. [ad. L. pagan-us, orig. `villager, rustic; civilian, non-militant',
|opposed to miles `soldier, one of the army', in Christian L. (Tertullian,
|Augustine) `heathen' as opposed to Christian or Jewish.  The Christians
|themselves milites `enrolled soldiers' of Christ, members of his militant
|church, and applied to non-Christians the term applied by soldiers to all who
|were `not enrolled in the army'.  Cf. Tertullian De Corona Militis xi, `Apud
|hunc [Christum] tam miles est paganus fidelis quam paganus est miles
|infidelis'.  See also GIBBON xxi. note.

What makes this all the more interesting -- and one of the reasons that
I suspect this started with the Mithraists before the Christians picked
it up -- is that "miles", soldier, was also a rank of Mithraism, and
had been since before the birth of Christ.  So was "Pater", father, a
thing which Christ forbade his followers to call any man... and which
became the Christian term for priests, after the mass conversions...
so it seems likely that BOTH terms were adapted from Mithraism.

The seven degrees of initiation in Mithraism (from lowest to highest),
which the Sacratus (Mystic) progressively held:

            1.  Corax       = Raven
            2.  Cryphius    = Occult
            3.  Miles       = Soldier
            4.  Leo         = Lion
            5.  Perses      = Persian
            6.  Heliodromus = Runner of the Sun
            7.  Pater       = Father

(Source:  Franz Cumont's THE MYSTERIES OF MITHRA (translated), 1903.)

|  The explanation of L. paganus in the sense `non-Christian, heathen', as
|arising out of that of `villager, rustic', (supposedly indicating the fact
|that the ancient idolatry lingered on in the rural villages and hamlets after
|Christianity had been generally accepted in the towns and cities of the Roman
|Empire: see Trench Study of Words 102, and cf. Orosius I Praef. `Ex locorum
|agrestium compitis et pagis pagani vocantur') has been shown to be
|chronologically and historically untenable, for this use of the word goes
|back to Tertullian c 202, when paganism was still the public and dominant
|religion, and even appears, according to Lanciani, in an epitaph of the 
|2nd cent.]

And that, I think, settles that.

|-- Perhaps something like this should be in some sort of FAQ?

I'm certainly adding it to *my* files!

-- Raven (JSingle@Music.Lib.MATC.Edu).  [All standard disclaimers apply]

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