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View Diary: Origins of English: Pagan and Heathen (53 comments)

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  •  If Paganism was a bad thing (9+ / 0-)

    Why did Christian co-op  Christmas from them ,lots of Church leader saw the Pagan had a good them going for themselves and saw  ,how profitable it could be to the Church

    •  The reason is simple. (8+ / 0-)

      It's a lot easier to coopt a festival than to abolish it.  It had nothing to do with profit.

      •  Actually, it often had a LOT to do (16+ / 0-)

        with profit--part of conquering people and enslaving them and grabbing their lands, as the Romans did.. Those lovely missionaries to Germany cut down the oak groves where the pagans worshiped. In Britain, they slaughtered the druids, whom they feared.  And profit for Constantine and the Empire meant profit for the church.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:04:57 AM PDT

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        •  I don't no about Germany (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, NonnyO

          but according to The Agricola by Tacitus, was the Romans who cut down the sacred groves of Britain and put the Druids there to the sword.

          Nothing human is alien to me.

          by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 04:39:12 PM PDT

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          •  Ouch. know not "no". N/T (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa

            Nothing human is alien to me.

            by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 05:02:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Precisely. I've read Tacitus in the original (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa, WB Reeves, NonnyO, duhban

            along with Julius Caesar, some Pliny, and Cicero's orations. And the Argonautica and the Aeneid. We had to take 2 years of Latin at my high school--I took three  followed by a class in the epic in college. Most important thing I learned is that one must take ROman commentary on other cultures with a ten pound bag of salt.

            Nut, yes, they cut down the groves in Britain, and slew the druids on the Isle of Man. The other major lesson I learned was that Romans  were ass annoying and bigoted as hell--and a race of engineers. I got to tired of them making camp then breaking camp and going on a forced march, I rooted loudly for the Germans and the Helvetians ( Swiss). And as a proud Irish-AMerican, I was glad they barely got a toehold there. We fought 'em to a standstill--plus it didn't hurt that the barbarians were invading and they had to pull chocks yto defend ROme.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 05:51:28 PM PDT

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            •  OT Note (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              WB Reeves, NonnyO, irishwitch, LinSea

              I'm currently work on a piece about the Irish Druids for my Ancient Ireland series. The Roman sources tend to be more fantasy than reality.

              •  Looking forward to your diary (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ojibwa, irishwitch

                I wouldn't trust the Romans in general as far as their take on the customs of "barbarian" peoples. Their bigoted commentaries are clearly in the interest of justifying the onward march of empire.

                OTOH, when they do make the rare positive expression, I tend to give it credence as a statement against their own interests.  

                Nothing human is alien to me.

                by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:19:04 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Yet it's amazing how very few people ever (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ojibwa, WB Reeves

                question them.  I mean, they're ROMANS and the Celts were BARBARIANS. I almost got thrown out of my third Latin class at my Catholic high school for pointing out that in Pliny's letter to Trajan, as governor of Judea or whatever (it's been 45 years)he didn't g=hate or want to persecute Christians; he just wanted them to throw incense and and leave.  But they wouldn't cooperate. That kinda ruined my perception of all Romans as evil horrible people who hated Christians.  The nun didn't care for my sking questions.

                I wish to this day that I hadn't gotten two useless degrees (M.L.S., and a master's in TV/Radio) but had pursued my original goal of getting a Ph.D. in Lit, with a concentration on writers of the Celtic Twilight: Yeats, Lady Gregory, Synge, O'Casey. But I didn't. Instead I wrote Irish fairytales (having a great-grandmother under the same roof with a Galway brogue contributed) for fantasy magazines and anthologies. Which, all things considered, may have been the smarter choice.

                The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                by irishwitch on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:31:09 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  That's an impressive resume (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              irishwitch, Ojibwa

              One I can't match. My smidgeon of Latin is second hand by way of my elder sister who was the true scholar in that field. By the time I reached HS, Latin was no longer required or even offered, mores the pity. All my reading of the classical sources came subsequent to school.

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:26:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I HAD to take two years of Latin (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ojibwa, WB Reeves

                Turned out I was good at it. I won a national award from Auxilium Latinum.And I liked reading the material--taught me a lot more about the Roman Empire than a normal history class would have.  At the same time I was researching Irish history out of my own interest--and realized that the Romans were very, very biased, and that much we know of ancient Britain and Ireland comes from them.

                The epic course was actually a great deal of fun. I had a great teacher with a sardonic sense of humor.  We read the Iliad and the Odyssey in translation. ANd I learned that Aeneas was the MOST boring hero in epic poetry, and Dido was so hysterically  annoying that I finally cheered when she killed herself (if she'd gone on much longer, I was fantasizing about poisoning her myself).   My favorite epic hero is Odysseus because he has a brain and used it , unliuke Achilles.

                The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                by irishwitch on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:37:29 PM PDT

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                •  Ah, wily Odysseus (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Ojibwa, irishwitch

                  That man was never at a loss!

                  Nothing human is alien to me.

                  by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:51:37 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I always preferred warriors with brains. (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    WB Reeves, Ojibwa, Bronx59

                    My first h8sband who died in 84, had 3 black belts and two brown and was a competition fencer in high school, preferred to talk his way out of fights or pulling  something that scared the shit out of the toehr guys BEFORE the fight started. WHen you put out a lit cigar in the palm of your hand, they tend to think twice about taking you on (he was 5'11' and a 145 pounds, so he didn't look scary although, as one friend said, "Be nice to this guy; he knows a hundred different ways to kill you.").  My second husband was career Navy with a tendency to be a berserker at heart--but only if he had to. He won many an argument with higher ranking  NCOs because before he opened his mouth, he knew he had right on his side--and military law.

                    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                    by irishwitch on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:03:50 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Isle of Mona.... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ojibwa

              ... currently the Isle of Anglesey, was the stronghold of the druids where Paulinus Suetonius' Roman armies destroyed the druids.  It's off the coast of Wales.

              Isle of Man is further north in the middle of the Irish Sea.

              :-)

              I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

              by NonnyO on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:32:10 PM PDT

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            •  Too bad for our Irish ancestors. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ojibwa

              the reinvasion wiped out the ancient religion and brought the Roman state religion. Legend has it that it was St Patrick of coarse.

          •  The Annals of Imperial Rome (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa, WB Reeves

            ... has the description of the murder of the druids and the Roman soldiers' fear of fighting women on the isle of Mona [modern-day Anglesey].

            Julius Agricola was the aide de campe of Paulinus Suetonius, and he related the story to his son-in-law, Tacitus.

            Tacitus, Annals, Book XIV, Chapters 29-37

            While Paulinus was doing that, the Boudiccan Rebellion began.  Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni [in what is today's Essex, or thereabouts] gathered together several Celtic tribes and led an army which destroyed three major cities, starting with Colchester, then on to London and St. Albans.  Archaeologists still find that burnt layer at digs in those locations.

            By the time Paulinus force-marched his armies back across Britain (the word England was not coined until after the Anglo-Saxon invasions, when one section of Britain became Angle-Land, which was shortened to England), the other towns had also been razed to the ground with virtually everyone in each location killed in retribution for the flogging of Boudicca and the raping of her two daughters.

            The location of the battle between Paulinus' troops and Boudicca's army (they outnumbered the Romans) is not known.  The description survives, and wherever it was, the old people and children were behind the fighting Celts on baggage wains on rise of land.  The Roman army began a pincer movement and with the baggage wains and people blocking a retreat, the Celts were slaughtered.  The Celts had numerical superiority, but they had no discipline; their fighting ways were never that of the disciplined Roman military forces.

            Whatever Boudicca's fate - suicide by poison, fell ill and died, wounded/killed and her body too badly disfigured to be identified - she disappeared with/after that battle.

            Caesar tried twice to invade Britain (55 & 54 BCE).  He disliked the Celts for sending reinforcements to help the Gauls he was trying to subdue (see The Conquest of Gaul aka Gallic Wars; I read it as a book with the former title).  Even more, Caesar loathed the druids for their influence over the Celts.  Paulinus destruction of the druids' stronghold on Mona accomplished what Caesar was unable to do.  Since the druids had none of their knowledge written down (they considered it a point of mental laziness if they couldn't remember their knowledge and pass it on), their knowledge died with them.  Between the Romans and the Catholic priests who wrote their impressions of the Celts and histories and mythologies, I'm afraid we have a distorted picture of the druids and their knowledge nowadays.

            If you like your history to be entertaining as well as knowledgeable, I recommend The Eagle and the Raven by Pauline Gedge.  She uses old Roman texts for info on Boudicca and the Celts and the Romans and follows them closely.  The book also delves into the other contemporary Celtic queen in Britain and also mentioned in the Roman sources: Cartimandua, Queen of the Brigantes.

            Or, read the histories by Tacitus, Caesar, and Dio first, then read Gedge's book.

            I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

            by NonnyO on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:20:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Half right. It is easier to co-opt the festival (10+ / 0-)

        and thereby to maybe increase the number of followers. However, like all else, this was done for profit and power, the true goals of most organized religions. In the, IMHO, rare case that the founder wasn't cynically perpetrating a fraud and a con-job in order to acquire power, profit and authority, then his or her movement soon would be co-opted by subsequent priests and sacerdotes for that purpose.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:10:42 AM PDT

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        •  Well, when it comes to the eary missionaries (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, enhydra lutris

          such a Padraic or Columba, this wouldn't seem accurate. Both of them operated well outside the protection of Christian authority and neither ended up particularly rich or powerful.

          The motives of the Chieftains and "Kings" that they converted are a different question.

          Your description fits Charlemagne to a tee though.

          Nothing human is alien to me.

          by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 04:47:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But they operated, all the same, under the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            WB Reeves

            pope, and it fits all of them since Constantine.

            That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

            by enhydra lutris on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 07:33:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sure (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ojibwa, enhydra lutris

              but what was the significance of that under the conditions that prevailed in the latter half of the 5th century A.D.? We don't have much in the way of a written record and the practical reach of the Pope's authority from Rome to Ireland would likely been severely limited. In a real sense Patrick would have been largely on his on.

              These considerations have even greater applicability to St. Columba in as much as he was active in the 6th century A.D. when conditions were, if anything, even more chaotic.

              It's a mistake to imagine that the church emerged from the collapse of Rome as a fully integrated, centralized organization, official church dogma not withstanding .

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 12:49:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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