Page:Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire vol 1 (1897).djvu/106

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32
THE DECLINE AND FALL

statues of their gods and the rich ornaments of their temples;[1] In the provinces but, in the exercise of the religion which they derived from their ancestors, they uniformly experienced the indulgence, and even protection, of the Roman conquerors. The province of Gaul seems, and indeed only seems, an exception to this universal toleration. Under the specious pretext of abolishing human sacrifices, the emperors Tiberius and Claudius suppressed the dangerous power of the Druids;[2] but the priests themselves, their gods, and their altars, subsisted in peaceful obscurity till the final destruction of Paganism.[3]

at Rome Rome, the capital of a great monarchy, was incessantly filled with subjects and strangers from every part of the world,[4] who all introduced and enjoyed the favourite superstitions of their native country.[5] Every city in the empire was justified in maintaining the purity of its ancient ceremonies; and the Roman senate, using the common privilege, sometimes interposed to check this inundation of foreign rites. The Egyptian superstition, of all the most contemptible and abject, was frequently prohibited; the temples of Serapis and Isis demolished, and their worshippers banished from Rome and Italy.[6] But the zeal of fanaticism prevailed over the cold and feeble efforts of policy. The exiles returned, the proselytes multiplied, the temples were restored with increasing splendour, and Isis and Serapis at length assumed their place among the Roman deities.[7] Nor was this indulgence a departure from the old maxims of

government. In the purest ages of the commonwealth, Cybele
  1. See the fate of Syracuse, Tarentum, Ambracia, Corinth, &c., the conduct of Verres, in Cicero (Actio ii. Orat. 4), and the usual practice of governors, in the viiith Satire of Juvenal.
  2. Sueton. in Claud. [25] — Plin. Hist. Nat. xxx. i.
  3. Pelloutier Histoire des Celtes, tom. vi. p. 230-252.
  4. Seneca Consolat. ad Helviam, p. 74 [6]. Edit. Lips.
  5. Dionysius Halicarn. Antiquitat. Roman., l. ii. [i. p. 275, Reiske].
  6. In the year of Rome 701, the temple of Isis and Serapis was demolished by the order of the senate (Dion Cassius, l. xl. p. 252 [47]), and even by the hands of the consul (Valerius Maximus, 1, 3). [But this passage in Valerius refers to the first demolition in B.C. 219.] After the death of Cæsar, it was restored at the public expense (Dion, l. xlvii. p. 501 [15]). When Augustus was in Egypt, he revered the majesty of Serapis (Dion, l. Ii. p. 647 [16]) ; but in the Pomærium of Rome, and a mile round it, he prohibited the worship of the Egyptian gods (Dion, l. liii. p. 697 [2], l. liv. p. 735 [6]). They remained, however, very fashionable under his reign (Ovid, de Art. Amand. l. i. [77]) and that of his successor, till the justice of Tiberius was provoked to some acts of severity. (See Tacit. Annal. ii. 85, Joseph. Antiquit. l. xviii. c. 3.)
  7. Tertullian in Apologetic, c. 6, p. 74. Edit. Havercamp. I am inclined to attribute their establishment to the devotion of the Flavian family.