Saturday, 4 June 2016
The God Of The Romans
"'...make sacrifice or give pledge to the God of the Romans.'"
-Poul and Karen Anderson, The Dog And The Wolf, Chapter XVII, section 3, p. 339.
Conual is troubled by the idea of any ruler binding his future self in this way. In fact, no sovereign power can bind its future self. An Act of the British Parliament laid down (I think) that the Church of England would be established by law for evermore. This would mean that no future Parliament had the power to disestablish the Church. However, since in the British Constitution Parliament is supreme, it can repeal any previous law even including one that tried to bind it.
Who is the God of the Romans? People used to think that the gods in the next valley were a different set of gods. Thales said, "All things are full of gods." However, people also seek unity underlying multiplicity and one way to do this is to reduce the number of gods. Thus, the Romans identified Jupiter with Zeus, then with Thor. When they had a world empire, they wanted one God for it. Displaced slaves wanted to believe that their God was omnipresent and that they had not left Him back home. Meanwhile, the Hebrew tribal federation, surviving on the crossroads of Empires, rejected imperial pantheons and made a covenant with a single god under Moses. They came to regard all other gods as powerless before theirs and, since gods are power, this meant that the others did not exist. The prophets formulated a monotheism that became acceptable to the Romans but, in their cosmopolitan empire, they did not want dietary laws, circumcision or repeated animal sacrifices so Christianity gave them freedom from the Law and one perfect sacrifice efficacious for all time. Christ triumphed over Mithras by accepting women and by claiming a basis in recent history, not in remote myth.
Thus, Ysan and Hivernian pagans face the one God of the Romans.