Reasons for the Invention of “Oriental Cults”


The paper mainly aims to analyze the historiographical background of the category of the so-called oriental cults/oriental religions which are created in the 19th century and developed by Franz Cumont.  The role of this term will be discussed in 20th-century historiography. Being focusing on the works of Tadeusz Zieliński, the terms are important to the reception of the oriental cults metaphor. It is strongly argued that the definition of oriental cults/oriental religions in its original version is not practical nor helpful. Being a historiographical concept, however, it has realized its function in a threefold way: firstly, it drew scholars’ attention to the vigor of ancient religious experience. Secondly, it shows the fact that Roman religion was a living organism, naturally adapted to changing political, social and cultural conditions. Thirdly, it helped to understand the tenets behind the construction of metaphors in the academic treatise.


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