By Arthur Bell

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Magas gives the terminus ante quem 258. Asoka goes on to say: 'and here too, in the King's dominions, among the Yonas and Kambojas, among the Nabhapamtis of Nabhaka, among the Bhojas and Pitinakas, among the Andhras and Pulindas (all in the North or Northwest of India), everywhere men follow His Sacred Majesty's instruction in the Law of Piety. Even where envoys of His Sacred Majesty do not penetrate, there, too, men hearing His Sacred Majesty's ordinances based on the Law of Piety and his instruction in that Law ...

The Homeric hymns belong to the world of these changes: thus the Hymn to Demeter stresses (1. 270) the need for a big temple at Eleusis, and this did not exist till the seventh century. In any event there are clear signs of an upward movement of enthusiasm and vigour in religion, and this comes soon after the probable date of Apollo's establishing himself at Delphi. Dionysus above all is gaining in this period, and the story of his cult as a whole affords the most manifest example of religious conquest.

This service means ecstasy and liberation and a curious sense of holiness which goes hand in hand with fierce hatred of the man who 'fights against god' (45,325) and 'kicks against the pricks' (795). This is of that passionate temper of the Thraco-Phrygian stock which flames up later in Montanism. We feel for the moment in contact with a religion which could produce a church when we see in an inscription at Cumae 'No one may be buried here except one who has become a Bacchant'. Ordinary humanity felt the spell for the moment; but it had to return To the old solitary nothingness.

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Christian Huygens and the development of science in the seventeenth century by Arthur Bell


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