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European Paganism: The Realities of Cult from Antiquity to the Middle Ages Review

Ken Dowden tried to summarize cultic life before Christianity became the force that it is today. He covers old calendars, burial rituals, and all the like. Should you bother with it? Should I have paid $25 for it?


Dowden has a good hand for organizing information. He said he would group things by aspect of experience because going through each group would mean that the book would be 90% Greek and Roman. This is fair. And he kept to this organizing principle. There was a chapter on sacred groves and trees, and there was a chapter on priests, and so on.

The problem is that it reinforces this notion of Christian vs. Pagan that elides the unique religions of various groups. He acknowledges this, for which I'm glad, but it does make any overview of European Paganism weak on its face since it is trying to shoehorn in disparate religions.


The damn exclamation marks attack again! Why does an academic with a decent grasp of language resort to the million exclamation marks? Act like a grown-up, Dowden.

The other con is that it was written in 2000 and relies heavily on written sources over archeological sources. Somethings get missed.

I'm not entirely sorry I picked it up. At least I have a little idea about the changes in calendrics. Still, I should head to the library for something a little more current.


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