meaning/s of "paganus"

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meaning/s of "paganus"

Postby Lucius Tyrrhenus Garrulus on Tue Jul 20, 2004 7:16 am

SALVETE OMNES, S.V.B.E.V.

There seems to be a small but growing level of debate in the Neo-Pagan community as regards to the term pagan. The usual definition is "country dweller." Which fits in with the pastoral imagery favored by many adherents. There are some however who believe that when the term is used to describe certain religious beliefs, that it means "civilian." In other words, one who is not enlisted in the 'army of God.'

Does anybody know which is correct? Both, perhaps?

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Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Tue Jul 20, 2004 2:09 pm

I've always heard that it means "country folk". The explanation that I read, in the Library of Early Christianity I think (I recommend the series), is that Christianity was more successful initially in the cities. The city slickers then started using paganus as a term of denigration against those who had not adopted the new religion.

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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Tue Jul 20, 2004 2:47 pm

Salvete

"Pagan" was probably used as a derogatory reference before Christians adopted it. City slickers referring to country rubes. The best I can tell the word originally came from the Oscans. Samnites did not have cities as such, but were organized into areas as a pagus, a subunit of a tribe. Its meaning and implication changed over time, but its basic meaning still referred to people living in rural areas. Christianity was an urban religion by nature, so it naturally spread in cities first, and then naturally adopted urban attitudes towards country folk. Later it became a matter that rural areas retained their old traditions much longer than in the cities, since the priests lacked the same kind of authority in isolated areas. Pagan communities still existed in eastern France into the 13th/14th century and isolated pagan communities in central Italy are mentioned into the 17th century. Individual practitioners of the old faiths continued to exist beyond that.
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Tue Jul 20, 2004 3:32 pm

Salvete,

It's funny to note that in the modern Western world, traditional christianity is more associated with rural, backwards areas.

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Postby Lucius Tyrrhenus Garrulus on Wed Jul 21, 2004 7:12 am

SALVETE OMNES!
M Moravi Horati Piscine wrote:Pagan communities still existed in eastern France into the 13th/14th century and isolated pagan communities in central Italy are mentioned into the 17th century.
This is very interesting. Someone here more knowledgeable than I (*hint*) should do an article on pagan survivals.
Carlo Ginzburg's Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath is probably the most convincing evidence I've come across of the survival of folk customs and folklore dating to what we generally consider the "pagan era," but what he presented was simply that; the survival of folk customs and folklore. No religion.

This is good stuff sodales!
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Postby Marcus Pomponius Lupus on Wed Jul 21, 2004 12:58 pm

Salve Garrule,

Carlo Ginzburg's Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath


Somewhat unrelated, but isn't Ginzburg the author of so called micro-storia ? Would you recommend him ?

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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Wed Jul 21, 2004 1:32 pm

Salvete

I have seen a number of people misunderstand and misuse Ginzburg's work, such as Grimassi who hasn't a clue about the things he writes. But I thought Ginzburg himself was quite interesting. He distinguishes out two different traditions of witchcraft, one being the Alpine tradition that he links to a shamanistic tradition across Eurasia. That is the tradition with which he most concerns himself and would be familiar to most people. But he also mentions that another tradition existed in central and southern Italy that derived from the pagan traditions of the Roman empire. Apparently worship of Isis took hold in central Italy prior to the advance of Christianity, as did some of the other mystery religions, and so this southern tradition has more elements in it than just the earlier Oscan culti deorum. I would suspect those in western France were also originally derived from Celto-Iberian, Celto-Roman culti deorum, since Christian sources refer to them as worshippers of Diana, confusing all goddesses as Diana. Eastern France had the Alpine tradition as did northern Italy and southern Germany. Ginzburg makes an interesting read. I haven't followed his arguments closely to make much comment, but I can recommend you read him yourself rather than rely on what other say who quote from his work.

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Postby Lucius Tyrrhenus Garrulus on Wed Jul 21, 2004 10:33 pm

Marcus Pomponius Lupus wrote:Somewhat unrelated, but isn't Ginzburg the author of so called micro-storia ? Would you recommend him ?
Salve Lupe!

Yes, Carlo Ginzburg is generally recognized as the inventor of "microhistory." Especially from his book I Benandanti (translated later with the title The Night Battles). That's the book which focuses on the folklore of the Friuli region of northern Italy.

I'm with Piscine here. It is best that you read Ginzburg for yourself without relying on anyone else's synopsis. He is really worth the money I paid for his books.
I also recommend reading I Benandanti / The Night Battles BEFORE going on to Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath.

I was first introduced to him through the work of Neo-Pagan authors (like Grimassi) who use Ginzburg's work to justify their claims. After reading Ginzburg I realized that Grimassi was coming very close to what is called "textual manipulation." Which means cutting quotes short to justify a thesis, while leaving out info which serves as a caveat. (The same thing Margaret Murray did, by the way.)

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