The Classical Backgrounds of Mediaeval Christianity
|1.||TRADITIONAL RELIGION IN THE GRAECO-ROMAN WORLD|
|2.||THE IMPACT OF PHILOSOPHY|
|3.||THE MYSTERY RELIGIONS|
SOCIOLOGISTS usually begin with the Flood and the Fijis; writers of history, with the Greeks. These "spoiled darlings of the historians," as they have been called, may often be allowed too dominant a place in world history, but their role in the story of mediaeval culture is fundamental. Indeed, present views not only tie modern times closer to the Middle Ages, but, at the other end, make mediaeval civilization a long chapter of later antiquity. There is, in this view, something of a return to the estimates of mediaeval men who, long before the Renaissance, thought of themselves as part of the world of the ancients. From Philo the Jew, in the days of Jesus and Saint Paul, to Pico della Mirandola in the fifteenth century it was commonly believed that the Greek philosophers -- above all Plato -- had imbibed their first inspiration from Moses and the Hebrew prophets. Mediaeval men, thus, were deeply aware of an organic relation among the various currents of history, though their chronology was usually muddled, and, like the wife of Disraeli, they never could remember "which came first Greeks or the Romans."