chapter  XVIII
Roman Religion
Pages 15

During the centuries that separated the early beginnings of the peoples of Italy from the days of their supremacy in the Mediterranean their religious experience was naturally varied. From an animistic stage in which many traces of magic and taboo survived they passed to anthropomorphism and polytheism, and the state relieved the individual of many of his responsibilities to the unseen powers of the universe. There was no prolonged period of national suffering, such as the Jewish Captivity, to break down the barriers of formalism which state ritual erected around real religious feeling, but gradually foreign ideas and rites overlaid the old Roman religion and men sought refuge from scepticism or an empty formalism in the more emotional and mystic beliefs of Greece and the Orient or in the nobler teaching of the later Greek philosophers.