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Full text of "Political Science Of The State"

446                              POLITICAL SCIENCE.

which partook of the nature of mysteries, were suspected.
The energetic action which the Roman senate took in relation
to the Bacchanalia, on their appearance at and around Rome
in A.U. 568 (B.C. 186), was dictated and justified by the immo-
ralities of night meetings where both sexes were present, but
it was of a piece with the whole system. Here, again, the
Athenians were more careless than the Romans, as the re-
peated mention of foreign rites, of secret orgies in honor of
foreign gods not publicly recognized, testify. In other parts
of Greece less visited by strangers, there may have been more
strictness in keeping out foreign rites.

The gods, as beings protecting the state and acknowledged
there, had their rights and could not be offended with impu-
nity. The due services must be performed towards them by
the public priests. Their temples and everything deposited
in them must be treated as sacred ; no impure thing like
magic was allowed to attend religious ceremonies ; the mys-
teries must not be profaned.* As faith in the existence and
providence of the gods was considered to be necessary both
for public morals and to secure their good will towards the
state, atheists and scoffers might be punished as doing the
state an injury, and as offending against the protecting dei-
ties. I have not found any instance where atheism or blas-
phemy was visited with penalties at Rome, at least before the
settlement of Jews and Christians there, of which we shall
speak by itself. Such things, seem to have been rare until
the Romans learned them from Greece ; and then unbelief
grew so fast in the upper classes that it was no time to keep
them down by law. But sacrilege, the disclosure of religious
secrets, and the violation of sepulchres, seem all to have been
punishable by law. The first of these crimes was regarded as
a very high one, but it is doubtful whether it did not include
the stealing of private money deposited in a temple.t At
Athens the crime of acrepeia, comprised a great variety of

* Comp. Schoem., Gr. Alt, ii., 140 and onw.
f See Rein, Criminalr. d. Rom., p. 694, note.