Sol Invictus at Archaeology Museum of Yalvac, ...

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If the Roman Emperor Constantine had not taken that critical decision in the first half of the 4th century, the picture of the world we live in would have been probably very different than today. As some historians speculate, we would have seen “Mithraeums” instead of churches (and probably mosques) throughout the western world (and the Middle East), decorated with iconographies of a sun cult, along with the mysterious “Tauroctony” reliefs on the innermost walls of the temples.

When the “brain team” of the emperor came with a suggestion to establish a “one strong official religion” in order to reinforce the central authority throughout the Empire, the strongest candidate was “Mithraism” (or as it was called after a metamorphosis on Roman lands, “Sol Invictus Mithra”) which was very popular among soldiers, officers and most intellectuals.

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Sacred-Texts.com has always been one of my favourite resource sites on the net. Especially, for the last 5 years, I have regularly checked what they had new on their collection and most of times I come up with very valuable titles I downloaded, which helped me well on my works and researches. The site does a very remarkable, priceless job for those who are deeply interested in philosophy, ancient texts, world culture and history.

Now, a new title on their collection, added just a few days ago: De Lacy O’Leary‘s “Arabic Thoughts and Its Place in History“. An 85-year-old work but I think it’s still very important for understanding the transformation in Medieval world. Islam has been one of the three very intolerant religions, along with Judaism and Christianity, but there had been a time in history that it served to preserve, develop and transfer the ancient wisdom, classical thought and pre-Christian universal philosophies to the West. With its self-explanatory title, O’Leary’s book suggests the link between the “wake up” in the Western World and this preservation/development of classical thought in Islamic world. Particularly, during Abbasid Khalifat in Iraq (9th and 10th centuries) and with the contribution of Sufis and the Mutazilat sect. Well worth reading.

clipped from www.sacred-texts.com

Prayer in the Mosque, Jean-Leon Gerome [19th c.] (Public Domain Image)

The transmission of ancient Greek philosophy to the forerunners of
the Renaissance was through the Islamic world.
This book details each of the steps along that path, identifying the
Syriac writers of the late classical period as introducing
Hellenic philosophy into the Middle East.
The book details the growth of Islam, including the major branches
such as the Shia, Sunni, and Sufi, and many minor as well, and their
relation to the schools of Islamic philosophy.
From the Baghdad of the Arabian Nights, we pass to Islamic Spain, where
Arabic philosophy was increased by both Muslim and Jewish scholars.
Finally, we see how Plato and Aristotle were re-introduced into Europe through
Christian scholars, and became one of the precursors of the
Italian Renaissance. The equivalent of a college-level course on the history of Islamic thought,
this book is essential background reading if you want to understand this topic.
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