Old Gods in New Clothes: The French Revolutionary Cults and the "Rebirth of the Golden Age"

Author/s: Christopher J Smith, PhD
Availability: Open Access
Type: Thesis
Year: 2014
Category: Logic
Institution: Liberty University

Abstract: The French Revolution's state cults were possible because of French intellectuals' preference for pre-Christian Greco-Roman civilization, as well as France's history of heterodoxy. The philosophes endorsed ancient Greco-Roman civilization as embodying mankind's ideal and more "natural" state; French revolutionary leaders avidly read these ideas of the Enlightenment philosophers. This Enlightenment Classicalism influenced the designers of the French state religions to mirror Greco-Roman paganism in the new regime's festivals and iconography. The French people's fascination with the Occult further created the cultural and intellectual climate for the creation and acceptance of these new religions of the dechristianized republic. Under this worldview, the French revolutionaries viewed themselves as the heralds of a reborn mytho-historical Golden Age of rationalism, equality, and Nature.

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