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The Pagan World

Ancient Religions Before Christianity
Narrated by: Hans-Friedrich Mueller
Length: 12 hrs and 34 mins
5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In The Pagan World: Ancient Religions Before Christianity, you will meet the fascinating, ancient polytheistic peoples of the Mediterranean and beyond, their many gods and goddesses, and their public and private worship practices, as you come to appreciate the foundational role religion played in their lives. Professor Hans-Friedrich Mueller, of Union College in Schenectady, New York, makes this ancient world come alive in 24 lectures with captivating stories of intrigue, artifacts, illustrations, and detailed descriptions from primary sources of intriguing personalities. 

In the ancient Mediterranean area, religion was not separate from daily life. To the contrary, religion was daily life. The many dozen gods of this ancient world were everywhere, with spirits inhabiting every crack and crevice of life. These polytheists believed they had a strict contract with their deities: If they took care of their gods, their gods would take care of them (or at least not harm them). Consequently, they built extraordinary temples to honor their deities, brought food and wine to them, sacrificed animals for them, and held sacred meals with their gods. In fact, they followed numerous rules and regulations that circumscribed almost all aspects of life both inside and outside the home - anything and everything to keep the gods happy. Consequently, the religious practices of the ancient Mediterranean make a wonderful lens through which to develop a deeper understanding of their world. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2020 The Great Courses (P)2020 The Teaching Company, LLC

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  • arnold e andersen md Dr Andersen
  • 2020-03-28

The Pagan World

Outstanding in content and delivery. Highly recommend. No bias for or against any religion would like longer treatment of Zooriastrian religion and Cristian heresies. Suggest review of Buddhism Shinto and Confucianism. Where does paganism exist today. What about pagan religions of early Great Britain and the Gauls.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-04-07

Love the concept but.....

Admittedly I only got up to the Ancient Egyptian chapter.
I like the concept but the execution not so much.

This audiobook takes the form of lectures. Which I thought wouldn't be a problem to me. However, I found it a bit hard to follow (even with the PDF that's included).

I just feel that (for me, others can be different), that this form of "lecture" NEEDS visuals to keep the audience engaged.

Each part was very brief and I didn't exactly feel that much more knowledge was being bestowed on me than I could get reading a Wikipedia article and a history vid on youtube.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anna Noehre
  • 2020-04-19

great historical tour, great voice

Skillful, digestible coverage of ancient Mediterranean religions. It starts in early Egyptian worship and ends with Christianity becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire. It's not too fine-detailed, and not too superficial. Mueller strikes just the right balance for an educated listener. The professor's voice is pleasantly Midwestern but not twangy, and the vocabulary is academic but not technical. Much attention is paid to the fascinating relationship between religion and statecraft. Listening to this 12.5 hour presentation feels like going on an exhilarating world tour through ancient Egypt, India, Parthya, Sumeria, Greece and the vast territories of Imperial Rome. Delightful, insightful, and recommended!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Lee Ann Waltz
  • 2020-05-04

Well paced and well told.

I appreciated the depth and breath of this course. It stuck to the task with few tangents. It covered what seemed like the most important areas of pagan religion. I was more interested in the overall course than the deep dive into Roman life but I understand it’s importance. The story telling was excellent and I would love to have a glossary of the hundreds of words that form the roots of their English counterparts. Great lectures from a great lecturer. Thank you

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  • Sally
  • 2020-05-03

Good topic, lackluster performance

Great and interesting topic, just not so thrilled with the instructor. He very much read his lectures and it was very apparent, almost like he was seeing it for the first time. And his mispronouncations? Don't get me started! If someone who teaches pagan religion can't properly pronounce "apostate," they should probably find a new profession.

However, the topic is quite interesting and I did learn a few things, altho much of it was kind of basic.. Worth a listen if you are scrambling for something or not really familiar with the subject, but not sure I'd go out of my way.

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  • Patrick Lanford
  • 2020-05-30

A Very Enjoyable Book

As a philosophy major in college, this series of lectures helped to fill in a lot of the background information within which the Greek and Roman philosophers were operating. The narrator does a good job delivering the content and he does so at a good pace. I liked that the lectures are 30 minutes long. This allows you to carve out moments of the day to grab a quick listen.

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  • Emily Brandt
  • 2020-05-28

Auspicious

I really like the great courses but was underwhelmed with what could have been an amazing topic. I found the input of the lecturer’s personal jokes, anecdotes and frequent “we’re out of time” distracting. It started off strong but I grew annoyed near the end.