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date: 16 October 2021

p. 845. Embracing the pagan pastlocked

p. 845. Embracing the pagan pastlocked

  • Owen Davies


Though the Renaissance involved the intellectual embrace of pagan antiquity, ‘Embracing the pagan past’ argues there was no revival of pre-Christian forms of worship. 18th-century Romanticism encapsulated a renewed artistic and aesthetic fascination with the classical pagan world. In the 19th century, evolutionary theory gave a new significance to the ‘pagan’ beliefs and practices found overseas. Inspired by the comparative approach and the theory of survivals, ‘myth-ritualists’ such as Frazer believed in an inextricable link between ancient myths and primitive rituals — usually sacrificial ones. Michelet argued that those accused of and executed for witchcraft in medieval and early modern Europe were the persecuted representatives of a female pagan fertility cult.

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