Hellenistic religion is any of the various systems of beliefs and practices of the peoples who lived under the influence of ancient Greek culture during the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire (ca. 300 BCE to 300 CE). The Hellenistic period constitutes one of the most creative periods in the history of religions. It can be described as a time of spiritual revolution in the Greco-Roman world, where old cults died or were completely transformed, and where new religions were born.
Religion saw significant transformations, morphing Classical Greek polytheism into more abstract and philosophical terms, evolving into Neoplatonism by the 3rd century. Mystery religions remained popular, indeed the Hellenistic period may be taken to extend into the Roman period, since the Roman Empire was affected by Hellenism to the point of assimilation, re-casting their Ancient Roman religion in Hellenistic terms by interpretatio romana of Greek concepts, until the abolition of the Eleusinian Mysteries in 392. The Hellenistic period saw the rise of Mithraism, influenced by a Hellenistic flair for Persia, and according to David Ulansey by astrological speculation related to the discovery of the precession of the equinoxes in the 2nd century BCE. Hellenism was fond of astrology in general, and the classical Zodiac, ascribed to the Chaldeans by the same sympathy for oriental mysticism that gave Mithras his popularity and furthered the rise of Gnosticism. Hellenistic religion is the context in which early Christianity arose and developed, and Christianity as it emerged in the 4th century seamlessly continued many of its characteristics.
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