On Ancient Contempt of the Material World

What I have tried to show in this chapter is that contempt for the human condition and hatred for the body was a disease endemic in the entire culture of the period [first few centuries CE]; that while its more extreme manifestations are mainly Christian or Gnostic, its symptoms show themselves in a milder form in pagans of purely Hellenistic education; and that this disease found expression in a wide variety of myths and fantasies, some drawn from Greek, others from oriental originals (often with a changed meaning or a changed emphasis), while others again are apparently new.

E. R. Dodd, Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety

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