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polytheism


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The belief in, or worship of, many gods. It is not easy to count gods, and so not always obvious whether an apparently polytheistic religion, such as Hinduism, is really so, or whether the different apparent objects of worship are to be thought of as manifestations of the one God. Polytheistic cultures tend to be more relaxed about adding compatible gods, or in other words their deities are less jealous than those of monotheistic religions. Hence the historian Gibbon's observation about the many religions of ancient Rome, ‘which were regarded by the people as equally true, by the philosophers as equally false, and by the magistrate as equally useful’.

Subjects: Religion.


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