marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

religion and class

Once upon a time I was reading the essays of -- I think Auden -- and he said that because there were noble Catholic families in England, being received into the church was  like having an illegitimate baby.  Shocking, of course.  Dreadful.  Still, it did sometimes happen, even in the very best families.  It would be becoming a Methodist or such like that would really be unthinkable.

Not that it didn't cross the Atlantic.  "An Episcopalian is a Presbyterian with a trust fund; a Presbyterian is a Methodist with a college education; and and a Methodist is a Baptist with shoes."  True, there were, in the right cities, other churches you could belong to and still qualify as upper crust -- Congregationalist or Unitarian in Boston, Catholic in Baltimore, Presbyterian in New York -- but Episcopalian was always acceptable.

There are effects across history, though they vary a lot.

In one Indian epic, the Mahabharata, a king does the horse sacrifice.  This consists of getting a horse, consecrating it, and letting it roam as it pleased for a year -- including into foreign lands, which have to be subjugated -- and you obviously have to send guards with it to prevent its being harmed or hindered.  Plus perform other rituals, and when the year is up, sacrifice it with many other animals.  But the "wandering about for a year" is something that would really limit the ability of people to do it, and the horse sacrifice is a regal sacrifice, only.

Sparta, though famed for its religious practices, had no cult of Dionysus or Demeter.  Presumably because agriculture was helot work.  Similarly, in Rome, you had the patrician triad -- Jupiter, Juno, Minerva -- and the plebeian triad -- Ceres, Liber, Libera -- and the second was the agricultural triad.  Though you had other class based effects.  There was a temple of Pudicitia in Rome -- the shrine of Pudicitia Patricia -- but when a matron of patrician birth and plebeian husband was debarred from it for her marriage, she and other plebeian matrons raised a second temple, Plebeia Pudicitia.  Or as you will sometimes see them rendered in English, the temple of Patrician Virtue and the temple of Plebeian Virtue.

Social class and religious rites can have some interesting complications.  If nothing else, the costs of sacrifices and things will determine much of who does what.
Tags: world-building: religion, world-building: social classes

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