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Cumont, Franz


Belgian archeologist and historian of ancient religions; b. Alost, Belgium, Jan. 3, 1868; d. Brussels, Aug. 19, 1947. He was a professor at the University of Ghent from 1896 to 1910 and curator of the museum at Brussels from 1899 to 1913. He spent the rest of his life as a private scholar in Rome and Paris. His major contributions were made in the field of Oriental religions, and on the afterlife in Greco-Roman paganism. He maintained that there was a marked influence of Iranian religion on the Jewish and Greco-Roman worlds. While he exaggerated the influence of the Oriental mystery religions on Christianity, he recognized the unique and different character of the latter in its essential features. Among his principal works may be mentioned: Textes et monuments figurés relatifs aux mystères de Mithra (2 v. Brussels 189699); Astrology and Religion among the Greeks and Romans (New York and London 1912); Les Religions orientales dans le paganisme romain (3d rev. ed., Paris 1929); with J. Bidez, Les Mages hellénisés (2 v. Paris 1938); Recherches sur le symbolisme funéraire des Romains (Paris 1942); Lux perpetua (Paris 1949).

Bibliography: Mélanges Franz Cumont (Brussels 1936). f. mayence, Franz Cumont (Brussels 1956).

[a. lauras]

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