But during the atrocious holocausts formidable states had grown up around France, observing her and threatening her; and on the other hand, as on the morrow of the Hundred Years War, the lassitude of the country, the lack of political feeling on the part of the upper classes and their selfishness, led to a fresh abdication of the nations rights.
In the gloomy rites of of the Diasia, the Olympian Zeus, as Zeus Meilichios god of wealth, has been imposed upon a chthonic snake-deity who is propitiated by holocausts of pigs and by a ritual of purgation (Harrison, Prol.
Nevertheless, the concentration of all ritual at a single point, and the practical exclusion of laymen from active participation in it - for the old sacrificial feast had now shrunk into entire insignificance in comparison with the stated priestly holocausts and atoning rites2 - lent powerful assistance to the growth of a new and higher type of personal religion, the religion which found its social expression not in material acts of oblation, but in the language of the Psalms. In the best times of the old kingdom the priests had shared the place of the prophets as the religious leaders of the nation; under the second Temple they represented the unprogressive traditional side of religion, and the leaders of thought were the psalmists and the scribes, who spoke much more directly to the piety of the nation.
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