The legacy of antique times through the eyes of Benedykt Chmielowski (based on the New Athens encyclopedia)
The aim of this paper is to characterize elements of ancient culture described by Benedykt Chmielowski in his famous work entitled Nowe Ateny. The major part of those deliberations constitute of a description of Greco-Roman beliefs, enclosed in the four separate chapters on the pantheon of gods, oracles, sibyls, sacrifices and rites. The ancient religiosity has been shown almost entirely out of the Roman-centric point of view. The material has been presented by the priest in a systematic way, visually and stylistically attractive for the average Saxon recipient and adapted to their intellectual expectations as well. The priest upholds the Catholic values but at the same time emphasizes that he possesses great respect and admiration for the ancient tradition. The characteristics of the Roman pantheon are superficial and somewhat chaotic. Chmielowski presents the functions of each god, using his own classifications. In case of any doubt, he cites divergent versions of a single event from a variety of sources, most often distances himself from them and lets the reader to interpret them. He does not get involved in theological intricacies in order not to complicate the matters for the readers. Sacrifices, celebrations and divine attributes have been granted a separate chapter. The matters of rites have been shown in a superficial manner and it seems that the habit of seeking out trivia has shielded Chmielowski from the actual goals and forms
of performing rites in Rome. The issue of the oracle is described from the perspective of a clergyman whose innate rationality has not allowed accurate pagan predictions to exist. The sibyls has Chmielowski found to be a pillar of Roman beliefs and as such described in detail, partaking, however, in Christian tradition which attributes them with predictions concerning the life of Jesus Christ. A considerable part of the work has been dedicated to recalling some of the famous Greeks and Romans. As a scholar and an excellent linguist has Chmielowski shown his skills in the chapter on the Latin nomenclature, which can be treated as quasi scientific part of his encyclopedia.