Sacramentum Mundi Online

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1. The concept and the problem. The Latin terms oriens and occidens, together with septemtrio (north) and meridies (south), refer to the four points of the compass, oriens and occidens being understood, according to the Ptolomaic world-picture, of the rising and setting sun. From the time of Diocletian, East and West were administrative terms for the two parts of the Roman Empire. Sulpicius Severus (d. 420) assigned the oriens to Noah’s eldest son Shem, who was blessed in his seed, and the occidens to Noah’s youngest son Japheth, who shared in the blessing (the accursed Ham is placed mediis)…

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Oskar Köhler, “Occident”, in: Sacramentum Mundi Online, General Editor Karl Rahner, SJ. Consulted online on 02 October 2023 <>
First published online: 2016

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