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Bending the Rules (Punctuation)
Grade 8, Ex # 1
Analysis Key and Notes on Punctuation

     {In the time} {of Marcus Aurelius} [#1] Rome had become a great cosmopolitan capital

(PN), [Adj. to "capital" where men {of many races, languages and customs} jostled one

another (DO) {in the streets and the circus}]. | Many {of these foreigners} had brought

their religions (DO) {with them} | [#2]  and the shrines and mysteries {of the Egyptian

goddess} Isis [#3] and {*of* the Persian god} Mithras [#3] drew worshipers (DO) {from

every rank} {of Roman society}. | {As a rule}, these religions, being polytheistic [#4], {like

the old religion} {of Rome}, were tolerant (PA) {of one another}. | There was room

(PN) {in their heavens} {for as many gods} [Adv. to the preceding "as" as one chose to

believe in [#5] ]. | But {to this rule} two monotheistic sects {from the East}, Judaism and

Christianity [#6], were exceptions (PN). | {In particular}, the Christians aggressively

and openly denounced all pagan divinities (DO) {as devils} and refused to offer the

customary sacrifices [#7] {before the images} {of the deified Caesars}, [Adj. to "images"

which represented the majesty (DO) {of the Roman state}. | {To many pagans},

therefore, they seemed to be dangerous enemies (PN) not only {to all the familiar

ancestral faiths} but also {to the whole established peaceable order} {of things} and even {to

the Roman government} itself [#8]. |


Notes
1. In the context of the book, a book about Marcus Aurelius, an emperor of Rome, the absence of a comma here is not a major deal. But my guess is that some people, people unfamiliar with Marcus Aurelius and with Rome, read this as {In the time of Marcus Aurelius Rome}. They then stumble over the verb "had become," since there does not seem to be a subject for it. A comma after "Aurelius" would have been helpful.
2. The lack of a comma here tripped me up and is the reason for this selection being here. I initially read the sentence as "Many {of these foreigners} had brought their religions (DO) {with them} and the shrines (DO) and mysteries (DO) {of the Egyptian goddess} Isis [App] and {*of* the Persian god} Mithras [App] drew ???? Some people may say that the two and's between "religions" and "shrines" and between "shrines" and "mysteries" should have set me straight, but I have just been working on tales by Beatrix Potter, and she loves to string a series like this with "and." Had there been a comma after "them," I would probably not have gone off track. And my guess is that I am not alone.
3. "Isis" is an appositive to "goddess"; "Mithras" is an appositive to "god."
4. "Polytheistic" is a predicate adjective after the gerundive "being" which modifies "religions."
5. The infinitive phrase "to believe in" functions as the direct object of "chose."
6. "Judaism" and "Christianity" are appositives to "sects."
7. "Sacrifices" is the direct object of the infinitive "to offer." The infinitive phrase functions as the direct object of "refused."
8. "Itself" is an appositive to "government."