Emperor Worship and Roman Religion

Emperor Worship and Roman Religion

By (author) Ittai Gradel

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While Roman religion worshipped a number of gods, one kind in particular aroused the fury of early Christians and the wonder of scholars: the cult of Roman emperors alive or dead. Was the divinity of emperors a glue that held the Empire together? Were rulers such as Julius Caesar and Caligula simply mad to expect such worship of themselves? Or was it rather a phenomenon which has only been rendered incomprehensible by modern and monotheistic ideas of what religion is - or should be - all about? This book presents the first study of emperor worship among the Romans themselves, both in Rome and in its heartland Italy. It argues that emperor worship was indeed perfectly in keeping with Roman religious tradition, which has been generally misunderstood by a posterity imbued with radically different notions of the relationship between humans and the divine.

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  • Paperback | 428 pages
  • 138 x 210 x 24mm | 598.75g
  • 30 Sep 2004
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • numerous halftones, 9 line drawings
  • 0199275483
  • 9780199275489
  • 948,874

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Author Information

Ittai Gradel is Lecturer in the Department of History, University of Copenhagen.

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Review quote

Review from previous edition Gradel's work is eminently readable ... He impressively handles a wide range of evidence, deftly analyzing epigraphic, numismatic and archaeological data alongside literary testimonia. Bryn Mawr Classical Review Most impressive (and refreshing) is Gradel's ability to identify the biases and suppositions of prior scholarship and to pose alternate questions and practical answers based not on assumptions about beliefs (ancient and modern), but on Roman social and religious practices. Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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