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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:53850
Doc. No:TL23804
Call number:‭3312490‬
Main Entry:Matthew Robert Polk
Title & Author:Circa deos ac religiones: Religion and the Roman emperor from Augustus to ConstantineMatthew Robert Polk
College:Harvard University
Date:2008
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2008
Page No:412
Abstract:This dissertation is a study of how the Roman emperors from Augustus to Constantine participated in Roman religion. Scholars conventionally view Roman religion as a public phenomenon that served to promote social cohesion within the Roman state but did not provide for individual religious experiences or expressions of personal piety. This dissertation argues that Romans did in fact experience religion on a personal level and, furthermore, that they distinguished between public and private religion. When the distinction between public and private religion is applied to the Roman emperors, it becomes clear that many of them pursued personal religious interests in addition to their public religious role. Because the emperor was a public figure, there existed a public discourse about his religion and his relationship to the gods in both the private and public spheres. This discourse focused on the emperor's personal attitude toward religion and involved questions of 'Romanness' and 'foreignness' as well as debate about what constituted superstition (superstitio). Understanding how Romans thought about the emperor's religion contributes to a more sophisticated understanding of Roman religion in the imperial period. In several cases, emperors manifested devotions to particular deities: these include Augustus, Domitian, Trajan, Heliogabalus, and Constantine. In each case, there is evidence that the relationship between emperor and god was based on personal religious sentiment and was not simply an ideological tool. The most extensive evidence survives for Domitian's veneration of Minerva and Heliogabalus' worship of the Syrian sun god Elagabal; in these cases it is clear that the emperor's religious devotion was understood by contemporaries as an expression of private religion (or, in the terminology suggested in this dissertation, 'unofficial' religion) that was manifested publicly in certain ways. Imperial claims of divine aid in battle were an important aspect of the emperor's public religious stance. Augustus, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Aurelian, and Constantine are particularly important in this respect. While they were important ideologically, such claims were nevertheless based on real religious experiences and were closely related to the emperor's understanding of his relationship to the god who had assisted him.
Subject:Philosophy, religion and theology; Social sciences; Language, literature and linguistics; Augustus, Emperor of Rome; Constantine I, Emperor of Rome; Emperor; Imperial; Private; Public; Religion; Roman; Roman Empire; Classical studies; Religious history; Ancient history; 0579:Ancient history; 0294:Classical studies; 0320:Religious history
Added Entry:C. P. Jones
Added Entry:Harvard University