Emperors and the imperial Cult

sources and points on the imperial cult

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  • Created on: 31-05-15 09:30
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Imperial Cult
Augustus
Really good - The Roman gods made it feasible that he could become a god due
to them being human. ­ obtainable
there wasn't much threat from other religions
Eastern cults looked bad after Actium
Image of the decedent east (marc Antony and Cleopatra)
The importance of appearing Roman increased which made the imperial
cult a more attractive thing to support
Augustus set up lots of temples to Caesar in Greece and Asia (DIO)
this practice was continued by later emperors
helped to raise awareness of imperial cult among the provinces
as did coins having Augustus's face on them ­ made him appear as a far off
divinity
Suet says Aug wouldn't allow temples to himself in Rome or the
provinces, only to Julius Caesar and the other Roman Gods
Tacitus says he did set up temples to himself in his later life
Julius Caesars soul ascending to heaven (the comet) was a really good starting
point for the concept of the Emperor becoming a god and Augustus used it well.
Augustus established importance of religion in general, which helped to establish
the imperial cult
made himself pontifex maximus
made Livia head of the vestal virgins
brought back old religious practices
R.G his name was included in the Saliar hymn
Horace- "Augustus is considered a god on earth" ­ Propaganda
Horace- "neglected gods have made many woes for sad Italy" ­
emphasizes the importance of the Gods and religion
Religion had a huge impact on peoples sense of identity and being "Roman"
In the eyes of the plebs the Emperor had to remain as powerful as the gods
Augustus avoids being called a king- they are not ruled by a king but an almost
god
Suet: "Augustus' eyes were clear and bright and he liked to believe that they
shone with a sort of divine radiance"
Suet: "abolished foreign cults"
"burned more than two thousand prophetic texts and restricted access to those
left"
"yielded up to heaven his divine soul"
The senate were the ones who recognized an emperors divinity and Deified them
Senators became priests of Divius Augustus (a cult)
Restored and built temple
Augustus's deification starts the imperial cult up fully and gives successive
emperors something to aim for

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Tiberius
Tiberius would crucify members of the cult of Isis
Tacitus- Tiberius denied the Spanish offer of a temple in his name
Suet- "abolished foreign cults, especially the Egyptian and the Jewish
rites...Those of the Jews who were of military age he assigned to provinces of
less healthy climate, to serve in the Army... banished from the city on pain of
slavery for life if they did not obey...…read more

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After his death his memory was damned ­ much evidence of the imperial cult
from Nero's reign would have been Destroyed
Dio- Nero was born for the throne "destined" rather than forced like Caligula
Vespasian
Open to alternative religions (came from the east himself)
Anti Jew- had to deal with the Jewish revolt which was ended by Titus, Temple in
Jerusalem was destroyed and Vesp.…read more

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