Imperial cult of emperors


Imperial Cult: Augustus

Encouraged Imperial Cult in Rome by linking himself to Caesar.

  • "son of the deified Julius" written on a vitctory monument of Actium
  •  wanted to be linked to a god without calling himself a god

Suetonius tells us that he opposed the declaration of temples and statues to him and that Augustus would not accept anything that wasn't linked to Rome aswell.

Encouraged Imperial Cult in provinces

  • coin from Lugdunum with the words "son of the deified" and an alter on the reverse, showing he was worshipped in the provinces
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Imperial Cult: Tiberius

Against Imperial cult

  • Letter to the people of Glytheion shows that he did not want ot be honured to the same extent as Augustus
  • Did not see himself as a god or on the same level as Augustus, not worthy to be worshipped 

Suetonius tells us that Tiberius would not allow statues to be built or placed among gods

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Imperial Cult: Gaius/Caligula

Forced his divinity on Rome and the empire

Declared himslef a god, ordered temples to be built in his honour (suetonius)

Threatens god by saying he is on their level (suetonius)

Extented his palace to the temple of Castor and Pollux (suetonius)

Dressed and acted as gods (cassius dio)

  • may have only be doing it to entrtain, not serious

Seutonius is very negative and calls him "monster"

Dio also negative but shows all sids of him

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Imperial Cult: Claudius


Letters from Claudius to the Alexandrians

  • Denied high priests and temples to him
  • Rejected emperor worship as he did not want to offend his contempories and temples should only be granted to gods
  • Accepted his birthday to be kept sacred
  • Aceepted two golden statues

Letters to Thasos

  • Denied a temple to himself 
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Imperial Cult: Nero

Did not fully support cult

  • Denied statues to himself (Tacitus)
  • Nero said emperors should not be shown divine hnours until he has passed on (Tacitus)

Not completely againt it

  • Coins found with Nero wearing a crown of thunderbolts that could be linked to Jupiter 

Tacitus lived in the Flavian era, had access to previous records

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Imperial Cult: Vespasian

Happy to encourage the cult as he wanted to do what other emperors had done, especially Augustus.

Last words

  • "I am already becoming a god" Cassius Dio
  • "Woe is me. Methinks Im turning into a god" Suetonius
  • Both sources agree , could be a joke
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Imperial Cult: Domitian

Abused the Imperial Cult

  • Made people refer to him as "our Lord and god..." Suetonius
  • Thinks he is a god
  • Everyone should see him as one too

Suetonius loses acces to archives before writing about Domitoan, so would not be able to use many credible sources.

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Imperial Cult: Titus

He was deified 

  • Arch of Titus 
  • "The senate and Roman people to the divine Titus Vespasian Augustus Son of the divine Vespasian"
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