A family of gods : a diachronic study of the cult of the divi/divae in the Latin West
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This thesis examines the establishment and development of the worship of the emperor and his family members in the Latin West, tracing specifically the cult of those who were officially deified at Rome and received the title of divus or diva. It seeks to answer three questions: 1. Does uniformity of cult practices and priestly titles increase or decrease over time 2. What prompted change in cult practice (reflected in priestly titles) and how was this change managed? 3. What factors influenced the choices made by communities throughout the Latin West concerning these cults? It addresses these questions through a number of specific case studies. It begins with a study of how the practice of deification (consecratio) was established and how it developed within the city of Rome. It then examines priestly titles associated with the cult of the divi/divae in three groups of provinces: the Gauls, the Spains, and the provinces of North Africa. Finally, it discusses the spread of the worship of the divi/divae throughout the empire by examining the Augustales (and other variations on this title) and the priests responsible for overseeing cult to individual divi/divae. The evidence discussed is primarily epigraphical but is supplemented with numismatic, archaeological and literary evidence where it is available. This thesis addresses a number of hypotheses concerning Rome’s role in the development of cult in the Latin West, principally, that cult was imposed on communities in the provinces by the centre, that the establishment of cult was based on a series of models and adopted in similar ways throughout the provinces, and that the coloniae were responsible for bringing Roman culture and religion to the peregrine communities. It argues that even though some provincial cults were established through direct intervention from members of the imperial family, it was still up to the communities themselves to oversee cult practice and finance the cult. In the case of civic cult, there is little to no evidence of involvement from the centre. Civic cult was established by local initiative and did not originate in the coloniae and spread to other communities. Instead, it tended to arise in peregrine communities (and municipia) from the earliest development of this cult (as well as some coloniae) as individual communities sought to forge a connection with the imperial family and find their place within, and in connection to, the Roman Empire.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Electronic version restricted until 3rd May 2020
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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