Talk:Imperial cult (ancient Rome)

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Constantine did NOT abolish the imperial cult. When some town wanted to build his family a temple, he said it was alright as long as they don't sacrifice in it. I need the reference, but I think this is basically how it happened. Of course, he wasn't 'consecrated' after death, but that's another thing. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 02:09, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Overly broad conclusions?[edit]

As it stands, this article is a misleadingly broad representation of the imperial cult of the Roman Empire, in that its opening paragraph implies that worship of living emperors was a widespread, near-universal practice across the Empire (both in time and space) -- an implication not adequately supported by the body of the text or accompanying references.

The article focuses primarily on the deifications of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, and specifically on Julius and Augustus. Of the active worship, living or otherwise, of the post-Julio-Claudian emperors, from Vespasian to Constantine, this article says absolutely nothing. That's a gap of more than 200 years. Whatever we might conclude from the sources cited about emperor-worship during the first half of the 1st century CE, we must take care not to apply those conclusions to the remainder of the Principate and the middle of the 3rd century CE without supporting evidence.

Though I cannot be certain, this article appears to rely upon, and extrapolate too far from, the single External Link cited -- a work concerned with emperor-worship during the Augustan Age in Greece and Asia Minor. On the topic of emperor-worship in other parts of the Empire or of the active worship of emperors after Augustus, it remains silent.

Lastly, there is a difference between revering a deceased emperor as a god and worshipping a living emperor as one, a distinction which is not made especially clear in the present Wikipedia article.

In short, this Wikipedia article is not nearly as comprehensive as its opening paragraph indicates. At the very least I would suggest a change to more specific, and less misleading, title, and the inclusion of more references and citations to support its assertions. JagoWoodbine 14:40, 10 May 2007 (UTC)JagoWoodbine

I notice the Temple of Augustus (Pula) in Croatia is supposed to have been built during his lifetime, contradicting the article, which says only one in Asia was so built. Johnbod (talk) 20:14, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

Self Criticising.[edit]

In the Intro:

"the only emperor to declare himself a god while still living was Domitian which caused outrage."

and in 'Civil religion until abolishment by Constantine':

"After Hadrian, the power of the emperors had become so absolute and consolidated that the later emperors could claim divinity during their own lives"

I think the first quote needs to be edited to explain the growing strength of Emperors claim to divinity over the course of the first 200 years of empire, but I am unsure. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:13, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

copy edit[edit]

The article badly needs one. At the moment, it has a weak narrative drive. The prose style switches from one section to the next. Changes in tense and voice don't help any - they show the use of chunks of imported text based on others' research. I know a lot of wiki articles are written that way, but that's why most don't come anywhere near FA, or even B quality. Start with the research, absorb the background, understand how and why the subject arises - then write.

It's good to know there's still some life in the article (re: comment above this one) because it has potential. I'm interested and will help out, if required. Haploidavey (talk) 22:25, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

Sorry for the bolding up there. I just don't think the current structuring of the article offers an adequate basis for useful work. If anyone's up for drastic changes... count me in. My own resources on the subject are zilch, and I've no access to a University library. I go to London and use the British Library 2-3 times a year; next planned is for May or June. Meanwhile, I'll take at look at what - if anything - the internet has of adequate quality. Haploidavey (talk) 22:59, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

Actually found quite a lot. Hurrah for googlebook previews. Will make a start offline. Haploidavey (talk) 02:40, 28 March 2009 (UTC)

tagging for citation[edit]

QED. Haploidavey (talk) 11:36, 13 April 2009 (UTC)


The introduction interprets the cult as one of "personality" - according to which sources? They're not in the main article text, and none of the reputable works currently listed in "Further Reading" support that simplistic conclusion. Anything but. Haploidavey (talk) 13:02, 13 April 2009 (UTC) Removed unjustified allegation.


The article has very little in the way of anthropological or politico-religious context. Anyone object if I provide that as an introduction in the main body? Most of the modern authors I've been looking at regard this as essential background. Haploidavey (talk) 22:17, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

Have started to re-write uncited sections, and provide a lot more background for modern scholarship and the cult phenomenon's antecedents. The article's likely to be rather disorganised for a while yet - OK, rather chaotic - partly because I'm trying to keep the best of it (most of which has inline citation) intact. Any contributors want to help in this? Haploidavey (talk) 22:13, 24 April 2009 (UTC)


Complete, for the time being. A suggestion - as this is likely to become a rather long article, please place comments or crits on this section directly below. If headers are changed for any reason, please strike though the existing header and give new header title. For other sections, please place comments and discussions under appropriately titled headings. Thank you. Haploidavey (talk) 02:05, 27 April 2009 (UTC)


Pasted in with a reservations - namely, should it be merged? And do other editors agree that terms should be as proposed? If the terminology isn't changed and explained, the article will remain as opaque (at best) or potentially misleading (at worst) as it was. Of course, sources must and will be respected. Post-cult commentators and cult opponents should be cited and quoted strictly in their own terms. Haploidavey (talk) 22:22, 28 April 2009 (UTC)


There's editorializing happening in this article through selective sourcing. Describing the imperial cult as "servile" may or may not be valid, depending on one's point of view, but it certainly is not a consensus opinion among scholars of the field. A Wikipedia article may reflect scholarly debate about a particular topic, but it should not "take sides" in such a debate, no? The tone here is contentious and politically charged. Perhaps a rewrite with non-axe-grinding sources is in order. —Preceding unsigned comment added by ZoomaBaresAll (talkcontribs) 23:19, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

I agree. If you read the "background" section carefully, you'll notice that the word occurs in the course of discussion which certainly does not support that point of view. Regards. Haploidavey (talk) 23:34, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Grammatical error corrected. A re-write is indeed in progress, with some of the axe-grinding sources and opinions disposed of quite early in the article.Haploidavey (talk) 23:42, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Cheers. I'd offer to help with the rewrite, but as I'm a college student with exams in my near future, that will have to wait. ZoomaBaresAll (talk) 02:11, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

Help needed[edit]

I feel there must be fundamental flaws in my restructuring of this article, as it's becoming very difficult to write and organise. Any insights, suggestions or contributions would be most welcome. Haploidavey (talk) 17:23, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

It strikes me that a lot of the article is occupied with a review of Roman religion; for all I know, the article "Religion in ancient Rome" doesn't contain the material you need so that you could summarize the background more succinctly and then simply cross-reference. No reflection on that article, which I haven't really read; just a comment on what often happens to me in trying to cross-reference. Therefore, the Imperial cult article runs the risk of TMI. If you feel the article has become unwieldy, you might consider a more chronological approach, introducing the religious background in relation to particular developments in cult establishment and practice. (And moving some of this background to the Roman religion article.) What made divus Iulius possible? Narrate events in the deification, then give the religious background that made it possible — would that work? After this chronological exploration, perhaps a section of more conceptual overview from secondary sources before the Christian transition section. Most people coming to the article will want a more grounded view of "emperor worship"; how the Imperial cult was established at specific times and places, cult practice. This would mean moving to the top of the article the under-construction section on the specifics pertaining to the cult under various emperors.

Also, if I may throw gasoline on the fire with one of my more radical notions: discussions of Roman religious practice (not just on Wikipedia, but at the highest levels of professional scholarship) are hampered by the use of the words "paganism" and "polytheism." There is no such thing as "paganism" in antiquity; the term "pagan" begins to be used as a religious slur in the 4th century by Christians. I am happy to cite the great scholar of early Christianity Peter Brown:

"The adoption of paganus by Latin Christians as an all-embracing, pejorative term for polytheists represents an unforeseen and singularly long-lasting victory, within a religious group, of a word of Latin slang originally devoid of religious meaning. … The evolution occurred only in the Latin west … . Elsewhere, 'Hellene' or 'gentile' (ethnikos) remained the word for 'pagan.'" [1]

Follow the link to read the whole thing, with citations of Tertullian et al. But I myself go further than Brown. I don't think the term "polytheist" is of any great use either, though it can be resorted to as technically correct in a pinch. It elides 'way too much and creates a forest in which the species of trees are not seen. It tries to make Roman religion a monolithic system like Christianity, something that can be contained under the single rubric "polytheism." I guess all I'm saying is that in antiquity no individual and no society practices something called "polytheism"; it's a theoretical abstraction, not a religion per se. Does it make sense to call a Stoic a polytheist? Or Cicero? An initiate into the mysteries of Eleusis? An "Orphic"? The flamen Martialis? How 'bout the Emperor Julian? (To that I can say, he called Christians atheists and himself a Hellene.)

Therefore, Imperial cult makes sense in the context of Roman religion in various aspects (public/state cult, household cult, imported Eastern cult); the intro is a very good statement on that, and "The Imperial cult and Christianity" does a good job of showing both mutual incomprehension and the Christian appropriation of traditional cultic forms. (The Lupercalia paragraph doesn't seem particularly relevant; needed?) However, we get muddled muttering in the "Background" section that implies Tacitus somehow supports claims about the 'moral bankruptcy' of the non-existent entity called 'paganism.' Complaints of moral decline abound in Tacitus and others who refrained from converting to Christianity; but since these self-criticisms were not directed at something called 'paganism,' it would be useful to know what they thought they were criticizing. I am extremely skeptical of the claim that Christianity became the state religion because Roman religion failed morally, since "morality" in the Christian sense is not what it ever claimed to provide; it did provide mores or the mos maiorum, the loss of which Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, whose article represents him inadequately, regarded as imperiling the state — there was serious discussion among adherents of the traditional religions that the empire's conversion to Christianity was causing its downfall. Since the empire soon fell to "barbarian" incursions, this POV has as much merit as the Christian view. (Serious historians are unlikely to accept either.) The article very astutely demonstrates that as the Christians rose to dominance, they appropriated for political purposes the cultic apparatus that carried the authority of the traditional religions of antiquity. (Gore Vidal's novel Julian relishes this irony with particular glee.) It's therefore important not to lump everything together as "paganism," but to distinguish the sources of authority.

Does this make any sense?

For sections that are truly under construction (to the point of incomplete sentences and notes), you might consider moving such to your sandbox or working on them privately and pasting-in later, so people coming to the article aren't confused. A clear but incomplete article is probably more useful. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:04, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

Those are valuable insights. All make more sense than the article! You'd be so welcome to edit, and as mercilessly as you thought fit.... In the early section (citing Tacitus out of context) I've tried to objectively summarise the viewpoint of early modern scholarship - perhaps I don't need to. My other major difficulty arises - as you guessed - from a need to provide an adequate background for "Imperial cult" as a civil-religious-political development. The more I've read on the subject, the less patience I have with "Imperial cult" as a category. I hoped to avoid the rocks and shoals of "pagan-polytheism" and thought I'd done so - unfortunately, "traditional Roman religion" explains less than it avoids. Or rather, it presumes a background. (By the way, Tacitus' disparagement of adulation is often taken out of its context and interpreted as a general condemnation: I thought I'd made that clear but maybe not!)
I'll do as you suggest with the messiest, most disorganised sections, which currently look more like a demolition site than a construction project. I might also copy the whole article into a user-page and try some bold re-arrangements. As ever, my sincere appreciation. Haploidavey (talk) 17:59, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
I think my reaction to "paganism" and "polytheism" was triggered by the proximity of Tacitus and the "moral bankruptcy of paganism" (which created negative expectations out of keeping with the rest of the article) and by the presence of the Paganism directory template at the bottom of the page, when the "Roman religion and myth" template (if only it said 'myth' instead of 'mythology') would seem sufficient. "Triggered," I say, like an allergy to certain foods. Let me get my EpiPen ... yes, better now.
"Traditional Roman religion" doesn't require anything the word "Christianity" doesn't require; how many people really know Church history, or can name most of the books of the New Testament, or summarize Pauline theology? But that's why the "Religion in ancient Rome" article needs to serve your purpose, and why you have had to provide so much background.
I certainly hope after all this work you don't give up on the concept of Imperial cult. I think the introduction is quite good, and since that's all most people will read, a good intro is crucial. Your use of "pagan" (in quotation marks) in the intro, assuming it's yours, is exactly how the word should be used, because it expresses the Christian POV. I feel terrible if I've discouraged you!Cynwolfe (talk) 20:34, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

Structural suggestions[edit]

Looking over the article structurally again, I would recommend moving "From Republic to Principate" to the first section after the intro. Except I might call it "The Deification of Caesar." That's the most concrete background, and establishes a precedent. That gives you a couple subsections: (1) Caesar's lifetime as preliminary, including his divine genealogy, influence of Eastern cults (Hellenistic kingship being tied up with this as well, and how the question of kingship relates to deification), cult honors. (2) Augustus's political purposes in deifying Caesar (using the "Republic to Principate" subhead). All of the material for which is already present and sound. Let me put this as an outline.

The deification of Caesar
[subhead sorta like Divine tendencies]
From Republic to Principate
Religion and imperium under Augustus
Augustan religious 'reforms' (I regret to say that I don't think the material on free speech and subversion belongs in this article, except that Julia's crowning of Marsyas is a travesty of her father's program)
Imperial cult in the Western empire
Julio-Claudian succession (I approach these things in a very simple-minded way: I say just give a one-paragraph into on the role Imperial cult and divine honors for the emperor played in perpetuating Julio-Claudian dynastic rule, then make a subhead for each emperor)
Flavian etc.

Then just do a section on each emperor you've already named here as contributing significantly to the perpetuation of the cult. When you reach the transition to Christianity, that to me is the place to stop the chronological development and address questions more conceptually: what aspects of Roman religion(s) enabled Imperial cult. This means moving all the background on augury, household cult, etc. AFTER the chronology. I could be wrong about this. But I think people need to know WHAT Imperial cult was (as concrete practice) first. After you've established how the context of Roman religion makes sense of the phenomenon, you are in a better position to look at the challenges posed by the rise of Christianity, the initial accommodations, and the final incompatibility. You may find that you don't need as much of the background on Roman religion as you think. But don't let it go to waste! Either add it to the main article, or if there are well-defined topics, create new articles that can serve both as "see also" links for your article and as "main article" links in the Roman religion article. If you feel that your head is exploding, and you think that the proposed reordering would work for you but can't face the tedium of it (don't redo the whole article!), I would do some rough rearranging. I can't give the time the topic requires to make actual content edits, but I might do a closer side-by-side comparison between the "Religion in ancient Rome" article and your background work here, and shuffle stuff. Cynwolfe (talk) 20:34, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

Ha! I did as you suggested and pasted into a user page thus - User:Haploidavey/Cultish - where I feel I can edit more freely. If you've a mo, and would you care to take a look, I think your suggestions here and my own changes there seem to match quite closely - I find this very heartening. There will be some difficulties in establishing the neccesary terminology in context early in the article - mebbe - but it has to work better (by which I mean become readable) in chronological order. And on specifics - yes, I heftily rewrote the lead, including "pagan" (sic) with reference to Christianity - there's very little left of the original article. I think you're right about re-arrangement rather than re-writing, except of course in sections as yet too scantily dealt with. With judicious re-arranging (and transfer of some background to religion in Ancient Rome, which I've been chafing after for a while now), the article can lose a deal of bulk. (While we're on the subject of pagans, polytheism and cults, I'd happily put all those terms in truly gigantic quotation marks and link them to gargantuan sub-articles)... Haploidavey (talk) 21:05, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
By the way, I like your suggested headers and subheaders and will use them. Haploidavey (talk) 12:02, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
Re: your latest on my talkpage - I'm regularly updating the article with changes made to User:Haploidavey/Cultish. What you suggested is proving very useful and remarkably easy to achieve, leaving only a considerable stretch of leg-work from Augustus to Constantine and beyond. Did I say only? Save us... Haploidavey (talk) 13:28, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I think you should move transfer the "Cultish" reordering to the actual article at once. Only this morning was I able to articulate what I thought you had accomplished in the article; I hesitated to participate directly in the process for the very reason that you're the one in the middle of wrestling with this complex subject, and for me to catch up would take weeks of work. But let me try to guess what happened: the original article dealt with the intriguing subject of "emperor worship in ancient Rome." That's a misleading way to think about it; as you got into contributing, you found that the cult of the emperor was primarily a feature of imperial religion in the provinces, and served as a form of unification. (This is the lesson the Christians learned, and the bolt of lightning that struck Constantine, that monotheism was an even better form of control; but see Arnaldo Momigliano, “The Disadvantages of Monotheism for a Universal State,” Classical Philology 81 (1986) 285–297.) Thus the cult of the emperor was an aspect of Roman state or public religion, which then needed explaining. In other words, your approach was "before you can understand this, you must understand this." Is this a fair way to look at it?
Logical though that is, I still think the better rhetorical strategy is always to lead the readers on the journey rather than trying to drop them off at the destination. That's why I think the revision works, because most people consulting the article will be looking for the facts pertaining to which emperors had a cult, what "worship" was, and the whens and wheres. As they acquire these pieces of information, they may start to ask questions such as "why did people accept this or believe this stuff?" Then you do your section explaining Roman religion as it pertains to the question, which leads very naturally to the Christian transition. I think your revision will work spectacularly. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:07, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
You've encouraged me immensely, partly through your own grasp of the context but even more through your articulation of my basic approach (and changes of tack). I'll be doing no intensive editing this weekend - when I come back to it, I suspect a great many issues will be resolved through the delightful release of doing nothing whatever: a combination of natural, slow cooking and distillation. Thank you so much! (Oh yes, I'll look for Momigliano's article when next in London (July sometime) - I know Manchester's public library doesn't carry Classical Philology). Haploidavey (talk) 16:56, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

Arbitrary decision[edit]

I found very few relevant citations for cult in South-Western Mediterranean seaboard provinces. Examples used are from areas more or less equivalent to Libya and northern Algeria, and I grouped them beneath the general heading of "Western Provinces". This fits the later division of Empire, avoids anachronistic use of "Africa" and implies by omission the "Eastern" character of Graeco-Egyptian cult (covered, of course, under Eastern Provinces), but I'm not really satisfied with it. Any better suggestions would be welcome. Haploidavey (talk) 18:43, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

What do you mean by anachronistic use of Africa, exactly? You mean that Roman usage of Africa doesn't correspond to the modern use of Africa for the continent? And you raise an interesting point about whether the African province(s) are meant to be included when we talk about the Western empire as distinguished from the Eastern or Byzantine. I think "Western Roman Empire" is often historian-code for "Europe except for most of the Slavic and Germanic parts, and Ireland, except that 'Europe' doesn't really exist." What you say is interesting in a way I hadn't bothered to think about before, though I've seen (and not read) discussions of the connections between Gaul and "Africa." Cynwolfe (talk) 02:37, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
Your use of question and quotation marks sums it up. Yes, I'd like to avoid anachronisms, modern preoccupation with the birth of nation-states and continential identities and the perils of centrist vs non-centrist hegemony in debate. I'd also prefer to observe the distinctions made in the literature - even where they contradict - but "Western" histories are almost invariably constructed around Diocletian's East-West administration, and get stuck on the axes of Rome and Byzantium. Useful enough in politics, law, broad cultural-linguistic terms, subsequent developments and whatnot - but the "Imperial cult" trades simultaneously in ideas, identities and "things". The issue of trade routes and North-South relationships in the West is, I think, a major one which tends to be subsumed as incidental to the Big Story of East and West. So OK, "Imperial cult" is both a unifying agency and local identity - but no, it's a multiplicity of agencies serving local identities in a common "cause" whose nature and purpose are often far from clear but become particularly muddied by the institution of the Tetrarchy and are probably deeply implicated in the trading institutions of the Mediterranean world. Perhaps. David Stone Potter (see references) covers some of this well, but his primary concern - or thesis, rather - is one of cultural and administrative ossification at the heart of Imperial reaction and eventual decay. Arguable, really. Haploidavey (talk) 13:27, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
The Carthaginian presence in Spain has been discussed, of course (I have no sources to give you, though), including religious cult. Mostly Hercules/Melqart stuff. The Spain/Africa connection is important in the story of Sertorius, a favorite Roman of mine. But Hannibal et al. were also in the Narbonensis; that was the overland route, but transient, so I guess no real cultural impact? I know nothing about Africa in the Imperial era. The province of Africa seems like a relatively neglected subject, given the quality of Roman archaeological remains there. For your article, you're probably better off not treating it as part of the "West," because that isn't conventional (the "Western Empire", as you say, from the mouths of historians isn't about a cardinal direction, but culture formation and the creation of modern Europe), and I'm not sure how much good it would do to question the traditional East/West division. What if the Roman province of Africa is given its own subsection after (or under) the current "Western provinces" section? Including when it ceased to be part of even the divided empire. Then you could profitably sum up in a couple of sentences some of these issues. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:46, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
That's a nice clear answer to my garbled "explanation" (I barely understand what I wrote above - it has all the marks of "topic frenzy"). I'll follow your good advice and cunning plan. Thanks so much. PS: Sorry, I forgot to say - until a month or two back, I knew nothing at all about Sertorius and still only know the Plutarch account after a fashion - but yes, he really grows on you. A fascinating character. Haploidavey (talk) 19:10, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

Res divina[edit]

I'm going to attempt to move the res divina section to the res divina article page, which is barely stubbish, and to provide a summary with a "see also" here. Please move stuff back if I've cut too close. Cynwolfe (talk) 00:27, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

Excellent news. PS: if you're about to edit, I'll close down for the night (nearly 2.00 a.m. here anyway).Haploidavey (talk) 00:39, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
I can't resist complimenting your summary - it says absolutely everything it needs to and does so with exceptional flair. Haploidavey (talk) 01:13, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

Domitian picture and caption[edit]

I've just had a major session at the British Library. The evidence for Domitian's claims to godhead (as in picture caption) is very unsound - see Ittai Gradel (in article references) p 160: (with my own paraphrasis in parts, from handwritten notes taken in Library - careful notes...)

"In Domitian's case, there is no evidence that the title "master and god" by which he was regularly addressed in his later years was ever a formal title. It was never granted by the senate; never found in inscriptions; and was probably not invented by himself. Suetonius explicitly states that it was first used by the emperor's own freedmen (his own procuratores), who were - significantly - members of his own extended household (familia). It was not used by Domitian himself, only as a form of address to him. Suetonius claims that Domitian himself dictated a letter in the name of his procurators thus: "our master and god orders this to be carried out". This is slim and unrobust evidence. Had Suetonius possessed first-hand, first-person cases, he would have cited them - but he does not. Domitian may well have been pleased by the title - but that is neither here nor there. (Gradel explains the client-patron relationship which informed the language of D's procuratores within and beyond the domus - and Domitian's causing of senatorial offence by his treatment of themselves in similar vein.)

As to Pliny's mention of sacrifices to Domitian on the Capitol, all such worship (and any associated titulature) was "private and informal", no matter how common. Most importantly, Domitian's coinage and the Arval Acts reveal nothing of this - and that is decisive."

If this is so, there is no reason for Domitian to be singled out in the article. Commodus, perhaps, but even then, the accounts misrepresent the issues and possibly the emperor. The loss of the Domitian picture will leave the article without any illustration - which is no good at all. Has anyone anything to offer? Johnbod very kindly provided a link to the Severan Tondo, which I'd love to use - but I can find no author who attributes it as an object of Imperial cult, which it blatantly is. I know we've a couple of coin images - but having had a few goes with pics, captions and whatnot, I realise I'm seriously hopeless at making such things work on wiki. Haploidavey (talk) 23:55, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

I've now edited the Domitian paragraph based on Gradel's assessment, and changed the caption pro tem. Haploidavey (talk) 00:04, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Good article[edit]

See also the list of all Divi in the German wikipedia: — including Roman precursors. (I think this article doesn't mention Cornelia, Gaius Marius, Metellus etc.) — (talk) 08:22, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

I've offered due cult on the contributor's talk-page, but the linked list is well worth a look by anyone with even a passing interest in the subject. Most revealing. Haploidavey (talk) 15:38, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
And I forgot to say - I don't speak German. Any volunteer(s) for translation of the linked article? With all the necessary riders and credits (whatever those should be)? And then, of course, it'll need checking. Haploidavey (talk) 16:46, 30 August 2009 (UTC)
Especially Scipio. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:16, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
I can't find anything outside of that list to support Scipio as divus. But then, I don't understand the German next to his name. At a guess, does it say something about his claim to be a son of Jupiter? Haploidavey (talk) 20:48, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
That he was declared son of Jupiter in his lifetime, is my best guess. News to me. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:59, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
Jupiter's paternity as part of the "legend" of Scipio's divine ancestry, and developed beyond his own lifetime from what seem to be folkish beginnings, according to this interesting snippet from Frank Walbank: [2]. But it's far from straightforward and divus or consecratio would perhaps be stretching things. Haploidavey (talk) 21:25, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
Might as well reference it properly: Frank W. Walbank, Selected Papers: Studies in Greek and Roman History and Historiography, Cambridge University Press, 1986 (pp 120-137). ISBN 9780521307529. And very expensive. Haploidavey (talk) 21:49, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
And my local copy's checked out. Looks good, though - and no, I don't see divus in the data, although this might be worth mentioning as a precursor of Caesar. Scipio to the Gracchi to Marius to Caesar? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:33, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
Definitely worth mentioning: and Marius, of course. (That was a very useful challenge). Haploidavey (talk) 10:40, 3 September 2009 (UTC)


Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius, that is. Another son of Jupiter?? In Spain only and 74 BC, according to that list but I can't find this anywhere (not Plutarch, not coinage - which shows pietas but filius of nothing). Might it be inscriptional? Pauly-Wissowa? Mommsen? Haploidavey (talk) 16:44, 5 September 2009 (UTC)

A google search suggests Lily Ross Taylor, The Divinity of the Roman Emperor, 1931 is the source for this; I'll get back to you. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:38, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
P. 56. Roman citizens in Spain burnt incense before him, as though he were a god, because they hoped he would save them. See Macrobius 3.13.6. Also a cult of Marius (p. 48), as third founder of Rome (from Plutarch's Marius; Camillus was the second) in private homes; which may prefigure the libations to the genius Augusti. Neither is official, of course. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:14, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
Excellent, that's more than I expected and entirely useful. Haploidavey (talk) 17:22, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

This page and ff from Ittai Gradel may serve as useful background. The Romans had no institutional objection to divinization as such; it was done by a decree of the Senate, like any other honor - and most other honors had a touch of divinity anyway. But no public figure had the permanent and absolute power of a god under the Republic; in private life, slaves and clients might call their patron Jupiter, and the corona civica may have begun as a private acknowledgment of a savior with Jupiter's oak leaves. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:22, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

I think I have notes on this somewhere. Gradel was one of the most interesting sources I read during my last library visit - divine honours as a matter of relative status. Perhaps I could restore some of the material I deleted some time back - over-detailed within the article structure at the time but the current arrangement's more robust. I wondered then about including the award of the civic crown to Augustus and the (possibly) demeaning clientism implied... he seems to have used the issue to make a point about his personal moderation. I think you're right. It's worth using. PS: I remember now why I was cagey about using Gradel's take on divinity as constructed (cf Varro) - it's really difficult to put across in a brief and simple way without stirring up a wasp-nest. But I'm sure it's possible. Haploidavey (talk) 17:54, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
The more I think about it, the more important it seems to place that material as part of background. Otherwise the issues of deus et dominus regarding Domitian's godhead (or not) just seem sui generis. Not really sure though where it should be put, or how much detail should be given. The points on Republican Roman divinities (whether as the "humanised" gods of the pantheon or divine mortals) having specific qualities and spheres of influence but no absolute or universal powers are important. A virtual cut and paste of your summary above would cover it well, with only minor changes. Haploidavey (talk) 21:20, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

Little quibble[edit]

"Potter" is cited several times in the footnotes, but there is nothing by that author in the bibliography. I assume it is his The Roman Empire at Bay: AD 190–395 (London/New York: Routledge, 2004)? Or perhaps it is his work on the Sibylline Oracles? It should be specified, though. (Great work on the article, by the way.) Geuiwogbil (Talk) 22:41, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

Ah.... yup, the first. Grazie! Haploidavey (talk) 22:48, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

Removed "underconstruction" tag[edit]

Not that the article's finished, but it's reasonably complete. As far as I can tell, the segue into Christianity and Legacy both need further attention - the latter is tricky, and interpretation depends on one's definition of "Imperial cult". Hm. Haploidavey (talk) 11:26, 4 September 2009 (UTC)


More on the Greeks - as distinct from the Near East - is needed: not just the Hellenists, but Lysander and Phillip. That's jst putting stuff down.

The hard part is the veneration of the heroes. Book length treatments discuss them as the dead, and as living men (like Brasidas and Timoleon). We have to do this in a paragraph.

Thoughts on wording? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:37, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

Hm, none as yet but will work on it off-site. We need to deal with the heroes and hero cult but as you say, difficult and particularly so in a single paragraph - and a short one, as must be. The Republican triumphal tradition re: the whispering slave might be a problem (possibly a later practise - or attested only much later. I'll take a look at Beard). Haploidavey (talk) 18:52, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Link [3] to googlebooks preview of Currie, B., Pindar and the cult of heroes, OUP, 2005. Many citations of Greek and no translations but useful commentary.
  • Another [4] focused on archaeology, with summaries of scholarly consensus (or not, per case) on interpretation of heroes and hero-cult: Spencer, N., (ed.) Time, Tradition and Society in Greek Archaeology: Bridging the 'Great Divide', Routledge, 1995.
PM done it while I slept... Fragments of Ennius suggest Roman familiarity with the idea of the Olympian gods as once mortal: found the Beard ref that covers this (old version of article) and will add. Livy's offended denial of Polybius' account is interesting. The same applies with one (probably more) of the disputed extra-legal Republican Triumphs. Haploidavey (talk) 08:47, 7 October 2009 (UTC)


  • (Re Messianism and adversary responses, specifically John's refutation of Imp. cult) [6] Freisen, S. J., Imperial cults and the Apocalypse of John: reading Revelation in the ruins, OUP, 2001. Haploidavey (talk) 12:14, 6 October 2009 (UTC)


Are we sure we want to use the loaded word "charisma" here? I mean in the first sentence. I associate this with "charismatic Christianity," which is surely not a place we want to go, and according to the Wiki article, Max Weber is responsible for introducing the term into scholarly discourse. I would feel more comfortable if there were ancient sources that actually used the term "charisma" to talk about the Roman emperors. The Wiki article has a quote from Aristotle describing a quality that sounds like charisma; when I went to see whether Ari himself uses the word, I found that the citation was either incorrect — the LCL book 3 of the Politics does not have a chapter 13 — or this numbering exists in other editions of the Politics (the partition of which is vexed). The concept of "charisma" is certainly relevant, but it carries baggage that weighs down a first sentence. Cynwolfe (talk) 13:41, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

Well, I was sure, but of course now I'm not. Momigliano uses it in this context exactly (sorry, he doesn't, but someone does and I'll try to find it - I'm afraid my filing system isn't one) - personally I don't associate it with Christianity in particular, but I'll happily defer to your judgement. Please do edit as freely and boldly as you see fit. Haploidavey (talk) 14:05, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
I tried the Thesaurus, without result. How about using the greek original, with footnote? Of course, one might be really bold, and go for chutzpah! Haploidavey (talk) 14:15, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
Though this is definitely not where I came across it, charisma is used in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt: Geschichte und Kultur ..., Volume 17 [7] - sorry, I don't know how to work the page numbers here - The Theology of Victory at Rome - p815 holds Roman felicitas correspondent with Weber's charisma (the latter used many times in chapter) but as far as I can tell, English has no felicitous equivalent... Haploidavey (talk) 14:48, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't object to the inclusion of the term, and I think it's very accurate — felicitas is an apt comparison. Of all the deities Fortuna was the one most invoked by Julius Caesar, other than Venus, and the two are linked, as Venus was also for the Romans just as much a goddess of luck, and being felix is part of what Venus can bestow on you. I just don't think 'charisma' helps in the first sentence. (You have to remember I'm an American; my encounters with Christians will be, um, different.) It's simultaneously too modern (Kennedy, in the States) and too obviously Greek linguistically not to muddy the waters before we the readers understand the topic. I could be wrong about this, or too Latinate in my habits of thought. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:29, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

Julius Caesar chronology[edit]

There seem to be problems of chronology here:

"In 49 BC Caesar crossed the Rubicon to become the sole effective authority in Rome: his armies were on its doorstep, its senate was swollen by his equestrian appointees and he had overwhelming popular support. In 46 BC he held an unprecedented quadruple triumph ..."

I confess to a personal distaste for drama in historical accounts ("armies on its doorstep!" "swollen!" "overwhelming!"), but pumped-up language usually fosters inaccuracy. Caesar did not magically become the sole authority in Rome by crossing the Rubicon; his crossing only made overt his intention to start a civil war. The war was still to come; he could've lost. Or he could've drowned in that famous incident when he was improbably swimming with documents in his teeth, or … whatever. Choked on a chicken bone. The war lasted four years. He really only had a year of uncontested authority in Rome. Or was it uncontested? Something about those naughty boys Brutus and Cassius … .

Also, when he crossed the Rubicon in 49, at what point had he already 'swollen' the senate with these equestrian appointments? He'd been in Gaul for 10 years and had no legal authority in Rome during that time. Ten years, I repeat, without holding any political office in Rome, or exerting anything but indirect influence from at minimum 200 miles away in Ravenna. If he was the long-distance puppet master people like to think, how come there was a civil war? Why didn't he just enter the city and have roses thrown at him?

At any rate, I'm pretty sure that Caesar's controversial appointments to the senate (among them citizen Gauls) date to his dictatorship, post-Rubicon crossing. Wasn't he filling out the senate because it was depleted by the civil wars? (At which time he also extended the rights of citizenship throughout Cisalpine Gaul, another means of consolidating his power by enlarging his clientele, but also the right thing to do for the people there — which shows his mastery of political strategy, not godlike exuding of mysterious mana.)

In 49, Caesar also couldn't be utterly sure of his popular support; he hadn't set foot in Rome for ten years. And so what if the people loved you? Their champion Clodius Pulcher, who had done a heck of a lot more for them than Caesar had, had been killed by the other side in the middle of the street only a couple of years before — and since this is the only current event at Rome mentioned explicitly by Caesar in his seven books of the Bellum Gallicum, it obviously bugged him.

I'm not sure how near the doorstep he brought the army (singular, unless you mean "legions", which Pompey and others also had in multiples), but I guess to my mind it actually diminishes Caesar (and the complexities of Roman history) to think everything he did was a preordained breeze. But I'm sure he'd be gratified that we're still buying into his veni, vidi, vici propaganda. As for the quadruple triumph: yes, unprecedented; Pompey had a triple one, so Caesar had to go one better. But also very controversial, as he depicted fellow Romans, including the moral paragon Cato, as defeated enemies. And nobody seems to have liked that.

But I should add that this is a very minor point in the context of the article as a whole. (It's just the sort of thing I can't seem to keep from pouncing on; apologies.) Cynwolfe (talk) 15:21, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

Excellent Cynwolfe! Minor point or not, what you read is not a judgement on Caesar but my attempt to reduce complex material to the bare minimum of what I really know very little about and inevitably distort in chronology, interpretation or whatever. Pleeeeeze fix it! How's that for begging? Haploidavey (talk) 15:44, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
But that would require actual work, instead of just spouting off … Cynwolfe (talk) 14:54, 9 October 2009 (UTC)
Avoidance seems the best solution to issues of accuracy and interpretation, and it reads better without... Haploidavey (talk) 21:14, 8 October 2009 (UTC), without the portentious amateur dramaturgy. It still needs a brief preamble. Haploidavey (talk) 15:43, 9 October 2009 (UTC)
Along the same lines, I've taken out the description of the supporters of the Gracchi; even if it is consensus that they were fighting land-grabbing elites (I believe it myself, but there are counter-arguments), it doesn't belong here but in Gracchi, any more than Syme's picture of Octavian as somewhere between Lenin and Hitler - which is much closer to the subject at hand - belongs here. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:46, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

Footnote 35, and triumph[edit]

The info currently in footnote 35, from Weinstock about the red boots and such. Why did it move to a footnote? Weinstock sources the boots to Cassius Dio. The trappings and their significance seem directly pertinent. Maybe I just like the picture of Caesar in red go-go boots that comes unbidden to my mind every time I see this phrase.

Triumph section: Does somebody have Beard to review on this? I had to surrender my copy back to the library. The essential point seems to be: some scholars (and ancient sources) in interpreting the meaning of the triumph have said that the triumphator in some sense impersonated or even became God for the day (this latter is Fowler, I think?). On the other hand, you have the slave whispering mortality. (Isn't that all that's relevant to this article?) Beard has a merry time with the whole god business, but the nature of this interpretational controversy should be mentioned in the article, and I think she also may dispute whether the slave was standard practice. One of Beard's points, of course, is that it's wrong to lump together all the details we have scattered around about various triumphs, and create one picture of the triumph; she suggests there's a great deal of individual choice in how you present yourself. Another theme of Beard's is that it's easy to overemphasize the aggrandizement of the triumph; there were features (such as the slave) that placed the triumphator within, not above, his world.

Also, I'm going to trim the section under Background: Roman (which looks to me to be entirely Republican); I don't see, for instance, what annual magistracies or colonial commissions have to do Imperial cult.

I deleted this statement, perhaps wrongly (but the article does need to be more succinct):

'A client might speak of his patron as "Jupiter on earth"; patrons had permanent power over their clientela.' (Referenced Beard et al, Vol. 1, 77-9.)

Why delete? Well, Beard may contradict me (so please put it back in), but this strikes me as the kind of hyperbole we use when we call somebody "god." "Michael Jordan was a god on the court." Or Donald Trump or whoever. It doesn't say anything about our religious practice, and I don't see anything inherent in the patron-client relationship that necessarily lays the groundwork for emperor worship. Cynwolfe (talk) 13:51, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

  • Annual magistracies are part and parcel of Gradel's argument that the nobiles would not acknowledge a superior.
  • Similarly, domestic cult does not offer better evidence than public cult; it offers evidence of a different relationship, in which there was a permanent and absolute superior.
  • The Republican norm was collegiality; one symptom of a transgression of that norm is that Sulla and Marius and Pompey founded cities by themselves; another symptom is that they named the cities after themselves.
  • The statement deleted is from Gradel; part of his case that human divinity was not unRoman; just that it was incompatible with the Republic for the state to worship human beings.

Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:02, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

  • The patron-client relationship, like the master-slave relationship, is an example of the sort of superiority impossible between nobiles. Both are reflected in the relationship between the pater patriae and the people, although the language of slavery is used only by insecure Emperors, like Domitian. But Augustus' position is (beyond the indiscriminate collection of offices he used to describe it) precisely that of the universal patron.
  • And where did you pick up the bastard formation popularist? If I have to figure it out from context, many readers won't understand it at all. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:19, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
Please feel free to revert. I just feel that the article is too detailed and otiose for most readers, and some concrete details of cult (rather than political background) that were relegated to footnotes might help picture how these things were enacted. Since there has never been a Western society in which there was no social inequality, or in other words, since there have always been social inequalities, usually huge, I don't see what patron-client relationships have necessarily to do with deifying someone, even in Roman culture. The examples of cult tribute to living figures are clear antecedents; defending someone in a court case and then having him do some favor for you in return — how's that lead to emperor worship? It is also simply untrue that the patron-client relationship was permanent, nor was it simple and always formal. There wasn't one group of people who were patrons and one group of people who were clients; you could be the patron of someone, and the client of somebody higher up the social ladder, which is a hierarchy and not simply a god-mortal split. Catullus might've said some guy sitting next to his girlfriend was a god, but that's not a precedent for emperor worship. But as I said, please revert if you wish; I don't intend to war about it.
Except on one point. "Popularist" is an adjectival form from the noun popularis to denote the political faction, and I try to link it to the populares article when I use it; it is a more specific way to refer to Roman politics than the general and imprecise "populist," nor is its use restricted to classical studies, as you can see here. Not sure why you've questioned the word's legitimacy. I may originally have picked it up from Elaine Fantham, as here; and here are some other examples of scholarly sources dealing with Roman subject matter that use it: [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] Cynwolfe (talk) 20:36, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
I call it bastard because popularis is Latin, -istes Greek; I object to it because I think it will throw the common reader, whom Elaine Fantham is not writing for. Better than "democratic", "popular", or "demagogic", but need we have anything more than "reform"? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:00, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
What do you call a television, then? Just joshin'. The terms "consulship" and "praetorship" are similarly born out of wedlock, because 'ship' is not a latinate suffix; though one might find ways to banish these (in favor of 'consulate' in the first case, for praetor or quaestor don't know), it's hard to avoid "relationship." I myself like "reform," as a fan of the Gracchi, but I think it goes a step too far in POV. And although T.P. Wiseman's new book has caused me to heave a sigh of relief and allow myself to talk about political ideology in Rome again, there are still Romans under the populares banner who probably could be fairly called demagogues rather than reformers. I'm a huge fan of Sertorius and his shadow government in Spain, but it might be a stretch to call him a reformer. "Reform" also elides the populares-optimates distinction; and what Sulla did was considered reform, too, in revising age requirements for magistracies and all that. As the Google Books search on popularist shows, "popularist" isn't a technical term of classical scholarship, though classical scholarship borrows it; it's used in a wide range of disciplines, and in books that are not intended only for initiates. Cynwolfe (talk) 23:03, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
I call "television" a Sturdy Indefensible, and would let it alone; no reader will have trouble with it. Can you say the same for "popularist"?
And reformer is being used as a one-word summary of the Gracchi, not Sertorius - or Catiline. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:28, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Your reasoning is uncharacteristically off here; if we had to remove every word or every historical figure that the average reader won't know, it would be very difficult to talk about Imperial cult at all. (The average reader won't know who Gratidianus is.) That's why one links. The populares and optimates split is conventional. The relation of the observable tradition of popularist politics to the development of Imperial cult is obviously pertinent, since it culminates in the deification of the popularist Julius Caesar. I don't know whether anyone has argued that the populares seem to attract more cult attention, but certainly Sertorius cultivated his own aura of divine approval (the white deer); it's possible (haven't looked at the material) that the honors shown Metellus Pius were meant to counter the adulation that Sertorius had received. Anyway, at first you attacked the word as bastard formation (while elsewhere using the equally bastard 'rationalist'), then you attacked it for its unfamiliarity, even though I produced hundreds of examples of its use, and not exclusive to classical studies. Sometimes it just isn't possible in a specialist subject to be both precise and familiar. I like the word despite its ugliness because using a consistent rather than situational label helps identify those who drew on the same political tradition. I'm not insisting on its use in this article, because I have promised not to edit this article. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:54, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
I object to the word, not to the link; it is badly formed and obscure. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:43, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Well, let me just summarize my points, and promise to leave it at this and allow you to have the last word after this.
  • The word "popularist" is inelegant, and for that reason you wouldn't find it in my poetry, either original or translated, or my fiction.
  • It is formed, like "rationalist," by adding a Greek suffix to a word of Latin origin; this is promiscuous or mongrel, like adding the Germanic "-ship" to "praetor," as in the title of T. Corey Brennan's excellent book. English is a capacious language in terms of vocabulary precisely because it admits formations that would be unconscionable in some other languages; it is probably less elegant than those languages.
  • I offered examples above to show that the word is used by reputable contemporary classicists in published works.
  • At the same time, the word "popularist" is neither rare nor technical.
  • The word is useful to classicists because it offers a consistent term to oppose to "optimate" as an English adjective; it is useful for making that conventional if sometimes questioned political dichotomy. (I find "optimate" as an English adjective less easy to infer from context, because the English reader is likely to think "optimal" or "optimistic" upon seeing it. Come to think of it, there's that "-ist" suffix again on a word of Latin origin.)
  • "Popularist" avoids situational translation; there may of course be instances when a synonym works better (reform, demagogic, radical, populist, even — dare I say it — liberal). "Popularist" avoids non-neutral interpretations, or misleading equivalencies to modern political labels, and via a link can lead the interested reader who responds 'what the heck is that?' to discussion of factional politics and ideology specific to the Roman Republic.
The harm that "popularist" does is thus unclear to me, but as I said, I am happy to have clarified my thinking and feel no need to pursue the subject further. Cynwolfe (talk) 00:19, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Clarifying my own thinking here. I've no objection whatever to "popularist" but perhaps that's because I'm now familiar with the distinction intended. Some results in the google search show it used (or misused) as synonymous with "populist" (in a few cases, referring to "dumbing down" at the BBC): obviously not what's meant here but I'm reconsidering how "popularist" would be taken by general readers. Why not leave PMAnderson's alternative for now? It's relatively over-long but the sense is there (and agreed) and the debate is here for reference should anyone decide to change the expression - hopefully, not to the loaded "populist". Haploidavey (talk) 12:00, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Actually what I should add is this: I'm not trying to persuade anybody else to use the word "popularist". In addition to the reasons above, I use it because I'm very much suggesting that the reader should follow the link and read about the populares because of the subject's inherent interest (even though the article needs work). If you link reform or populist (with populares the hidden link), the reader is more likely to think "I know what 'reform' is," or "I know what 'populism' is" and not click (it only belatedly occurs to me, duh, that 'populist' itself has Greek "-ist" suffixed to Latin popul-, so I don't see where either is preferable in terms of purity of diction). Also, the preference for linking as I understand Wiki style is that the more transparent link is preferred, and "popularist" is the more transparent link to populares. So basically, I'm not out to convert here; I'm just defending my usage in the hope that in the articles I've shepherded (not this one), it will be allowed to stand. Cynwolfe (talk) 13:48, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
One clarification: Of course I see how the aggrandizement of individuals and disproportionate accumulation of power/wealth by individuals contribute to the breakdown of republicanism and the emergence of monarchy, and I can see how various religious practices described under "Background: Rome" helped legitimate the monarchy. I don't see how the imperial overreaching of an individual, or the social inequality between a patron (who is not always a nobilis) and a client, directly facilitates deification of such individuals. I'm sure in a book-length work this could be woven together into a single textile that is the fabric of Roman society; but does patronage, or commissions to found colonies, foster the kind of understanding sought by the average reader who looks up this topic? That was my question, and my answer was that it did not; it's about the religious factors, because the other circumstances (aggrandizing of the individual, imperial ambitions, rigid class systems, patronage in the forms taken by feudalism) exist in Christian societies of medieval Europe, where religious factors close the door on deification when other social conditions might encourage it. I just think the article is too diffuse and broad in scope to efficiently answer the questions most likely to be brought to it. But as I said, I'm willing to confine my reservations to the talk page. Cynwolfe (talk) 21:14, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
I had hoped these would answer two questions:
  • How could the Romans worship people? (They did; they just didn't do it formally, or as a public act, except for the divi)
  • Why didn't the Romans have a god-king, like the other Hellenistic states? (This is what most of the sources are discussing; and the text is their answer to it)
These questions will be asked by different readers, but we should answer both.
Yes, agreed; but a straightforward statement in a sentence or two about the hostility of republicanism to theocracy, and the principle that no man is your master, does it without getting into details of patronage and colonia-founding and the specific ways in which this was eroded. As I said, it's the clarity and focus I'm concerned about. Also, since the Greek section comes after the Roman, it's the cart before the horse on the question of Hellenistic god-kings — and this latter figure, I'd wager, would come as a greater surprise to my hypothetical Joe the Reader than emperor worship. Supposing he had seen the movie 300 and the caricatured opposition to Persian theocracy there (which, Mary Beard has pointed out in one of her Times blogs, is consonant with how the Greeks like to depict themselves).Cynwolfe (talk) 23:03, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
The problem with a straightforward sentence about hostility of republicanism to theocracy is that it will be wrong. Iran? Geneva? North Korea? Connecticut? Utah? For that matter, Athens was a republic in the time of Demetrius, and of Hadrian. The hostility of this Republic to Caesar's form of theocracy is clear enough, and I believe Gradel's reasons for it seem to be consensus in the literature.
The chief reason that the Roman background is discussed before the Greek is that I found it that way. It does seem reasonable to stay on topic before diverging, unless we are going to suggest that the Greeks caused Emperor-worship - and I see no consensus for that. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:20, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
If somebody wants to make a separate article out of all that and summarize here, fine too. Just don't throw the work away. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:24, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
For later Europe, I would commend Marc Bloch on one end, and a life of Louis XIV on the other; not as much difference as a rationalist or a Protestant might hope. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:53, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
Well, the point is well taken that monarchy tends by nature toward deification or "worship", and England's monarch is head of the Church of England and all that, because monarchy, particularly hereditary monarchy, is so irrational that it requires a religious aura to sustain it. But again, no reason to spend too much time reconstructing the social structure of the Roman Republic; if the relevant articles are deficient (and there's the mess with clientela, cliens, and a third under some title), they should be brought up to standard so they can be usefully cross-referenced. In an ideal world. I recently linked "social rank" to Conflict of the Orders, which someone promptly undid as misleading; true, and I didn't change it back, but that was the article I found that had the best description of what Roman social rank was about. Cynwolfe (talk) 23:03, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
Details of cult are always welcome; but do we have any? Bring some in if you can find some. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:07, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
I mean that I moved the concrete details about honors accorded to Metellus Pius to the body text, because I thought it made the scenario in which a living person received such honors more vivid. Cynwolfe (talk) 23:03, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
Fine. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:20, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Triumph, Beard and the slave in the chariot: pretty much as Cynwolfe has it - we need to beware of synthesis and modern tropes. In a few written accounts, a companion (not always described as slave) rides in the chariot. His function is not at all clear. In Pliny, he holds "the golden Tuscan crown" over the head of the triumphator. In Tertullian, he warns the triumphator to look behind him and remember he is a man ("and so he rejoices all the more that he is in such a blaze of glory that a reminder of his mortality is necessary"). Jerome says much the same. Nothing here about cutting down to size. Only Dio mentions a "public slave", who says "Look behind you" - interpreted, according to Beard, as "look at what comes next in your life and do not be carried away by your present good fortune and puffed up with pride" [sic]. So anyway, this is why I originally adopted a cautious summary, employing the possibility of the triumphator as one offered near-kingly and near-godly cult (and surely, it is cult by Gradel's measure of status difference), regarded intently throughout by his peers for signs that he might wish his extraordinary status as a permanent right - which is a loose summary of Beard's informed speculation. Haploidavey (talk) 22:48, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm in favor of using up-to-date scholarship, and Mary Beard is a rock star, but Haploidavey reminds me that she is only one voice, still, and other views on the "god" question could be introduced. Here's Versnel. Cynwolfe (talk) 23:32, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
I glanced at it; but I don't see why he thinks the two views incompatible; I believe a triumphator resembled the kings - who were semi-divine (if fictitious, semi-divine fictions) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:28, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
But he doesn't think them incompatible. He discusses the arguments of opposing mainstream schools which assumed the triumphator might temporarily take the attributes of the king or Jupiter but never both. Versnel himself finds otherwise - the triumphator is both kingly and godly. Well worth reading and a very different approach to Gradel's. Haploidavey (talk) 23:15, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Caesar Epibaterios[edit]

I see this is a placename from Philo. If it is to be part of Caesar's ascent to godhood, it must, at least, have been consecrated before his deification in 44; what evidence is there that it was not consecrated after his death, or to Octavian (who is also a Caesar, and disembarked at Alexandria)? (There may well be; but it's not visible now). Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:55, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

I just checked Philo leg. ad Gaius 22.151 in an online English translation - no commentary available there on the passage in question. What I read there seems not at all clear on the temple dedication, when it was made or to whom. Best lose it? Haploidavey (talk) 21:36, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
Unless it's more than yet another instance of Greek worship of a Roman great man, of which we have lots; did you find it, and if so, where? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:42, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
No, this was one of the article's "foundation statements" - I dunno whence it came (except for the Philo connection) but I've a horrible feeling it crops up in Carotta. I'll delete. Haploidavey (talk) 21:51, 14 October 2009 (UTC)


I don't know what this sentence means:

'The legendary kings had been masters in Rome; and this circumspection did not apply to them.'

I said I'd confine myself to the talk page, so I shall.

Despite the 'legendary,' the sentence reads as if these kings existed; but in fact, we're not talking about the legendary or semi-legendary kings, we're talking about the oddly twinned tradition of the founders (Aeneas, or Romulus?) that T.P. Wiseman talks about, especially in Remus. These two are special cases, and not what's usually meant by "kings of Rome." Aeneas is not even considered a king of Rome. (The substitution of "similarly" for an actual linkage of thought indicates that we've just stepped in fudge.) I don't know what it means to say that "kings were masters" — they were kings (except that Aeneas wasn't a king of Rome), so what does it add to say that they were "masters"? That the rest of the population were considered slaves? This does not seem to be true in Rome even in the era of kings, because in the story about the expulsion of the Tarquins, there is a cast of characters who are depicted as nobles. Tyrannos = rex, rexdominus. The relationship of a true or good king to his people is not the relationship of a master to his slaves; there are philosophical treatises on this subject (Philodemus' On the Good King in the Late Republic, which has been discussed in connection with Caesar; its Epicurean views are pertinent to Cassius' role in overturning the tyrant).

I also don't know how circumspection is applied to someone; does this mean (given the preceding paragraph) that the kings (except that Aeneas wasn't a king of Rome) were not circumspect about their powers? That they (whoever "they" are) lacked the moderation or humility expressed in later times by the (supposed) presence of the slave? (But see Haploidavey's note above.) That also wouldn't seem to be true. The triumphal procession of Romulus was noted by later writers for its relative humbleness; he went on foot instead of in a chariot, for instance. The fact that the dual founders were transmogrified into gods is a crucial piece of evidence for this article; but why bury it under vaguely inaccurate statements? That's what I was trying to clear out. The fact of the existence of these two cults speaks for itself. Or rather, more could be said about them in terms of the connection between politics and apotheosis. Cynwolfe (talk) 04:19, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

I'm following Gradel, who speaks much more of Romulus than Aeneas, and thinks any of the kings reasonable objects of cult (I suppose not Superbus); none of them threatened republican liberty.
Isn't the paraphrase of Tacitus clear; In principio Romam reges habuere ? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:32, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
I think you're missing my distinction between ruling as a king, and dominating as a master over slaves; the distinction between good and bad kings. Even though the Romans detested the name of rex in principle, not all the kings of Rome (which Aeneas was not, I repeat) were regarded as "tyrants" in the bad sense. As you say, it's unlikely Superbus had a cult. But good kings included Numa, Servius Tullius, and Ancus Marcius (whose article currently doesn't do him justice); the first two both had divine lovers, Servius a birth both humble and mysteriously divine, which also makes them liminal figures between mortal and god, blurring those distinctions — in a way that I at least find more relevant to the topic of cult practice and religion than patronage practices and colony-founding.
The distinction also is whether a figure was given cult offerings out of gratitude (as evidently Gratidianus was, spontaneously, while still alive), or in fear and cowering — hence my mental question mark after "masters". Romans are as capable of genuine religious devotion as any other people. But there's a difference between cult that springs up spontaneously, or that had a very long continual tradition, and what the emperors later do consciously to appropriate these forms of devotion. The whole point of the article as Davey has been developing it is that the imposition of "emperor worship" worked mainly because it was able to draw on meaningful traditions of religious practice, to 'use' the devotional habits of the people. The deification of the two founders (one of them the ancestor of the Iulii — so when in literature or art does Aeneas get the divine treatment?) strikes me as one of the most important pieces of the puzzle, and it's very underdeveloped.
My point is also structural: the paragraph doesn't talk about the kings of Rome, though it says it's going to; it talks about the dual founders, one of whom was the traditional first king. That is why the 'topic sentence' does not in fact govern the paragraph or take it anywhere.
As I noted, there is also a tradition that says Romulus's 'triumph' was relatively humble, and that he brought war captives to Rome for the purpose of allowing them to earn citizenship, rather than killing them. (I think Beard has material on this.) This then would be a way of using a deified figure not to awe and 'master,' not as a figure of domination and superbia, but as a model for how a man should act on earth if he hopes one day to earn a place among the gods. The traditions about Romulus and his identification with Quirinus are wildly inconsistent; who says what and when will indicate something about how the myth is being used to shore up political claims; T.P. Wiseman (especially his book Remus, which I think you'd like, if you haven't read it) is a crucial go-to source for the political aspects of the Romulus and Remus myth. Just seems like an enormous topic to draw from a single secondary source. Cynwolfe (talk) 22:36, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Romulus note[edit]

I came upon this quite by accident, but it gets at what I was trying to say above re: who and when in the matter of Romulus.

"It is a remarkable fact that no votive to Quirinus is yet known from Rome; but one has now been found at Bir Mcherga (ancient Giufi) in Africa Proconsularis. To judge from his association with the Larentalia, Robigalia, and Consualia, Quirinus was, like 'rural' Mars, a god of agricultural prosperity, but his adoption into the Augustan promotion of Romulus means that it is impossible to be sure quite how he was understood at Giufi, where, with the title Augustus, he was both an ancestral god, deus pater (Quirinus is named by Lucilius as one of the three gods addressed as pater in prayer), and the genius municipii."

(Bold mine.) I may not be understanding this fully, since it comes from a lengthy article devoted to publishing new inscriptions over a period of years in which this is a mere notice of the particular inscription, not a developed argument. The inscription is dated as "end of first third of third century A.D."

  • Richard Gordon and Joyce Reynolds, "Roman Inscriptions 1995-2000," Journal of Roman Studies 93 (2003) 212-294 (this from p. 264). Cynwolfe (talk) 17:04, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

OK, now I get it[edit]

Sorry to obtuse and stubborn, but I just found out why I seem to be pissing against the wind here: because I am. The article cited under "Romulus note" provides me with this helpful and concise clarification of the consensus among scholars working on the concepts of emperor worship and imperial cult:

Their common ground can be summarized as follows. Since divine honours expressed not the essence of the divinity but the disparity in status and power between divinity and worshipper, the difference between worshipping, say, Jupiter and an emperor was merely one of degree -the degree, as it were, to which the emperor was less powerful than Jupiter. The contractual view that bound the ordinary gods to bestow benefactions in return for divine worship applied equally to the Princeps. The anomalousness of the imperial cult is thus merely the result of a modern dichotomy between religion and politics; the key to it lies in studying ritual, which constructs theology, the world and its social order. From here, however, one can take different routes. For Clauss, the crucial insight is that the emperors' divinity was produced by popular longing for immanent divinity (dipraesentes), and emphasis is upon the evidence for worship of the emperors during their lifetimes, the ubiquity of images and rituals which expressed their highness. For Gradel, studying ritual means in effect looking for evidence of the local, low-level, day-to-day, even domestic, reproduction of the divinity of the emperors mainly in Italy. Rather different is the approach of U.-M. Liertz, whose study of the official cult in the two Germanies and Gallia Belgica emphasizes its association with Romanized urban sites, and the irregularity of its attested presence outside the major cult-centres of Metz, Trier, Cologne, Nyon, Augst, [p. 262] and Avenches. Against Clauss and Gradel, Liertz notes the apparently rather pragmatic attitudes of private dedicators, whose votives, especially those pro salute . . ., which apparently emphasize the vulnerability of the emperors to worldly ills and give the impression of viewing the cult as a conscious act of loyalty to the maintenance of a political system in which they have their proper place.

The evidence for priesthoods of Rome and Augustus has also been used as an index of the development of municipalization in Gaul. The role of such priests, who were invariably local magnates, was not to import something extraneous, the 'imperial cult', into a locality, but rather to represent the integration of civic community, local pantheon and the divinized imperial power. Outside the major cities, the imperial cult only exists in close connection with the cult of the local pantheon: virtually every large rural sanctuary in Gaul played some role in the imperial cult. Though they are, of course, an important part in local career structures, the real significance of municipal priesthoods is that they enabled members of major families to enter into a mediating role between the municipium, or even vicus — at any rate a Roman institution developing out of a Gallic settlement — and its deities.

Yes, no dichotomy between politics and religion, and yes, tending the cult of Jupiter and tending the cult of an emperor would create no problems, but I don't agree (here's the apostasy) that social status hierarchy in and of itself explicates imperial cult. This is no doubt because I have not yet placed myself at the side of Lucan and opened my veins because I've despaired of the revival of the Republic (Wiseman takes a Neronian date for when the Republic was truly and really gone beyond the hope of anyone).

I still say (contra Gradel) that patronage in and of itself is not the issue; the social inequality that mattered was the imperator, the military man amassing wealth and power as a result of Roman expansionism. That's what threw the Republic out of whack; not mutually supportive social networks even though they were hierarchical (but not simply two-tiered). And those outsized figures for the most part establish Republican precedent (Scipio, for instance). If one views the imperatores and their ever-grander triumphs from foreign conquest as a prime cause of the collapse of the Republic (i.e., Sulla and Marius, Caesar and Pompey), the logical connection is between that and the rise of imperial cult — as indicated by the fact that "emperor worship" mostly occurs abroad, not in Rome. The domestic cult of the genii, the quasi-divine nature of early kings, and spontaneous gestures of gratitude toward such as Gratidianus reveal a religious mentality hospitable to regarding an individual as potentially divus, but was not antithetical to republicanism, because an individual earned this status for what he contributed to the res publica (a way of balancing ego and altruism? modesty = fame, paradoxically; see Dentatus and his turnips, but we'll all have our favorites). So I feel somewhat more reconciled to Gradel's argument, but still think that in the interest of making this article clear and more concise for its general readership, the editors should always think about the relationship of forest and trees. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:04, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

Gradel does not say that social status hierarchy explains imperial cult; he is saying that a hierarchy ending in a point - rather than a rough equality of 300 Senators - permits imperial cult; a necessary, not a sufficient, condition.
Right, I get that; hence my objection to the idea that patronage is part of this, since patronage was supposed to work as a system of interlocking networks (you could have more than one patron too, who sometimes might make competing claims on you); Augustus makes himself the ultimate patron, but when that happens, the old patronage system is effectively destroyed. Cynwolfe (talk) 21:07, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
but when that happens, the old patronage system is effectively destroyed. Yes, it was (for some people; not for Martial, obviously); he won the game and took all the marbles. If we say that, will we confuse the non-anglophones? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:17, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
This is reasonable, recent, and widely cited. If there is another view out there, by all means serve it forth, and we can put both.
What he does not say explicitly, as far as I've seen, is that the difference is "to a god, all things are easy". To the imperator, with the sole remaining political faction - which includes the only army - at his back, all things are easy; what he says goes. (I am doubtful about the claim that the great men did not earn their status: Marius really did save Rome, Sulla (to his class) saved it from Marius, and so on...)
The problem was proportion: Marius kept the Cimbri from invading, so gratitude earned; but the rewards and power he was willing to continue receiving upset the balance — in good Republican terms, he should've known when to take the turnip. The competition between individuals to be Number 1 upset the balance; the emphasis on individual achievement rather than exerting one's effort for the res publica, the common good. Cynwolfe (talk) 21:07, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Would you care to put a date on the era of republican virtue? Before Claudius Pulcher and the Scipiones? Like most Golden Ages, shortly before the genuine historical record? Even the first decade of Livy has the consuls backstabbing each other (well, OK, unlike Octavian at Mutina, not literally). Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:25, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
No, because it was an ideal, not a reality; I'm not unaware of that, and have had my stomach turned numerous times in the face of Roman megalomania while compiling a certain bear of an article. I'm not so much talking about virtue as what was considered proper conduct — the collegiality to which you referred, the balance of power, and the self-discipline required to maintain that. Few people when given power can refrain from exercising it. This is part of the tragic sense in antiquity; that the very greatness of a 'great man' leads to disaster. The tradition of Numa is always overshadowed by the Romulan way; but Numa is neither forgotten nor despised. The pull in both directions is explored in the "life" of Ancus Marcius, who (at least in one tradition) wanted to follow the ways of his grandfather Numa but was pulled as if inexorably toward militarization. The factuality of such an account is beside the point; the point of the myth is that the desire for the society envisioned by Numa survives in the Roman imagination. I thought I was mad to continue to want to see this strand until Wiseman's new book came out. (The fact that I'm a U.S. citizen witnessing the conjunction of Bush-Obama regimes no doubt also underlies some of the questions I ask.) I'm rather afraid to know what you meant by sic latrat Diogenes. Cynwolfe (talk) 16:36, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
Cynic#Origin_of_the_Cynic_name, and a suspicion that I may deserve it. Nothing more. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:39, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
A consul, by contrast, might have nothing easy. Even if he reached a working arrangement with his colleague, a tribune might veto his acts; tribunes could veto each other, and the Vestal Virgins, like Claudia, could interfere with either. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:47, 16 October 2009 (UTC)


Taylor suggested, long ago, that the word was actually hemitheos in Greek, because it can't be translated. There is also a confused story of a different statue of Caesar with emitheo on it, which may support that postion. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:45, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

I've not come across this before, nor much since. Not having Taylor, I followed a couple of JSTOR leads, all dead-ends to me, on google - then found this (from MF Williams): [16] which offers Caesari emitheo on a statue erected by Augustus in connection with the sidus Iulium business - using Servius Danielis ad Ecl. 9.47 as evidence. If the same source as Taylor's (or is it not?) it seems very late and as you say, confused; even corrupted but very interesting and worth at least a footnote, surely. Or would that be twiddling? Haploidavey (talk) 22:38, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

Source for Servius' account and elaboration might be found somewhere here - [17] partial preview only. Looks good and very thorough, though I've not been through it yet. Haploidavey (talk) 01:47, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Impressive article[edit]

Congratulations to the editors! Why is it not a Wikipedia:Good article? Is it too long or too technical? --Error (talk) 14:36, 6 December 2009 (UTC)

{Thanks & notions offered on contributor's talk-page - Haploidavey (talk) 15:05, 6 December 2009 (UTC) )


Hey, Davey, I'll address primarily you as high priest of this page, but of course anybody should pitch in.

I keep needing to link directly to a section on divus. The section here called Divus, deus and the numen certainly works, except that it doesn't begin with a simple discussion of the term. And actually, as I search the term through the article, I don't see anywhere it's actually defined properly. The way it's used in the intro is adequate for that purpose, but I think it's an organizational problem that the term is used in specific instances before the section that defines what it is. Most important, there needs to be a clear statement that distinguishes divus from deus explicitly. I thought this used to be here somewhere. But since it's a fundamental term to have in hand before wrestling with the notion of "emperor worship," ... well, again it's something to consider in the reorganization. I'm about to put a tiny divus entry in the Glossary of ancient Roman religion. Cynwolfe (talk) 20:09, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

There's something at the end of this section: but it stresses the rather vague common ground of divus and deus, rather than reasons for preference of divi as title for dead and divine emperors. I'm pretty sure there was once a header "Divus Julius" and a handy definition, but both seem to have vanished into history, footnotes or both. I've a mind to restore the header, and elucidate the diffs beneath it. That seems the obvious spot. Anyone with a mind to fix this is of course free to do so. If not, I'll get around to it within the next few days. Haploidavey (talk) 21:12, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, maybe that's what I'm missing, because I thought I'd linked to that before. In the back of my mind, I've been thinking hm, this distinction is not what I remember from the Aeneid, and it turns out that's a correct impression, that Vergil uses the two terms indiscriminately — but what's worse, Varro evidently insisted that correct usage was just the opposite of what we think of as the standard distinction when a distinction is made (that is, for Varro a deus was a deified human, aargh). So tell you what: in the Glossary entry, I'll concentrate on etymology and semantics of ancient usage, because the concept is well discussed in this article as it pertains to imperial cult. And if it becomes clumsy and digressive to deal with the etymological issue and the deus/divus distinctions in this article (I think it would get a bit off-topic), you can link to the Glossary. Cynwolfe (talk) 23:47, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

sodales augustales[edit]

Sumpun fishy here:

As part of his religious reforms, Augustus promoted plebeians, freedmen and even slaves to serve as sodales Augustales, priests at the Compital shrines, dedicated to the Lares of the vici (neighbourhoods). This priestly office, and its connections to the Imperial household, appears to have lasted for as long as the Imperial cult itself.

This has the following note:

Lott, 107 – 117; the replacement of neighbourhood Lares with Augustus' own would have been indelicate at the very least. The Lares Augusti can be understood as August Lares – a joint honorific with unmistakable and flattering connections to the princeps himself, rather than a direct claim of patronage.

I was under the impression that the sodales Augustales were created by Tiberius. I don't know. I was concerned because the phrase was translated "priests of the August ones". It may well be that this priesthood and its origin is often misunderstood. "Low-born" people would've already been involved with discharging priestly duties at the neighborhood shrines by their very nature, which was local and of the populus. Cynwolfe (talk) 20:21, 3 July 2010 (UTC)

"Sodales Augustales" or even plain Augustales is worse than fishy, it's as wrong as a dead clam. Mea culpa. As to what should be there, I'm baffled; there's the magistri vici, but who, what and where are the priests? I've just given Lott a probably too-hasty re-reading and my head's swimming. The whole thing seems even more horribly complicated now than it did first time around; the footnote's a reasonable summary of Lott, pp 107-117 but it has bugger all to do with the matters it claims to support and expand. Reckon I need to read around this a lot more; there's a myriad of modern interpretations of the Augustan Lares, genius and the "restored" Compitalia, especially Augie's politicking with subsidies, extra holidays and other recompenses. Of course, your input can only help. Haploidavey (talk) 21:42, 3 July 2010 (UTC)
All I know is what's in Gratidianus pertaining to the Compitalia, actually; but the sodales Augustales article says (and a couple of other sources I happened on in the course of something else) that the sodalitas was established by Tiberius. However, it would make perfect sense that Augustus had something in place already that Tiberius further formalized and transferred to the new divus, and that whatever Augie did was based also on something preexisting, so he could claim to have restored/reformed it. As I said, I actually don't know. See Augustalis (disambiguation) for a glimmer of the term I was searching that led me to pause here. Looking at your last two edits, I glimpse how complicated this is. Cynwolfe (talk) 03:48, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
Your revision makes sense to me. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:08, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

Reversion of date format[edit]

As I cannot find any discussion or consensus about changing the date formats from BC/AD to BCE/CE as requested in WP:ERA, I will propose the reversion of date formats to remove the violation that has occurred. Please voice objections or reasons why this should not happen if you wish. Dalek (talk) 11:47, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Rules, eh? As a courtesy, please provide a WP:DIFF to justify your proposal. I'm disinclined to trawl through this article's gargantuan history to find the first use of any particular era-system. But if you can show this was BC/AD, I'll not object to your proposed change. Haploidavey (talk) 12:34, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
I'll sort that out since Dom has only just started to use the trick you taught me. My fault that I failed to read the other policies to help with the proposal. (talk) 12:41, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
WP:DIFF The proposal is to revert the BCE/CE date format back to the BC/AD format that was the only one as of [18] when Haploidavey edited it. (talk) 12:50, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
This earlier diff confirms the use of BC/AD before I started editing the article, two years back. So go ahead. Frankly, I've no preference either way, and will assume the good faith and even-handedness of those seeking the change. Please also ensure that era systems used in articles references or direct quotations from the same remain as they are. Haploidavey (talk) 13:34, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
Eh? (Adjusts hearing aid.) What's the issue here? Cynwolfe (talk) 14:58, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
Apparently, I broke the rules here for two whole years. I changed a BC/AD article to a BCE/CE article. And I'd have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those pesky weenie-hunters. We've been here before, elsewhere. Not sure of the motivation here... No mustard on mine, thanks. Haploidavey (talk) 15:02, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
"Violation" is indeed the right word. I can barely to look upon what you've done. Where I come from, we eat our weenies topped with cole slaw and a beanless chili formulated for that purpose alone, a mysterious slop I've never been able to replicate even for nostalgia's sake. … Cynwolfe (talk) 15:46, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
Ugh! Too busy whipping myself with myrtle to say more. Haploidavey (talk) 15:51, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Imperial Cult and Christianity[edit]

The section appears to be entirely opinion, editorializing and original research. It actually may be the most flagrant example of it I've seen on Wikipedia. I think it should be either massively rewritten or removed. Carlo (talk) 01:44, 25 July 2011 (UTC)

The section accurately reflects its sources. If you find its content unbalanced, please offer alternative readings from relevant sources, or else remove the tag. Haploidavey (talk) 02:47, 25 July 2011 (UTC)
I see a problem with POV material (which I deleted) such as: Rome, its Emperor and its armies, were instruments of God's judgment: but they were made so through God's will and not their own and "pagan Imperial theology" remained static, undeveloped and unable to offer effective refutation. The first of these two statements is a profession of faith, and is inherently non-neutral; it isn't even sourced. The second statement is puzzling, even if it has a footnote; if there's anything that can be said for certain about ancient Roman theology, it wouldn't be that it's "static" and "undeveloped." The variety and inconsistency and convolution of Roman theology are routinely mocked by the Church Fathers and other early Christian writers. At least my impression is that "static and undeveloped" would not be qualities of Roman theology Augustine would've recognized, nor Arnobius, nor Tertullian, nor Lactantius … and they were familiar with sources on Roman theology, particularly Varro, that are now lost. Arnobius is fond of rehearsing several Roman explanations for a single deity or point of doctrine.
However, it might be fair to say that the section sometimes sounds like the work of a historian rather than an encyclopedist. I've marked these sentences with "citation needed," because while they aren't exactly non-neutral, they do sometimes sound as if they're making an argument (even if what they're doing is simply representing the argument made by the sources). The section also seems to stray off-topic a bit, into conversion and controversies within Christianity, particularly in dealing with Constantine. I'd say that it needs to stay focused in a very concrete way on the kinds of juggling acts the earliest Christian emperors performed: the traditional religious structures of Rome (both archaic and Imperial religion) were difficult to extricate from political rule (as with vota publica); the trappings of Imperial cult were retained but gradually (or sometimes not so gradually) given a satisfactorily Christian form; that sort of thing. Cynwolfe (talk) 03:49, 25 July 2011 (UTC)
The reasons for deletion are; that the editor's presentation of early Roman authors on Christianity has nothing at all to do with the Imperial cult, and relies upon primary sources editorially synthesised, while other paras rely on polemical rather than historical works. The whole section presents an editorial philosophy of Christianity, not the Imperial cult, in the Empire. Not even Christian ideas about the nature of the Empire relate to the Imperial cult as such. The only thing that really matters here is the substitution of the dogma of the divinity of Jesus for that of the divinity of the emperor in the 4C. Redheylin (talk) 22:29, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, Imperial cult was one of the main sources of conflict with early Christians, for instance in the army, as failure to to carry out your oath to the emperor was an act of treason. This is why a body of laws existed to accommodate Judaism; politically as a people, Jews seem to have been dealt with diplomatically like any other nation, but laws exempted Jewish officials from performing state duties on the Sabbath, and so on. Because early Christians didn't exist as a people with a political structure to negotiate with, they were initially less successful in obtaining exemptions, and martyrs are made. So the conflict between Imperial cult and Christianity before Christian hegemony is certainly relevant. I agree that the section still has problems. Cynwolfe (talk) 13:11, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

someone please rewrite this in english[edit]

holy *****, i have read a bunch of this article and i stil have no idea what exactly the cult was.

it should be relatively simple. the who, what, when, where, how.

what buildings, what people, what did they do, when did they do it, where did they do it, and how.

instead we have these arcane academic discussions and obscure verbiage that has almost no meaning.

Decora (talk) 00:09, 21 July 2013 (UTC)