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Imperial Worship System of the Early Caesars

C. 48, Rome had generally not followed the practice of emperor worship which had been quite common in Greece and other Eastern provinces. According to Weinstock, "it was an old Greek belief that great achievements deserved divine honours, and that is why the mythical heroes, [such as Heracles and Dionysius] . . . became gods after their death." Sometimes the Greeks turned their greatest heroes into gods during life and believed "that kings and great men were descended from gods." After his victories in India, Alexander the Great had demanded of the Athenians and had been granted by them the honours accorded to a god.

Similar elements existed in Roman tradition and religion. Ogilvie points out that "Roman religion is essentially the result of the fusion of primitive Latin and Greek elements." According to him, "the chief feature . . . of the Roman religion was the belief that all the important processes of the world were divinely activated and, conversely, that different gods had charge of particular functions and spheres of activity." In other words, the great leader required and frequently invoked divine assistance through prayer, sacrifices and divination (of omens and auguries) in order to achieve success.

Ogilvie says that "it was one thing to believe that a god stood by your shoulder and helped you to overcome all your difficulties. It was only a short step from this to believe that you had within yourself divine powers." However,


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