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Roman Imperial Cult Rodríguez, Gretel


The Imperial Cult honored Roman emperors during lifetime and after death, both in Rome and in the provinces. The first emperor to receive an official deification was Augustus in 14 CE, although the deification of Julius Caesar, and the establishment of his cult after his assassination in 44 BCE, can be seen as a precursor. Although involving the traditional material and ritual culture of Roman religions—temples, altars, sacrifices, festivals, priesthoods—the cult was not strictly defined, and substantial variations existed across geographic regions and time periods. The spread of the cult throughout newly acquired territories was an important vehicle for the establishment of Roman imperial authority. For the local elites in provincial cities, the imperial cult offered opportunities to simultaneously express affiliation to Roman values, while promoting individual power agendas. Because the Imperial Cult functioned within the boundaries of traditional Roman religious practice, the answers to many of the questions in this entry broadly apply and make reference to Roman religions as a system.

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