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Throughout the Mediterranean, people worshipped their rulers as gods; it’s enough to think of the pharaohs of Egypt and a number of rulers in the Greek world. What about Rome? Romans did worship their city founder, Romulus, deified as Quirinus, but what about their own leaders? By the end of the Republic, with the rise of the strongmen statesmen/generals, the idea was trending. Julius Caesar was the first Roman ruler deified in the Late Republic, quickly followed by Augustus. Then, imperial family members were added. Over time, the entire process of deification (apotheosis) became an elaborate event in Rome. We will look at the pageantry in Rome through ancient sources as well as a series of monuments and reliefs depicting apotheosis that underline the deification and worship of the emperor and his family: Mausoleum of Augustus, Pantheon, Arch of Titus, Column of Trajan, Mausoleum of Hadrian, and more.

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Cite this page as: Darius Arya, The American Institute for Roman Culture, “Becoming a God; the Deification of the Roman Emperor” Ancient Rome Live. Last modified 04/06/2020. https://ancientromelive.org/becoming-a-god-the-deification-of-the-roman-emperor/

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