A Religion for the Empire<sup>†</sup>

Clifford Ando

in Roman Religion

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780748615650
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748650989 | DOI:
A Religion for the Empire†

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The tension between Rome and peripheral municipalities at the level of patriotism and philosophy in politics had analogs in religious thought and practice, and it is at this point of rupture that the explanatory power of polis-religion might best be tested. In devising such a test, this chapter consults ancient theorists of polis-religion to consider the challenges that confronted their theoretical and theological presuppositions as the social and political structures of the Graeco-Roman city-state evolved in the larger, ecumenical community of the early Empire. Romans at Rome had long developed sophisticated and self-conscious mechanisms both for importing and naturalising foreign cults, and for sanctioning and controlling the religious life of subject populations. In situating gods in time and place, this body of theory and law may have facilitated and explained the removal of cults and cult-objects to Rome.

Keywords: Rome; patriotism; philosophy; politics; polis-religion; cults; gods

Chapter.  11094 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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