Appendix

Appendix

The following passage from Dr. Barker’s essay in The Legacy of Rome admirably sets forth the fundamental conception underlying the Emperor-worship:

“The general religious reformation of the Augustan age inspired Virgil: it had little abiding result in the mass. But the worship of the deified ruler continued and grew. Caligula and Nero pretended to a present divinity; but generally the emperor was elevated to the rank of divis, and made the object of a cult, after his death; and during his life it was his genius which  was held to be  sacred. Here was found the basis of allegiance. The oath of officials and soldiers was associated with the genius of the present emperor and the divi Caesares of the past. When the new dynasty of the Flavii succeeded to the Julian Dynasty in A.D. 70, it sought to prove its legitimacy by assuming a similar divinity. Magistrates of Roman towns in the provinces took an oath to the divinity of Augustus, Claudius, Vespasian, and Titus: Domitian made the residence of the Flavian family (much as Augustus had done with his house on the Palatine) into a shrine served by a college of Flaviales; and, as in Egypt under the Ptolemies, (Vespasian was first proclaimed Emperor at Alexandria while he was in Judea. his first act as Emperor was to occupy Egypt; and here he wrought a supposed miracle of healing by the royal touch.), the women of the family recieved consecration along with the men. The deification of the emperor, and the allegiance which he receives in virtue of his divinity, are obviously the foundation, or at any rate the cement, of the empire. ‘In this cult,’ writes Wendland. ‘with its peculiar mixture of patriotic and religious feeling, there was found a common expression, which served as a bond of union, for that membership of the empire which was shared by parts so different in nationality and in religion: it was the token and symbol of imperial unity.’ The empire was, in effect, a politico-ecclesiastical institution. It was a Church as well as a State: if it had not been both, it would have been alien from the ideas of the ancient world. A city-state entailed a civic worship; an an empire-worship, in turn – granted the existence of a personal emperor, and granted, too, the need for a personal symbol in a state so much larger and so much less tangible than a city-state which could be personalized itself – entailed the worship of an emperor. It is not irrelevant or disproportionate to linger over this aspect of the Roman Empire. If it had not shown this aspect to its subjects it would not have been an empire; for it would not have a coherent society united by a common will.”