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A Sacred People

Roman Identity in the Age of Augustus

By Edwin M. Bevens

Abstract: The Romans redefined the nature of their collective identity to be centered on religion and the connection between the Roman people and their gods during the Augustan age, spanning Augustus’ dominance of Roman politics from the late 30s BC until AD 14. This sacral identity was presented through a comprehensive reimagining of Roman history, from the age of myth through the founding of the city and up to the present day, explaining the failures and successes of the city in history. According to Augustan writers, the chaos of the late Republic was due to a decline in piety. They connected Augustus’ restoration of religious practice to the glorious past, a past exemplified by great heroes portrayed as forerunners of Augustus. The sacral conception replaced a civic model of Roman identity based on Roman institutions and the mos maiores.

Read the full article [NOTE: Opens as a pdf.]

(H/T History of the Ancient World)

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