By Christopher Lougheed
“Who will worship this man as a god? Who will believe in him?” (Sen. Apocol. 11.)
In posing this question of Claudius, the character of the deified Augustus reveals a central tension within Roman sources on the question of the cult of the Divine Claudius, and indeed of the imperial cult in general. While Tacitus emphasizes the precedent for, and thus the legitimacy of “the Augustales [as] an order of the priesthood dedicated by the Emperor Tiberius to the Julian family, just as Romulus had dedicated one to king Tatius” (Tac. Hist. 2.95), it appears that the same degree of legitimation was not always accorded to the cults of individual emperors, however, and seems to have entirely eluded the Divus Claudius. This essay will examine Claudius’ involvement in the Roman imperial cult prior to his own deification, the scope and intentions behind the official Roman cult of the divine Claudius at its outset, and the subsequent survival of the cult under Nero, the Flavians, and the Five Good Emperors.
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(H/T History of the Ancient World)