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AUGUSTUS’ RELIGIOUS POLICY 1. The religion of the Roman state was very much a public affair. 2. Through its rituals, sacrifices, and festivals the state did its utmost to keep the favour of the gods – so vital if the state was to be successful in all its undertakings. 3. It is not unreasonable, therefore, to include Augustus’ religious policy in his more general ‘social policy’ which, as we have seen, appears to have been geared to bringing society back to a healthy state by trying to impose certain standards in areas such as marriage, the procreation of children and the manumission (‘freeing’) of slaves. RENEWAL OF RELIGION The Traditional State Religion 1. The traditional religion of the Roman state had been badly neglected during the civil wars: a) Temples were in a state of disrepair. b) Religious observances had not always been kept. c) Priesthoods had been left vacant. 2. i) The Augustan poet HORACE was only one of those concerned about this overall neglect. ii) In his Odes 3. 6 (written in 23 BC) Horace said: “delicta maiorum inmeritus lues, Romane, donec templa refeceris aedisque labentis deorum et foeda nigro simulacra fumo.” “Undeservedly, Roman, you will pay the penalty for the sins of your forefathers, until you rebuild the ruined temples of the gods and restore their images besmirched with black smoke.” 3. Just as he wanted to strengthen society by regulating citizens’ relationships one with another, Augustus appears to have been very eager also to restore the proper balance between human society and the gods – and, again, to strengthen the citizen body by doing so. 4. And so he put great effort into reviving religious institutions and in his own Res Gestae (“Achievements”) he refers specifically to his own restoration of temples and shrines and to the construction of 82 new ones in the year 28 BC alone. Instances of Religious Renewal 1. As with later “emperors”, so with Augustus who (like them) had his favourite gods. 2. Under Augustus it was two gods in particular that were given special attention: a) APOLLO - who from being a god of healing became the god of peace and civilisation, the god of the arts and culture; and b) MARS - who was honoured specifically under Augtustus as MARS ULTOR (Mars the Avenger) The two gods together under Augustus’ influence came to represent “peace and civilisation” alongside “justified warfare”. APOLLO AUREUS honouring APOLLO CITHAROEDVS (APOLLO THE LYRE-PLAYER) – “APOLLO OF ACTIUM” (since Apollo was believed to have given Octavian victory over Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra) MARS ULTOR (Mars the Avenger) Temple of MARS ULTOR in Augustus’ new Forum DENARIUS depicting the temple of MARS ULTOR Peace and civilization alongside just [justified] warfare was stressed as Rome’s mission. This was elegantly expressed by VIRGIL in Book 6 of his Aeneid (lines 851 – 853) (after he has written about what Jupiter said other peoples will contribute to the world): “tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento (hae tibi erunt artes) pacique imponere morem, parcere subiectis et debellare superbos.” “Remember, Roman, it is for you to rule the nations with your power - these will be your skills: to graft law on to peace, to spare the conquered, and to vanquish the haughty through war.” Despite his extensive involvement in religious restoration, Augustus, out of religious propriety, did not become Pontifex Maximus (‘Chief Priest of the State Religion’) himself until 12 BC with the death of Marcus Aemilius LEPIDUS (the former ‘triumvir’) who had held that office since 44 BC; but he celebrated the culmination of his own religious work as early as 17 BC (the tenth anniversary of his becoming “Augustus”) by holding, for three days and three nights, the (revived) LUDI SAECULARES (the CENTENNIAL GAMES). Huge effort must have gone into their organization – not least to justify 17 BC as the year in which these “Games” were to be hold (assuming that it mattered except to pedants). 1. The “Centennial Games” had, allegedly, been established at the foundation of ‘the Republic’ in 509 BC and were to be celebrated every 100 years – every saeculum. 2. The earliest recorded celebration belongs to 249 BC. 3. They seem to have been celebrated in 149 or 148 BC, but civil warfare prevented their celebration in the 40s BC. 4. All of this made 17 BC a very awkward date to justify. 5. And so Augustus, as a member of the “Board of Fifteen responsible for Religious Sacrifices” had ‘the Sibylline Books’ consulted to see if any oracular pronouncements provided guidance. 6. It was established a) that “the Centennial Games” had been instituted, after all, in 496 BC; and b) that a saeculum was not a Roman period of 100 years but an Etruscan period of 110 years. 7. By some very creative arithmetic it was concluded that 17 BC was a reasonable year for their celebration again - not that it really mattered: a new era, a ‘golden age’, was beginning! THE CELEBRATIONS THEMSELVES 1. First the community was ritually purified. 2. Then Augustus and his close associate Marcus Agrippa on three successive nights and three successive days - beginning on the night of 31st May – honoured “the Gods Below” and “the Gods Above”: a) First PROSERPINA, the FATES (the Moerae), etc. were honoured by night with the sacrifice of 9 female lambs and 9 she-goats; b) then JUPITER BEST AND GREATEST (Iuppiter Optimus Maximus) was honoured by day with the sacrifice of 2 bulls; c) then the Illythiae (“the goddesses of childbirth”) were honoured by night with 27 sacrificial cakes. d) On the second day, JUNO REGINA was honoured with the sacrifice of two cows. e) On the third night a pregnant sow was sacrificed to TERRA MATER (“the Earth Mother”). f) And on the final day there were sacrifices to APOLLO and DIANA in the form of 27 sacrificial cakes. ALSO on the third day a choir of 27 boys and 27 girls sang “the Centennial Hymn” (the “Carmen Saeculare”) which the poet HORACE had been commissioned to compose. It was considered that “THE GOLDEN AGE” had begun. Augustan coin celebrating the Centennial Games Augustan coin with an altar celebrating the LVD(OS) SAEC(VLARES) Later emperors also celebrated the “Centennial Games” - for example CLAUDIUS in AD 47 and DOMITIAN in AD 88. Coin of DOMITIAN LVD(OS) SAEC(VLARES) FEC(IT) THE INCLUSION OF ITALY In the monuments of the age (especially with the Ara Pacis [‘The Altar of the Augustan Peace’], Augustus ensured that the emphasis was on the gods as the gods of ALL ITALY (which had comprised the Roman state since 90 BC) and not just those of the traditional Roman state AENEAS sacrificing on an end panel of the great altar Tellus (‘The Earth’) or Italia (‘Italy’) on an end panel of the altar THE PROVINCES Outside Italy we find, under Augustus, a religious INNOVATION - the beginnings of a flourishing IMPERIAL CULT (sometimes wrongly called ‘emperor worship’), which bound people more closely to Rome and to Augustus himself. The EASTERN PROVINCES 1. In the eastern, predominantly Greek-speaking provinces of the empire – particularly those which had been part of Hellenistic kingdoms - rulers had long been considered divine. 2. a) Here Augustus did not actively discourage the growth of cults to himself amongst the subject populations but b) he insisted (if consulted) that the cult must associate ROMA (the deity personifying Rome) with his name. 3. And so we find various temples, shrines and altars dedicated to ROMA ET AVGVSTVS The WESTERN PROVINCES 1. In the western half of the empire there was no established tradition of cults to leaders. 2. But the epigraphic evidence suggests that among the upper classes, especially in urbanized areas, cults honouring the empire’s “First Citizen” seem to have emerged fairly spontaneously - as an expression of the gratitude of the provincial elites to Augustus for bringing peace and prosperity, from which they in particular benefitted. 3. Again , where formal permission was granted for cults, Augustus required the name of ROMA to be associated with his own. This “imperial cult” in both east and west helped the people of the provinces to learn more about the “First Citizen” of the Roman state and his family – since libations were often poured to celebrate, for example, the birthdays of members of Augustus’ family too - as well as directing their loyalty to him and to Rome. The eastern half of the empire Coin depicting a temple dedicated to “Roma et Augustus” in “Asia” by the community of ‘Asia’ (ROM ET AVG appears on the front of the temple) HONOURING “ROMA ET AUGUSTUS” IN THE WEST The great altar to ROMA ET AUGUSTUS dedicated by Augustus at Lugdunum (Lyon) in southern France ITALY AND ROMAN CITIZENS 1. ROMAN CITIZENS (found mainly in Italy) were positively discouraged from setting up cults to Augustus who was just a FELLOW CITIZEN – even if the “First Citizen”. 2. In Italy a different mechanism developed to allow the Princeps and his family to be honoured. Traditionally Roman citizens had long honoured the GENIUS (the “guiding spirit”) of the head of their own family, the PENATES (their own “household gods”/“the gods of the family’s store-cupboard”) and the LARES (“their family’s guardian spirits”). LARES and PENATES A lar dances on each side of the genius of the head of the family. Snakes offered the household additional protection. A LAR With time, Roman citizens came to include a) Augustus’ GENIUS (his guiding-spirit); and b) the LARES (the ancestral spirits) of his ‘House’ along with the genius of the head of their own family and the Lares of their own family in their ritual practices. Augustus’ Religious Programme Opportunities, then, for citizens and non-citizens (provincial subjects) alike to direct respect towards Augustus and his family through this new “imperial cult” in all its different manifestations. Overall: a) renewal of traditional religion together with b) an innovation (the “imperial cult”) – all binding people more closely together and to Augustus and his family (and, through him, to Rome).