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A N e w H istory of Rom a n R e l igion

Jörg Rü pk e
T r a nsl at e d by
Dav i d M . B. R ic h a r dson

Pr i nceton U n i v er sit y Pr e ss —-1

Pr i nceton & Ox for d —0

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Copyright © 2018 by Princeton University Press
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C on t e n t s

List of Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments xiii

I A History of Religion 1
1 What Is Meant by a History of Mediterranean Religion? 4
2 Religion 5
3 Facets of Religious Competence 11
4 Religion as a Strategy at the Level of the Individual 21

II Revolutions in Religious Media in Iron Age Italy:

The Ninth to Seventh Centuries BC 24
1 The Special 24
2 The Transition from Bronze Age to Iron Age in the
Mediterranean Region 28
3 Ritual Deposits 35
4 Burials 39
5 Gods, Images, and Banquets 47

III Religious Infrastructure: The Seventh to Fifth

Centuries BC 55
1 Houses for Gods 55
2 Temples and Altars? 63
3 Dynamics of the Sixth and Fifth Centuries 73 —-1

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vi Con t e n ts

IV Religious Practices: The Sixth to Third Centuries BC 83

1 The Use of Bodies 83
2 Sacralization 95
3 Complex Rituals 99
4 Stories and Images 103

V The Appropriation and Shaping of Religious Practices

by Religious Actors: The Fifth to First Centuries BC 109
1 Heterarchy and Aristocracy 109
2 Priests 115
3 Distinction 122
4 Banquet Culture 130
5 Mass Communication 136
6 The Divine 151

VI Speaking and Writing about Religion: The Third

to First Centuries BC 158
1 The Textuality of Ritual 158
2 Observation of Self and of the Other 163
3 Systematization 172

VII The Redoubling of Religion in the Augustan Saddle

Period: The First Century BC to the First Century AD 183
1 Restoration as Innovation 183
2 Religion in Space 196
3 The Redoubling of Religion 201

VIII Lived Religion: The First to the Second Century AD 211

1 Individuals in Their Relationship with the World 212
2 Home and Family 216
3 Learning Religion 223

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Con t e n ts vii

4 Places Where Religion Was Experienced 226

5 Domestic Gods 247
6 Lived Religion Rather Than Domestic Cult 254

IX New Gods: The First Century BC to the

Second Century AD 262
1 Background 262
2 Isis and Serapis 264
3 Augusti: Initiatives 272
4 The Self 289
5 Résumé 292

X Experts and Providers: The First to Third Centuries AD 296

1 Religious Authority 296
2 Experts Male and Female 300
3 “Public” Priests and Religious Innovation 307
4 Prophetesses and Visionaries 310
5 Founders of Religion 313
6 Changes 319

XI Notional and Real Communities: The First

to Third Centuries AD 327
1 Textual Communities 329
2 Narratives 340
3 Historization and the Origin of Christianity 348
4 Religious Experiences and Identities 358

XII Demarcations and Modes of Community:

The Third to Fourth Centuries AD 364
1 The Market Value of Religious Knowledge 364
2 Political Actors 369

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viii Con t e n ts

3 The Treatment of Difference 377

4 The Competitive Scene 382

XIII Epilogue 386

Notes 391
References 439
Index 000


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L i s t of I l lu s t r at ions

1. Mnajdra (Malta), Neolithic temple 31

2. Ash urn, Vulci, ca. 800–750 BC 40
3. Tumuli tombs at Cerveteri/Caere 42
4. Benvenuti Situla, detail, ca., 600 BC 49
5. Stone figures, Cerveteri, 700–650 BC 50
6. Palace of Murlo/Pioggio Civitate, reconstruction 51
7. Bronze lituus from Caere 53
8. Numa with lituus on denarius of Pomponius
Molo, 97 BC 53
9. Plan of Satricum, the archaic phase 56
10. Terracotta model of early Greek temple, ca. eighth
century BC 59
11. Terracotta, Temple of Mater Matuta at Satricum,
ca. 490 BC 62
12. Stele with relief from Marzabotto 69
13. Arula from Roselle, Etruria, fourth–second century BC 71
14. Terracotta plaque with galloping horsemen, ca. 530 BC 81
15. Terracotta statues of women, Lavinium, fifth century BC 85
16. Terracotta intestines and uterus, third to second
century BC, Etruria 88
17. Pietas, reverse of a sestertius of Antoninus Pius, AD 138 91

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x I l lust r at ions

18. Mural painting from the François tomb at Vulci,

ca. 320–310 BC 107
19. Procession on the so-called Altar of the Vicomagistri,
AD 25–50 113
20. Bronze statuette of a victimarius, early first century AD 114
21. Relief with Vesta, priest, and vestal virgins, Sicily,
first century AD 117
22. Temple of Hercules, Forum Boarium, Rome,
mid-second century BC 128
23. Temple of Fortuna, Largo Argentina, Rome,
second century BC 130
24. Three of a series of five denarii of M. Volteius M.f., 78 BC 138
25. Ritual scenes from Trajan’s Column, Rome, AD 133 143
26. Triumph of Titus, Arch of Titus, Rome, after AD 81 149
27. Bronze model of a liver, Piacenza, second century BC 162
28. Model of a sheep’s liver, Iraq, ca. 1900–1600 BC 163
29. Aeneas fleeing burning Troy, black-figure amphora,
ca. 520 BC 169
30. Plan of the sanctuary of Dea Dia in La Magliana,
Rome 191
31. Denarius of Domitian, struck for the saecular games
of AD 88 194
32. Campana terracotta, temple of Apollo Palatinus,
Rome, ca. 36 BC 199
33. Ara Pacis Augustae, 9 BC 201
34. Bronze statuette of Fortuna from Hirschling, Bavaria 220
35. Terracotta moneybox with representations of altars,
Imperial Age 223
36. Statue group in the garden of the Casa dei Amorini
-1— dorati, Pompeii 230

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I l lust r at ions xi

37. Faun and Bacchante, painting from the Casa dei

Dioscuri, Pompeii 232
38. Egyptian scene from the House of the Pygmies at
Pompeii, AD 50–75 233
39. Tomb of the baker Eurysaces, Rome, second half of
first century BC 239
40. Necropolis along the Isola sacra, first through second
century AD 241
41. Children at play, fresco from a tomb, Via Portuense,
Rome, AD 150–200 243
42. Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas, Via Appia, Rome,
first century AD 244
43. Swallowing of Jonah on a marble sarcophagus, Rome,
third century AD 245
44. Mural painting from Casa VII.6.3, Pompeii, first
century AD 252
45. Handing over of the lares on the “Frieze of the
Vicomagistri,” ca. AD 25–50 254
46. Terracotta oil lamp, first century AD 256
47. Wall painting, sacrifice of a hind, Casa dei Vettii,
Pompeii, ca. AD 63–79 258
48. Oil lamp showing Cybele enthroned, Imperial Period 259
49. Gold ring with image of Serapis 260
50. Mural painting depicting a priest and priestess of Isis,
Pompeii, first century AD 265
51. Bronze sistrum (rattle) used in rituals addressing Isis 266
52. Wall painting depicting a ritual of the cult of Isis and
Serapis, Herculaneum, AD 62–79 268
53. Marble altar of Astralagus, Rome, mid-second
century AD 271 —-1

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xii I l lust r at ions

54. Marble relief: the apotheosis of Augusta Vibia Sabina,

wife of Hadrian, AD 86–136 278
55. Amphitheatre at Thysdrus, Tunisia, third century BC 293
56. Expert in magic, wall painting from Pompeii,
Case dei Dioscuri, first century AD 302
57. Double flute (aulos), bone sheathed in copper,
second–third century AD 304
58. Bronze statuette of a woman, first century AD 305
59. Triumph of Cybele and Attis, silver patera from
Parabiago, fourth century AD 313
60. Killing of the bull by Mithras, relief from Aquileia,
third century AD 315
61. Relief from the Mithraeum at Dieburg, late second
century AD 318
62. Wall painting from the synagogue at Dura Europos,
AD 244/45 322
63. Silver jug depicting Chryses sacrificing a bull to Apollo,
second half first century BC 333
64. Hand used as a symbol for Sabazios, bronze,
Imperial Age 353


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Ac k now l e d g m e n t s

At the core of this book lies the conviction that a survey of the
history of ancient religion that does not take collective actors such as
Rome or “the Romans” as its starting point, but rather individual ac-
tors and how they lived religion, produces not only a different view of
religion, but above all a new awareness of the mutability of religious
conceptions and practice. My own research and the chance to work
with the team comprising Marlis Arnhold (who supported me in the
selection of illustrations), Christopher Degelmann, Valentino Gaspa-
rini, Richard Gordon (whom I owe thanks for more than a decade of
intense exchange), Maik Patzelt, Georgia Petridou, Rubina Raja (who
co-directed the project), Anna-Katharina Rieger, Lara Weiß, and fi-
nally Emiliano Urciuoli and Janico Albrecht, made possible by an Ad-
vanced Grant from the European Research Council (no. 295555), en-
abled me to put that conviction to the test. That team’s share in the
outcome distinctly exceeds what I have been able to indicate in the
notes and the bibliography. This also applies to the many colleagues
who have collaborated in this undertaking, as contributors to meet-
ings, as guests at the Max Weber Centre, as fellows of the research
group “Religious Individualization in Historical Perspective,” financed
by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Science Founda-
tion, no. KFOR 1013), or as co-editors of the journal Religion in the
Roman Empire, which arose from this project. I mention by name here
Roberto Alciati (now preparing an Italian translation together with
Maria dell’Isola), Clifford Ando, Michal Bar-Asher Siegal, Eve-Marie
Becker, Elisabeth Begemann, Anton Bierl, Malcolm Choat, Nicola
Denzey-Lewis, Ulrike Egelhaaf-Gaiser, Esther Eidinow, Cristiana —-1

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xiv Ack now l e dgm e n ts

Facchini, Harriet Flower, Jonas Grethlein, Ingvild Gilhus, Simon

Goldhill, Manfred Horstmannshoff, Maria dell’Isola, Julia Kindt,
Karen King, Patricia McAnany, Harry Maier, Teresa Morgan, Maren
Niehoff, Vered Noam, Valeria Piano, Ilaria Ramelli, Federico San-
tangelo, Günther Schörner, Seth Schwartz, Marco Francisco Simón,
Christopher Smith, Darja Šterbenc Erker, Guy Stroumsa, Ann
Taves, Zsuzsanna Várhelyi, Jutta and Markus Vinzent, Katharina
Waldner, and Greg Woolf. Collaboration with the latter was sup-
ported by the Alexander von Humboldt Trust with its funding for
research on sanctuaries. Jan Bremmer, Max Deeg, Martin Fuchs,
Valentino Gasparini, Bettina Hollstein, Ute Hüsken, Antje Linken-
bach, Katharina Rieger, Veit Rosenberger (who died just a few
weeks afterward and is still be missed at the Center) and Michael
Stausberg took the trouble to discuss the entire text with me in July
2016. My sincere thanks to all those named!
Ursula Birtel-Koltes and Diana Püschel created the organizational
infrastructure for the work. Katharina Waldner took over more than
my teaching duties, so freeing me of other obligations. The manage-
ment team at the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and So-
cial Studies, Bettina Hollstein, Wolfgang Spickermann, and then
Hartmut Rosa, and the presidents and chancellors of the University,
Kai Brodersen and Michael Hinz, Walter Bauer-Wabnegg and Thomas
Gerken, supported the project in every conceivable way. My sincere
thanks go to them all, and to the staffs at the funding organizations.
Sarah Al-taher and Karoline Koch tirelessly sought out literature and
incorporated it into the bibliography. I thank them too, and the British
School at Rome with its director Christopher Smith, who provided
me with a safe harbor during the final editing process.
David Richardson has again undertaken the translation of the text
from its original German. I am grateful to him for his care and critical
feedback. The same holds true for Eva Jaunzems who smoothed the
text for an ever broader audience.
The book would not have taken its present form if Al Bertrand of
-1— Princeton University Press and Stefan von der Lahr at C.H. Beck had

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Ack now l e dgm e n ts xv

not persuaded me that it should be configured both as a narrative of

religious changes and as an examination of the mechanisms of reli-
gion in antiquity in general.
Summer 2017


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