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Gradel's book is essential reading for anyone interested in the religious life of the Roman Empire, particularly for those who deal with ruler cult. His style and conclusions are provocative and, even where they do not convince, they force a serious re-reading of the evidence. (Scholia Reviews)
Gradel offers a highly provocative interpretation of what may be the most distinctive innovation of the Roman Empire. (Scholia Reviews)
Most impressive (and refreshing) is Gradel's ability to identify the biases and suppositions of prior scholarship and to pose alternate questions and practical answers based not on assumptions about beliefs (ancient and modern), but on Roman social and religious practices. While his categories and arguments may not always convince, they will certainly inspire debate, as they reconceive the "imperial cult". (Bryn Mawr Classical Review)
Gradel's work is eminently readable and slyly witty at times. He impressively handles a wide range of evidence, deftly analyzing epigraphic, numismatic and archaeological data alongside literary testimonia. The inclusion of archaeological evidence in particular marks a great step forward. (Bryn Mawr Classical Review)
Because of its approach, Gradel's work is relevant not only to those interested in the "imperial cult" but also to students of Roman religion, society, archaeology and epigraphy. (Bryn Mawr Classical Review)
Ittai Gradel's stimulating work marks an important contribution to the study of emperor worship. (Bryn Mawr Classical Review)
... an important book on an important topic, which every student and historian of the Roman empire, whether interested in so-called 'religious' or 'political' aspects, ought to read. (Scripta Classica Israelica)
The book is cleverly constructed, written comprehensibly, and well-illustrated. It has a boldly stated thesis, examines long held interpretations of familiar sources critically, and argues its points in a provocative fashion. (Scripta Classica Israelica)
... excellent volume ... the first detailed study of the phenomenon of the so-called 'imperial cult' that focusses on Rome and the empire's Italian districts. (Scripta Classica Israelica)
Throw away most of your books and all of your notes on imperial cult, and buy Gradel's book. The territory has been redesigned and many of them will no longer fit in ... he marshals a very wide range of evidence across the range of inscriptions, ancient literature, coins: just about anything that has a bearing on his topic. He takes imperial cult by the scruff of the neck and starts with the evidence all over again ... I suspect that Gradel's formulation will become the new orthodoxy and the starting point for future discussions: it certainly should. (JACT Review)
While Roman religion worshipped a number of gods, one kind in particular aroused the fury of early Christians and the wonder of scholars: the cult of Roman emperors alive or dead. Was the divinity of emperors a glue that held the Empire together? Were rulers such as Julius Caesar and Caligula simply mad to expect such worship of themselves? Or was it rather a phenomenon which has only been rendered incomprehensible by modern and monotheistic ideas of what religion is - or should be - all about? This book presents the first study of emperor worship among the Romans themselves, in Rome and its heartland Italy. It argues that emperor worship was indeed perfectly in keeping with Roman religious tradition, which has been generally misunderstood by a posterity imbued in radically different notions of the relationship between man and the divine.
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