To what extent and for what reasons did Augustus resist the creation of an imperial cult during his lifetime?

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To what extent and for what reasons did Augustus resist the creation of an imperial cult during his lifetime? (45)-

For Romans, religion and politics were inseparable, for example, priests were always senators.  Augustus needed to be seen as an emperor if he wanted to be one, he used religion to do this; a religious figure would never have been challenged, they were respected and obeyed.  When Augustus became pontifex maximus in 12 BC he became, not only the saecular head of the Roman Empire, but the religious leader as well.  Augustus used religion to reorganise the state, establish his own legislations and revive old festivals and ceremonies.  However, although the advantages to himself were clear, he needed to be aware of Caesar’s fate and not offend tradition.  Augustus knew that he had to be very careful about how he went about things in Rome but, in the East, it was a lot more acceptable as the people were already used to worshipping their leaders.  If he could be worshipped in the East first, it may make it easier to be worshipped in Rome itself later on.  In private it suited Augustus to be integrated with state religion, as demonstrated in the Res Gestae; “I was pontifex maximus, augur, quindecemviri sacris faciundis…”.  However, in public Augustus had to appear respectful of traditional practice, as shown on the Ara Pacis.  After his death Augustus could be worshipped with no issues, during his lifetime however, it was in no way acceptable.  Augustus had to resist the creation of an imperial cult during his lifetime to avoid losing all popular support and ending in the same way as his predecessor did.  This said, the creation of an imperial cult, if successful, would bring together the disparate provinces that he governed, bringing not only power but also prestige.

An imperial cult was the mass veneration of not only Augustus’ genius, but that of his family and successors.  Being a member of the Julian line, he already had some claim to a link with the Gods. Augustus’ Prima Porta, fashioned in a Hellenistic style, not only shows his pietas, but his link with the God of Love, Venus.  Clinging to his body is cupid riding a dolphin; as cupid is the sibling of Aenus who founded the Julian line, the direct message that he is involved with the Gods is already being propagated.  Equally, the fact that Caesar had been made a deity, established the notion that he was a semi-deity in the minds of many Romans.  

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In the Mediterranean world, Augustus’ provinces were singular in that the citizens of Rome would have regarded treating your ruler as a deity as sacrilegious and immoral.  Conversely, in the East, this was not only acceptable, but also demanded.  Ptolemaic Egypt was cult-like and worshipped pharaohs as Gods.  Due to heterogeneous territories, religion was seen as a uniting factor for rulers to forge links between the populace and themselves.  The idea of Augustus openly declaring himself as a deity during his lifetime was an impossibility that would have led to exile or assassination.  However, just as Caesar had ...

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