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Religious ritual and poetic devotion: Ovid’s representation of religion in Tr. and Pont.

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Chapter Summary

This chapter addresses the extent to which the picture of Augustus as an actual god with divine powers, devoted worshippers, and his own sacred rites provides commentary on what historians of religion have recognized as the highly visible presence of the princeps at the center of the city's religious discourse. It considers the more general problem of reading religion, that is, the difficulty of analyzing cult practice in literature. Then, it attempts to situate the often slippery details of the poets devotion to Augustus as the all-powerful god within their literary-historical context. This analysis focuses in particular on emperor worship in order to pursue recent scholarship that explores the relationship of literature to religion and vice versa. Ovid provides the fullest expression of the veneration of the princeps towards the end of the exilic corpus in a poem written after the death and state-sanctioned deification of Augustus, ex Ponto 4.9.

Keywords: cult practice; deification of Augustus; emperor worship; exilic collection; Ovid; religious ritual



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