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Staging and Feeling the Presence of God: Emotion and Theatricality in Religious Celebrations in the Roman East

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Chapter Summary

In one of Lucian's most interesting works regarding religious trends in the Roman Empire, his Peregrinus, the satirical author narrates what he had allegedly experienced during the celebration of the Olympic festival of 165 CE. Theatricality and emotion the emotions of Peregrinus and his spectators, the emotional interaction between Peregrinus and his audience, the interaction amongst the spectators are very prominent in this narrative, as they generally are in rituals and religious celebrations. Theatricality and emotion are subjects that acquired importance after the 'performative turn' in the late 90's, and an 'emotional turn' more recently. To study acts of worship as joint activities of 'cult communities' has proved in recent years a very important tool for the understanding of religion. The desire to experience the presence of god finds its linguistic expression in the words enargeia and enarges. The decree of Stratonikeia also establishes a daily service for the gods.

Keywords: cult community; emotional interaction; enargeia; Lucian; Peregrinus; religious celebration; Roman Empire; Stratonikeia; theatricality



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