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Zur interpretatio Romana in der ,Germania' des Tacitus

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image of Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte

This article demonstrates that Tacitus, who coined the term interpretatio Romana, used this concept differently than today's historians of religion. Tacitus differentiated between universal and local gods. It is also shown that this differentiation fits the author's structuring of "Germania", which he divides into a general and a specific part. This carries far-reaching consequences because for instance the cult of the Semnones is a local superstitio in tacitean terms, and the common identification of Roman with ”Germanic“ gods since J. Grimm must be abandoned. Finally, the article establishes that G. Wissowa's seminal work on interpretatio Romana, which assumes the deity cults of Germania superior and inferior, fails to take into account that Tacitus, as a historian of religion, merely dealt with "authentic" and "original" Germania.


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