Religious Individualisation: Archaeological, Iconographic and Epigraphic Case Studies from the Roman World [Hardback]

Ralph Haeussler (Editor); Anthony King (Editor)

ISBN: 9781789259650 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2023 | Language: English 336p, H241 x W171 (mm) B&W images

Religious Individualisation


The Roman world was diverse and complex. And so were religious understandings and practices as mirrored in the enormous variety presented by archaeological, iconographic, and epigraphic evidence. Conventional approaches principally focus on the political role of civic cults as a means of social cohesion, often considered to be instrumentalised by elites. But by doing so, religious diversity is frequently overlooked, marginalising ‘deviating’ cult activities that do not fit the Classical canon, as well as the multitude of funerary practices and other religious activities that were all part of everyday life.

In the Roman Empire, a person’s religious experiences were shaped by many and sometimes seemingly incompatible cult practices, whereby the ‘civic’ and ‘imperial’ cults might have had the least impact of all. The authors rethink these methodologies, arguing for a more dynamic image of religion that takes into account the varied and often contradictory choices and actions of individual, which reflects the discrepant religious experiences in the Roman world. Is it possible to ‘poke into the mind’ of an individual in Roman times, whatever his/her status and ethnicity, and try to understand the individual’s diverse experiences in such a complex, interconnected empire, exploring the choices that were open to an individual? This also raises the question whether the concept of individuality is valid for Roman times. In some periods, the impact of individual actions can be more momentous: the very first adoption of Roman-style sculpture, cult practices or Latin theonyms for indigenous deities can set in motion long-term processes that will significantly influence people’s perceptions of local deities, their characteristics, and functions. Do individual choices and preferences prevail over collective identities in the Roman Empire compared to pre-Roman times? To examine these questions, this volume presents case studies that analyse individual actions in the religious sphere.

Table of Contents

List of figures
List of tables
1. Introduction: the dynamics of religious individualisation
Ralph Haeussler, Anthony King, Francisco Marco Simón and Günther Schörner
2. Religious individualisation: a bottom-up approach to religious developments in the Roman world
Ralph Haeussler
3. Discrepant behaviour: on magical activities in the Latin West
Francisco Marco Simón
4. Individual religious choice: the case of the ‘mystery’ cults
Jaime Alvar Ezquerra
5. Sons and mothers: the matres, the military and religious choice in Roman Britain
Elizabeth Blanning
6. Pre-Roman deities along the north-eastern Adriatic: continuity, transformation, identification
Marjeta Šašel Kos
7. Private devotions at temples in Central and Eastern Gaul
Isabelle Fauduet
8. Tradition, diversity and improvisation in Romano-British cremation burials in south-east England
Jake Weekes
9. Individual choices in burial ritual and cult activity in and around the Iron Age and Romano-British town of Baldock, Hertfordshire, UK
Gilbert R. Burleigh
10. Religious individualisation in extremis: human remains from Romano-Celtic temples in Britain and Gaul
Anthony King
11. Indigenous arae and stelae: symbolic landscapes and individualisation in north-west Roman Hispania
Fernando Alonso Burgos
12. Indigenism and identity shaping: the case of the Irrico group in Central Spain
Jesús Alberto Arenas-Esteban
13. The religious construction of ‘household’ in Roman Italy: the case of the Casa dei Vettii
Günther Schörner
14. Types of Interpretatio and their users in the Keltiké: explicationes and translationes vs. identificationes and adaptationes
Patrizia de Bernardo Stempel
15. Religious individualisation in an entangled world: how to pick and mix favourite deities in the Roman Keltiké
Ralph Haeussler

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