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Divus ( Latin for "the divine" or "divine" in contrast to deus = "god") is a title of the Roman emperors and their relatives, which could be bestowed on them after death. Exceptionally, members of emperors who had not previously held the title of Augustus or Augusta could also be divinized. For example, Egnatia Mariniana , who died before her husband Valerian took office and could no longer use the title of Augusta, was divinized after he took office.

Roman antiquity

In the Roman imperial cult , divinization meant that the deceased was accepted into the ancient heaven of gods. The senate resolution required for this was confirmed by the public act of consecration (Latin: consecratio ) in the state funeral.

This divinization was based on the belief in the ascension of the emperor. Here the emperor either drove up to heaven on a winged four- horse carriage or was led by the lord of the age in the form of a winged boy of the gods. Roman coins, which are reminiscent of a consecratio , have the nickname “Divus” (DIVVS) or “Diva” for the empresses on the portrait side. On the reverse of these consecration coins, eagles or four-tier pyre are often depicted for the divus. Consecration coins with a diva also show other motifs such as a peacock on the reverse. Taking care of the divinization of a deserving deceased predecessor was part of the pietas of his successor and also served his own reputation. As the (adoptive) son of a Divus, the successor also strengthened his legitimacy by referring to a divine descent.

Peacock on the reverse of the consecration denarius Faustinas II., Kampmann 38.88.3

The ceremony also called apotheosis took place for the first time with Gaius Iulius Caesar , who became Divus Iulius . His adoptive son Octavianus , who later became Augustus, was venerated as Divi filius (German: "Son of the deified") during his lifetime and as Divus Augustus after his death .

Divinizations in the Republic and in the Early Principate

List of the Roman state gods with the year of their official apotheosis

Late republic and early imperial era

High imperial era

Marcus Aurelius as divus on denarius minted under Commodus, Kampmann No. 37.263.6
Funeral pyre on consecration coin for Marcus Aurelius, reverse, Kampmann 37.263.6

Imperial crisis of the 3rd century


Constantinian Dynasty

Late ancient dynasties

See also


  1. 46; Divus Caesar reconstructed in: Ittai Gradel, Emperor Worship and Roman Religion , Oxford 2002, pp. 61–69
  2. ^ Crossing the Rubicon: Cicero, Att. 8.16.1
  3. Divinization as Caesar Epibaterios in Alexandria (Philo, leg. Ad Gai. 22.151); Deus Invictus statue no later than 45 (Cicero, Att. 12.45.3 [2] & 13.28.3); Dio 43.45.3); Genius cult in Aesernia 45 or 44: Dievus Iulius
  4. January / February 44: divine honors and determination of the god's name Divus Iulius ; after the ides of March 44: proclamation as God by Mark Antony, followed by an informal and short-lived cult under the pseudo-Marius Amatius; 44/43: Cult under Octavian and the Second Triumvirate; 42: Senatorial confirmation as state cult through consecratio ; 40: Inauguration of Mark Antony as the first Flemish Divi Iulii
  5. According to Suetonius Vespasian ironically the divinization. When his illness ultimately led to his death, he is said to have said: "Vae ... puto deus fio!" ("Oh dear ... I think I'll be a god!"). Suet. Vesp. 23.4.
  6. S. Wood: Who was Diva Domitilla? Some Thoughts on the Public Images of the Flavian Women. In: American Journal of Archeology. 114, 2010, pp. 47-57.
  7. Dietmar Kienast : Diva Domitilla. In: Journal of Papyrology and Epigraphy . Volume 76, 1989, pp. 141-147 ( PDF ).
  8. Last divinized emperor with his own temple; According to Gradel (2002), Pertinax's apotheosis is regarded as a turning point in the imperial cult, and Divus Pertinax pater as the last traditional Divus; beginning with the belated apotheosis of Commodus, the emperor lost more and more importance as a posthumous divus until the term divus at the time of the Christianization of the Roman Empire under Constantine and his successors only had the meaning "venerable" and not a direct one, with the earlier divi resulted in comparable state cult consequences.