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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the ruler cult in the Hellenistic period, as well as earlier instances of deification and heroization, and traces theological views on deification from the Classical to the Hellenistic period. It discusses various agents of deification (Greek cities, royal administration), the forms of the cult, its sanctuaries, priests, and rituals. It argues that the ruler cult served as a medium of communication between the rulers and their subjects and as a way to enforce and legitimize dynastic power. The chapter also provides an overview of the most relevant scholarship. In particular, it traces the transition from a view of the ruler cult as a manifestation of religious decline, to a scholarly position which sees the popularity of the ruler cult in the Hellenistic period as symptomatic of a time when the powers of an individual could be manifested in a way similar to divine intervention.

Keywords: deification, priests, heroization, cult, powers, divine intervention

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