The Books of Numa: Writing, Intellectuals and the Making of Roman Religion

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The Books of Numa: Writing, Intellectuals and the Making of Roman Religion

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Title: The Books of Numa: Writing, Intellectuals and the Making of Roman Religion
Author: Macrae, Duncan Eoin
Citation: Macrae, Duncan Eoin. 2013. The Books of Numa: Writing, Intellectuals and the Making of Roman Religion. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: This dissertation provides an intellectual and social history of learned writing on Roman religious culture during the late Republic and early Empire. I examine the ways in which an elite learned literature, for which I propose the name "civil theology", constructed "Roman religion" as a religious system. The first part of the dissertation is an intellectual history of civil theology, especially focused on how these learned texts generated "Roman religion" as an object of knowledge. In order to elucidate how texts can authoritatively construct a religious system, I pursue a comparison between civil theology and the Mishnah, a rabbinic textual compilation. The second part of the dissertation is a social history of civil theology, concentrating on the social contexts of production and reception of the discourse. Firstly, I demonstrate how the discourse was embedded in the social relations of the profoundly competitive late Republican elite. Civil theology was not a socially marginal intellectual activity. Rather, knowledge about Roman religion provided resources for the social self-presentation of the elite. Secondly, I consider how civil theology became implicated in the new imperial socio-political order. Emperors drew on civil-theological knowledge to legitimize "religious reforms" and their personal rule; for the aristocracy, civil theology became entangled with responses to the new situation of autocracy. In a conclusion, I outline the continuing influence of civil theology and its construction of "Roman religion" in the high imperial period and late antiquity and consider how Roman civil theology can complicate the established scholarly approaches to the relationship between books and religion.
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:11124842
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