Augustus' religious legitimisation in the mirror of Ovid's Fasti

The project analyses the literary representation of Augustan religion in Ovid's Fasti. The religious-historical background is shaped by the Augustan renewal of religion. New rituals served Augustus to display and legitimate his power and exceptional position. Public staging of rituals was an important means of Augustus' religious self-fashioning; through this kind of symbolic communication with the gods Augustus sought to influence the public opinion in Rome in a positive way and to display himself as a person chosen by the gods for his outstanding political role. Augustus' performance of the new or expanded traditional rituals and festivals had an enormous impact on literature; it instigated literary descriptions of rituals and their etiological exegesis which alluded to the mythical-historical past. This projects analyses the change of the medium of communication starting with the performance of Augustus' rituals and leading to their literary representations.

The analysis focuses on literary representations of Augustus' performance of rituals. The project aims at re-evaluating Augustan religion, in which theatrically staged rituals, together with their etiologies, act as important media of the ruler's religious legitimisation. The project will elaborate on how Ovid in his Fasti poetically describes different strategies of Augustus' religious legitimisation and in which ways he reflects upon Augustan discourses when treating the central media of religious legitimisation of power, such as new festivals and rituals, legends about divine assistance to extraordinary humans, divine signs (prodigia, mirabilia), definition of the religious tradition, temples and gods.

The project aims at an overall analysis of Augustus' religious legitimisation in the mirror of Ovid's Fasti, which will be achieved by combining the methodologies of religious studies and classical philology. Religious leitmotifs in the Fasti will be comprehensively studied as well as their references to the traditional and Augustan festivals. To attain this goal, the pretexts of Ovid's Fasti will be analysed as well as the intertextual allusions to the Fasti in different literary genres (historiography, antiquarian literature, biography) which deal with Augustus' religious self-fashioning. This analysis will elucidate the individual perspectives of ancient authors, the influence of the genre and the narrative contexts which modify the literary representation of Augustan religion.

Principal investigators
Šterbenc Erker, Darja PD Dr. (Details) (Latin Studies)

DFG: Eigene Stelle (Sachbeihilfe)

Duration of project
Start date: 06/2014
End date: 05/2019

Research Areas
Literary Studies, Religious Studies and Jewish Studies

Research Areas
Gesellschaftsgeschichte der Antike, Religionssoziologie

2019. „The cultural memory of Servius Tullius and Fortuna“ in: Martin Dinter, Charles Guérin, Marcos Martinho (Hg.) Republican and Augustan Cultural Memory, (zur Publikation angenommen).

2019. „Narrations on epiphany and deification: The case of Romulus’ deification“, in: C. Pimentel, R. Furtado, N. S. Rodrigues, A. Lóio (Hg.), Saeculum Augustum. New approaches to the Age of Augustus on the bimillennium of his death, Georg Olms, 119-145 (im Druck).

2019. “Livias Ausgestaltung religiöser Handlungsfelder“, in: Elena Köstner, Aliyah El Mansy, Christian Urs Wohl (Hg.) Frauen in Kulten der römischen Kaiserzeit. Fallstudien zu Interdependenz und Gender, Reihe Pietas, Gutenberg, 59-78.

2018. „Augustus’ “New” Festival: The Centrality of Married Women’s Rituals at the Ludi Saeculares of 17 B.C.E.“, Numen. International Review for the History of religions 65, 4, 377-404.

2017. „Das Theophiliemotiv in Properz 4, 6 als Modell für Ovids Fasti“, Paideia, rivista di filologia, ermeneutica e critica letteraria 72, 2017, 331-361.

2016. „Les pratiques religieuses des matrones dans la Rome ancienne: les Jeux séculaires sous Auguste et sous Septime Sévère“, in: Bassir Amiri (Hg.) Religion sous contrôle. Pratiques et expériences religieuses de la marge?, Besançon, 2016, 97-115.

2015. „Frauenbilder in der Religionsgeschichte: der Fall der ludi saeculares“, in: D. Šterbenc Erker (Hg.): Frauenbild im Wandel, Gender Studies in den Altertumswissenschaften (Iphis 7), WV Trier, Trier, 119-139.

2014. „Der Religionsstifter Numa im Gespräch mit Jupiter: Menschenbild in der römischen Religion“, in: U. Mittmann, B. Ego (Hg.) Das Böse und der Tod als Frage diesseitiger und jenseitiger Existenz. Aspekte des Menschenbildes in der alttestamentlich-jüdischen, frühchristlichen und griechisch-römischen Literatur, Berlin, New York, 335-353.

Last updated on 2023-22-08 at 17:04