Sodales Augustales: Rome’s Elite Imperial Cult Dedicated to the Emperor

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The Sodales Augustales were a religious organization in ancient Rome dedicated to the worship of the emperor. Composed of prominent citizens, they served as ambassadors and reinforced the emperor’s divine status, contributing to the unity and stability of the empire. Despite the decline of the imperial cult, the Augustales left a legacy of religious and political power in the heart of the Roman Empire. Here’s the fascinating story behind the Sodales, the role they played in Ancient Rome, and how they faded into obscurity.

Ancient Rome had a truly dizzying number of religious cults. Roman religion was a complicated blend of traditional beliefs and practices mixed in with imported gods from conquered lands.

Most people are familiar with the Roman worship of the traditional Roman gods such as Jupiter, Mars, and Venus as well as the cults of various Greek gods like Apollo and Dionysus. But what a lot of people don’t know is that it wasn’t just gods that the Roman people were encouraged to worship. There were numerous cults dedicated to specific emperors and members of their imperial families.  Within these cults the emperor was worshiped as a divine being. Of these organizations responsible for worshiping the divine emperor, the Sodales Augustales was perhaps the most prominent.

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