THE ROMAN IMPERIAL CULT  
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
 
 

Q. Really? Seriously? This site is just a joke or a parody of something, right?

A. Actually, it's serious. This site is intended as a resource for the revival of the Roman Imperial Cult as a valid modern spiritual and religious practice. We believe that the continuation of this ancient religion can bring a positive spiritual benefit to those who practice it - and to civilization as a whole.
 

Q. You do realize that Emperor Worship was NEVER a real religion, don't you? That it was just a made up thing to keep people obedient to the Roman government?

A. Actually it was a real religion - with sound theological foundation and long historical precedent. There is no religion in the world that does not recognize that all humans have a "divine spark" or a part of their nature which is Divine Energy. Greek and Roman Mythology was filled with Heroes and Demigods both humans that were part divine, or humans who became divine. From the beginning Romans honored the divine "Genius" or "Juno" of family leaders. Emperor Worship was a logical extension of these things, with the addition of recognizing that the Emperors manifested and became a part of the spirit of Eternal Rome.  


Q. Do you have ANY idea how silly, offensive and downright stupid the modern worship of Roman Emperors seems today?!?

A. Yes! It's as silly as the worship of Jesus - who was born, lived and died a human. It's as offensive as having reverence for the Buddha and Mohammed - humans whose spiritual connection changed world history forever. It's as downright stupid as continued modern remembrance and respect for the lives and deeds of great national leaders such as Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Ghandi.


Q. But don't you understand that many of the Roman emperors were terrible people? Why would anyone want to worship them?!? 

A. All of the Roman Emperors were people with an eternal divine nature, which expanded through their becoming the personified manifestation of the Imperium Romanum in the world. Not all Emperors handled that divine current of spiritual power perfectly but they all have become part of the Eternal Roman Legacy.  Many of the Roman Emperors were among the greatest, most enlightened Leaders the world has ever seen. Even the lesser Emperors deserve reverence for continuing Roma Aeterna.
 

Q. Remembering important historical figures is one thing, but why worship the Roman Emperors as GODS?

A. The Divii Imperii (Divine Emperors) were not worshipped as major Gods. They were considered to be lesser "divine beings" who maintained a special connection to the divine during life, and who came to dwell in the realms of the Gods after death. It was understood that the Emperors remained close to the Roman Empire and People, and could intercede with the Gods on their behalf. This was very similar to the status of Saints in the Christian Church. In fact, some of the later Divine Emperors were also canonized as Saints by the Church, and still hold that status today! 

Q: But the Roman Emperors didn't believe in this themselves, right? Didn't the Emperor Vespasian joke on his deathbed, "Oh dear, I think I'm becoming a God?"

A. Each Emperor no doubt had their own perception of spirituality and deity, but all understood both their earthly and spiritual roles and responsibilities as Emperor. All the Emperors honored deity and occasionally having a sense of irony about the nature of the universe would not change that.  Vespasian himself was a competent Emperor who cared deeply for the wellbeing of Rome... there is no reason to think that would change after the end of earthly life. 

Q. So you really, honestly think the Roman Emperors are somehow "up there" and still able to do positive things for whatever is left of Roman civilization and culture? Seriously?

A.  Well, if you have any sense of connection between deity and humanity, and the continuation of energy after death... what else do you think would happen?  Consider that the Emperors wielded the power of the greatest Empire in the world. They were responsible for the lives of millions of people. Where do you go after filling a role like that? Disneyland? After being the earthly focus of both worldly and divine power it is natural that the Emperors would retain some spiritual status and ascend to the realms of the Gods.

Q. So you expect people to change their religion and worship the Roman Emperors?

A. Not at all. The Roman Imperial Cult was a spiritual practice that was done in ADDITION to worship of the Gods (or "God" in the Christian Era).  Nobody, ever, expected veneration of the Roman Emperors to be one's only religion or spirituality. It is instead a way to combine spirituality and Civilization, and bring very specific divine energies into the everyday world.


Q. You say that the Imperial Cult is a spiritual path that can bring "positive benefit to those who practice it and to Civilization as a whole."  How could that be possible?

A. The Imperial Cult is a mixture of ancient religion, cultural tradition, and civic involvement. Through it's rites Citizens could directly focus their spiritual energy toward making Civilization better. It was a way to influence the Empire directly with religious power. The Imperial Cult can still be a means for focusing spiritual power today; our world still has much Roman connection. Those who venerate the Emperors have opportunity to help direct ancient spiritual energy back into modern civilization... for the good of all.
 

Q. Do you have to call this the Imperial CULT? "Cult" is a word for a dangerous false religion, isn't it?

A. The word "cult" actually means "a specific and unique religious path."  In the ancient world ALL individual religions, including Christianity and Judaism were considered to be cults. The meaning of the word has been twisted to have bad connotations only in the last few decades - mostly by religious fundamentalists trying to make competing religions seem scary.  We use the ancient title Imperial "cult" with it's original meaning because that's most accurate. The veneration of the Divine Emperors is a "specific and unique religion" which reaches spiritual energies other paths do not.


Q. Do you have to be Pagan to be involved in the Roman Imperial Cult?

A. Not at all. The Roman Imperial Cult was a part of Classical Religion for about 300 years, but then for another 200 years it was practiced with Christian religion as well. It was a part of the spiritual involvement of both Roman Pagans and Roman Christians for Centuries.
 

Q. Do you have to formally join anything to do this?

A. No. While the Collegium Pontificum of Classical Religion in Byzantium Novum is working to bring structure and coordination to Imperial worship worldwide, you do not have to have formal membership to explore the history, traditions and rites of the Roman Imperial Cult. All that is truly necessary is an interest in the Roman Empire and the continuation of its legacy today.
 

Q. Suppose I only have an interest in one of the Divine Emperors, such as Augustus, or Marcus Aurelius?

A. Imperial Cult rituals had precedent for both the veneration of single Emperors, and multiple Emperors at the same time. Imperial temples often honored many emperors at once but private individuals often performed rites honoring a single Emperor.


Q. I haven't found much information on the Imperial Cult elsewhere. How do I know the information here is historically accurate?

A. The Imperial Cult was a continuation and expansion of traditional Roman religious practice, not a totally new innovation. Its rites were traditional in style, consisting of offerings, prayers, and vows. The overall ritual format for the Imperial Cult has been easy to reconstruct. While there are some modern adaptations here (the use of English instead of Latin for instance) we make every attempt to provide information that would not have been out of place in antiquity.


Q. If this works for me and I decide I want to become more involved, are there opportunities here to become an official Priest or Priestess?

A. Yes. There were both Imperial Cult Priests and Priestesses in the ancient Rome, and we welcome any help in keeping the ancient rites alive. There is information in the Priesthood section of this website on how to get involved!


Q. If someone becomes an officially recognized Imperial Cult Priest or Priestess, are they legally empowered to perform weddings, funerals, etc?

A. Historically, the role of Imperial Cult priesthood was simply to perform religious rites and offerings on behalf of the community (a town, city, nation etc.) that they represented. They did not engage in ministry as it has become known today, so they did not perform ceremonies such as weddings, etc. However, we have no objection to Imperial priesthood taking on such additional roles. We are happy to suggest a few modern resources where that can be done if needed. 


Q. Where can I ask more questions about this?

A. Check out the FORUM section of this website. There are several mailing/discussion lists where we will be happy to provide additional help!

 
 
 

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