The Challenges of the First Century
Chapter 7 examines the struggles of the Late Republic, when fundamental questions about Roman identity were at stake: who among the inhabitants of Rome was a “true” Roman and, more important, who decided this question? The chapter suggests that without a clear sense of Roman identity, the religious activity of the Late Republic is a less useful tool for understanding the boundaries of Romanness. The religious actions surrounding the Gracchi, Sulla and Marius, and the cult of Isis display the struggle for control more than attitudes toward foreign cults, yet there is no sign of an inward turn. With the triumph of Octavian, it is possible once again to look to religion for its role in reflecting and shaping Roman identity. Augustus bound together many developments, from the continued adaptation of foreign cults and the reshaping of old rituals to the invention of traditions, all of which can be seen in the ludi saeculares of 17
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