This chapter introduces divine qualities, contexts in which they are found, and ways in which they can constitute a helpful lens for understanding how Romans thought about themselves. It explains the terms in which they are explored in the rest of the book. They are thought of as a congnitive vocabulary, individual elements of which are situated in the overlap between religion and qualities associated with Romans. The forms in which divine qualities were expressed in Rome (statues, temples, festival days, coins, dramas) were resources that themselves constituted and created opportunities to engage with each quality. This gives us insights into processes by which individuals and groups forged conceptions of community. The chapter emphasizes the fluidity of any boundary between divine qualities, other qualities, and other deities, and explains both the choice of label ‘divine quality’ and the decision to represent divine qualities in small capitals (pietas).
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