Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, RELIGION ( (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited. Please see applicable Privacy Policy and Legal Notice (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 20 April 2019

Lived Ancient Religions

Summary and Keywords

“Lived ancient religion” offers a new perspective on ancient religion. It shares the priority on ritual of many studies from the late 19th century onward but reconstructs ancient religion not as a set of rules or coherent system but a dynamic field of change and tradition. The central notion is taken from contemporary religious studies. The concept of “lived religion” was developed in the late 1990s and has gained a growing reception ever since. Rather than analyzing expert theologies, dogma, or the institutional setting and history of organized religion, the focus of lived religion is on what people actually do: the everyday experience, practices, expressions, and interactions that are related to and constitute religion. In this way, religion is understood as a spectrum of experiences, actions, beliefs, and communications hinging on human interaction with super-human or even transcendent agent(s), usually conceptualized by the ancient Mediterraneans as gods. Material symbols, elaborate forms of representation, and ritualization are called upon for the success of communication with these addressees.

The concept of lived religion has only recently been applied to the analysis of ancient religion. With a view to the dynamics of religion in the making, research based on this new concept critically engages with the notions of civic religion and (elective) cults as clearly defined rule- or belief-based systems. It stresses the similarity of practices and techniques of creating meaning and knowledge across a whole range of addressees of religious communication and in light of a high degree of local innovation. The emphasis is not on competing religions or cults but on symbols that are assuming ever-new configurations within a broad cultural space.

The central notion of religious agency offers extended possibilities of imagination and intervention—of imagined, invoked, and even experienced divine support in real situations. In this way, the attribution of agency to divine actors provides appropriately creative strategies for the human agents (and sometimes even their audiences) to transcend the situation in question, whether by leading a ritual, casting a person as possessed, invoking means not yet available (as through a vow), or bolstering one’s own party with the favor of divine members.

Religions, as seen from below, are the attempt—often by just a few individuals—to at least occasionally create order and boundaries through means other than a normative system imperfectly reproduced by humans. Such boundaries would include the notions of sacred and profane, pure and impure, public and private, as well as gendered conceptions of deities. Institutions such as professional priesthoods and the reformulation of religion as knowledge that is kept and elaborated by such professionals could constitute further features of crucial importance for sketching a history of such systems. This is religion in the making, though it casts itself as religion made forever. Acknowledging the individual appropriation and the production of meaning at play in these situations excludes the employment of only cultural interpretations, drawing on other parts of a dense and coherent web of meaning.

Keywords: lived religion, religious agency, experience, material religion, religion in the making, individual, creativity, meaning

The concept of lived religion was developed with a view to new or hitherto marginalized religious practices in the United States of America, above all in urban settings. In terms of objects, that was a shift from texts classified as canonical or produced by religious specialists and organizational features of organized religion and its history to actual practices. More precisely, it is not interested in how individuals reproduce a set of religious practices and intellectual tenets of a faith. The concept of lived religion does not address thriving religious communities or the latest theological fashions. Instead, religion is to be reconstructed as everyday experiences, practices, expressions, and interactions that are constantly evolving. Without falling into the fallacy of methodological individualism, clearly untenable given the intersubjective and relational character of the individual, this approach focuses on the individual’s “usage” of religion.1

Lived religion does not ask how over the course of their lives individuals replicate a set of religious practices and beliefs preconfigured by an institutionalized official religion—or, conversely, how one might opt out of adhering to a tradition. Instead, lived religion focuses on what people do, experience and how and whether they ascribe meaning to it. What is conceptualized as religion is the sum and variety of such experiences, actions, beliefs, and communications hinging on human interaction with super-human or even transcendent agent(s), which the ancient Mediterraneans usually conceptualized as gods. Material symbols, elaborate forms of representation, and ritualization are called upon for the success of communication with these addressees.2

Such a communication at the same time implies the forging or, at times, rejection of human alliances. Thus, the existence and importance of culturally stabilized forms of rituals and concepts and people who are invested in developing and defending them cannot be denied. Right from the start, the idea of lived religion was in danger of focusing on what is also addressed by concepts like everyday religion or popular religion.3 Robert Orsi and Meredith McGuire, two of the leading figures in the study of lived religion, focused on religious practices on the streets of an Italian neighborhood in New York and on religion in American living rooms.4 Focusing on meaning, however, David D. Hall urged “breaking with the distinction of high and low.”5 Individual practices are not entirely subjective. There are religious norms, exemplary official practices, and control mechanisms.

For the historian, lived religion also points to the fact that our evidence is biased. It is precisely such institutions and norms that tend to predominate in the surviving evidence from antiquity. In such “sources,” the norm made explicit in legal texts or implicitly documented in protocols or narratives seems evident. And yet, it is not a description; it is a communicative strategy on the part of an agent in a position of power or greater means. If one observes religion in the making, as is stressed here, institutions or beliefs are not simply culturally assigned; they are themselves aggregates of individual practices as well as those practices’ constraints.

The concept of appropriation, as initially developed by Michel de Certeau, is useful for capturing the relationship between the individual agent and the cultural and material environment.6 The specific forms of religion-as-lived are barely comprehensible in the absence of knowledge about individual appropriation of motives and models offered by traditions, up to the point of radical rejection of dominant ways of life, as in asceticism or martyrdom. The application of systems of reading and writing; the interpretation of mythical or philosophical texts, rituals, pilgrimages, and prayers; and a knowledge of the various representations of deities both within and outside of sanctuaries are all vital for the continued survival of concrete evidence of lived religions.

Importantly, the notion of agency is implicit in the notion of appropriation—far more so than with reception. Agency is not about the lonely individual but about the interaction of individuals with structures that are the result of individual action. Some religious agents, and in particular those with either high religious or political authority, raise normative claims, as stressed above. In view of the normative tagging of teachings, traditions, narratives, and so on in the field of religion the question of how ideas are taken up and modified by others is of particular importance. Talking of lived religion offers a frame for a description of the formative influence of professional providers of law and other legal norms, of philosophical thinking and intellectual reflections in literary or reconstructed oral form, of social networks and socialization, and of lavish performances in public spaces (or performances run by associations) with recourse to individual conduct in rituals and religious context.

This valuation of and starting from the individual is more than a radicalization of approaches to differentiate the practices of ever-smaller defined groups and communities. Again, institutions are not regarded as ontologically antecedent. An individual’s agency and structure build upon each other.7 It is important for the application of the concept to ancient religion that the precarious state of institutions and traditions like “statehood” or “laws” or, more to the point, ritual “scripts” and religious “knowledge” is brought to the fore. These are as much means of expression and creativity for their inventors and patrons as they are spaces and materials of experience and innovation for their users and clients. However, this analysis does not merely describe the contrast between norms and practices or the influence of one on the other. What is more, even the intersubjective dimension of religious communication, that is, the social framing of individual religious action, can be accessed through individuals’ records by enquiring into their communication, their juxtaposition, their sharing of experiences and meaning, and their specific usage and selection of culturally available concepts and vocabulary. Thus, meanings constructed by situations rather than coherent individual worldviews are identified. Logical coherence is secondary to the effectiveness of religious practices for the purposes desired (“practical coherence,” per McGuire).

Lived Ancient Religion

Employing the concept of lived religion for the analysis of ancient religion has been proposed only recently but has been tested in numerous studies since.8 Against the background of the discussions about lived religion in contemporary societies, the main thrust is not to revive or expand notions of popular religions beyond organized or church-based religion.9 Immutability is itself just a claim raised by such institutions or stakeholders. This claim veils the permanent and ever-changing efforts to plausibly construct the divine agents to whom an independent agency is ascribed.

With a view to such dynamics of what I call “religion in the making,” research based on this new concept critically engages with the notions of civic religion and elective cults as clearly defined, bordered, and rule- or belief-based systems. With regard to civic religion, elite members of circum-Mediterranean ancient cities (we know much less about tribal areas) certainly used the possibilities offered by religious communication for various purposes. For political actors, reference to divine agents created a communicative space beyond families and clans. Through religion, people could emphasize shared interests while also using religious activity as a field in which to compete and obtain distinction. This flexibility helped ritual activity and religious architecture to achieve a high degree of dynamism: ever-new possibilities of religious communication were invented, or existing traditions were appropriated and altered in order to deal with the problems thrown up by the increasing geographic extent of ancient empires, such as urban growth, increasing social differentiation, and competition. The concept of “civic religion” focuses on religious practices organized by the political elite for themselves and the wider populace and employed to bolster a city-focused political identity in processes of slow and ongoing state formation. Such phenomena were to be reconceptualized as part of lived religion rather than as an overarching framework allowing for inconsequential acts of popular religion and its irrelevant variations and innovations, as in the politically similar, unimportant sector of elective cults.10

The concept of lived ancient religion stresses the similarity of practices and techniques for creating meaning across a variety of local innovations and a wide range of religious addressees. It could build on a critique of the concept of oriental cults (or religions), claiming that the problem with this line of research did not lie with a problematic notion of “oriental” only but with inadequate classifications of practices and signs preceding any labeling.11 Of primary importance are not competing religions or cults but symbols assuming ever-new configurations within a broad cultural space. It was religious functionaries who made enormous efforts to establish and secure group boundaries. “Religions” as seen from below are the attempt—often by just a few individuals—to at least occasionally create order and boundaries rather than relying on a normative system imperfectly reproduced by citizens. Such boundaries would include the notions of sacred and profane, pure and impure, public and private, as well as gendered conceptions of deities. Institutions such as professional priesthoods and the reformulation of religion as knowledge that is kept and elaborated by such professionals could constitute further features of crucial importance for sketching a history of such systems. This is religion in the making, always pretending to be religion as made forever. The importance of religious entrepreneurs and their ability to make historians look at things through their eyes should not be underestimated.

Instead of starting from polities and supposedly coherent religious groups, lived ancient religion-based analyses start from socially embedded individual actors and their agency as underlying any available evidence. This has two corollaries, one theoretical and one methodological.

Theoretically, religion is considered from the perspective of religious agency.12 Involving divine actors or authorities (including gods, demons, or ancestors) enlarges a person’s field of agency. Religious agency offers extended possibilities of intervention—of imagined, invoked, and even experienced divine support in real situations. In this way, religious agency, or the attribution of agency to divine actors, invites humans into fantasies that transcend the situation in question and allow for appropriately creative strategies, such as through the implementation of a ritual or in considering a person possessed. (One should, however, not neglect the opposite effect, that the same mechanism can also trigger an abjuration of personal agency, resulting in impotence and passivity, with agency being reserved only for select actors.) The character of space and time could be changed by sanctifying acts; even distant actors—enemies behind city walls, fugitive thieves, travelers—could be reached remotely by the use of rituals, oaths, and curses, or by inserting pins into dolls.13 By the transfer of religious competencies or the invocation of oracles, new directions could be given to political decision-making processes.14

It is, however, important to keep in mind that such invocations and attributions of agency to powers beyond the immediate social constellation and human hierarchies of power were inherently risky thanks to the peculiar and distant character of divine agents, who always need medial representation (or, in a few cases, a massive and permanently present discourse about why this is impossible or unnecessary). Individuals could and did base far-reaching claims on the support of agents that were far from commonly accepted even in principle and might thereby have been successful in establishing their agency as visionaries or prophets. They thus arrogate an authority that might give them power in later situations. More frequently, however, agents based their situational claims on more commonly shared concepts and operated within collective religious identities that they presumed to be shared by the other participants, thus maintaining agency without establishing permanent religious roles and conforming to rather than questioning existing human power relations.

Methodically, acknowledging individual appropriation and the production of meaning in situations excludes the simple employment of cultural interpretations that draw on meaning established in other parts of a dense and supposedly coherent web of meaning. Individual evidence should not be regarded as part of a culture that can be read as a text in the Geertzian sense.15 Hence, specific perspectives and methods need to be deployed, as will be illustrated in the rest of the article.

Very prominently, those accounts of ancient religion that have been fundamental in establishing ancient religions as ordered systems of gods (a “panthea”) or systems of rituals must be questioned as to their own interest and historical position in systematizing religious practices or signs and elaborating religious norms. Implicit or explicit in these enterprises is the claim that religious knowledge is important and part of religious agency in dealing with divine addressees. At the same time, their very preservation and transmission from a scriptographic culture by repeated copying and quoting (and maybe interesting processes of modification) warns us to take into account how discourses about norms and interpretations could modify individual appropriation of ritual practices or religiously relevant narratives.16

In the following, approaches to standard problems or phenomena of ancient religions will be sketched that illustrate how a lived ancient religion approach grasps religion in the making, starting with the issue of identity, central to the discussion about civic religion as well as cults. This is followed by a discussion of the contribution of literary sources to the study of lived religion and, finally, a look into the contribution of archaeological sources, here addressed under the heading of “Material Religion.”


The notion of collective identity has come under rightful scrutiny. Criticism has been leveled at the conception of the term as ascribing a permanent state of belonging to a particular community, which also, necessarily, implies a steady and exclusive sense of belonging in the mind of its members instead of situational, salient identities.17 In other words, the problematic assumption is that somebody who is a Roman must constantly think about being Roman and nothing else. This process is equally as misleading as the idea that particular collective identities must necessarily point to membership in a specific group. The reference point for collective identities can be both a real or an imaginary association of people. Nevertheless, such imagined associations can influence individual behavior, as social identity theory has demonstrated.18 From the point of view of individual agents, it is important to conceptualize collective identity as something entertained by individuals, not ready-made, externally defined roles. Collective identity could have very different facets of varying importance in individual cases, such as self-classification—the individual’s own assessment of his or her own group affiliation and, as far as is perceptible, his or her classification by others—the meaning awarded to the individual’s group affiliation; the felt emotional connectedness to, and dependence on, the coinciding of personal and collective identities up to the point where they completely overlap; the degree to which group members are embedded in everyday group routines; the level of impact the aforementioned embeddedness has on personal behavior; and, finally, the cognitive dimension, or the ways in which stories and imagination reveal the values, characteristics, and history of a group.19

Religion came into play in a variety of ways in antiquity. It played an important part in the familial identities of primary social groups as articulated in the family tomb, for instance, by producing and ritually staying in touch with divine ancestors. It also offered a language to define shared interests and activities in the formation of secondary groups like formal or informal “voluntary associations” or polities. Religion pertains to the different positions of local, regional, and supra-regional identities and to the shifts that occur between them. Here it is crucial to abstain from reifying or essentializing these groups or communities. The so-called “cult of Isis” offers a good example.

A Case Study: Isis

To put it bluntly, Isis was not a goddess but a strategy, a situational (even if perhaps repeated) choice to invoke agents beyond the immediately plausible context and ascribe agency to them.20 Giving a name to such an agent was to invest it with a face, history, and gender while allowing individuals to relate their own religious act to others’ religious communications and to conceptualize a more durable horizon beyond the immediate situation. Methodologically, one must not presuppose the existence of some divine actor who is shaping such actions and the experiences associated with them. Individual (or group) appropriation of certain names or symbols was informed by a willingness to identify with other human actors and to partially take over sets of assumptions and sequences of acting. It was limited by the difficulty of copying objects or certain constellations as well as individuals’ urge to seek distinction.

To invoke a deity like Isis in Greece or Italy, for instance, was to configure a divine addressee who was known to be widely invoked in Egypt. Her veneration had generated an attractive female figure devoid of animal elements, which otherwise were regarded as typical of Egypt. In narratives, she was ascribed the role of mother (of Horus) with child at breast and devoted wife (of Osiris) and was endowed with great power. Isis enjoyed a particular following in the 3rd century bce in Ptolemaic Egypt. She was quickly exported as a religious sign into the Greek world, often associated with the figure of Aphrodite, and from the first half of the 3rd century bce onward also as a patron goddess of seafaring.21 She was present as an image on coins from the end of the 3rd century in Sicily. Temples of Isis were built in Campania, at Puteoli and Pompeii, from the end of the 2nd century onward. During the same period, a space in the sanctuary of Fortuna complex at Praeneste was provided with a mosaic depicting a Nile landscape.22

At Rome, the first institutional evidence of the worship of Isis appears at the latest under Sulla, in the first quarter of the 1st century bce. There were individuals who were engaged long term in her worship, and patrons financed dedicated cult sites, including, notably, the Iseum Metellinum, funded by the pontifex maximus Publius Caecilius Metellus Pius.23 Ports such as Rome or Kenchrae (Corinth) had close links not only with Egypt but with the entire Mediterranean region. This circumstance may have engendered the presence of a great variety of images of Isis in these port cities: a powerful goddess widely revered within the Mediterranean region (the name was the same in Egyptian, Greek, and Latin); an attractive element of exotic Egyptian culture; and the female deity associated with Serapis, that divine combination of Osiris and Apis invented by Egypt’s Ptolemaic rulers.24

In the Rome of the late Republic, the invocation of Serapis and Isis formed part of a religious strategy pursued by groups critical of the Senate. At the beginning of the 50s bce at the latest, they countered the aristocratic usurpation of Jupiter (claimed as the god of the polity) and Venus (the personal patron of many aristocrats, including Sulla, Pompey, and Caesar) by attempting to install the ruling partnership of Serapis and Isis on the Capitol, more precisely the Arx. In so doing, they incurred not only the opposition of the Senate but also the hostility of members of the Etruscan nobility operating in Rome as haruspices, specialists in the inspection of entrails.25

The cult site was evidently used primarily as an oracular center. This is suggested by the significant oracular function of Isis and Serapis in Alexandria, Canopus, and Menouthis. Against the background of the reflection on religious agency, it is thus easier to understand the bitter struggle surrounding the cult site in terms of its development, destruction, and redevelopment, extending even to its decontamination by the removal of buried traces of sacrifice. It was, however, precisely the exoticism of this oracular cult, which embraced even dog-headed Anubis, that legitimized it as foreign knowledge in a Latin-speaking world. Following the “Etruscan discipline” and Pythagorean speculation on numbers, Italy was following Greece anew by just then also beginning to cherish the Chaldean lore of astrology.26 The various actors concerned must have judged communication with these foreign gods, though it was more beset with risks, to hold advantages in matters of political confrontation. Its rapid appropriation by the triumvir Marcus Antonius and later Augustus shows how highly prized the potential was. That the construction plans of the triumvirs were not realized, and followers of Isis were again expelled in ad 19, demonstrates the risk entailed by such communication.27 It was only with the Flavian Augusti, and especially Vespasian, whose ascent to power was founded not least on Alexandrine oracles, that Serapis and Isis in their exotic variant became a mainstream phenomenon of the city of Rome, and a monumental sanctuary was built.28 For the emperor Hadrian or for the Severan dynasty stemming from Africa, it was possible to formulate a geographically extensive claim to hegemony and an ecumenical identity by presenting the phenomenon as more exotic and more Egyptian in subsequent phases. Egyptian motifs, from hieroglyphs to colored stones, water installations to obelisks, were executed in monumental style.

Such a context prepared individual visitors for those “mysteries” that constituted the attraction of many shrines of Isis, especially in Rome, with their professional priesthoods residing in the sanctuary. A subsequent initiation ritual, potentially enhanced by repetition, involved an epiphany that was experienced at an emotionally intense level. Such elements also marked high points of membership in Mithraic groups and characterized their cult sites. Regarding Isis, however, the most intensive form of membership might also be perceptibly and lastingly manifested at the physical level by special clothing and a shaved head.29 The exotic in these circumstances was of course always a question of perspective. For Apuleius’s follower of Isis (as for Lucian), the “Syrian deity” was the primary attraction.30 But only a fraction of those who included Isis in their religious portfolio submitted themselves to the mysteries. In many places, besides the spectacular possibilities offered in temples by enactments of such spectacles as the Nile floods, it was a question of theater, with dramatizations of the experiences of Isis and Osiris.31


In many of these contexts, Isis and Serapis were no more or less useful than other religious “signs” or addressees. The conditions under which actors chose particular deities frequently depended not on narratives doing the rounds or successes of this or that goddess as documented in inscriptions but on the situation or the context in hand. Going abroad made a difference for a Greek.32 In many respects, the persons and concerns involved in the invocation of one or another divine addressee were similar. Even Varro (116–27 bce), having spent the fifteen books of his Antiquitates rerum divinarum clarifying the historical and systemic differences between the gods, in the end emphasizes that all these factors amount to no more than secondary variants of the one divine principle. He shared this opinion with most other philosophers. Yet this did not apply in many other people’s appropriation of religion. Options were restricted on the basis of situation and biography, or strongly associative in character. Where religious specialists, either male or female, were building group and cult structures—and here the reference to both sexes is important—then distinctions of “knowledge,” which were a factor in both kinds of undertaking, and differences in practices and signs were all the more important: they created recognizability.33 Whether visitors from the next town shared the same perceptions is another matter. Here, a lived ancient religion approach is faced with the problems of generalizing individual cases. It might suffice to say that religious identity in a situation rested above all on locations that gave rise to experiences of identity formation, on motives and metaphors that played a role in individual reflections on identity, and on the social and communicative settings where identities are debated and represented.

Religious Experience in Literary Texts

The perspective of lived ancient religion focuses on individual appropriation of tradition, personal experiences and responses, the incoherencies of situational interpretation, isolated performances, and local and group-specific styles. The individual religious practice thus recovered depends upon the intellectual as well as embodied availability of traditions and their situational salience. Such traditions embrace complex belief systems as well as simple sequences of ritual action. Learning and memory are involved in processes of individual appropriation. These terms refer to processes of acquiring knowledge by formal training or constant repetition, by casual exchange and need-driven inquiry.34 What is the role of those texts that have been used for centuries as the principal sources for the reconstruction of, for instance, Greek religion? Attic drama was publicly performed for a long period, seen and read far beyond Athens. The Atthidographers never reached such an audience and the accounts of these observers and systematizers are mostly lost; Pausanias looked back on a world before his Roman presence. The most important antiquarian and philosophical texts for Roman religion became available from the last century bce onward, at least for the small minority of Romans who could read and had access to private copies or the first public libraries or who could afford to spend time in or be invited to recitations. All these texts have rightly come to be regarded as theological enterprises in their own right, establishing their authors as figures of religio-historical importance or even as holders of public priesthoods.35 But how can their reception be approached, given the nearly total lack of testimonies on readers’ responses beyond dramatic performances?36

Lived religion can at least be glimpsed through studies on the implicit or implied reader.37 Apart from the possibly different voices of explicit (i.e., narrated) or implicit narrators, the text might offer figures within the plot as models or alternatives of reception, so-called narrated readers (or hearers). The text might also construe an intended reader as somebody of a certain age, gender, social identity, or intellectual interest. This would usually be an ideal reader with all the competences necessary to fully grasp the text. Fortunately, literary communication in antiquity, religious communication included, was much more tightly bound to established social relationships than literary texts of the late early modern and modern periods.38 This is due to the limited extent of literacy, concentrated in the upper echelons of society, and it is reinforced by the necessity of manually copying books. Distribution usually relied on friends (and friends of friends) rather than on the very limited commercial book market. The reader is implicitly addressed, frequently appearing as a narrated figure, and hence is a socially connected reader. To the extent that the author has some insights into contemporaries’ appropriation of religion, the surviving text can give us some clues about these religious agents. In such an analysis a primary document for religion of the Augustan period and a treasury of information about Roman festivals, that is Ovid’s Libri fastorum, reveals neither a document for a complex but fixed ritual system (as the text has been usually interpreted) nor the document of some individual reflection on such a system (as the text has been interpreted recently).39

A Case Study: Ovid’s Commentary on the Calendar

Ovid does not presuppose a reader who is interested in ritual details for the sake of active participation or highly specific observation. He construes a reader who is, above all, interested in the why and whence. Of course, these are questions that are welcome to the narrator as they offer opportunities for storytelling. But even if the answers occasionally remain inconclusive or conflicting, the reader is supposed to regard such etymological or historical knowledge as something that can be learned and remembered.

Interest is in visible religion. The reader is made aware of temples and statues and temples without statues and of the ritual use of otherwise undistinguished space. Religion, gods, temples, and the characters of the days of the calendar are quite often shown to be the outcome of historical contingencies and decisions. The narrator is interested in recent changes and the latest renovation of a temple rather than in a complete chronology. Clearly, religion is presented as a field of creative action for members of the political elite, the emperor in particular. And yet, the reader’s interest is also in domestic and local cults, as seen in Ovid, even if neither annotation in the text of the fasti nor public architecture point to the latter’s existence.

Participation in all these events is optional. A specific cult is an opportunity and only occasionally a duty for a specific social, gender, or age group. The reader is supposed to learn these specifics, and he or she is at most indirectly admonished to join in, never without arguments. The most forceful exhortations concern not highly specific cult practices but events that involve many groups, if not everybody—even animals in the case of the Feriae Sementivae, even slaves in the case of Fors Fortuna. In all these instances, it is most important for the audience to have a clear understanding of the emotional tone of the cult. This holds true for the organizers of the cult as well as for any participant. In the end, this reader is an informed and sympathetic observer or bystander, embedded in a structured society but free to exercise his or her own choices, knowing the possible limits of individual innovation as well as the appropriate affective regulation or deregulation when participating in traditional cult activities.

Material Religion

In dealing with the vast amount of material evidence available for the study of ancient religion, an approach interested in religion in the making can draw on several recent developments in archaeology as well as religious studies.40 Visible and material religion take the aesthetic side seriously, well beyond reconstructed ritual performances or literary texts.41 Fundamental to this is the notion that the very construction of gods as super-symbols, as well as communication with them in a variety of religious practices, does not only use but is shaped by the very material and sensory foundation of these activities. In the course of thinking about the social conditions of individual agency and the networks in which individuals are acting, the analogical concept of the agency of things has been developed and also introduced into the field of religion.42 The architecture of a sacred site must now be viewed with many perspectives, as a material thing with all its constructive and economic details, a social agent inviting people to visit or make a detour, a support for ideological claims to the primacy of a certain deity or its pious followers, and an object figuring in very different biographical, historical, or mythical narratives.43 Things, as a consequence, are no longer seen as being determined by stable (even if unknown) meaning but as elements that are culturally and situationally activated. By being visible, they elicit response.44

An evident example of the latter is graffiti. If graffiti were welcome in the ancient home, for example as an emphatic reaction on the part of invited guests, this minimalized but durable form of linguistic communication may also have played a role within the precincts of temples. Such was demonstrably the case at Dura-Europos in the east of the Roman Empire. There, in the temples and assembly buildings of Jews as well as worshippers of Christ and Mithras, users of graffiti endeavored to perpetuate themselves with their requests to be remembered or blessed as close as possible to the focus of religious communication, close to the cult image, on mural paintings, or in corridors.45 In this way they also appropriated the great two- or three-dimensional signifiers of religious communication belonging to others.

The architecture itself was a more visible and more effective factor of multiplying religion. If the lived religion perspective concurs in asking for the ongoing use and appropriation of even public sanctuaries by means of visiting, singing, picnicking, and depositing and engraving graffiti, attention also has to be paid to the process of building (instead of just classifying a site according to the principal deity addressed there). Collaborating with the architect, those who commissioned temples could express and communicate their desires regarding external size and shape and internal design in terms of spatial effect and decoration, as well as the image of the god and its size and positioning in the inner room.46 In Rome, this is especially evident in the choice of unusual forms such as the round temple.

Two Case Studies: Hercules and Fortuna

A few years after 146 bc (the confirmed date of the first marble temple in Rome), after a successfully foiled pirate attack, a merchant called Marcus Octavius Herennus, who had ceased employment as a flute player, built a round temple on the Tiber and dedicated it to Hercules Victor. In so doing he linked Hercules’ general association with successful commerce with his specific interpretation of his own experience.47 It is possible that he was supported by the prominent architect Hermodorus, who was active at this period. The structure, identified as the round temple still visible on the Forum Boarium, was unusual in many ways. It had neither a podium nor a clearly defined frontal aspect. Its twenty columns stood so close together that they entirely obstructed the view of the core structure, the cella, and from a distance also obscured the entrance with its two flanking windows. It was only from close to the building, with the door and windows open, that the statue placed at the center would have been well lit and visible. The foundation was built with the widely used Grotta-Oscura tufa, but the structure above emphasized innovation and high aesthetics. The interior walls were built of the new but local travertine, and the slender columns, almost ten-and-a-half meters high, were fashioned from Pentelic marble from Attica. This was surely a demonstration of superior wealth and appreciation of Greek culture, as visible at multiple locations around the city, in cultural contexts and in the form of plunder, and in its institutions and its theater.

It was probably a few decades later that Quintus Lutatius Catulus continued the experiment with round temples by building a temple of “Fortuna of the present day” (Fortuna huiusce diei) on the Field of Mars, today admired as Temple B on the Largo Argentina. The importance that the consul of 102 bce assigned to religious communication is shown not only by this temple built in the following year but also by the fact that, himself probably without priestly office, Catulus succeeded in having his son coopted by the pontiffs in the following decade—a son who was celebrated in turn by completing in lavish fashion the restoration of the Capitoline Temple of Jupiter begun by Sulla. Quite unlike Herennus, Catulus set his round structure on a two-and-a-half-meter-high podium and surrounded it with eighteen more substantial pillars, also on Attic bases and with Corinthian capitals, to an overall height approaching eleven meters. The builder gave this structure, one of the series of temples on this square on the Field of Mars, a clear orientation and frontal aspect. A broad stairway leads onto the podium, and the entrance lies in the alignment of access behind a widened intercolumnium.

Catulus had the cult image placed in such a way that it faced the visitor on a colossal scale and in living color at the opposite side of the internal space; the visible body parts were of white marble (perhaps given a painted surface), while the rest may have consisted of bronze body armor. With the entrance open, at a height of some eight meters, this space-filling deity was visible from a great distance. Catulus also referred back to the tradition of “Fortuna,” the force of fate, linking her with a radically personal twist of fortune as a visible, even insistent presence: she is the power who helped him at a particular moment. His purpose was entirely polemical. Catulus was here celebrating as his own victory the defeat over the Cimbri at Vercellae (June, 101 bce), a victory that was won by him together with Gaius Marius, the already celebrated commander—an assertion to which the construction of the temple gives monumental relevance. We must not forget that he was doing this in a context in which the presentation of votive objects was still a widespread form of popular ritual practice. The marble structure gleamed in contrast to the clay objects left on benches and in pits.48 But this itself makes it clear that the temple was not just a building but a representation and perpetuation of a specific religious communication aimed at higher authorities.

Spaces and Objects

We must consider that such enormous architectural (and, of course, financial) investments were not the entrepreneurial actions of religious organizations but, as a rule, relied on the initiative of individuals wishing to prove through such a project their exceptional gratitude to and intimacy with a deity. Certainly, despite all the wrangling over building sites and the support required from such authorities as city councils, it was the decisions of individuals to donate their war plunder or other gains in this way and their decisions to favor a particular architectural form and particular deities. These decisions established the religious infrastructure of a city and defined both the ease of accessibility of particular gods and the form to be taken by the cult. As in other cases, of course we must wonder about the social rules that, in the flux of history, drove the use of particular forms of communication: to whom were these outlets available? Even in a lived ancient religion perspective, it is clear that the broad range of religious practices offered a field of action in which individuals could obtain success, authority, respect, or even simply a living that was not available to them in other areas of social, political, or merely domestic activity.

If lived religion as a new perspective started off on the streets, ancient lived religion, too, needs to be looked for on streets. In the great imperial-age cities and metropolises, the “street” would equate to a house comprising different rooms that constituted the primary living-space. The owners of these villas, who were able to actively configure the architectural features and furniture of their homes, created an infrastructure that could also be used by others—clients or guests, staff or family—in a multitude of ways. Graffiti abounded, lamps could be kindled, deities engraved, statuettes positioned. These activities were beyond the control of public or religious officials, but they were not isolated from the prominent shrines, images, and practices in public spaces and temples. All in all, we see the continued appropriation and changing of a tradition that was reproduced in new forms by these very acts and could best be seen as religion in the making.

Review of Literature

As this lemma addresses a methodological approach rather than historical phenomena, the development of the concept within the history of research is reviewed within the main article. Studies employing the concept of lived ancient religion are only slowly appearing because of its recent development. Such studies are listed in the “Further Reading” section. There are two principal objections to the “lived religion” concept. The first is the positivistic one that religious motives, experiences, and ascriptions of meaning or practices cannot be directly attested and are hence beyond reconstruction. This is a defendable option but ultimately robs most of the past of significance and interest. The other principal objection concerns the questions of whether ancient religion can be studied with a focus on individual agents rather than as a social enterprise, which avoids the trap of trying to reconstruct individual beliefs. In a remarkably polemical book, John Scheid has elaborated this position, proposing that Roman religion should be treated as a sui generis religion, that is, described in terms of its own self-description only.49 That is to say, what Roman authors described as religio (and not, for instance, superstitio) of Roman citizens is what should be considered as Roman religion.50 The introduction by Clifford Ando gives a helpful overview about the debate on the concept of civic religion, here given a precise meaning by John Scheid. The opposite position, leading to the concept of lived religion, is developed by Jörg Rüpke.51 For Greek religion and the concept of “polis religion” the differences are not as stark. The discussion focuses on epistemological problems rather than on a principal divide, as demonstrated by Robert Parker and Julia Kindt.52

Further Reading

Belayche, Nicole, and Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge, eds. Fabriquer du divin: Constructions et ajustements de la représentation des dieux dans l’antiquité. Collection Religions: Comparatisme—Histoire—Anthropologie. Liège: Presses Universitaires de Liège, 2015.Find this resource:

Cusumano, Nicola, eds. Memory and Religious Experience in the Graeco-Roman World. Potsdamer altertumswissenschaftliche Beiträge. Stuttgart: Steiner, 2013.Find this resource:

Degelmann, Christoph. In squalore esse: Trauerszenen im republikanischen und frühkaiserzeitlichen Rom. Stuttgart: Steiner, 2017.Find this resource:

Lichterman, Paul, Rubina Raja,Anna-Katharina Rieger, and Jörg Rüpke. “Grouping Together in Lived Ancient Religion: Individual Interacting and the Formation of Groups.” Religion in the Roman Empire 3, no. 1 (2017): 3–10.Find this resource:

Patzelt, Maik. Beten bei den Römern. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2018.Find this resource:

Petridou, Georgia. Theoi Epiphaneis: Epiphany in Greek Literature and Culture. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2016.Find this resource:

Petridou, Georgia, Richard Gordon, and Jörg Rüpke, eds. Beyond Priesthood: Religious Entrepreneurs and Innovators in the Roman Empire. Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten 66. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2017.Find this resource:

Rebillard, Éric, and Jörg Rüpke, eds. Group Identity and Religious Individuality in Late Antiquity. CUA Studies in Early Christianity. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2015.Find this resource:

Raja, Rubina, and Jörg Rüpke. “Appropriating Religion: Methodological Issues in Testing the ‘Lived Ancient Religion’ Approach.” Religion in the Roman Empire 1, no. 1 (2015): 11–19.Find this resource:

Raja, Rubina, and Jörg Rüpke, eds. A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World. Boston: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.Find this resource:

Raja, Rubina, and Lara Weiss. “The Role of Objects: Meaning, Situations and Interaction.” Religion in the Roman Empire 1, no. 2 (2015): 137–147.Find this resource:

Rüpke, Jörg. On Roman Religion: Lived Religion and the Individual in Ancient Rome. Townsend Lectures/Cornell Studies in Classical Philology. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2016.Find this resource:

Rüpke, Jörg. Religious Deviance in the Roman World: Superstition or Individuality. Translated by David M. B. Richardson. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2016.Find this resource:

Rüpke, Jörg. Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion. Translated by David M. B. Richardson. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018.Find this resource:


(1.) Martin Fuchs and Jörg Rüpke, “Religious Individualization in Historical Perspective,” Religion 45, no. 3 (2015): 323–329; and Martin Fuchs, “Processes of Religious Individualization: Stocktaking and Issues for the Future,” Religion 45, no. 3 (2015): 330–343.

(2.) Catherine Bell, Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992); and Jörg Rüpke, “Representation or Presence? Picturing the Divine in Ancient Rome,” Archiv für Religionsgeschichte 12 (2010): 183–196.

(3.) Courtney Bender, “How and Why to Study up: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City and the Study of Lived Religion,” Nordic Journal of Religion and Society 29, no. 2 (2016), 100–116.

(4.) Robert A. Orsi, Gods of the City: Religion and the American Urban Landscape, Religion in North America (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999); Robert A. Orsi, The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880–1950, 3rd ed. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010); and Meredith B. McGuire, Lived Religion: Faith and Practice in Everyday Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

(5.) David D. Hall, “Introduction,” in Lived Religion in America: Toward a History of Practice, ed. David D. Hall (Princeton, NJ: Pinceton University Press, 1997), vii–xiii; and cf. Robert Orsi, “Everyday Miracles: The Study of Lived Religion,” in Lived Religion in America: Toward a History of Practice, ed. David D. Hall (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997), 3–21.

(6.) Michel de Certeau, Arts de faire, ed. Luce Giard (Paris: Gallimard, 2007).

(7.) Colin Campbell, “Distinguishing the Power of Agency from Agentic Power: A Note on Weber and the ‘Black Box’ of Personal Agency,” Sociological Theory 27, no. 4 (2009): 407–418; François Dépelteau, “Relational Thinking: A Critique of Co-Deterministic Theories of Structure and Agency,” Sociological Theory 26, no. 1 (2008): 51–73; Mustafa Emirbayer and Ann Mische, “What Is Agency?,” American Journal of Sociology 103, no. 4 (1998): 962–1023; Jörg Rüpke, “Religious Agency, Identity, and Communication: Reflecting on History and Theory of Religion,” Religion 45, no. 3 (2015): 344–366; and Yong Wang, “Agency: The Internal Split of Structure,” Sociological Forum 23, no. 3 (2008): 481–502.

(8.) Jörg Rüpke, “Lived Ancient Religion: Questioning ‘Cults’ and ‘Polis Religion,’” Mythos 5 (2011): 191–204. See also Further Reading.

(9.) See, for example, Catherine Hezser, “The Jesus Movement as a ‘Popular’ Judaism for the Unlearned,” in Jesus—Gestalt und Gestaltungen: Rezeptionen des Galilaeers in Wissenschaft, Kirche und Gesellschaft, ed. Petra Gemuenden, David G. Horrell, and Max Kuechler (Goettingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 2013): 79–104; Jon D. Mikalson, Athenian Popular Religion (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983); Jon D. Mikalson, Greek Popular Religion in Greek Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010); Martin P. Nilsson, Greek Popular Religion, Lectures on the History of Religions new series 1 (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1940); and Javier Teixidor, The Pagan God: Popular Religion in the Greco-Roman Near East (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977).

(10.) Jörg Rüpke, Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion, trans. David M. B. Richardson (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018), ch. 4.

(11.) Corinne Bonnet and Jörg Rüpke, eds., Les religions orientales dans les mondes grec et romain: Die orientalischen Religionen in der griechischen und römischen Welt, Trivium: Revue franco-allemande de sciences humaines et sociales/Deutsch-französische Zeitschrift für Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften 4 (Paris: Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 2009); and Corinne Bonnet, Jörg Rüpke, and Paolo Scarpi, eds., Religions orientales—culti misterici: Neue Perspektiven—nouvelle perspectives—prospettive nuove, Potsdamer altertumswissenschaftliche Beiträge 16 (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2006).

(12.) Rüpke, “Religious Agency, Identity, and Communication.”

(13.) Richard Gordon, “The Religious Anthropology of Late-Antique ‘High’ Magical Practice,” in The Individual in the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean, ed. Jörg Rüpke (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 163–186.

(14.) Nicole Belayche et al., “Divination Romaine,” ThesCRA 3 (2005), 79–104; and Federico Santangelo, Divination, Prediction and the End of the Republic (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

(15.) Cf. Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Culture (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1973); and Clifford Geertz, “‘From the Native’s Point of View’: On the Nature of Anthropological Understanding,” in Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self, and Emotion, ed. Richard A. Shweder and Robert A. LeVine (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 123–136.

(16.) For example, Kim Haines-Eitzen, The Gendered Palimpsest: Women, Writing, and Representation in Early Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); and Julia Kindt, Revisiting Delphi: Religion and Storytelling in Ancient Greece, Cambridge Classical Studies (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

(17.) Éric Rebillard, Christians and Their Many Identities in Late Antiquity, North Africa, 200–450 ce (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012), 2–5.

(18.) Henri Tajfel, “Social Identity and Intergroup Behaviour,” Social Science Information 13, no. 2 (1974): 65–93.

(19.) Richard D. Ashmore, Kay Deaux, and Tracy McLaughlin-Volpe, “An Organizing Framework for Collective Identity: Articulation and Significance of Multidimensionality,” Psychological Bulletin 130, no. 1 (2004): 80–114, here 83.

(20.) See Rüpke, Pantheon, ch. IX2 for further details.

(21.) Laurent Bricault, Isis, Dame des flots, Aegyptiaca Leodiensia (Liège: Centre Informatique de Philosophie et Lettres, 2006), 34.

(22.) Paul G. P. Meyboom, The Nile Mosaic of Palestrina: Early Evidence of Egyptian Religion in Italy, Religions in the Graeco-Roman World 121 (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1995); and Paul G. P. Meyboom and Miguel John Versluys, “Les scènes dites nilotiques et les cultes Isiaques: une interprétation contextuelle,” in De Memphis à Rome: Actes du Ier Colloque international sur les études isiaques Poitiers, Futuroscope, 8–10 avril 1999, ed. Laurent Bricault (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2000), 111–127.

(23.) An overview of the process is in Valentino Gasparini, “Santuari isiaci in Italia: Criteri e contesti di diffusione,” Mediterranea 4 (2007): 65–88; and for Pompeii, see Valentino Gasparini, “Cronologia ed Architettura dell’iseo di Pompei: Una proposta di schema verificabile,” Vesuviana: An International Journal of Archaeological and Historical Studies on Pompei and Herculaneum 3 (2011): 66–88, here 82.

(24.) See not only Miguel John Versluys, “Understanding Egypt in Egypt and Beyond,” in Isis on the Nile: Egyptian Gods in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, ed. Laurent Bricault and Michel Malaise, Religions in the Graeco-Roman World (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2010): 7–36; but also Eva Mol, “The Perception of Egypt in Networks of Being and Becoming: A Thing Theory Approach to Egyptianising Objects in Roman Domestic Contexts,” in TRAC 2012: Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, ed. Annabel Bokern et al. (Oxford: Oxbow, 2012): 117–131. On the name in Egypt see Joachim Friedrich Quack, “What is a Priest of Ēse, of Wusa, and of Isis in the Egyptian and Nubian World?,” in The Agents of Isiac Cult: Identities, Functions and Modes of Representations, ed. Valentino Gasparini and Richard Veymiers, Bibliotheca Isiaca (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2019), forthcoming.

(25.) Varro, Ant. rer. div. fr. 46 Cardauns; and Cass. Dio 42.26.1.

(26.) Briefly, see Fredrick H. Cramer, Astrology in Roman Law and Politics, Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society 37 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1954); and Tamsyn Barton, Ancient Astrology (London, U.K.: Routledge, 1994). In general, see Richard Gordon, “Magian Lessons in Natural History: Unique Animals in Graeco-Roman Natural Magic,” in Myths, Martyrs, and Modernity—Studies in the History of Religions in Honour of Jan N. Bremmer, ed. Jitse Dijkstra, Justin Kroesen, and Yme Kuiper (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2010): 249–269; and Richard Gordon, “Cosmology, Astrology, and Magic: Discourse, Schemes, Power, and Literacy,” in Panthée: Religious Transformations in the Graeco-Roman Empire, ed. Laurent Bricault and Corinne Bonnet, Religions in the Graeco-Roman World 177 (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2013), 85–111.

(27.) Tac., Ann. 2.85.4. See M. J. Versluys, “Isis Capitolina and the Egyptian Cults in Late Republican Rome,” in Isis en Occident: Actes du IIème Colloque international sur les études isiaques, Lyon III 16–17 mai 2002, ed. Laurent Bricault, Religions in the Graeco-Roman World (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2004), 421–448, here 446.

(28.) Katja Lembke, Das Iseum Campense in Rom: Studie über den Isiskult unter Domitian, Archäologie und Geschichte 3 (Heidelberg, Germany: Verlag Archäologie und Geschichte, 1994).

(29.) See Ulrike Egelhaaf-Gaiser, Kulträume im römischen Alltag: Das Isisbuch des Apuleius und der Ort von Religion im kaiserzeitlichen Rom, Potsdamer altertumswissenschaftliche Beiträge 2 (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2000), 252; and on the contrasting everyday reality of a dress practice that was socially strictly hierarchized and visible, see Marie Allorge-Courtin, “La rue à Rome, spectable des apparences d’après Martial et Juvénal,” in Habiter en ville au temps de Vespasien: Actes de la table ronde de Nancy, 17 octobre 2008, ed. Marie-José Kardos and Lucie Voinson, Etudes d’archéologie classique (Nancy and Paris: ADRA, 2011), 63–74. Emotional participation is posited on the basis of satirical comment: see Marie-José Kardos, “La satire des cultes égyptiens chez Martial et Juvénal et l’Iseum du Champ de Mars [Pl. XI–XIII],” in Habiter en ville au temps de Vespasien, ed. Marie-José Kardos and Lucie Voinson, Etudes d’archéologie classique (Nancy and Paris: ADRA, 2011), 51–62. On initiation see Jan N. Bremmer, Initiation into the Mysteries of the Ancient World, Münchener Vorlesungen zu antiken Welten 1 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014).

(30.) Joelle Soler, “La Désse Syrienne, dea peregrina: La mise en récit de l’alterité religieuse dans les Métamorphoses d’Apulée,” in Les représentation des dieux des autres, ed. Corinne Bonnet, Amandine Declercq, and Iwo Slobodzianek, Supplemento a MYTHOS 2: Rivista di Storia delle Religioni (Caltanissetta: Salvatore Sciascia Editore, 2011), 21–30, here 17.

(31.) An exemplary treatment is in Valentino Gasparini, “Staging Religion: Cultic Performances in (and around) the Temple of Isis in Pompeii,” in Memory and Religious Experience in the Graeco-Roman World, ed. Nicola Cusamano et al., Potsdamer altertumswissenschaftliche Beiträge 45 (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2013), 185–212. For temples, for example the “Red Hall” at Pergamum, see Adolf Hoffmann, ed. Ägyptische Kulte und ihre Heiligtümer im Osten des römischen Reiches: Internationales Kolloquium, 5./6. September 2003 in Bergama (Türkei), Byzas (Istanbul: Ege Yayınları, 2005); or at Thurii (Sybaris), see Emanuele Greco and Valentino Gasparini, “Il santuario di Sibari—Casa Bianca,” in Bibliotheca Isiaca III, ed. Larent Bricault and Richard Veymiers (Bordeaux: Ausonius, 2014), 55–72.

(32.) See Robert Paker, Greek Gods Abroad: Names, Natures, and Transformations, Sather Classical Lectures (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2017).

(33.) For Isis at Athens, see Paraskevi Martzavou, “Priests and Priestly Roles in the Isiac Cults: Women as Agents in Religious Change in Late Hellenistic and Roman Athens,” in Ritual Dynamics in the Ancient Mediterranean: Agency, Emotion, Gender, Representation, ed. Angelos Chaniotis (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2011), 61–84.

(34.) Classic analyses are Maurice Halbwachs, On Collective Memory, ed., transl., and with an introd. by Lewis A. Coser (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992); Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Jacques Le Goff, History and Memory (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1992); Harriet Flower, “‘Memories’ of Marcellus: History and Memory in Roman Republican Culture,” in Formen römischer Geschichtsschreibung von den Anfängen bis Livius: Gattungen, Autoren, Kontexte, ed. Ulrich Eigler (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2003), 39–52; Günter Oesterle, ed., Erinnerung, Gedächtnis, Wissen: Studien zur kulturwissenschaftlichen Gedächtnisforschung, Formen der Erinnerung 26 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2005); Geoffrey Cubitt, History and Memory, Historical Approaches (Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 2007); Stéphane Benoist et al., eds., Mémoires partagées, mémoires disputées: Écriture et réécriture de l’histoire, Centre Régional Universitaire Lorrain d’Histoire, Site de Metz 39 (Metz: Centre Régional Universitaire Lorrain d’Histoire, Site de Metz, 2009); Astrid Erll, Memory in Culture (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); Beate Dignas and R. R. R. Smith, “Introduction,” in Historical and Religious Memory in the Ancient World, ed. Beate Dignas and R. R. R. Smith (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2012), 1–11; and Nicola Cusamano et al., eds., Memory and Religious Experience in the Graeco-Roman World, Potsdamer altertumswissenschaftliche Beiträge 45 (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2013).

(35.) Mary Beard, “Cicero and Divination: The Formation of a Latin Discourse,” JRS 76 (1986): 33–46; Mary Beard, “A Complex of Times: No More Sheep on Romulus’ Birthday,” Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 33 (1987): 1–15; Mary Beard, “Writing and Religion: Ancient Literacy and the Function of the Written Word in Roman Religion,” in Literacy in the Roman World (Ann Arbor: Journal of Roman Archaeology, 1991), 35–58; Denis Feeney, Literature and Religion at Rome: Cultures, Contexts, and Beliefs (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998); and Jörg Rüpke, Religion in Republican Rome: Rationalization and Ritual Change (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012).

(36.) For Cicero as a reader of Varro see Cic., Acad. post. 8–9.

(37.) Wolfgang Iser, Der Akt des Lesens: Theorie ästhetischer Wirkung (Munich: Fink, 1994), 62–66.

(38.) Thomas Habinek, The Politics of Latin Literature: Writing, Identity, and Empire in Ancient Rome (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), in particular 103–121.

(39.) For details of the analysis see Jörg Rüpke, “The ‘Connected Reader’ as a Window into Lived Ancient Religion: A Case Study of Ovid’s Libri fastorum,” Religion in the Roman Empire 1, no. 1 (2015): 95–113.

(41.) Hans G. Kippenberg, “Introduction,” Visible Religion 7 (1990), vii–xix; Sylvia Estienne, ed., Image et religion dans l’antiquité gréco-romaine: Actes du colloque de Rome, 11–13 décembre 2003, Collection du Centre Jean Bérard (Naples: Centre Jean Bérard, 2008); Nicole Boivin, “Grasping the Elusive and Unknowable: Material Culture in Ritual Practice,” Material Religion 5 (2009): 266–287; and Nicole Belayche and Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge, eds., Fabriquer du divin: Constructions et ajustements de la représentation des dieux dans l’antiquité, Collection Religions: Comparatisme—Histoire—Anthropologie (Liège: Presses Universitaires de Liège, 2015).

(42.) Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993); Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); and Julian Droogan, Religion, Material Culture and Archaeology, Bloomsbury Advances in Religious Studies (London, U.K. and New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2013), 151.

(43.) See Droogan, Religion, 166; and also Ian Hodder, “Human-Thing Entanglement: Towards an Integrated Archaeological Perspective,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 17, no. 1 (2011): 154–177.

(44.) David Morgan, ed., Religion and Material Culture: The Matter of Belief (London, U.K.: Routledge, 2010); David Morgan, “Thing,” Material Religion 7 (2011): 140–146; and Ivan Gaskell, “Display,” Material Religion 7 (2011): 34–40, here 40.

(45.) Karen B. Stern, “Inscription as Religious Competition in Third-Century Syria,” in Religious Competition in the Third Century CE: Jews, Christians, and the Greco-Roman World, ed. Jordan D. Rosenblum, Lily C. Vuong, and Nathaniel P. DesRosiers, Journal of Ancient Judaism: Supplements (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014), 141–152, esp. 146. On houses see Veronika Scheibelreiter-Gail, “Inscriptions in the Late Antique Private House: Some Thoughts about Their Function and Distribution,” in Patrons and Viewers in Late Antiquity, ed. Stine Birk and Birte Poulsen (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2012), 135–165, here 161.

(46.) See for example Penelope J. E. Davies, “On the Introduction of Stone Entablatures in Republican Temples in Rome,” in Monumentality in Etruscan and Early Roman Architecture: Ideology and Innovation, ed. Michael L. Thomas and Gretchen E. Meyers (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2012), 139–165.

(48.) See Claudia Andreani, Maria Paola Del Moro, and Marilda De Nuccio, “Contesti e materiali votivi dell” ‘area sacra’ di Largo Argentina,” in Depositi Votivi e Culti dell’Italia Antica dall’Età Arcaica a Quella Tardo-Repubblicana—Atti del Convegno di Studi Perugia, 1–4 giugno 2000, ed. Annamaria Comella and Sebastiana Mele, Bibliotheca Archaeologica 16 (Bari: Edipuglia, 2005), 111–125.

(49.) John Scheid, The Gods, the State, and the Individual: Reflections on Civic Religion in Rome, trans. Clifford Ando, Empire and After (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), 48.

(50.) Thus John Scheid, Religion et piété à Rome (Paris: Michel, 2001), 174.

(52.) Robert Parker, On Greek Religion, Townsend Lectures/Cornell Studies in Classical Philology 60 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011); and Julia Kindt, Rethinking Greek Religion (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012).