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The Gods, the State, and the Individual
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The Gods, the State, and the Individual
Reflections on Civic Religion in Rome

John Scheid. Translated and with a foreword by Clifford Ando

200 pages | 6 x 9
Cloth 2015 | ISBN 9780812247664 | $59.95s | Outside the Americas £48.00
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Empire and After
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"John Scheid has offered an excellent monograph on the civic character of Roman religion . . . [H]is erudition and ability to offer a clear and concise discussion makes the volume an indispensable source for anybody interested in Roman religion."—Religious Studies Review

"John Scheid's The Gods, the State, and the Individual is an impassioned intervention in a contemporary debate in the study of ancient religion."—Clifford Ando, from the foreword

Roman religion has long presented a number of challenges to historians approaching the subject from a perspective framed by the three Abrahamic religions. The Romans had no sacred text that espoused its creed or offered a portrait of its foundational myth. They described relations with the divine using technical terms widely employed to describe relations with other humans. Indeed, there was not even a word in classical Latin that corresponds to the English word religion.

In The Gods, the State, and the Individual, John Scheid confronts these and other challenges directly. If Roman religious practice has long been dismissed as a cynical or naïve system of borrowed structures unmarked by any true piety, Scheid contends that this is the result of a misplaced expectation that the basis of religion lies in an individual's personal and revelatory relationship with his or her god. He argues that when viewed in the light of secular history as opposed to Christian theology, Roman religion emerges as a legitimate phenomenon in which rituals, both public and private, enforced a sense of communal, civic, and state identity.

Since the 1970s, Scheid has been one of the most influential figures reshaping scholarly understanding of ancient Roman religion. The Gods, the State, and the Individual presents a translation of Scheid's work that chronicles the development of his field-changing scholarship.

John Scheid is Professor of Religion, Institutions, and Society in Ancient Rome at the Collège de France and author of An Introduction to Roman Religion.

Clifford Ando is the David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago and Research Fellow in the Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies at the University of South Africa. He is author of Law, Language, and Empire in the Roman Tradition, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

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