Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Epigraph

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Contents

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p. ix

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Translator’s Foreword

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pp. xi-xviii

John Scheid’s The Gods, the State, and the Individual: Reflections on Civic Religion in Rome is an impassioned intervention in a contemporary debate in the study of ancient religion. It speaks for a method or, perhaps, a perspective, as well as a distinctive national tradition. In the book, Scheid himself contextualizes his work within a century’s...

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Preface

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pp. xix-xxiii

In a world disturbed by conflicts that sometimes pit religions against states, it is not easy to define the respective weights one ought to assign to one or the other in public decisions or private choices. The major religions have a tendency to claim an absolute position, regarded...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-4

The model of civic religion, which was born in part from the recognition that religious practice is always exercised in a specific social context, has been called into question by a number of researchers in England and Germany. The challenge that they pose to the model of polis-religion is that, according to them, it does not take account of the religion of...

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Chapter 1 The Critique of Polis-Religion: An Inventory

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pp. 5-21

Hegelian dialectic made a profound impression on historians of the nineteenth century, including, where Roman history is concerned, Theodor Mommsen and his successors.1 This form of thought projected Western religious concepts into the past and on this basis explained the evolution of religion up to and including the Christian religions. It was...

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Chapter 2 Polis and Republic: The price of Misunderstanding

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pp. 22-31

One precondition for the study of a problem like the nature of religion in the Greco-R oman world is to know well the historical context of the object of study. This is not a matter solely of contextualizing one’s analysis by situating it within some field of academic debate, but also, with equal rigor, of contextualizing the ancient sources that one cites...

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Chapter 3 The Individual in the City

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pp. 32-43

We have seen that criticism of the historiographical model of civic religion was in part indebted to a dated vision of the city and its supposed decline in the fourth century bce. I have argued briefly that city-states continued throughout antiquity to constitute the material and legal framework for the life of individuals, in both the Hellenistic and...

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Chapter 4 Civic Religion: A discourse of the Elite?

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pp. 44-53

Thus far, I have laid out a certain number of terms, concepts, and historical realities that seem to me poorly understood by those who write about civic religion: the city, individual status, the categories of public and private. We can now turn our attention to religion itself to examine the principal objections directed at the model of civic religion, in order to deconstruct...

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Chapter 5 Civic Religion and Identity

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pp. 54-72

The intellectual approach of the inventors of polis-religion was largely functionalist. Under the inspiration of Durkheim and Fustel de Coulanges, they expected that religion would have as its sole and singular function the integration of individuals into the city and conferring upon them of an identity. In general, critics of the civic model take...

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Chapter 6 For Whom Were the Rituals Celebrated?

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pp. 73-95

It is one thing to question the effective participation of citizens; it is another to reflect on the composition of the community of those for whom cult was celebrated. But this community is never evoked in the debate that occupies our attention. As I have already indicated, in the rituals of a ritualistic religion, it suffices to bring together the required number...

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Chapter 7 Religious Repression

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pp. 96-104

The study of breaches of piety is important for the understanding of Roman religion. This is so not only because it allows one to establish that the ancients paid attention to religious matters and had a clear perception of them, but also because it tells us something about the religious community itself, which was affected by those breaches. For critics...

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Chapter 8 Civic Religion, a Modality of Communal Religion

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pp. 105-112

We have already observed that a civic community was not an aggregation of individuals each pursuing his or her own whim. The religious obligations of the civic community are independent of the persons living at any given moment, in the same fashion that public properties do not belong to the individuals who contingently enjoy the status...

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Chapter 9 Emotion and Belief

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pp. 113-124

The opponents of the model of civic religion always insist on the necessity of treating piety as an expression of individual and sincere emotion, independent of every social context. I will not address again the profoundly Christian basis that motivates this claim, which rejects, as Franz Cumont did, ritual as profane and secular.1 It is hardly surprising that...

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Chapter 10 Why Did Roman Religion Change?

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pp. 125-135

These reflections bring us to the last point that we must examine, the reasons for religious change. In fact, we have already emphasized that the model of polis-religion is capable of explaining how city-states managed the arrival of new cults, but not why religious change occurred. Often, the underlying idea in scholarship is that expressed by Franz...

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Chapter 11 The Gods, the State, and the Individual

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pp. 136-142

Setting in perspective the reflections that have just been offered allows us to formulate some conclusions. We started from the idea that the criticisms that were once directed at the model of civic religion and which are still put forward today by their modern adherents rest upon a series of misunderstandings and errors. We have tried to replace such arguments with others, drawn from a historical rather than theoretical...

Notes

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pp. 143-166

Index

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pp. 167-174

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 175-175

I would like to thank Christophe Goddard, director of the Centre CNRS– NYU Transitions, for having allowed me to bring this text to completion under ideal conditions. I owe thanks as well to Beatrice Lietz, my assistant at the Collège de France, for her observations on the topic of civic religion. Finally, I would like to express...