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Losing Control of the gods: How Religion Slipped Out of the Hands of Men in the Early Roman Empire
The dignified and extravagant public rituals of Romans – ancestral institutions as the last generations of the Republic imagined them – definitively failed in the last century BCE. Future senatorial priests presided only over the cults of a city that was less and less a capital. In place of a narrative of early imperial religion that sets the worship of the emperors at its center, I shall argue for a systemic shift in the religious order, a disintegration of authority that reflected much wider changes in the nature of Roman culture.
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Co-sponsored by the Department of Classics and the History Department
Greg Woolf arrived in UCLA in September 2021 to become the first Ronald J Mellor Professor of Ancient History. Before then he directed the Institute of Classical Studies in the School of Advanced Study in London for six years, and before that was Professor of Ancient History at the University of St Andrews. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and has held visiting appointments in Brazil, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. His work straddles the fields of ancient history and archaeology, and he has published on a range of cultural historical subjects from the history of libraries and the impact of Roman imperialism on ancient societies to (more recently) numerous studies of Roman religion and Roman urbanism. His most recent books are the second edition of Rome. An Empire’s Story (Oxford 2022) and (with his long term collaborator Jörg Rüpke the edited collection Religion in the Roman Empire.) He is a member of the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Center for the Study of Religion.