Evocatio : how divine importations shaped and reshaped the spaces of Rome
Emma Ruth Altman
May 11, 2016
Department or Program
This thesis centers around the nearly-unquestioned term evocatio. Literally "a summoning," Macrobius, writing nearly six hundred years after the events he describes, defines it as a religious rite in which Roman commanders invited the tutelary deity of a warring city to move to Rome. This work explores god importation in the Roman Republic and how later narratives of evocatio fit into the larger picture of importation. Additionally, it queries whether importations were one way that the Romans were conceptualizing themselves as becoming more globally aware, and how, or to what extent, the ideas contributing to the rise of the Imperial period were connected with god importation. The reconstruction of evocatio presented in this work is entirely novel, and it can provide a new understanding of religio -- one in which divinities were seemingly movable objects, tethered to the mortal world by the founding of a city. This reading also provides new material that will inform understandings of imperialism, and how the Romans, via god importations and evocationes, are using religio as a political tool.