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The Peace of the GodsElite Religious Practices in the Middle Roman Republic$
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Craige B. Champion

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174853

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174853.001.0001

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Elite-Instrumentalism: Persistence and Paradox

Elite-Instrumentalism: Persistence and Paradox

Chapter:
(p.1) One Elite-Instrumentalism: Persistence and Paradox
Source:
The Peace of the Gods
Author(s):

Craige B. Champion

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691174853.003.0001

This chapter discusses the origins of elite-instrumentalist interpretations of Roman religion by Greek and Roman writers, and how it persists in recent scholarship. It uses a particular “time map,” spanning the period from approximately the second quarter of the third century—leading to Rome's first titanic conflict with Carthage—to the aftermath of the Gracchan revolution. The chapter first provides an overview of the so-called “polis religion,” the focus of the modern study of Roman religion, describing it as a form of elite-instrumentalism. It then considers the elite-instrumentalist interpretation/model, its history, and its paradoxical longevity in order to understand how the Roman ruling elite used religion in the Middle Republic. It also examines some of the main features of elite religion in the Middle Roman Republic. Finally, it introduces definitions, parameters, and theoretical/methodological underpinnings for the chapters that follow.

Keywords:   religion, polis religion, elite-instrumentalism, Roman religion, Roman ruling elite, Middle Roman Republic

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