Divinized After Death

Source: John Sellars, Stoicism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006) 39.

The Stoic poet Lucan says about the first century B.C.E. figure Cato:

“Cato was a true father of his country, and far worthier than others who have since been granted this title, to have altars raised in his memory. One day when we are finally freed from slavery, if that ever happens, Cato will be deified; and Rome will then have a god by whose name it need not be ashamed to swear. (Pharsalia 9.601-604)”

I don’t know all of the context for this, but Sellars says that Cato was a political opponent of Julius Caesar. I wonder if the libertarian Cato Institute was named after him. That would coincide with Cato, the opponent of Caesar, who tried to liberate people from slavery.

I’ve read in sources (well, wikipedia) that the Romans worshipped their emperor after his death, as if that was the time when he became divinized. Wisdom of Solomon 14 states that one cause of idolatry was a father’s desire to commemorate his dead son. Some say that there were early Christians who maintained that Jesus became divine after his resurrection, but I’m not sure if I accept this as a New Testament perspective, since Paul presents Jesus as a pre-existent being (Philippians 2; II Corinthians 8:9).

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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