Studia Hercynia (2015-12-01)

Roman pietas and Herod the Great

  • Adam Pažout

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 19, no. 1-2
pp. 206 – 217


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Deep political and cultural connections which Herod had to Rome and to Augustus stemmed from his posi‑ tion of a client king of the Romans. This clientship was based on personal relation between both Herod and Augustus, and therefore we may draw parallels from patronus -cliens relationship known and documented from various ancient sources, and then interpret Herod’s building program. Reciprocal bonds were based on concepts of fides (loyalty, security) and pietas (piety). Augustus extended his benefactions on Herod on many occasions and Herod rewarded him in generous manner, emulating the typically Roman virtue of pietas in similar manner as Augustus did himself in Rome. Roman‑type temples of Augustus in Judaea (Samaria‑Sebaste, Caesarea, Paneas) are proofs of Herod’s ‘extension’ of Augustus’ cultural program. Further attestation of Herod’s pietas is fact, that it was Augustus’ genius that was venerated in temples dedicated to him. These beginnings of the imperial cult may be traced, as is evidenced also in Augustan Rome, to the cult of paterfamilias – patronus which was practiced by his respective cliens.