Priest of the imperial cult
“I am a priest of Roma and Augustus, a priest of the imperial cult. This is my way of supporting the emperor and the state and of helping to promote popular enthusiasm for the Roman empire. Of course I am a Roman citizen and come from one of the most influential families in the town; otherwise I could never have attained such a high office as this. Although I appreciate the office, and after all it is beneficial in many ways, it does place a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. And between you and me: financially it is not worth it! First of all, I had to pay a significant sum before I could even take office, and now I have many other expenses. I am, for instance, obliged to cover the costs of municipal construction projects. And that can be really expensive! At the moment I am building public baths – from my own purse I will have you know. But to make sure that passers-by and those who visit the baths know to whom they owe the pleasure, I am having my name “immortalised” in a dedicatory inscription on the building, as is the custom here. Now you will have to excuse me, the gods are waiting”.
The priest is known from an inscription
TAVRI F(ilius) ET …
FLAMEN ROM(ae) ET AVG(usti)
(…) son of Taurus, priest of Roma and Augustus, built
A peek into the clothes chest
Over his tunic the priest of the imperial cult is wearing a toga with purple trimming to signify his distinguished office and a woollen coat. Another element that points to his office is the galerus, a leather cap with a wooden apex. Sacrificial utensils such as jugs and bowls were used in religious sacrifices.
Detail from the “Ara pacis Augustae”, Rome (I), 9 BC. Imperial priests can be seen on the left; the figure on the right is the Emperor Augustus, the highest priest of the state cult. He is shown with his head covered as a sign of respect for the gods.