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On Roman ReligionLived Religion and the Individual in Ancient Rome$
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Jörg Rüpke

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501704703

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501704703.001.0001

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Appropriating Images—Embodying Gods

Appropriating Images—Embodying Gods

(p.42) 3 Appropriating Images—Embodying Gods
On Roman Religion

Jörg Rüpke

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines a text by the Augustan poet Sextus Propertius, Propertius 4.2, which has a god speak about himself in the first person. This text analyzes the identity of god and image. On the one hand, the god—who introduces himself by the name of Vertumnus—claims an identity independent of situational appropriations and even of his image. He implicitly claims an identity within different material shapes, including statuettes and paintings. In the fiction of the speech, the god claims such an identity by remembering other and former images. However, he remains subject to them; he is bound to concrete appropriations. Similarly, Vertumnus's physical movements are located in the imagination of observers, where the manifestation of the “present” is extended into imagined sequences of actions.

Keywords:   Sextus Propertius, Propertius 4.2, god, image, Vertumnus, situational appropriations

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