The roman emperor, a mortal among gods

May 13 to September 19, 2021.

In ancient Rome, political and religious aspects were closely linked and indissociable. The emperor was the guarantor of the religious rites that made it possible to benefit from the pax deorum (the peace of the gods). He was the public official who formed the link between man and the gods to give protection to the city.
Augustus, the first Roman emperor, partly founded his power on religious bases: the honours that he received during his long political career contributed to creating a divine aura that encompassed his person, raising him to a status higher than that of a common mortal. In Nîmes, two dynastic religious buildings date from his reign: the Maison Carrée and the Augusteum at the La Fontaine site.
Centred on these emblematic monuments, the exhibition will take visitors around the traces of the religious and mythical references that gave legitimacy to the emperor’s power and contributed to building his image that was spread throughout the Empire on various supports: imperial portraits, representations of personifications of imperial virtues, the architecture and decoration of places of worship, etc. The visitor will also be able to see the sequence and meaning of the ceremonies and rites held to celebrate imperial action.
150 works are to be on display, including 31 on special loan from the Musée du Louvre. A large number of works belonging to the collections at the Musée de la Romanité—most of which have never been shown to the public—will be restored for the occasion. Digital facilities will make it possible to experience—as if you were actually there—the apotheosis of Augustus or the performance of a sacrificial ritual.
A visit to discover the many rites of the imperial cult that gave the Roman emperor the strange state of being a mortal among the gods…

Portrait of Emperor Augustus (27 BC-14 AD)
Paris, Louvre museum
Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Tony Querrec 


Exhibition organized with the collaboration of the Louvre museum