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Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia Paperback – September 13, 2012
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"Any serious scholar of Roman religion will undoubtedly benefit from this exhaustive, erudite treatment of the cult of Diana." -Matthew R. Hauge, Claremont Graduate University: Religious Studies Review
The sanctuary dedicated to Diana at Aricia flourished from the Bronze age to the second century CE. This 2007 book examines the history of Diana's cult and healing sanctuary, which remained a significant and wealthy religious center for more than a thousand years.
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Green takes an obscure topic in Latin history and uses it to develop a deeper understanding of the development of Roman culture in general. The worship of Diana was one of the most powerful aspects of Roman and Latin religion for hundreds of years. But I can't recall ever seeing such a throrough descirption of the site, the cult, and its effects anywhere else.
Green conducts an incredibly thorough analysis of hundreds of Latin texts searching for references applicable to Diana's sanctuary and the "rex nemorensis." Along the way he illuminates some confusiong elements of the stories of two legendary kings of early Rome, Numa and Servius Tullius. Most surprisingly of all, Green sheds important light on how Octavian was able to turn the tables on his detractors by using his non-Roman origins in Aricia to his advantage. The exposition on Grattius' Cynegetica was all new to me and very compelling in bolstering his interpretations of the Diana myth and her rituals at Aricia.
I felt the very end of the book may have been slightly weaker than the first eight chapters. Much of the speculation about the healing rituals that might have been performed at Aricia don't really have textual support. So, in Chapter 10 especially, Green makes some novel assertions about the use of dough images in the healing rituals but they are really educated guesses. Also, he leaps from healing recommendations for dogs found in the Cynegetica tohuman healing and suggests with little support that the same remedies were applied to people. He's on much stronger footing when discussing the dedications of votary objects at the temple site and the references in Ovid, Propertius, Horace and others to possible ritual healing issues. Even so, Green's "guesses" are sound ideas for what MIGHT have happened and create a solid image of the cult at Aricia.