DIVINE ALTER EGOS
The intense rivalry among elite Republican men for the most compelling building project was matched by a more personal competition. These individuals vied with one another through the gods and personifications they chose as their personal gurus and family ancestors. The world according to Caesar, for one, included his Julian lineage from Venus Genetrix.
Privileged Roman leaders in the age of Augustus continued to take a cue from earlier Hellenistic dynasts, among them the Ptolemies. Every Ptolemy had his ka, an aspect of his personality that generated a life-giving force, and possessed godlike qualities that gave him the capacity to lead. These special traits were highlighted through the royal names or titularies that were attached to these dynasts. Cleopatra was the goddess who loves her father, thea philopator; and Auletes, as Neos Dionysos, possessed characteristics of his divine namesake. These titularies were not just honorific but carried ethical and religious obligations for the king to defend his country, look after his people, and revere his gods. Several strategies were used in Ptolemaic portraiture to emphasize the godliness of its subjects: they were paired with divinities whose identity was immediately recognizable, like Re or Horus; they were endowed with the headdresses or attributes of such divinities; and their statuary was made from a precious material or its surface was polished or gilded, in the manner of Cleopatra's statue in Rome.
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Publication information: Book title: Cleopatra and Rome. Contributors: Diana E. E. Kleiner - Author. Publisher: Belknap Press. Place of publication: Cambridge, MA. Publication year: 2005. Page number: 179.
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