PhD defence: Rianne Hermans
Rianne Hermans, ASH PhD candidate, will defend her dissertation entitled 'Latin Cults through Roman Eyes. Myth, Memory and Cult Practice in the Alban Hills' supervised by prof. dr. Emily Hemelrijk and prof. dr. Marijke Gnade.
This thesis studies the role of the Latin past in the Roman present, by investigating three large sanctuaries in the Alban hills: that of Diana Nemorensis, Juno Sospita and Jupiter Latiaris. The Alban hills are volcanic highlands southeast of Rome, which are located in the heart of Latium Vetus (‘old Latium’). The sanctuaries on and below these hills had long histories as religious meeting places for Latins, both in times of war and in times of peace. In contrast to many recent studies on ancient Latium, my study has not focused on reconstructing these earliest beginnings of worship in the area, nor have I attempted to establish the original spheres of influence of the deities involved. Instead, I have analysed the ways in which later Romans – including the inhabitants of the towns administrating the cults – engaged with the Latin past that surrounded them. Relying substantially on insights from the field of memory studies, my study started from the premise that the Latin character of the cults of the Alban hills was not a static relic of the distant past, but was actively perceived, communicated and remembered by the worshippers visiting the sites. In this way, worshipping a Latin deity could be part of performing a Latin identity. The narratives surrounding the history of Diana Nemorensis, Juno Sospita and Jupiter Latiaris were an integral part of everyday cult practice for the Latin deities and, as such, could change shape and meaning under different circumstances.
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