Divus Iulius

This is a post for my March book challenge, #marchmonthofmythology.

Today we’re stepping forward in time from the myths I’ve been talking about up till now, to the first century BCE. At the Ides of March, 44 BCE, Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by a group of senators. They thought the Roman republic would be restored after his death; unfortunately for them, the opposite happened. Julius Caesar’s adopted son (and grand-nephew), Octavian, first avenged the murder by chasing down and killing the conspirators, then managed to obtain sole power in Rome. If you want to know how he did that, I recommend finding a book on this exciting period in history, because it’s far too complicated for me to explain it here. What matters is that Octavian became the first Roman emperor, later known as Augustus.

Caesar’s deification

What I want to talk about today is something that happened in the year 42 BCE, before Octavian became emperor and while he was still part of the Second Triumvirate (an alliance of three people, in this case Octavian, Marcus Antonius and Lepidus; the First Triumvirate consisted of Caesar, Crassus and Pompeius). The Second Triumvirate had teamed up to avenge the murder of Caesar. Aside from waging a civil war and murdering lots of people, they also officially deified Julius Caesar. From then on, Caesar was a god, part of the Roman pantheon. Divus Iulius.

Now, this didn’t come completely out of the blue: Caesar supposedly had divine lineage. He was a descendant of the Trojan hero Aeneas, son of Venus, who traveled to Italy to settle there – he is thus seen as an ancestor to Rome. He also managed to trace his lineage back to the first kings of Rome, who were descended from Mars. It was also not unprecedented for a mortal to become a god: the demigod Herakles was also deified after his death, and allowed to live on Mount Olympus.

Augustus, too, was deified after his death, and it became a sort of tradition for all the emperors after him. The imperial cult became an important part of Roman culture.

Caesar – fanfiction recommendations or your favourite headcanon

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By deifying their emperors, the Romans added new gods to their mythological canon. This is why I picked this prompt to show some love to fanfiction! I personally don’t read fanfiction online very often (feel free to leave some recommendations), but I have read books that could be considered fanfiction as well. Take the popular fairytale retellings, for example. Aren’t they just alternate universe fanfiction? Or what about literary works like Wide Sargasso Sea, that add to other works of literature or tell them from a different perspective? So there’s no point in claiming fanfiction isn’t literature. If it’s good enough, it might still get published! (Though there is of course the modern issue of copyright infringement…)

You might be wondering whether I’ve ever written any fanfiction of my own. Well, I have! Only, I hardly ever finish any. But today I’ve published a short Harry Potter fanfic on AO3, just for you! (And anyone else who comes across it.) It’s about a girl who wants to go to Hogwarts – only she’s a squib. You can read it here.

Do you read or write fanfiction? Do you have any favourites you’d like to share? If you’re a writer, feel free to recommend your own work!

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6 thoughts on “Divus Iulius

  1. I remember reading a lot of fanfiction of Naruto and Harry Potter when I was younger! But not so much now, I guess because I find everything I need in books nowadays! Like Carry On is the first that come to mind!

    I need to read The Gospel of Loki, it sounds awesome!!

    Liked by 1 person

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