Because of his feats of defeating the Gauls and ending the Roman Civil War, Julius Caesar was considered an “unconquered God.” Moreover, the Roman Senate decreed him to be a Cult Image (Simulacrum) with Mark Antony as his priest (the Flamen of the Divus Julius). As a simulacrum, Caesar’s picture would be carried in a procession with the Gods. Since he reformed the Roman calendar, the Senate added also a new month – July – for Caesar. Just before his assassination, Caesar was named parens patriae – Father of the Fatherland.
After his death, people claimed that Caesar answered their prayers for healing. At his funeral cremation (Note 1), Romans demanded that he be made an official God. Moreover, they threw their clothes, valuables, and weapons into the funeral pyre as offerings. Later at Caesar’s funeral games, a comet (Note 2) was visible in the daylight for seven days. This was proof to everyone that Caesar had ascended to Godhood.
Later, a temple was built on the site of Caesar’s cremation. Unusual for any temple, the Temple of the Comet Star had the right of asylum for anyone seeking refuge. Also, it contained the Rostra Aedis Divi Ioli for the emperors to give their official speeches at. Long after the temple fell into ruins, people continue to leave offerings there. Even today, cut flowers can be found at the site of the temple in Rome.
Divus Julius entered my life when I was studying “Caesar’s Gallic Wars.” The crisp, clean prose drew me in, and I felt his presence in the words. Later, this God appeared when I needed courage to follow through on a difficult experience. Because of his intervention, I emerged victorious. For that, on the Ides of March, I make offerings to Divus Julius.
Note 1. A cremation within the ceremonial area of Rome was unusual.
Note 2. The comet was called “sidus Iolium,” the Julian Star.