The Cult of Silvanus

A Study in Roman Folk Religion


The author collects and analyzes the enormous epigraphic and archaeological evidence for the cult of Silvanus, the Roman god of agriculture and forests. Silvanus is an important focus of investigation because his private and popular character sets him apart from other deities of the state pantheon.
The Cult of Silvanus traces the origin, spread, development and final suppression of the cult. Silvanus' nature as a Roman god and his identification with indigenous deities in the provinces are carefully examined. The evidence for temples, priests, collegia and sacred groves is presented along with a detailed treatment of the god's adherents and iconography.
This study adds to our imperfect knowledge of Roman domestic religion as practised by the lower classes. It challenges the widely-held view that private cult was somehow subordinate or inferior to civic paganism.

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Peter F. Dorcey received his Ph.D. in Ancient History at Columbia University (1987). He published several articles on the cult of Silvanus.
'...this book is a most fascinating demonstration of the lively existence of a popular private cult alongside the official civic worship of gods and Emperor.'
Edgar C. Polomé, Journal of Indo-European Studies, 1995.
'Le livre de Peter F. Dorcey se caractérise par son érudition et une collecte quasi exhaustive des documents antiques concernant le dieu Silvanus ...Qui désire faire désormais une recherche sur Silvanus ne peut se passer de cette référence ...l'ouvrage de Peter F. Dorcy reste [...] un instrument de travail incomparable.'
Daniel Toulec, L'Antiquité, 1995.
Academic libraries, students of Roman history, Latin epigraphy, folklore, and comparative religion.
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