As an apotheosis, the deification or glorification of a man, that is to say mortal, is called God or even half-God. It was customary, especially in antiquity, to explain living rulers to divinity, which sometimes legitimized legitimate rule. In ancient times a ceremony, which explains the mortal to God, is called an apotheosis. The apotheosis stands opposite the reincarnation, which means the rebirth of a saint or god.
The term can be derived from ancient Greek (ἀποθέωσις) and translated with deification. Consequently, the translation already refers to the fundamental point: either to raise the human being to the circle of the gods, or to deify a person. Let us look at an example from the fine arts, which shows the Greek poet Homer.
The apotheosis in art
Note: The Apotheosis of Homer, 3.86 mx 5.12 m (Louvre), 1827, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
The painting is The Apotheosis of Homer by the French painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, completed in 1827 and probably one of the best known and most significant works by the artist. In the center of the picture, the Greek poet Homer sits in the midst of a large body of well-known personalities. At his feet are the allegorical representations of his most important writings (left woman: Ilias, right woman: Odyssey) in green and orange gown.
On this painting are other poets (eg Virgil), visual artists (eg Raphael) as well as many other luminaries from all epochs of the time. In the left foreground are Mozart, Shakespeare and Torquato Tasso. On the background of the temple, the lettering OMHPOE can be seen, that is, the modern Greek name for the poet Homer.
Homer himself sits between the concentrated knowledge of European culture and is chosen by an angel or the goddess of victory Nike with a laurel wreath. He is thus elevated to a God in the image, which is reminiscent of the father of the gods, Zeus. Thus the title of the work, as well as the depicted, points to the clear apotheosis of Homer: the deification of the human.
Apotheosis in antiquity and antiquity
The apotheosis can be traced back to early antiquity, where it was believed that important personalities would become gods and be revered accordingly. The idolatry of man can be felt, however, especially among the ancient Greeks and Romans.
The Greeks often adored the heresy of various heroes after their demise, which had made their mark on the land, and the founders of colonies or cities. From this cult, it became clear that some rulers had already attained the divine dignity during their lifetime and were revered.
Among the Romans it was probable that Romulus Augustulus, who had the honor of such a solemn apotheosis, was the first to be followed by a new nationalist. It was not until Julius Caesar that a ruler to the god, who was revered under the name of Divus Iulius, was declared to be the highest god of the ancient Rome.
An essential thought of the apotheosis during a man’s lifetime was that a God who walks among men would look even more upon them than a simple ruler. The Augustine, the first Roman Emperor, was the great nephew of the idolized Caesar. He was regarded as more powerful and sacred than his contemporaries.
After Augustus all the emperors claimed solemn apotheosis-the Emperor Vespasian being exempted. The apotheosis was usually assigned and approved in a kind of senate decision. On artistic representations, this is usually depicted in such a way that the corresponding person glides to heaven or is crowned between other gods. Emperors often fly on eagles, empresses on peacocks.
Note: Of course there are still such forms of deification, even if there was a cult, especially in antiquity. Nevertheless, in the last few centuries Napoleon’s apotheosis by B. Thorvaldsen (sculptor) and Kaiser Wilhelm von F. Keller (painter)
Apotheosis in art, literature and theater
As indicated above, significant personalities were often a subject of art and were partly glorified and depicted with divine attributes. But the deification of the human being also plays a role in literature and theater. Very many ancient dramas end with the apotheosis.
The birds can be used by Aristophanes, a Greek comedic poet. The content is quickly summarized. Peithetairos suggests to the birds that this is a city between the two