In ancient Rome, the gods were not the only entities worshipped by citizens.
While he was alive, Julius Caesar had already tried to establish the cult of the emperor, but the perfection of the liturgy came only with the proclamation of Octavius as Augustus in 27 BC, whose veneration is testified in Agrigentum by some marble bases with inscriptions dedicated to his adopted sons, Lucius Caesar and Gaius Caesar.
Thanks to the inscriptions, we can assume the presence of flamines and Augustales in the city, the guardians of the sacred flame and the priests of the emperor’s cult respectively.
The Augustales in particular had an annual term of office and after their appointment continued to keep the title: they formed a real caste, composed of six people in office in the municipalities of the Empire, a status that Agrigento had reached in 22 BC during the reorganisation of Sicily by Augustus.
The cult included the veneration of the emperor’s genius while he was still alive – for most Roman citizens, in fact, it was hard to imagine the adoration of a living person – followed by the deificatio, the act by which the senate proclaimed the deification of the emperor after his death, which began religious veneration in the strict sense, with the institution of holidays on the day of the emperor’s birth and the building of temples in his honour.