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Elevation to the status of a god. The term recognizes that some individuals cross the dividing line between human and divine. Ancient Greek religion was disposed to belief in heroes and demigods, and historical figures were sometimes worshiped as gods. Until the end of the republic the Romans accepted only one apotheosis, identifying the god Quirinus with Romulus. The emperor Augustus ordered Julius Caesar recognized as a god and thus began a tradition of deifying emperors.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on apotheosis, visit Britannica.com.