Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Apotheosis, the deification of a mortal, either by ascribing to him divine ancestry or by actual enrolment among the gods, though these two conditions are often found together, as in the case of Romulus: -

"Born from a god, himself to godhead born,

His sire already signs him for the skies.

And makes his seat amidst the, deities."

Under the first head fall the demigods of classic mythology, and the sacred sovereigns of ancient Peru, China, and Japan, the fancied descendants of the Sun or Moon. The best instances of the latter form are historical. In Egypt the Pharaohs and the Ptolemies were venerated, and Alexander claimed to be a son of the Zeus who, clothed with a ram's skin, showed himself to Herakles. Suetonius tells how Julius Caesar was deified after death, not merely by a formal decree, but "by the firm belief of the common people;" and how, when the body of Augustus was burning, "a man of praetorian rank swore that he had seen the shade of the emperor ascending up into heaven." Thus the custom was introduced that on the decease of every emperor the Senate should place him in the number of the gods, and the ceremonies of his deification were blended with those of his funeral. There are two noteworthy developments of apotheosis: (1) Hagiolatry (q.v.) as practised in the Roman, Greek, and African Churches (with the curious modification of it in the cult of the Positivists) (q.v.); and (2) the belief that "Divinity doth hedge a king," and to this belief, in its turn, are due the doctrines of passive obedience and "the right divine of kings to govern wrong." The term is used figuratively to signify excessive honour paid to any distinguished person, or the personification of a principle or idea.