AskDefine | Define apotheosis

Dictionary Definition



1 model of excellence or perfection of a kind; one having no equal [syn: ideal, paragon, nonpareil, saint, nonesuch, nonsuch]
2 the elevation of a person (as to the status of a god) [syn: deification, exaltation] [also: apotheoses (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



From , from verb "deify" (factitive verb formed from θεός "God" with intensive prefix -)


  • a RP /əˌpɒθ.iˈəʊ.sɪs/|/ˌæp.ə.θiˈəʊ.sɪs/
  • a US /əˌpɑː.θiˈoʊ.sɪs/
  • Rhymes with: -əʊsɪs


  1. glorification, sometimes to a divine level; deification; crediting a person with god-like power.
  2. A glorified example, the apex of perfection.
    The restaurant sought to be the apotheosis of the regional cuisine.
  3. Becoming a deity.
    In mythology many heroes underwent apotheosis to become gods.
  4. Specifically the event where Hercules became a deity and ascended to Mt. Olympos.


  • 1974 — Per Lord Hailsham in Smedleys Ltd v Breed [1974]2 All ER 21(HL) at 24.
    Unfortunately, and without any fault or negligence on the part of the management of either company, when Mrs Voss got home, she discovered that the tin, in addition to something more than 150 peas, contained a green caterpillar, the larva of one of the species of hawk moth. This innocent insect, thus deprived of its natural destiny, was in fact entirely harmless, since prior to its entry into the tin, it had been subjected to a cooking process of 20 minutes duration at 250 degrees F, and, had she cared to do so, Mrs Voss could have consumed the caterpillar without injury to herself, and even, perhaps, with benefit. She was not, however, to know this, and with commendable civic zeal, she felt it her duty to report the matter to the local authority, and in consequence, grinding slow, but exceeding small, the machinery of the law was set in inexorable motion. 'Thereafter, the caterpillar achieved a sort of posthumous apotheosis. From local authority to the Dorchester magistrates, from the Dorchester magistrates to a Divisional Court presided over by the Lord Chief Justice of England, from the Lord Chief Justice to the House of Lords, the immolated insect has at length plodded its methodical way to the highest tribunal in the land. It now falls to me to deliver my opinion on its case.



Extensive Definition

see Divinization for disambiguation.
Apotheosis (from Greek ἀποθεόω "to deify"), deification or divinization is the glorification of an individual to a divine level.


Prior to the Hellenistic period, imperial cults were known in Ancient Egypt (pharaohs) and Mesopotamia (since Naram-Sin). From the New Kingdom, all deceased were deified as Osiris.

Hellenistic Greece

In the Greek and Hellenistic world, state leaders might be raised to the gods before (e.g., Alexander the Great) or after (e.g., the Ptolemaic dynasty) death. It was also an honour given to a few revered artists, such as Homer.
Greek hero-cults were primarily civic rather than familial, in that none of the worshipers traced their descent back to the hero. The cults were distinct on the other hand from the Roman cult of dead emperors, because the hero was not thought of as having ascended to Olympus or become a god: he was beneath the earth, and his power purely local. For this reason hero cults were chthonic in nature, and their rituals more closely resembled those for Hecate and Persephone than those for Zeus and Apollo. Two exceptions were Heracles and Asclepius, who might be honored as either gods or heroes.

Ancient Rome

Apotheosis in ancient Rome was a process whereby a deceased ruler was recognized to be divine by his successor, usually also by a decree of the Senate or popular consent. In addition to showing respect, often the successor deified his popular predecessor to legitimize himself. The upper-class, in fact, did not always take part in the cult and some secretly ridiculed the apotheosis of inept and feeble emperors.
At the height of imperial cult worship during the Roman Empire, sometimes the emperor's deceased loved ones--heirs, empresses, or lovers--were deified as well. Deified people were awarded posthumously with the prefix Divus (Diva if women) to their names to signify their divinity. Temples and columns were sometimes erected to provide a space for worship.


Trinitarian Christianity asserts that Jesus Christ is the Son or Word of God, and as such is God Himself revealed. It explicitly rejects the idea that Jesus became divine, and teaches instead that God became man (that is, he obtained human nature and united it to himself, not that he was changed into a man). The mystical theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church teaches theosis, the doctrine that men enter into the life of the Holy Trinity through Jesus Christ, to be healed of sinfulness, by participation in the love that exists eternally between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: and in this sense "men may become God". This is regarded in Orthodox theology, and all Trinitarianism, to be antithetical to apotheosis.

External links

commons Apotheosis
apotheosis in Danish: Apoteose
apotheosis in German: Apotheose
apotheosis in Spanish: Apoteosis
apotheosis in French: Apothéose
apotheosis in Hindi: देवीकरण
apotheosis in Italian: Apoteosi
apotheosis in Hungarian: Apoteózis
apotheosis in Dutch: Apotheose
apotheosis in Norwegian: Apoteose
apotheosis in Polish: Apoteoza
apotheosis in Russian: Апофеоз
apotheosis in Finnish: Apoteoosi
apotheosis in Ukrainian: Апофеоз
apotheosis in Chinese: 造神運動

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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