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The Roman Cult of the Dead and the Drusus Stone

The Drusus StoneImagine this eerie scenario which occurred in Mainz almost 2,000 years ago: a mystical aura lies over this Roman city when by night Roman soldiers in full armor draw close to the flames of a huge fire, placing sacrificial gifts of captured booty and weapons at its base. Mourning wails fill the air while the fire’s flickering flames cast spooky shadows on the monument nearby. That is pretty much the way things went at the annual death cult ceremonies honoring General Drusus, who was a step-son of Emperor Augustus.

Distinguished in battle, this brave commander found his end in 9 A.D. on returning from conquests of German territories along the Elbe River.

He succumbed following an accident, still very young. In reverence of his memory, his troops stationed in Mogontiacum (Mainz) erected a memorial, the Drusus Stone. Remnants of this can be found today on the Citadel.

Zu sehen ist der Drususstein auf der Zitadelle, ein Ehrenmal für den während eines Eroberungszugs gestorbenen Feldherren Drusus.In the year 13 B.C. Drusus laid the foundation for the military encampment directly across from the mouth of the River Main at its confluence with the Rhine. From here he would venture forth to conquer the German lands on the opposite side of the river.

The Roman historian Cassius Dio described the successful conqueror as “…a youth, possessed of so many and such high virtues, as only a mortal human nature could encompass and favor… and be able to develop with industry and application. “


The Drusus Stone rests on the grounds of the historic Citadel on the Jakobsberg close to the ancient Roman theater complex.