This is a list of notable people who were considered deities by themselves or others.
A deity is a supernatural being considered divine or sacred. The Oxford Dictionary of English defines deity as "a god or goddess ", or anything revered as divine. C. Scott Littleton defines a deity as "a being with powers greater than those of ordinary humans, but who interacts with humans, positively or negatively, in ways that carry humans to new levels of consciousness, beyond the grounded preoccupations of ordinary life". In the English language, a male deity is referred to as a god, while a female deity is referred to as a goddess.
|Pharaohs||3150 BCE–30 BCE||Egyptian pharaohs were kings of Ancient Egypt, and were considered gods by their culture. Their titles equated them with aspects of the likes of the hawk god Horus, the vulture goddess Nekhbet, and the cobra-goddess Wadjet. The Egyptians believed that when their Pharaoh died, he would continue to lead them in the next life, which is why his burial was grand and completed to perfection—to please him in the next life and ensure his immortality to protect his people. See List of pharaohs.|
|Japanese emperors||660 BCE–1945 CE||Claimed, at least by some Shintoists, including government officials, to be divine descendants of the goddess Amaterasu. Hirohito, the Shōwa emperor, repudiated the "false conception" of his divinity in the Humanity Declaration in 1945.|
|Chinese emperors||221 BCE–1911 CE||Deified as "Sons of Heaven" since the Qin Dynasty under Qin Shi Huang.|
|Roman emperors||42 BCE – 363 CE||Following Julius Caesar who in 42 BCE was formally deified as "the Divine Julius", and Caesar Augustus henceforth became Divi filius ("Son of the Divine One"), some (not all) Roman Emperors of the 1st to 4th centuries claimed divinity, including Tiberius 14–37, Caligula 37–41, Claudius 41–54, Hadrian 117–138, Commodus 161–192, Constantine I 306–312, Julian the Apostate 361–363|
|Natchez rulers||700 CE||The Natchez were a theocracy ruled by "The Great Sun." This ruler has sometimes been deemed a God-king.|
|The Sailendras||700 CE||The Sailendra dynasty of Java were active promoters of Mahayana Buddhism and covered the plains of Central Java with Buddhist monuments, including the world-famous Borobudur.|
|Majapahit kings||1293–1597||Javanese rulers of South East Asia's largest ever kingdom, in Indonesia. After death, they were depicted as Hindu gods (see for instance Raden Wijaya).|
|Dalai Lamas||1391–present||Considered re-incarnations of Avalokiteśvara in Tibetan Buddhism. Panchen Lamas are incarnations of Amitābha.|
|Inca emperors||1438||The Inca Emperors had a status very similar to that of the Pharaohs of Egypt.|
|Nepalese kings||1768–2008||In Nepal, the kings of the Shah dynasty were considered incarnations of Vishnu.|
|Gilgamesh||Sometime between 2800 BCE and 2500 BCE||Most historians generally agree that Gilgamesh was a historical king of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk, who probably ruled sometime during the early part of the Early Dynastic Period (c. 2900–2350 BCE). It is certain that, during the later Early Dynastic Period, Gilgamesh was worshipped as a god at various locations across Sumer. In the twenty-first century BCE, Utu-hengal, the king of Uruk adopted Gilgamesh as his patron deity. The kings of the Third Dynasty of Ur were especially fond of Gilgamesh, calling him their "divine brother" and "friend". During this period, a large number of myths and legends developed surrounding him. Probably during the Middle Babylonian Period (c. 1600 BCE – c. 1155 BCE), a scribe named Sîn-lēqi-unninni composed the Epic of Gilgamesh , an epic poem written in Akkadian narrating Gilgamesh's heroic exploits. The opening of the poem describes Gilgamesh as "one-third human, two-thirds divine".|
|Imhotep||2600 BCE||Ancient Egyptian architect and physician whose status, two thousand years after his death, was raised to that of a god, becoming the god of medicine and healing.|
|Queen Dido of Carthage||814 BCE||Founder and first queen of Carthage, after her death, she was deified by her people with the name of Tanit and assimilated to the Great Goddess Astarte (Roman Juno). The cult of Tanit survived Carthage's destruction by the Romans; it was introduced to Rome itself by Emperor Septimius Severus, himself born in North Africa. It was extinguished completely with the Theodosian decrees of the late 4th century.|
|Homer||8th century BCE||Venerated at Alexandria by Ptolemy IV Philopator.|
|Romulus and Remus||771–717 BCE||Founders of Rome, sons of Mars, Romulus served as first king. After his death, Romulus was defined as the god Quirinus, the divine persona of the Roman people. He is now regarded as a mythological figure, and his name a back-formation from the name Rome, which may ultimately derive from a word for "river". Some scholars, notably Andrea Carandini believe in the historicity of Romulus, in part because of the 1988 discovery of the Murus Romuli on the north slope of the Palatine Hill in Rome.|
|The Buddha||563 BCE (?)||Believed a god by some Mahayana sects, and worshipped as an avatar of Vishnu by some Vaishnavas.|
|Pythagoras of Samos||c. 570–495 BCE||Pythagoras was the eponymous founder of the religion of Pythagoreanism. A posthumous legend claimed that Pythagoras was the mortal incarnation of the "Hyperborean Apollo" and that he proved his divinity to Abaris the Hyperborean by showing him his golden thigh.|
|Hephaestion||356–324 BCE||Deified by Alexander the Great|
|Alexander the Great||356–323 BCE||Some believe he implied he was a demigod by actively using the title "Son of Ammon–Zeus". The title was bestowed upon him by Egyptian priests of the god Ammon at the Oracle of the god at the Siwah oasis in the Libyan Desert.|
|Jesus of Nazareth||1st century|
The Pauline epistles from the early second half of the 1st century CE offer the earliest references to Jesus as the Son of God (See Romans 1 for example). The First Council of Nicaea of 325 CE crystallized this notion in the Nicene creed and declared Jesus God Incarnate. Early Christian denominations with different christologies such as the Ebionites fell in popularity, and he is now considered divine in most Christian views of Jesus (God the Son in Trinitarian Christianity).
|Antinous||111–130 CE||Deified by Hadrian. He is the last non-Imperial human formally deified in Western civilization.|
|Mary, mother of Jesus||300 CE||In 300 CE she was worshipped as a Mother Goddess in the Christian sect Collyridianism, which was found throughout the Thrace. Collyridianism was made up mostly of women followers and female priests. Followers of Collyridianism were known to make bread and wheat offerings to the Virgin Mary, along with other sacrificial practices. The cult was heavily condemned as heretical and schismatic by other Christians and was preached against by Epiphanius of Salamis, who discussed the group in his recollective writings titled Panarion.|
|Guan Yu||581–618 CE||Guan Yu has been deified as early as the Sui Dynasty and is still popularly worshipped today among the Chinese people variedly as an indigenous Chinese deity, a bodhisattva in Buddhism and a guardian deity in Taoism. He is also held in high esteem in Confucianism. In Hong Kong both police and gangsters consider him a divine object of reverence. In certain schools of Taoism and Chinese Buddhism he has been deemed divine or semi-divine status. The reverence for him may date back to the Sui dynasty.|
|Ali||599–661 CE||According to the Alawite faith, Ali ibn Abi Talib is one member of a trinity (Ali-Muhammad-Salman the Persian) corresponding roughly to the Christian Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is considered the second emanation of God by Yarsan and the supreme deity in Ali-Illahism.|
|Sugawara no Michizane||845–903 CE||Japanese Imperial courtier banished from the capital and deified upon his death to appease his angry spirit. Worshipped as Tenjin, kami of scholarship.|
|Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah||985–1021 CE||Sixth Fatimid Caliph in Egypt, ruling from 996 to 1021. The members of the Druze faith believe that the Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah is the Mahdi. The Muslim scholar and early preacher Nashtakin ad-Darazi claimed that the Caliph was God incarnate. Because of that he was executed by Al-Hakim who did not proclaim he that he was God. The druze today do reject Ad-Darazi's preaching completely|
|Tokugawa Ieyasu||1616||Deified posthumously with the name Tōshō Daigongen by his successors.|
|Gauchito Gil||1840s, allegedly 1847||Venerated as a Folk saint and deity in Argentina.|
|George Washington||1865||Worshipped as a kami in Hawaiian Shinto shrines. In the United States Capitol dome, he is also depicted ascending into Heaven and becoming a god, in the famous painting called The Apotheosis of Washington .|
|Kanichi Otsuka||1891||Shinreikyo states of its founder "God became one with a human body, appeared among humanity, and founded Shinreikyo."|
|L. L. Zamenhof||20th century||Considered a god by members of the Oomoto religion.|
|José Rizal||20th century||Deified by some people in the Philippines due to his contributions to the Philippine Revolution.|
|Wallace Fard Muhammad||20th century||Posthumously (?) deified by Elijah Muhammad. He is also given other titles by the Nation of Islam.|
|Mother Teresa||1997||Worshipped as a Hindu goddess by some inhabitants of Kolkata.|
|Ezra||458 BC||Ezra established Second Temple Judaism and is regarded as a very important figure in Judaism. The Quran claims that a group of Jews, often interpreted as the Yemenite Jews, believed Uzair was the son of God.[Quran 9:30]|
|Antiochus II Theos||286–246 BCE||Seleucid ruler. The younger son of Antiochus I and Stratonice, succeeded his father in 261. He liberated Ephesus, Ionia, Cilicia and Pamphylia from Egyptian domination, and in return for their autonomy the cities of Asia Minor gave him the title Theos ("God").|
|Paul the Apostle and Barnabas||Autumn 49 CE||According to a story recorded in the Book of Acts 14:8–18 , the apostle Paul and his companion Barnabas healed a crippled man in the street in the town of Lystra in Asia Minor, during Paul's second missionary journey. The townsfolk immediately mistook them for the Greek gods Hermes and Zeus respectively and attempted to offer sacrifices to them.|
|Zheng He||1371–1433||Worshipped by some Chinese and South East Asians.|
|Kumari||~17th century–present||These are little girls who are worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists as the incarnation of the Hindu Goddess Durga (Nepali Taleju) in Nepal. They are picked when they are prepubescent and are worshipped until they reach puberty. Their cult is in South Asian countries, especially in Nepal.|
|John Nicholson||19th century||Inspired the cult of Nikal Seyn.|
|Jiddu Krishnamurti||1909||Renounced the status of messiah and Maitreya incarnation given him by the Theosophical Society.|
|Haile Selassie I||1930s||Among most followers of the Rastafari movement, Haile Selassie is seen as the second coming of Jesus Christ, God incarnate, the Black Messiah and "Earth's Rightful Ruler" who will also lead African peoples to freedom. Rastas say that his imperial titles (i.e. King of Kings, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and Root of David) were prophesied as belonging to the returned Messiah in Revelation 5:5. Their faith in his divinity first appeared in Jamaica, soon after his 1930 coronation in Addis Ababa. Before his coronation he was called Ras (meaning Prince) Tafari.|
|Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh||1950s~1960s||Considered a god in the village of Yaohnanen, a cargo cult in Vanuatu. See Prince Philip Movement.|
|Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson||1990s||While considered the messiah by most of his followers following his death in 1994, one group has deified him.|
|Diego Maradona||1998||Iglesia Maradoniana was formed by an Argentinian group of fans of the association football player Diego Armando Maradona. The adherents will baptize themselves by slapping a football, this being a reference to the 1986 "Hand of God" goal.|
|Raj Patel||2010||In January 2010 some adherents of Share International, following an announcement by Benjamin Creme, concluded that Patel could be the Maitreya. Patel has denied being the Maitreya.|
|Naram-Sin||2255–2119 BCE||The first Mesopotamian king to claim divinity.|
|Empedocles of Acragas||c. 490 – c. 430 BCE||Empedocles of Acragas was a Pre-Socratic philosopher from the island of Sicily, who, in one of his surviving poems, declares himself to have become a "divine being... no longer mortal", followed by descriptions of him performing activities normally reserved for the gods. The later historian Diogenes Laërtius claimed that Empedocles committed suicide by jumping into Mount Etna in order to persuade people that he was an immortal god, a legend which is also alluded to by the Roman poet Horace.|
|Pharnavaz I of Iberia||326–234 BCE||Iberian king (r. 299–234 BCE)|
|Antiochus IV Epiphanes||215–164 BCE||Seleucid ruler (r. 175–164); the only Seleucid king to claim divine honors, calling himself Theos Epiphaneus "God Manifest" and Nikephoros "Bringer of Victory." Nearly conquered Ptolemaic Egypt, the primary rival of the Seleucids among the Diadochi states. Famously attempted to impose ancient Greek religion on the Jews by persecution, leading to the Maccabean Revolt; remembered as a major persecutor in Jewish tradition.|
|Antiochus I Theos||c. 86 BCE–38 BCE||King of Commagene who instituted a cult for himself and several syncretistic Graeco-Persian deities at Mount Nemrud and elsewhere.|
|Jesus||1st century||The Gospel of John (dating from the late 1st century or 2nd century CE) reports him as hinting at, or claiming to be God in passages such as John 10:30, and John 14:9 .|
|Simon Magus||1st century||Considered a god in Simonianism. According to Irenaeus, he "was glorified by many as if he were a god; and he taught that it was himself who appeared among the Jews as the Son, but descended in Samaria as the Father while he came to other nations in the character of the Holy Spirit. He represented himself, in a word, as being the loftiest of all powers, that is, the Being who is the Father over all, and he allowed himself to be called by whatsoever title men were pleased to address him."|
|Veleda||1st century||Germanic prophetess considered a deity during her lifetime.|
|Ismail I||16th century||Self-claimed to be an emanation of God and was considered such by the Kızılbaş-Safaviya order, Qizilbash-Turkman subjects and Alevis.|
|Danila Filippovich||1700||He believed that he was God and started the Khlysts. (There are various transliterations of his name including Danila Filipov, Danila Filipich, and Daniil Filippovich.)|
|Kondratii Selivanov||1780s||Kondraty Selivanov proclaimed himself both as the late Peter III of Russia and Christ himself, and started the Skoptsy.|
|Ghanshyam Pandey||1781–1830||Guru and God of the Swaminarayan Sect. His followers consider him to be the most supreme of all gods (Sarvopari) and the original god who gives Powers to All including the prime Hindu gods:- Krishna, Shiva, Durga, Ganesh and Surya.|
Some of his major disciples are accused of interpolating the original Sanskrit texts and for deliberate mistranslations of ancient Hindu scriptures inorder to prove Ghanshyam Pandey as the supreme god; degrading the original Hindu gods.
|Hong Xiuquan||19th century||Chinese man who claimed he was the younger brother of Jesus, and thus a son of God. Led the Taiping Rebellion, conquering a large part of China before defeat and suicide.|
|Aleister Crowley||1904||British ceremonial magician who created the religion of Thelema and presented himself as the avatar of Heru-ra-ha. Claimed that Christianity would be replaced by "Crowleyanity".|
|Dios Buhawi||~1887||Philippine shaman who called himself "God Whirlwind."|
|Father Divine||~20th century||His followers considered him God in the flesh.|
|Taher Saifuddin||20th century||Claimed to be Ilah'ul-Ard (God on Earth) in Bombay High Court.|
|Lou de Palingboer||20th century||A divorced Dutchman named Louwrens Voorthuijzen who proclaimed himself "Lou the Eel Vendor", this being the translation of his proclaimed name "Lou de Palingboer". He was a figure who mixed marketing European eels with proselytism. His followers also considered him a living God on a mission against evil.|
|Jehovah Wanyonyi||20th century||"I am the one who created Adam and Eve. I made their bodies and their blood", […] "I still use human beings by speaking through them, like I spoke through Jesus Christ until he went to Heaven." There are between 120 and a 1000 followers who consider him God.|
|Sathya Sai Baba||20th century||Hindu guru that followers believed was a reincarnation of an avatar of Dattatreya. He alleged that he had the ability to heal, raise the dead, appear in more than one location at the same time, materialize objects, such as jewellery, etc.|
|Yahweh ben Yahweh||20th century||He was born as Hulon Mitchell, Jr. and his self-proclaimed name means "God, Son of God." He could have only been deeming himself son of God, not God, but many of his followers clearly consider him God Incarnate.|
|Mitsuo Matayoshi||20th century||In 1997 he established the World Economic Community Party (世界経済共同体党) based on his conviction that he is the God and Christ.|
|Meher Baba||~1930||An Indian spiritual master who said he was the Avatar, God in human form.|
|Mita||~1940||According to the Mita faith, Mita (Peraza) was the incarnation of the Holy Ghost on earth.|
|Jim Jones||1955||Founder of Peoples Temple, which started off as a part of a mainstream Protestant denomination before becoming a personality cult as time went on. One of Jones's devotees claimed that Jones said "If you see me as your savior, I'll be your savior. If you see me as your God, I'll be your God"; however Jones also described himself as atheist.|
|Vissarion||1961||Claims to be Jesus Christ returned, which makes him not "God" but the "word of God".|
|Nirmala Srivastava||1970||Guru and goddess of Sahaja Yoga, has proclaimed herself the incarnation of the Holy Ghost (Adi Shakti), claimed that all other incarnations (e.g., Krishna, Christ, etc.) were aspects of her.|
|Francisco Macías Nguema||1978||In 1978, he changed the motto of Equatorial Guinea to "There is no other God than Macias Nguema."|
|Apollo Quiboloy||1985||Calls himself as the "Appointed Son of God" in his own Restorationist church called the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.|
|Joseph Kony||1987||Proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium, and has been considered by some as a cult of personality, and claims he is visited by a multinational host of 13 spirits, including a Chinese phantom.|
Advaita Vedanta, originally known as Puruṣavāda, is a school of Hindu philosophy, and believed to be one of the classic paths to spiritual realization in Hindu tradition. The term Advaita refers to its idea that the true self, Atman, is the same as the highest metaphysical Reality (Brahman). The followers of this school are known as Advaita Vedantins, or just Advaitins or Mayavadins, and they seek spiritual liberation through acquiring vidyā, meaning knowledge, of one's true identity as Atman, and the identity of Atman and Brahman.
Apotheosis is the glorification of a subject to divine level and most commonly, the treatment of a human like a god. The term has meanings in theology, where it refers to a belief, and in art, where it refers to a genre.
Arahitogami (現人神) is a Japanese word meaning a kami who is a human being. It first appears in the Nihon Shoki as a words of Yamato Takeru saying "I am a son of Arahitokami".
Ancient Egyptian religion was a complex system of polytheistic beliefs and rituals that formed an integral part of ancient Egyptian society. It centered on the Egyptians' interaction with many deities believed to be present in, and in control of, the world. Rituals such as prayer and offerings were provided to the gods to gain their favor. Formal religious practice centered on the pharaohs, the rulers of Egypt, believed to possess a divine power by virtue of their position. They acted as intermediaries between their people and the gods, and were obligated to sustain the gods through rituals and offerings so that they could maintain Ma'at, the order of the cosmos. The state dedicated enormous resources to religious rituals and to the construction of temples.
Varuna is a Vedic deity associated initially with the sky, later also with the seas as well as Ṛta (justice) and Satya (truth). He is found in the oldest layer of Vedic literature of Hinduism, such as hymn 7.86 of the Rigveda. He is also mentioned in the Tamil grammar work Tolkāppiyam, as the god of sea and rain.
Yahweh was the national god of the Iron Age kingdoms of Israel (Samaria) and Judah. His exact origins are disputed, although they reach back to the early Iron Age and even the Late Bronze: his name may have begun as an epithet of El, head of the Bronze Age Canaanite pantheon, but the earliest plausible mentions of Yahweh are in ancient Egyptian texts that refer to a similar-sounding place name associated with the Shasu nomads of the southern Transjordan. Some scholars believe that Yahweh was originally thought to be one of the seventy sons of El, who later killed his siblings and displaced his father El at the head of the Israelite pantheon.
Amunet is a primordial goddess in ancient Egyptian religion.
Min is an ancient Egyptian god whose cult originated in the predynastic period. He was represented in many different forms, but was most often represented in male human form, shown with an erect penis which he holds in his left hand and an upheld right arm holding a flail. As Khem or Min, he was the god of reproduction; as Khnum, he was the creator of all things, "the maker of gods and men".
Mut, also known as Maut and Mout, was a mother goddess worshipped in ancient Egypt. Her name literally means mother in the ancient Egyptian language. Mut had many different aspects and attributes that changed and evolved a lot over the thousands of years of ancient Egyptian culture.
An imperial cult is a form of state religion in which an emperor or a dynasty of emperors are worshipped as demigods or deities. "Cult" here is used to mean "worship", not in the modern pejorative sense. The cult may be one of personality in the case of a newly arisen Euhemerus figure, or one of national identity or supranational identity in the case of a multi-ethnic state. A divine king is a monarch who is held in a special religious significance by his subjects, and serves as both head of state and a deity or head religious figure. This system of government combines theocracy with an absolute monarchy.
In many historical societies, the position of kingship carries a sacral meaning, that is, it is identical with that of a high priest and judge. The concept of theocracy is related, although a sacred king need not necessarily rule through his religious authority; rather, the temporal position has a religious significance.
A demigod or demi-god is a minor deity, or a mortal or immortal who is the offspring of a god and a human, or a figure who has attained divine status after death.
Atenism, or the "Amarna heresy", refers to the religious changes associated with the eighteenth dynasty Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, better known under his adopted name, Akhenaten. In the 14th century BC, Atenism was Egypt's state religion for around 20 years, before subsequent rulers returned to the traditional gods and the Pharaohs associated with Atenism were erased from Egyptian records.
Ancient Semitic religion encompasses the polytheistic religions of the Semitic peoples from the ancient Near East and Northeast Africa. Since the term Semitic itself represents a rough category when referring to cultures, as opposed to languages, the definitive bounds of the term "ancient Semitic religion" are only approximate.
Ancient Egyptian deities are the gods and goddesses worshipped in ancient Egypt. The beliefs and rituals surrounding these gods formed the core of ancient Egyptian religion, which emerged sometime in prehistory. Deities represented natural forces and phenomena, and the Egyptians supported and appeased them through offerings and rituals so that these forces would continue to function according to maat, or divine order. After the founding of the Egyptian state around 3100 BC, the authority to perform these tasks was controlled by the pharaoh, who claimed to be the gods' representative and managed the temples where the rituals were carried out.
Ra or Re is the ancient Egyptian deity of the sun. By the Fifth Dynasty in the 25th and 24th centuries BC, he had become one of the most important gods in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the noon sun. Ra was believed to rule in all parts of the created world: the sky, the Earth, and the underworld. He was the god of the sun, order, kings, and the sky.
Historical ceremonies of introducing a new monarch by a ceremony of coronation can be traced to classical antiquity, and further to the Ancient Near East.
Chinese traditional religion is polytheistic; many deities are worshipped in a pantheistic view where divinity is inherent in the world. The gods are energies or principles revealing, imitating and propagating the way of Heaven, which is the supreme godhead manifesting in the northern culmen of the starry vault of the skies and its order. Many gods are ancestors or men who became deities for their heavenly achievements; most gods are also identified with stars and constellations. Ancestors are regarded as the equivalent of Heaven within human society, and therefore as the means connecting back to Heaven, which is the "utmost ancestral father".