This is a list of those notable human beings who were considered deities by themselves or others. The list distinguishes people who claimed divinity or were worshipped as deities during their lifetimes, and examples of individuals who were deified posthumously (hero cult)..
Apotheosis means divinization or deification, usually posthumously.
Imperial cults are religions in which an Emperor, or a dynasty of emperors (or rulers of another title), are worshiped as demigods or deities.
Hero cults involved the deification of selected historical individuals.
Personality cults, modern-day versions of Imperial cults most often used by dictatorships.
Other contemporary religions with a following larger than one million which deify historical individuals include Tibetan Buddhism (Lamas) and Shinto (Tennos). Although this is controversial as Buddhism technically advocates against any deification.
Euhemerism is the historical position that all gods were human, reducing theism to ancestor worship.
Egyptian pharaohs were kings of Ancient Egypt, and were considered by their culture to be gods. 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 had 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.
The first Mesopotamian king to claim divinity.
221 BCE – 1911 CE
Deified as "Son of Heaven" since the Qin Dynasty under Qin Shi Huang.
42 BCE –363 CE
Following Julius Caesar who in 42 BCE was formally deified as "the Divine Julius" (Divus Iulius), 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
660 BCE –
Claimed, at least by some Shintoists, including government officials, to be divine descendants of the goddess Amaterasu. Hirohito, the Showa emperor, repudiated this "false conception" in the Ningen-sengen in 1945.
The Natchez were a theocracy ruled by "The Great Sun." This ruler has sometimes been deemed a God-king.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Considered a god in Simonianism. According to Justin Martyr: "There was a Samaritan, Simon, a native of the village called Gitto, who in the reign of Claudius Caesar, and in your royal city of Rome, did mighty acts of magic, by virtue of the art of the devils operating in him. He was considered a god, ..."
Deified by Hadrian. He is the last non-Imperial human to be formally deified in Western Civilization.
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 to be 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.
Deified by some people in the Philippines due to his contributions to the Philippine Revolution.
Wallace D. Fard
~1877 – ~1934
Posthumously (?) deified by Elijah Muhammad . He is also given other titles by the Nation of Islam.
Shinreikyo states of its founder "God became one with a human body, appeared among humanity, and founded Shinreikyo."
Worshiped 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. Followers of the new religious movement Washingtonism worship him as a divine person (a God).
Antiochus II Theos
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").
Among most followers of the Rastafari movement, Haile Selassie is seen as God incarnate, the Black Messiah and "Earth's Rightful Ruler" who will also lead African peoples to freedom. Rastas say that his royal 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 Revelation5:5. 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 of Greece and Denmark, Duke of Edinburgh
These are little girls who are worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists as the incarnation of the Hindu goddessDurga (in Nepal, Taleju). They are picked when they are prepubescent and are worshipped until they reach puberty. Their cult is in South Asian countries, such as Nepal. See Kumari (children)
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Seleucid ruler (reigned 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.
Germanic prophetess considered a deity during her lifetime.
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)
Chinese man who claimed to be 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.
Was considered by his followers to be "God in the flesh"
Juanita Peraza (Mita)
According to the Mita faith, Mita (Peraza) was the incarnation of the Holy Ghost on earth.
Lou de Palingboer
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.
Founder of People's Temple, which started off as an offshoot of a mainstream Protestant sect before becoming a personality cult as time went on.
Yahweh ben Yahweh
He was born as Hulon Mitchell, Jr. and his self-proclaimed name means "God, Son of God." He could have only been deeming himself to be "son of God", not God, but many of his followers clearly deem him to be God Incarnate.
Guru and goddess of Sahaja Yoga, has proclaimed herself to be the incarnation of the Holy Ghost (Adi Shakti), claimed that all other incarnations (e.g. Krishna, Christ, etc.) were aspects of her.
"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
Hindu guru believed to be a reincarnation of an avatar of Dattatreya by his followers. He alleged that he had the ability to materialize objects, such as jewellery, etc.
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.
Claims to be Maitreya, messenger of the "Elohim" (who are in fact ancient astronauts)
Claims to be Jesus Christ returned, which makes him not "God" but the "word of God"
Hogue, John Messiahs: The Visions and Prophecies for the Second Coming (1999) Elements Books []
↑The king had a superhuman role, being a manifestation of a god or of various deities on earth. The king's principle original title, the Horus name, proclaimed that he was an aspect of one of the chief gods, Horus, a sky god who was depicted as a falcon. Other identifications were added to this one, notably, "Son of Re [the sun god]" and "Perfect God," both introduced during the 4th dynasty (c. 2575–2465 BC), when the great pyramids were constructed. The epithet "Son of Re" placed the king in a close but dependent relation with the leading figure of the pantheon.Merriam-Webster (1999). Encyclopedia of World Religions (Hardcover). Merriam Webster, Incorporated. ISBN978-0-87779-044-0.
↑Hirohito's 1945 Declaration in Japanese and English: "The ties between Us and Our people have always stood upon mutual trust and affection. They do not depend upon mere legends and myths. They are not predicated on the false conception that the Emperor is divine, and that the Japanese people are superior to other races and fated to rule the world."
↑The community leader would be called the Great Sun. Natchez social organization was based on the relationship of community members to the Great Sun. In the 17th century, French explorers and colonists met this leader, who lived in a large house on the top of a platform mound at the site that is now preserved by the State of Mississippi as the Grand Village of the Natchez. The Great Sun enjoyed the status of a living god 
↑"Patrons of Buddhism, the Sailendras during the height of their power in central Java constructed impressive monuments and temple complexes, the best known of which is the Borobudur on the Kedu Plain" (quoted from Hall 1985:109).
↑Carandini. La nascita di Roma. Dèi, lari, eroi e uomini all'alba di una civiltà (Torino: Einaudi, 1997) and Carandini. Remo e Romolo. Dai rioni dei Quiriti alla città dei Romani (775/750 – 700/675 a. C. circa) (Torino: Einaudi, 2006)
↑Not the least of the many extraordinary facts about Alexander is that both in his lifetime and after his death he was worshipped as a god, by Greeks and Ancient Macedonians as well as, for example, Egyptians (to whom he was Pharaoh). The episode that led to Callisthenes' death in 327 was connected to this fact. Greeks and Ancient Macedonians believed that formal obeisance should be paid only to gods. So the refusal of his Greek and Macedonian courtiers to pay it to Alexander implied that they, at any rate, did not believe he genuinely was a living god, at least not in the same sense as Zeus or Dionysus were. Alexander, regardless, did nothing to discourage the view that he really was divine. His claim to divine birth, not merely divine descent, was part of a total self-promotional package, which included the striking of silver medallions in India depicting him with the attributes of Zeus. Through sheer force of personality and magnitude of achievement he won over large numbers of ordinary Greeks and Macedonians to share this view of himself, and to act on it by devoting shrines to his cult.Cartledge, Paul (2004). "Alexander the Great". History Today54: 1.
↑"The Honorable Elijah Muhammad identified the Master as being the answer to the one that the world had been expecting for the past 2,000 years under the names Messiah, the second coming of Jesus, the Christ, Jehovah, God, and the Son of Man."NOI.org quoting Elijah Muhammad
↑"When I sat cross-legged by myself just like the great statue of the Buddha in Nara, I felt that the earth, about the size of a watermelon, was underneath me and I could see the other me walking about on it. I experience the real "me" looking down at the other "me" on this small planet. I was and understood everything on this earth (Shinreikyo History:5). Religious movements home page on the website of the University of Virginia. This entry was written by Jeffrey Hadden.
↑Washingtonism was founded in 2014 by a young American woman who goes by the name "Adrienne". Believers of the Washingtonism faith consider George Washington to be a Christ figure and a human manifestation of Divine Providence(God). Washingtonists also worship the American Founding Fathers as semi-divine beings and the Creator of Providential Deism(a belief that the Creator intervenes)--as distinguished from regular Deism. The founder of the movement also calls Washingtonism by the more general umbrella term "Religious Patriotism", in order to distinguish the faith as a uniquely American and Founding Father-centric religion. The Washingtonism faith is based on both verbal and visual indications of his exaltation and divinity, such as the Apotheosis of Washington and the many verbal utterances of praise, by various individuals throughout American history.
↑ 18.018.1Harper’s Bible Dictionary, San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985
↑Rastafarians regard Haile Selassie I as God, in part because Marcus Garvey's prophecy – "Look to Africa where a black king shall be crowned, he shall be the Redeemer" – was swiftly followed by the ascension of Haile Selassie as Emperor of Ethiopia. BBC
↑His teaching of Twelve Commitments stated, "I am God predicted by the prophets; I descended on the earth to save the human souls; there is no God but me. There is no other teaching. Do not seek for it."St. Petersburg State University article(A bit of dispute here as there are sites that indicate he taught any and all Khlysts could mystically become God incarnate through him)
↑Essay in Latin American Issues Volume 13 states she taught that, "when a shooting star moving in the distance suddenly approached her and landed on her forehead, filling the room with light (Cruz). She had become the living incarnation of the Holy Spirit, who at that moment revealed to her the name of God in this new era: 'MITA'" or "Spirit of Life."
↑De God die Lou heette (Dutch language) "The God that was called Lou" VPRO TV programme.
↑"He identified himself as the 'grand master of the celestial lodge, the architect of the universe'"Crimelibrary
↑Miami Herald(October 15, 2001). "the old message of self-esteem has been crowded out by one that elevates their leader to Grand Master of All, the God of the Universe, the Grand Potentate, the Everlasting Father and the persecuted Messiah."
↑Judith Coney, Sahaja Yoga: Socializing Processes in a South Asian New Religious Movement (1999) p27 "She began her mission of salvation in earnest, establishing a reputation as a faith healer ... Then, on December 2nd 1979, in London, she unequivocally declared her divinity to her followers: '[Today] is the day I declare that I am the One who has to save the humanity. I declare, I am the one who is Adi Shakti, who is the Mother of all the mothers, who is the Primordial Mother, the Shakti, the purest desire of God, who has incarnated on this Earth to give meaning to itself...' Since then, she is most often understood by her followers to be the Devi, the Goddess of Indian mythology, returned to save the world."