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Roman Gods

Apollo

Greek name:  Apollo

Responsibilities:  
Medicine, sun, archery

Apollo was

-   the only Roman god who was essentially identical to his Greek counterpart

-   not a prominent god for the Romans, but the emperor, Augustus, dedicated a major temple to him in 28 B.C.

 

Apollo

Ceres

 

Ceres

Greek name: 
Demeter

Responsibilities: 
Grain

Ceres was

-   an Etruscan goddess of obscure origins worshipped from the earliest times in Rome

-   worshipped with Liber (Bacchus) and Libera in a group called the Eleusinian Triad

English derivative: 
Cereal

 

Diana

Greek name: 
Artemis

Responsibilities: 
Childbirth, moon

Diana was

-   worshipped in a very ancient cult and commonly worshipped in wooded areas

-   sometimes associated with the underworld (as Hecate)

Diana

 

 Juno

Juno

Greek name: 
Hera

Responsibilities: 
Marriage and childbirth

Juno was

-   not originally associated with Jupiter

-   an independent Italian deity associated with all aspects of female life

English derivative: 
June

Jupiter

Greek name: 
Zeus

Other name: 
Jove

Responsibilities: 
Sky

Jupiter was

-   worshipped along with Juno and Minerva in a group called the Capitoline Triad

English derivative: 
Jovial

 

Jupiter

Liber

Liber

Greek name: 
Dionysos

Other name: 
Bacchus

Responsibilities: 
Wine, fertility

Liber was

-   the Italian god associated with fertility, especially of the vine

-   worshipped with Ceres and his partner, Libera, in a group called the Eleusinian Triad

-   not associated with the ecstatic aspects of Dionysos' worship

 

Mars

Greek name: 
Ares

Responsibilities: 
Agriculture, war

Animal: 
Wolf, woodpecker

Mars was

-   originally an important god of agriculture, associated with spring and regeneration

-   later associated with war for the Romans

-   much more important to the Romans than Ares was to the Greeks

English derivative: 
Martial (arts, law), March

Mars

Mercury

Mercury

Greek name: 
Hermes

Responsibilities: 
Trade and profit

Mercury was

-   a protector of businessmen

-   associated with messengers and music through his connection with Hermes

English derivative: 
Mercurial

Minerva

Greek name: 
Athena

Responsibilities: 
Activities involving mental skill and handicrafts

Minerva was

-   worshipped by the Etruscans and later by the Romans

-   her cult appears first in Rome as part of the Capitoline Triad with Jupiter and Juno

-   perhaps associated early on with war and fertility

-   associated with craftsmen, authors, painters, school children

 

Minerva

 

Neptune

Neptune

Greek name: 
Poseidon

Responsibilities: 
Sea

Pluto

Greek name: 
Hades

Responsibilities: 
Death and the underworld

 

Pluto

 

Venus

Venus

Greek name: 
Aphrodite

Responsibilities: 
Love, fertility in nature

Venus was

-  originally a minor Italian fertility goddess connected with gardens (rather than with fertility in animals and humans)

-   probably also originally connected with luck and favor

-   mother of the great Roman hero, Aeneas

English derivative: 
Venereal

Vesta

Greek name: 
Hestia

Responsibilities: 
Hearth, family life

Vesta was

-   much more important to the Romans than Hestia was to the Greeks

-   worshipped at Rome in a round temple (symbolic of the hearth) with no cult image

-   served in temple by the Vestal Virgins

The Vestal Virgins were six girls, usually from noble families, chosen between the ages of 6 and 10 years old, who served for thirty years.  They took a vow of chastity for the duration of their service, and the penalty for breaking it was death by being buried alive.

 

Vesta

Vulcan

 

Vulcan

Greek name: 
Hephaistos

Responsibilities: 
Fire

Vulcan was

-   more important to the Romans than Hephaistos was to the Greeks

-   associated initially with destructive fire, and later (through his association with Hephaistos) also with fire for creative purposes

English derivative: 
Volcano, vulcanize

 

Additional Gods for the Romans

 

 

Janus

Image: 
Often pictured with two heads facing in opposite directions

Responsibilities: 
Perhaps a god of beginnings; probably associated with water

Janus was

-   an ancient god who was so important he was named first in prayers

-   especially connected with bridges and, later, with doorways

-   worshipped in Rome at five different shrines, all at river crossings

-   worshipped at a temple in the Roman Forum whose gates were open during wartime and closed in peacetime - this, perhaps, reflects the breaking of bridges (opening of rivers) to protect the city when it was threatened?

-   his name became a common noun (a janus) which meant "a crossing-place with a roadway"

English derivative: 
January

Janus coin
Lars


 

Lares

Responsibilities:
Protectors of the household

Lares were

- originally guardians of farm-lands and crossroads

- since food that fell on the floor was burned for the Lares, they also are also identified with ghosts by some scholars

 

Penatesenates

Responsibilities:
Household gods symbolic of the continuing life of the family and, later, of the Roman state; their name comes from the Latin word for "cupboard, food."

Penates

Saturn (?)

Saturn

Greek name: 
Kronos/Ouranos

Responsibilities: 
Ruled in the generation before Zeus

Saturn was

-     an Etruscan god of obscure origins worshipped from the earliest times in Rome

-     the ruling god during the Golden Age (remember the Ovid creation story?)

-     worshipped in a winter festival called the Saturnalia

This festival was probably originally a celebration of winter sowing.  During the festival, slaves were given the right of free speech and were served at a feast by their masters, a remembrance of the Golden Age when all men were equal.

English derivative: 
Saturnine