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Gods of the Romans - Roman Deities

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Gods of the Romans - Roman Deities - Gods of the Romans - Roman Deities

Roman gods

Learn all about Roman gods

If you are very interested in history, you will definitely read a lot about Roman gods. The entire population of Rome always had a particularly strong belief in Roman gods. And their religion adopted many things from the people of Greece. This is how it came about that today one god has two names. Among the Greeks, the supreme god is called Zeus, and among the Romans he is called Jupiter. Roman gods, however, are always depicted in a human form in both countries.

The religion originally developed from a belief that all of nature was animated by various spirits. This frightened many people, they tried to do everything right, to observe all the rituals. Only then were they well protected from all sides. There were several Roman gods who were associated with the sun, the fields or the sea. Roman gods were always supposed to be merciful to people, people tried to do them good, asked Roman gods for their blessings and made abundant sacrifices. People even built large temples for Roman gods, where they were duly worshipped.

Appointed a god

There were various Roman gods, including particularly important ones. Twelve were named which had great importance. It happened very often in Rome that emperors were also declared a deity after death. For example, the Emperor Augustus was declared a god. A beautiful temple had also been built in honour of this person. And when an emperor noticed that death was approaching, he was not at all sad, on the contrary, this person was happy that he would soon become a god. The relatives also accepted it like that, it was a special death.
There were several Roman gods who were considered to be household gods. They protected the house from illness and other major calamities. Roman gods were also asked for their benevolence, for example, the family prayed every day in front of the house shrine, which was called the lararium. Roman gods were given food offerings, everyone laid some of their food before them, no one wanted to upset them.
In order to give an offering to Roman gods, you absolutely had to go to the altar that stood in front of the temple of a very specific deity. A service was always held for the faithful in front of the temple. And there was another interesting feature. The temple itself was counted as the dwelling place of the deity, so it was only allowed to be open to the priests.

Sacrifices to Roman gods

The sacrifices prepared for Roman gods included various animals: cattle, chickens, pigs, sheep and others. The offal played an important role, it was used for the oracles, and the liver was very useful for this purpose. In October, on the fifteenth, an October horse was sacrificed. This was done in a specific situation. Chariot races were organised and afterwards the men killed the right horse of a victorious team with a spear. It had to be an animal that belonged to the best, that is, one that could really perform well. Now it would always be the winner.

There was another variant of how an animal could be sacrificed. This too was always connected with a ritual. A pig, a bull, a ram were led around a person for a few rounds, so that the disaster would definitely be averted from him. Then these animals were slaughtered and eaten. Not only were animals sacrificed, drinks were also brought to the altar. The libation to Roman gods often included wine, milk and even oil. People brought all this from home and placed it on the altar in a large jug. The liquids were also often poured into an altar fire. This produced quite a bit of smoke, which had a special function. In this way, the person concerned achieved that the smoke was drawn to the gods and could thus make them merciful. People also liked to offer incense to Roman gods. But it still had to be lit.

Roman gods and the special value of fire

Fire was always held in special honour, because everyone associated it with their home and hearth. In the temple, too, the inhabitants could see the eternal light. The priestesses kept the fire burning. That was their task. They also fetched water from the Egeria spring every day to cleanse the temple. The temple of Vesta is known to many people. Six priestesses lived in the house of the Vestal Virgins. The Vestal Virgins were not allowed to marry. They were appointed vestal virgins at an early age, from 6 to 10 years old. Thus they could serve Vesta for about 30 years. Vestal virgins had several privileges. For example, they could sit in the seats of honour in the theatre and in the circus, which were intended for senators. Prisoners who encountered a vestal virgin on the way to their execution were acquitted.

Name greek gods Name roman gods description
Phoebus Apollo Apollo God of the sun, poetry, music, oracle
Dyonisos Bacchus God of wine
Demeter Ceres Goddess of agriculture
Eros Cupido God of love
Artemis   Diana Goddess of the hunt
Maia  Fauna  Goddess of animals
Chloris  Flora  Goddess of flowers and springtime
Tyche Fortuna  Goddess of happiness
No comparable god  Janus  God of the beginning and the end
Hera  Juno  Goddess of marriage
Zeus  Jupiter God of the sky and king of the gods
Ares  Mars  God of war
Hermes  Merkur  Messenger of the gods and god of finance
Pallas Athena  Minerva  Goddess of Wisdom
Poseidon  Neptun  God of the sea and the seas
Hades  Pluto  God of the underworld and death
Kronos  Saturn  God of time, harvest and agriculture
Aphrodite  Venus  Goddess of love and beauty
Hestia   Vesta Goddess of the heart, home and the Roman state
Hephaistos  Vulcanus  Vulcanus God of fire and the forge

Even more Roman new deities of antiquity

The Roman goddess Vesta was borrowed from the Greek and corresponded to Hestia, the goddess of hearth fire. She was worshipped in the temple of Vesta on the Forum. Her round temple corresponded to the ancient Italic round hut. In the temple with 20 columns burned the eternal fire, which was protected by six vestal virgins. She lived in a neighbouring house and her "service" lasted 30 years. The Roman virgins guarding the temple had to live panting. If one of them violated the commandment, she was walled up alive. If one of the virgins let the eternal fire go out, she was scourged to death by the pontifex maximus. If a criminal sentenced to death met a vestal virgin on his way to execution, he was pardoned. The Vesta-Vestalines enjoyed such high esteem that even senators stepped aside for them in the streets. Roman rulers deposited their wills in the temple of Vesta.

Romans paid homage to their gods

The cult of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, was again worshipped when a famine broke out in Rome in 496 BC. With her, Liber (gr. Dionysus) and Libera (gr. Persephone) were endowed with a temple. Mars was the god of war and thus the god of soldiers and the military. The month of March is dedicated to him, for originally he was the ancient Latin god of agriculture and spring. On 1 March, the Roman priests of Mars, who came from twelve noble families, held their celebrations in honour of Mars. The peasants went over the fields with bulls, pigs and rams in his name and sacrificed the animals to the deity Mars. Mercury was the god of merchants. He had his temple at the Circus Maximus, which was also the grain exchange of Rome. This was also the seat of the body of Roman merchants (mercuriales). Venus is the goddess of love and beauty.

She is the mother of Aeneas and thus the ancestral mother of the Iulians, who worshipped her as Generix. For the peasants she was also considered the Roman goddess of the garden. In the Roman world of gods, Neptune as the god of water corresponded to the Greek Poseidon. Apollo was initially regarded as the god of healing, but later became the god of the arts, divination, exiles and exiles. In Roman imperial times he also became Sol, sun god of the Romans. His sister was Diane, who as goddess of the hunt corresponded to the Greek god Artemis.

Roman patron gods

In addition to the old and new deities, the Romans worshipped other divine beings, the Lares, Penates and Manes. As lares familiares, the lares were the patron gods of the house and the spirits of the deceased who watched over the house. The lares stayed behind when a Roman family left their house. The penates were the patron gods of the inhabitants of the houses. They watched over their health and prosperity. Their name derives from the Latin word penus: provisions. The penates accompanied the families and the state also had its penates. The Manes were the souls of the dead, whom the Romans worshipped. Not only were they worshipped, but a festival on 21 February (feralia) was also intended to make the Manes amicable to the living. Marriage was forbidden on this day, temples were closed and Roman officials were not allowed to wear official clothes. The Manes are often mentioned on Roman gravestones under the abbreviation DM - dis manibus - the gods of the dead.