Jupiter (mythology)

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Jupiter (Roman cameo )

Jupiter ( Latin Iuppiter , more rarely Iupiter or Juppiter ; genitive: Iovis , more rarely Jovis ) is the name of the supreme deity of the Roman religion . An older form of the name is Diēspiter . He was often referred to as Iuppiter Optimus Maximus ("best and greatest Jupiter"), mostly abbreviated to IOM in inscriptions . Jupiter corresponds to the Greek "heavenly father" Zeus .


The older name Diēspiter is made up of dieis (Latin for “day”) and pater (Latin for “father”) (cf. also ancient Indian Dyaus pitar ) and therefore means “heavenly father”. The iu in Iuppiter and the name Zeus go back to the same Indo-European root * diu for "bright", which describes the main attribute of Jupiter (or Zeus') as the ancient god of heaven and weather, who was also understood as the lightbringer. Accordingly, a secondary meaning of Iuppiter is also simply "sky" or "air"; Accordingly, sub Iove means "under the open sky" or "in the open air".

The pronunciation changed from [ ˈjuːpiter ] to [ ˈjupːiter ] around the birth of Christ . The name is mainly abbreviated on Roman inscriptions; if it was written out in full , in antiquity one wrote ivpiter or ivppiter , depending on the pronunciation - the Romans did not differentiate between / i / and / j / or / u / and / v /. In modern times, the name was mostly written "Jupiter", more rarely "Juppiter" (for example Zedler's universal dictionary , but also Georg Wissowa in his work Religion and Cult of the Romans ).

In the course of the 19th century, the original language spelling spread in German classical philology, with the result that, in addition to “Jupiter”, “Iuppiter” was also increasingly written in scientific texts. The change in terminology was not followed by Germanic antiquity; therefore, in German prehistoric works, for example, “Jupiter” is still predominantly written.

In teaching, in Latin dictionaries, general encyclopedias and mythological specialist literature, in popular texts, etc., “Jupiter” continues to be written in German; this is also the spelling suggested by the Duden , for example .


Bronze statue of Jupiter
(2nd century, Passau)


Like many other ancient gods, Jupiter was worshiped with various epithets , each of which emphasized certain aspects or was associated with individual locations or appropriated local gods. As Jupiter Latiaris , he was worshiped by the Latins as the patron deity of their league of cities, which was later dominated by Rome, so his temple was outside Rome in the Alban Hills . As the state god he was Jupiter Optimus Maximus , as the supreme god in the Capitoline Triassic worshiped in the temple on the Capitol , he was Jupiter Capitolinus .

Other epithets go back to old cults, such as Iupiter Feretrius ("the nobleman") or Iupiter Stator ("who brings the enemy to a standstill"). Others only gained importance in the imperial era, such as the cult of Jupiter Tonans ("the thunderer"), which is actually a transmission from the Greek Zeus Bronton . As Jupiter Pluvius ("the raining one") he was called to end summer droughts.

Holidays and calendar

The ides of each month, which originally corresponded to the full moon, that is, days when there was no total darkness, were feriae Iovis "Feast of Jupiter". On that day a white sheep consecrated to him was led in a solemn procession across the Via Sacra to the Capitol and sacrificed there. The foundation days of the Jupiter temples also fell on the Ides:

  • Jupiter Optimus Maximus or Jupiter Capitolinus: September 13th
  • Jupiter Victor: April 13th
  • Jupiter Invictus: June 13th
  • Jupiter stator: probably January 13th.
  • Epulum Iovis: November 13th

The great feasts dedicated to Jupiter, the epula Iovis , also took place on the Ides, one on September 13th and another on November 13th.

Other festivals dedicated to Jupiter were the wine festivals, the two Vinalia (Vinalia Priora on April 23rd and Vinalia Rustica on August 19th) and probably also the Meditrinalia on October 11th. The grape harvest, which began at different times depending on the ripeness of the grapes, began with the sacrifice of a lamb by the Flamen Dialis , the state priest of Jupiter.

After Jupiter, the fifth (now fourth) day of the week was called Iovis this , hence Italian giovedi, Spanish jueves and French jeudi . The Germanic peoples equated him with Donar, Scandinavian Thor , hence German Thursday and English Thursday .

The planet Jupiter also corresponded to him .

Sanctuaries and individual cults

Reconstructed view of Rome with the Capitol in the background

Undoubtedly the most important sanctuary of Jupiter and the seat of the state cult was on the Capitol . The northern, higher summit of the Capitol was called arx ("castle"). This is where the processional Via Sacra ended, and this is where the augurs ' observation site was located , from which they followed the flight of the birds.

Jupiter Feretrius

On the south summit was the temple of Jupiter Feretrius , the oldest sanctuary of the god in the city, according to legend, founded by Romulus himself. The temple did not contain a cult image; but a holy stone was kept here, the so-called silex or lapis . Both words mean "stone", silex rather describes the hard stone, lapis rather the larger stone or boulder. If the silex was a stone knife used for sacrificial purposes, only flint and obsidian are possible materials . However, there is no clarity about the role of the silex in the victim and its nature is debatable. After this stone, the god of the sanctuary was also called Jupiter Lapis ("Jupiter of the stone"). An oath to this god was particularly solemn and was used in international agreements.

The name Jupiter Feretrius ("the noble booty bearer") goes back to the fact that the Spolia opima , the "rich booty", was consecrated to God in this temple . The spolia opima was the armor of an enemy general that was taken from him in battle by a Roman general. The best part of this rich booty, the prima spolia , was dedicated to Jupiter Feretrius . It is clear that due to the high demands on the acquisition of the consecration gifts, such consecration took place only a few times in the course of Roman history, the first time, according to legend, by the founder of the sanctuary, Romulus himself.

Jupiter Capitolinus

Reconstruction of the Roman Capitolium

In addition to the venerable temple of Jupiter Feretrius , the actual main temple of Jupiter, in his capacity as the Roman state god, was on the south summit, more precisely the temple of the Capitoline Triassic , consisting of Jupiter Optimus Maximus , Juno and Minerva . According to legend, this temple, the Capitolium of Rome , was largely built by Lucius Tarquinius Superbus , the last king of Rome, but it was inaugurated in the first year of the Roman Republic on September 13, 509 BC. Chr.

The cult images of the Triassic were each in their own cella in the temple . The cella of Jupiter Optimus Maximus was in the center, Juno on the left and Minerva on the right. In addition, there were other cult images, especially those gods closely associated with Jupiter, e.g. B. of Summanus . On the roof, as an acroterion, there was an image of Jupiter steering a quadriga .

The Capitolium had been burned down or destroyed several times in the course of history, but was always rebuilt on the same foundations.

Jupiter Fulgur

Another cult was the Jupiter Fulgur ("Jupiter Blitz") with a sanctuary on Campus Martius , where Jupiter was worshiped in the form of the flash. Him were the Biden Talia holy, the places where a flash in the earth suggested (flash times). If this happened on public ground, an atonement was made at the point and the place was delimited with a so-called puteal , a circular wall that was supposed to prevent the ground, which was scorched by lightning and thus sanctified, from being touched or stepped on. A distinction was made between lightning that struck during the day and those that struck at night. Only the daytime lightning strikes were assigned to Jupiter himself, the nocturnal to a deity closely related to him called Summanus . The inscriptions on the lightning graves were accordingly fulgur Dium conditum or fulgur Summanum conditum (for example, “Jupiter / Summanus struck here”).

Jupiter Elicius

The legend of Jupiter Elicius (" Jupiter pulled down") is linked to Jupiter Fulgur . According to this, King Numa Pompilius, with the support of the nymph Egeria and the gods Picus and Faunus , succeeded in "pulling" Jupiter down from heaven (that is, by causing a magical divine compulsion ) and in causing him to betray Numa the means and rites of lightning atonement. In addition, Numa received from Jupiter the ancile , ancient shields and symbols of Roman power. The sanctuary of Jupiter Elicius was on the Aventine , which is also the scene of the legend.

Jupiter Tonans

Statue of Jupiter Tonans

Jupiter Tonans ("thundering Jupiter") must be distinguished from Jupiter Fulgur . The cult originates from the Augustan period and goes back to an event in which Augustus almost was struck by lightning during a campaign against the Cantabrians . In gratitude, he promised Jupiter a temple on the Capitol. This temple on the south hill of the Capitol was particularly elaborately designed with walls made of marble blocks and rich picture decorations. The sanctuary was opened on September 1, 22 BC. Consecrated.

The furnishings are said to have been so magnificent that Jupiter Capitolinus appeared to Augustus in a dream one night and complained about neglect and neglect. Thereupon Augustus assured the supreme Jupiter that the god of the new temple was only gatekeeper of the sanctuary. In order to make this relationship clear, Augustus had bell rings ( tintinnabula ) attached to the roof of the temple of Jupiter tonans .

Jupiter stator

Jupiter in its warlike role was dedicated to the cult of the Jupiter Stator (“Jupiter who hindered flight” or “Jupiter the sustainer”). This god owned two temples in Rome. One was at Porta Mugionia on the north side of the Palatine Hill . According to legend, it also went back to Romulus, in fact it was named 294 BC. Praised by Marcus Atilius Regulus in the third Samnite war and built a little later. Another temple of the Jupiter stator was built by Quintus Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus after his triumph in 146 BC. Built near the Circus Flaminius .

Similar in function to the Jupiter stator is Jupiter Victor ("the winner"), whose temple was also voted in the Samnite War by Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus . The temple was probably on the Quirinal . Other military-oriented Jupiter cults were dedicated to the Jupiter Invictus ("undefeated Jupiter") and the Jupiter Propugnator ("the warrior").

Syncretistic Jupiter cults

Jupiter on horseback on a giant pillar

In Roman Upper Germany , which was also settled by the Celts, the cult of Jupiter was cultivated with the so-called Jupiter giant columns , whereby the Celtic sky god Taranis was also worshiped.

On today's Gellértberg in Budapest ( Aquincum ), which the Romans probably called Mons Teutanus , was a late Celtic oppidum of the Eraviskers , who worshiped Teutates , a main Celtic deity, under the name variation Teutanus . The cult was later adopted by the Aquincum population. From the 2nd to the 3rd century AD, the Duoviri of Colonia had an altar stone built for Teutanus on June 11th , who was identified with the Iuppiter Optimus Maximus.

End of the worship of Jupiter

The Jupiter cult was replaced by Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire at the end of the 4th century AD as part of the many-gods beliefs under Emperor Theodosius I.


Until the Interpretatio Romana unfolded, the gods of Roman mythology were understood primarily as personifications of natural phenomena with which there were hardly any mythical narratives. Only with the equation of the Greek with the Roman gods were the tales of Greek mythology transferred, with Jupiter being equated with Zeus . In the course of the blossoming of Latin literature from the 3rd century BC onwards, BC myths and characteristics of Zeus were gradually transferred to Jupiter, further developed and adapted to the developing Roman culture .

In the Stoicist interpretation of the myth, Jupiter loses its individual traits, which have been continued since the Homeric Zeus, from which a physical- allegorical interpretation develops, which superficially follows on from the Homeric Zeus.

Zeus myths

Birth and childhood

Saturnus devours one of his children (engraving by Wenceslaus Hollar , 17th century)

Is the father of Jupiter Saturn , which the Greek father of Zeus identified Cronus devouring his offspring and eaten by a trick a stone instead of his youngest child. As with Zeus, the birthplace of Jupiter is given as a cave on Mount Dikte or on Ida , where in both cases he is raised by Amalthea's milk . In the Vatican mythographer , Jupiter is first placed in the care of a she-wolf who, however, does not have enough milk, thus linking the Jupiter myth to the myth of Romulus and Remus . According to other authors, he is nourished with honey by bees, for which he is said to have given them the ability to father children without co-sleeping. The humanist scholar Natale Conti claims that he was taken care of by bears.

Power struggles

In acquired by the Greeks already in ancient Near Eastern stories succession myth in which the rule of succession of the generations of gods is explained and justified the supremacy of Jupiter among the gods, which beat the Olympian gods , under his leadership, the Titans and put itself successfully against the power demands of the giants to defend . In the Latin tradition, the individual Greek myths about the various power struggles are increasingly mixed up, which is most evident in the names of his opponents, when on the one hand titan names among the giants are mentioned in descriptions of the gigantomachy , on the other hand increasingly original characters such as the Aloaden or Typhon den Giants are slammed.

In addition, parts of the succession struggle appear to be linked to other contexts, for example when Jupiter, who is already ruling as the king of the gods, is attacked by the titans because his jealous wife Juno instigated them to do so, or when the other gods as animals in the fight against the Typhon, when the latter attacked him who fled to Egypt transformed, the goddess Minerva is put aside. In the Vatican mythograph, titanomachy , gigantomachy and typhonomachy are finally merged into a single narrative in which the giants and titans are driven away by the cries of the donkeys of the satyrs who come to their aid . At the sight of Typhon, all gods flee here too, except for Jupiter. He finally defeats the attackers with the help of an eagle that carries his lightning bolts to the opponents.

Love affairs

Jupiter kidnaps Ganymede (illustration by Antonio Tempesta in a 16th / 17th century edition of Ovid )

Like the Greek Zeus, in addition to his marriage with the jealous Juno , Jupiter has numerous love affairs, for which he usually changes shape and transforms himself into animals, people, gods or even things. For example, he kidnaps Europe in the form of a beautiful bull, he approaches Leda in the form of a swan, he faces Antiope as a satyr or bull, and Callisto , a virgin from Diana’s entourage , shows himself to be her mistress. For Alcmena he is transformed into her husband Amphitryon , for Danae in laburnum, and Aegina he shows himself in flame. He also loves the beautiful young man Ganymedes , whom he steals from the earth in the form of an eagle and transfers him to Olympus as cupbearer .

Jupiter's transformational skills are not limited to himself, for example, he transforms the curet Celmis into steel to give him immortality, his son Aeacus to protect against Juno an ant people to the people of the Myrmidons or Io into a cow.

The local sagas, which are much less common in Roman mythology, are among the few myths not derived from Greek mythology. For example, the water of a spring praised for its healing properties was used for many sacrifices; In the myth, the source nymph Iuturna becomes Jupiter's lover, who in return gives her immortality so that she can continue to watch over the source.


Hardly any picture of Zeus can be made from written sources. The sparse descriptions of the external appearance were only partially adopted by Roman writers to describe Jupiter, but they were also modified. While he holds the lightning bolt in his right hand and hurls it, he carries an ivory scepter in his left , his hair is so huge that he shakes the earth, sea and starry sky with the mere shaking of the same. He wears a beard from which, according to the Vatican mythograph, Minerva was born. He wears a golden tunica as clothing , which is the model for the tunicae of Roman triumphators .


In the Stoic interpretation, Jupiter loses its individual traits taken over from Greek mythology. Jupiter is understood as a deity who manifests itself equally in all parts of the world and is only called differently depending on the manifestation, the other gods are therefore only parts of Jupiter adapted to their respective tasks. Juno, for example, represents the air, Diana represents the earth, and the part called "Jupiter" represents the ether.


Jupiter with eagle and lightning bolts as annual regent 1959 on the front of the calendar medal by Hans Köttenstorfer , medalist in Vienna
Jupiter and Semele
(Gustave Moreau, 1894/1895)

His attributes are a bundle of lightning bolts in his hand and the eagle accompanying him as a sign of power; he is often depicted enthroned . Its holy tree is the oak , which is why Jupiter is sometimes depicted with an oak wreath. In the art of the 16th to 18th centuries, it symbolizes in the group of four elements the fire .

See also


Web links

Commons : Jupiter  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Jupiter  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Michiel de Vaan: Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages. (= Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series , 7) Brill, Leiden / Boston 2008, ISBN 978-90-04-16797-1 , pp. 315-316.
  2. ^ Gerhard Meiser: Historical phonology and forms of the Latin language. 2nd, unv. Edition Darmstadt 2006, p. 77 § 57, 5.
  3. ^ Entry "Jupiter" in the online dictionary.
  4. Ovid Epistulae ex ponto 2, 1, 68.
  5. Macrobius Convivia primi diei Saturnaliorum 1, 15, 14.
  6. Varro De lingua latina 5:47 ; Ovid Fasti 1,56,1,588; Macrobius Convivia primi diei Saturnaliorum 1, 15, 16.
  7. ^ Ovid Fasti 4, 621.
  8. Ovid Fasti 6, 650.
  9. ^ Ottorino Pianigiani: Vocabolario Etimologico della Lingua Italiana. Albrighi, Segati e C., Rome 1907 (and numerous new editions), s. v. ( online ).
  10. Old Spanish for exam candidates: Historical Forms ( Memento of the original from January 31, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 48 kB), p. 7.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / homepages.uni-tuebingen.de
  11. ^ Journal for modern language teaching 15-16, 1916, p. 84 ( online ).
  12. ^ Friedrich Kluge: Etymological dictionary of the German language . 25th, revised and expanded edition. Edited by Elmar Seebold. Berlin / Boston 2011, s. v.
  13. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. Edited by C. T. Onions . Clarendon Press, Oxford 1966 (and numerous, partly corrected new editions), s. v.
  14. Cicero De natura deorum 2, 52.
  15. ^ Aust: Iuppiter in Roscher: Lexikon 1894, Sp. 674 ff.
  16. Dionysius of Halicarnassus Antiquitates Romanae 4, 61; 5, 35, 3; Livy Ab urbe condita 1, 55–56, 1; 2, 8, 6.
  17. Pliny Naturalis historia 2, 138; Augustine De civitate dei 4, 3.
  18. CIL 6, 205 ; CIL 10, 40 ; CIL 10.6423 .
  19. CIL 6, 206 .
  20. Ovid Fasti 3, 310-384.
  21. Varro De linua latina 6, 95; Livy Ab urbe condita 1, 20, 5 ff.
  22. ^ Suetonius Augustus 29.
  23. Pliny Naturalis historia 36, 10; 34, 78; Monumentum Ancyranum 4, 5.
  24. Cassius Dio 54, 4.
  25. ^ Suetonius Augustus 91.
  26. Livy Ab urbe condita 10, 36, 1; 10, 37, 15-16.
  27. Livy Ab urbe condita 10, 29, 14.
  28. CIL 6, 438 .
  29. Jupiter giant column .
  30. Philip Filtzinger: II. Römerzeit 2. Roman religion, p. 175 in: From the primeval times to the end of the Staufer , Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 978-3-60891465-8 ; Online .
  31. ^ Zsolt Mráv : Castellum contra Tautantum. To identify a late Roman fortress. In: Ádám Szabó , Endre Tóth (ed.): Bölcske. Roman inscriptions and finds. Libelli archaeologici Ser. Nov. No. II. Hungarian National Museum, Budapest 2003, ISBN 963-9046-83-3 , p. 354.
  32. ^ Attila Gaál: Bölcske fortlet. In: Zsolt Visy (ed.): The Roman army in Pannonia. Teleki Lázló Foundation 2003, ISBN 963-86388-2-6 , p. 176.
  33. ^ Sándor Soproni : Előzetes jelentés a bölcskei késő római ellenerőd kutatásáról. (Preliminary report on research into the late Roman counter-fortress in Bölcske.) In: Communicationes Archaeologicae Hungariae 1990, pp. 133–142, here: p. 142.
  34. Ovid Fasti 4, 199-206.
  35. ^ Hyginus Mythographus , Fabulae 139.
  36. ^ A b Servius commentary on Virgil's Aeneid 3, 104.
  37. ^ Virgil Georgica 4, 153.
  38. Ovid Fasti 4,207.
  39. Vatican Mythograph 3, 15, 10.
  40. Antoninus Liberalis 19.2.
  41. Vatican Mythograph 2, 16; Virgil Georgica 4, 149 ff.
  42. Natale Conti 2, 1st sheet 27 recto.
  43. ^ Servius commentary on Virgil's Aeneis 8, 698; Horace Carmina 3, 4, 42.
  44. Ovid Metamorphosen 1, 151 ff .; Hyginus Mythographus Fabulae , Praefatio.
  45. ^ Hyginus Mythographus Fabulae 150.
  46. ^ Antoninus Liberalis Metamorphoses 28, 2.
  47. Vatican Mythograph 1, 11; 86.
  48. Ovid Metamorphoses 2, 833-875.
  49. a b c Ovid Metamorphoses 6, 103-114.
  50. Vatican Mythographer II. 74.
  51. Ovid Metamorphosen 2, 401-530; Online .
  52. Hyginus Mythographus Fabulae 29.
  53. Virgil Aeneis 5: 252-260; Ovid Metamorphoses 10, 155 ff.
  54. Ovid Metamorphoses 4, 282-283.
  55. ^ Ovid Metamorphosen 7, 634 ff .; Servius commentary on Virgil's Aeneid 4, 402.
  56. Ovid metamorphoses 1, 568-746.
  57. Virgil Aeneid 12, 140; 12, 878; Ovid Fasti 2,585; 2, 606.
  58. ^ Ovid Metamorphoses 178 ff.
  59. Vatican Mythographer I. 176, 2 and II. 37.
  60. Livius 20, 7: "Iovis optimi maximi ornatus".
  61. Seneca naturales quaestiones 2, 45; Vatican mythographer III. Prooemium; 3, 9.