Roman mythology

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Consecration altar in honor of Jupiter and Juno in the Historisches Museum der Pfalz in Speyer

The Roman mythology deals with the ideas of the ancient Roman mythographers about the world of gods and heroes . The original Roman peasant religion was predominantly dominated by personifications of nature and natural events (e.g. Tellus "earth", ops "harvest", Ceres "field crops"). Only from the 5th century BC Chr. The Romans began under the mediating influence of the Etruscans , the gods of the Greeks to import. Many figures of the Roman heavenly gods correspond to those of Greek mythology, but Roman mythology is not as populated as the Greek with gods and heroes. The equation of foreign gods with one's own, the so-called Interpretatio Romana , became a special characteristic of the Roman dealings with foreign cults and religions.

The Roman gods

The Roman heaven of gods was extensive and, in addition to the gods, also included spirits, personifications, demigods and many monsters. In addition, there were numerous deities who were worshiped in the provinces or whose worship came to the Roman Empire via the provinces .

The Romans were very afraid that a god would be forgotten. So they worshiped the novensiles, that is, collective deities of dark meaning, which led the historian Cincius Alimentus to the following explanation:

“The Romans used to spread the belief in gods of the subjugated cities partly privately in the families, partly to elevate it to a state cult. So that one of the gods would not be ignored because of the number or because he would be unknown, they were all summarized without further ado and given the one and the same name 'Novensiles'. "

Other Roman historians disagreed with this derivation from the word “novus” and based their explanation on the word “novem”: they were about nine gods or nine muses .


The cult provided for the sacrifice of animals, plants and other things. Here, the rite had to be carefully observed, since every mistake would provoke the wrath of the deity and would have to be performed again after an atonement. A slip of the tongue in the text was enough to conjure up dangers. Signs and prophecies also played an important role. These were partly linked to the victims; so was z. B. read out from the organs of the sacrificed animals whether the gods favored a project. The observation of the flight of birds also served this purpose. At the head of the priests stood the Rex sacrorum , the pontifices , in which the flamines were combined and the vestals . In addition to these, there were numerous colleges ( Augurs , Haruspices , Quindecimviri , Septemviri ) and cult associations ( Arval Brothers , Fetiale , Luperci, Salier , Titier , Augustales Claudiales, Augustales Flaviales, Augustales Hadriani, Augustales Antoniani).

The residence and the house of the Roman family were also places where rites were performed, see Genius loci , Laren and Penaten .

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Twelve Gods Altar in the Louvre

The twelve Dei Consentes were especially venerated . In her honor there was a common temple in the Roman Forum , the Porticus Deorum Consentium . The Etruscans worshiped a number of twelve supreme gods, but the Roman gods were identified with the Olympian gods of the Greeks. Today the original gods are called Dei ingentes and their descendants Dei novensiles .

There was no set ranking (other than Jupiter being the supreme god and Juno the supreme goddess). At one point, Livy mentions the following pairs of male and female deities: Jupiter - Juno, Neptune - Minerva, Mars - Venus, Apollo - Diana, Vulcanus - Vesta, Mercurius - Ceres. Ennius gives the following order: Juno, Vesta, Minerva, Ceres, Diana, Venus, Mars, Mercurius, Jupiter, Neptune, Vulcanus, and Apollo. The following table is based on Livius:

Roman Greek function Mark
Jupiter Zeus Father of the gods, responsible for lightning , thunder and air Eagle, bundle of lightning, scepter
Juno Hera Family goddess, responsible for marriage , marriage, motherhood and childbirth , helper in the difficulties of childbirth Peacock, royal headband
Neptune Poseidon God of the sea, earthquakes and horses Trident , chariot
Minerva Athena Virgin goddess of wisdom, patroness of heroes, cities, agriculture, the arts and sciences, handicrafts, (strategic) war and peace Helmet, shield, lance and owl
Mars Ares God of destructive war and battles Sword, shield, helmet
Venus Aphrodite Goddess of love and beauty Dove, shell, belt, mirror
Apollo Apollo God of poetry , light, mice , the plague and prophecy Kithara (string instrument), bow and arrow
Diana Artemis virgin goddess of the hunt and the moon Arrow and silver bow, quiver, doe, crescent moon
Vulcanus Hephaestus God of volcanoes , fire and blacksmithing Blacksmith hammer or pliers, Pilos (craftsman's cap )
Vesta Hestia virgin goddess of hearth fire and family harmony flame
Mercury Hermes God of thieves, commerce, and travelers; Messenger of the gods Petasus or winged helmet , caduceus , winged shoes , purse
Ceres Demeter Earth goddess, fertility goddess Ears of wheat, torch

More Roman gods

  • Acca Larentia - wet nurse of Romulus and Remus
  • Aiolus - god of the winds, gr. Aeolus
  • Aesculapius - god of healing, great Asklepios
  • Alemonia - It is supposed to nourish the unborn child so that it can be born fully developed.
  • Amor - God of love, great Eros
  • Anna Perenna - goddess of spring and the young year
  • Aurora - goddess of the dawn, Greek Eos
  • Bellona - goddess of war and combat
  • Bona Dea - goddess of fertility, healing, virginity and women
  • Bubona - protective goddess of oxen and cattle breeding
  • Cardea - goddess of health, thresholds, door hinges and door handles
  • Carmenta , Nicostrata - goddess of divination and childbirth
  • Carna - goddess of the heart and internal organs
  • Consus - god of the harvest brought in
  • Dea Dia - goddess of growth
  • Epona - goddess of horses
  • Faunus - god of forests and pastures, gr. Pan
  • Feronia - goddess of spring and earth
  • Flora - goddess of flowers and blossoms
  • Fons - god of springs, wells and flowing waters
  • Fortuna - goddess of luck and chance, Greek Tyche
  • Furies - the goddesses of revenge or Erinyes in Greek
  • Furrina - goddess of thieves
  • Hercules - god of healing and oracles, protector of sports facilities, great Heracles
  • Janus - two-faced god of the beginning and the end, the entrances and exits, the doors and the gates
  • Laverna - protective goddess of thieves and deceivers
  • Levana - protective goddess of newborns
  • Liber , also Liber pater , god of vegetative and animal fertilization, later mostly invoked as Bacchus , Greek Dionysus
  • Luna - goddess of the moon, Greek Selene
  • Maia - mother of Hermes, great Maia
  • Moneta - goddess who oversaw the making of the coins
  • Mutunus Tutunus - god of the wedding celebration
  • Ops - wife of Saturnus , mother of Jupiter , gr. Rhea
  • Pales - goddess of the pasture and shepherds
  • Picus - god of fields and forests, son of Saturnus
  • Pluto - ruler of the underworld, great Hades
  • Plutus - god of wealth
  • Pomona - goddess of the fruit blessing
  • Portunus - god of ports
  • Proserpina - goddess of renewal and, as the wife of Pluto, ruler of the underworld, great Persephone
  • Quirinus - god of the source
  • Robigus - deity of cereal diseases such as grain rust
  • Saturnus - god of agriculture (father of Jupiter), great Kronos
  • Silvanus - god of shepherds and forests
  • Sol - sun god, great Helios
  • Strenia - goddess of the new year, health, energy, diligence
  • Tellus - deity of the maternal earth, gr. Gaia
  • Terminus - god of landmarks
  • Veiovis - "Anti-Jupiter", Jupiter of the underworld, god of atonement and the escaping criminals or healing
  • Vertumnus - god of change and change
  • Volturnus - god of water and rivers.

Spirit beings

Genius head from the 2nd century. N. Chr., At Vindobona found
  • Genius - a man's personal inner spirit that gives him fertility
  • Lares - protective gods or guardian spirits of certain places and families
  • Penates - protective gods of supplies
  • Manen - spirits of the dead, also some underworld spirits
  • Lemures , Larvae - spirits of the deceased.


  • Aequitas - balancing and balancing justice
  • Aeternitas - eternity and permanent political rule
  • Clementia - Mild, with a palm branch and an offering bowl
  • Concordia - unity and unity of the citizens of Rome
  • Discordia - discord and strife
  • Fama - fame and rumor
  • Fecunditas - fertility, especially of the empresses
  • Felicitas - happiness, bliss and fertility
  • Fides - trust, loyalty and oath
  • Fortuna - goddess of luck and fate
  • Honos - martial fame and honor
  • Justitia - justice
  • Juventas - male youth
  • Laetitia - joyful attitude, happiness
  • Liberalitas - generosity, giving without being obliged
  • Libertas - freedom, for personal legal capacity of Roman citizens
  • Nox - night, figure belonging to the underworld, gr. Nyx
  • Pax - peace, also Pax Romana
  • Pudicitia - modesty, a matrona demurely wrapped in her robe
  • Roma - personification of the city of Rome
  • Salus - well-being, usually enthroned with a scepter, bowl and snake
  • Securitas - security, as freedom from worries
  • Somnus - sleep, great Hypnos
  • Spes - hope, especially for children and a good harvest
  • Coelus , constellation Caelum - personification of heaven, Greek Uranos
  • Virtus - soldierly bravery
  • Victoria - victory, virgin guardian of the empire, great Nike
  • Terra / Tellus - personification of the earth, gr. Gaia .

Foreign gods

  • Magna Mater - Mother of Gods, Greek Cybele
  • Mithras - mythological personification of the sun
  • Isis - goddess of birth, rebirth and magic
  • Seth - desert god, associated with storms and thunderstorms
  • Serapis - integrative realm god.


Web links

Wikisource: Greek and Roman Mythology  - Sources and Full Texts

Individual evidence

  1. Hans Beck: The early Roman historians . Vol. 1, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2001, ISBN 3-534-14757-X , p. 146.
  2. Livy from urbe condita 22.10
  3. Ennius Annalen 62