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Roman Mythology

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Roman Mythology can be described as the mythological beliefs of Ancient Rome.

Roman mythology can best be described in two sections:
Early Roman Mythology is Roman in culture and nature. The second section of Roman Mythology comes later, and consists of borrowings from Greek mythology.

The Romans had no sequential narratives about their gods comparable to the Titanomachy or the seduction of Zeus by Hera until their poets began to adopt Greek models in the later part of the Roman Republic. What the Romans did have, however, were:
a highly developed system of rituals, priestly colleges, and pantheons of related gods. a rich set of historical myths about the foundation and rise of their city involving human actors, with occasional divine interventions.

Roman mythology had its own unique way of thinking about their gods. Roman mythology had a distinct and complex interlocking between gods and humans. Religion of the early Romans found itself later on being constantly added to by extra beliefs.

The absorption of neighboring local gods took place as the Roman state conquered the surrounding territory. The Romans commonly granted the local gods of the conquered territory the same honors as the earlier gods. In many instances the newly acquired deities were formally invited to take up their abode in new sanctuaries at Rome.

Religion in ancient Rome combined several different cult practices and embraced more than a single set of beliefs. The Romans originally followed a rural animistic tradition, in which many spirits were each responsible for specific, limited aspects of the cosmos and human activities, such as ploughing. The early Romans referred to these as numina. Another aspect of this animistic belief was ancestor, or genius, worship, with each family honoring their own dead by their own rites. Rome had a strong belief in gods. When they took over Greece, they inherited the Greek gods but fused them with their Roman counterparts. Based heavily in Greek and Etruscan mythology, Roman religion came to encompass and absorb hundreds of other religions, developing a rich and complex mythology.

Roman Festivals:
There were only a few Roman religious festivals known from ancient times. Some of these survived to the end of the pagan empire. Many new festivals were introduced to mark the naturalization of new gods. In fact so many festivals were eventually introduced that the work days on the calendar were outnumbered. Among the more important of the Roman religious festivals were the Saturnalia, the Lupercalia, the Equiria, and the Secular games.

Human Sacrifice:
Most ancient Roman sacrifices were animals. But the Romans still made some human sacrifices as part of tradition. Slaves, prisoners of war and others were sometimes buried alive in a belief it would placate the Manes and the Fates in certain circumstances. After the Battle of Cannae, male and female couples of Greek and Gaelic slaves were buried alive to placate the gods.

Major Roman Mythology Deities:

  • Apollo : god of the sun, poetry, music.
  • Bona Dea : goddess of fertility.
  • Bacchus : god of wine and sensual pleasures.
  • Carmenta : Roman goddess of childbirth and prophecy.
  • Ceres : goddess of the harvest.
  • Cybele : earth mother
  • Diana : goddess of the hunt, the moon, virginity, and childbirth.
  • Flora : goddess of flowers.
  • Fortuna : goddess of fortune.
  • Janus : two-headed god
  • Juno : Queen of the Gods and goddess of matrimony
  • Jupiter : King of the Gods
  • Mars : god of war
  • Mercury : messenger of the gods, bearer of souls to the underworld
  • Minerva : roman goddess of wisdom and war
  • Neptune : god of the sea
  • Ops : goddess of plenty
  • Pluto : King of the Dead
  • Pomona : goddess of fruit trees
  • Portunes : god of keys, doors, and livestock.
  • Volturnus : roman god of water.
  • Saturn : god of harvest
  • Venus : goddess of love and beauty
  • Vesta : goddess of the Roman state.
  • Vulcan : Roman god of the forge, fire, and blacksmiths.

Minor Roman Mythology Deities:

  • Abeona : protects children the first time they left home.
  • Abundantia : goddess of prosperity
  • Acca Larentia : goddess of cornfields.
  • Acis : river god near the Etna.
  • Adeona : goddess who protected children
  • Aeolus : god of storms and winds
  • Aera Cura : goddess associated with underworld
  • Aequitas : Roman goddess of fair trade and honest merchants
  • Aesculapius : god of health and medicine
  • Aeternitas : goddess and personification of eternity
  • Alemonia or Alemona : responsible for nourishing the unborn child
  • Angerona : goddess who relieved men from pain and sorrow
  • Angita : healing and magic
  • Anna Perenna : goddess of the “circle of the year”
  • Antevorta : goddess of the future
  • Arimanius : underworld god.
  • Aurora : goddess of the dawn
  • Averna : goddess of the underworld.
  • Averruncus : Roman god of childbirth.
  • Bellona or Duellona : war goddess
  • Bona Dea : goddess of fertility
  • Bromius : Roman god of wine.
  • Bubona : goddess of cattle
  • Caelus : god of the sky
  • Candelifera : goddess of childbirth
  • Cardea : goddess of health
  • Carmenta : Roman mythology goddess of childbirth and prophecy
  • Carna : goddess of the heart
  • Ceres : Roman goddess of growing plants
  • Cinxia : goddess of marriage
  • Clementia : goddess of forgiveness
  • Clitunno : god of the Clitunno River
  • Concordia : goddess of agreement
  • Consus : protects grain storage
  • Convector : oversees bringing in of the crops
  • Cuba : goddess who helps babies sleep
  • Cunina : protectors of infants
  • Cupid : god of love and son of Mars and Venus.
  • Cura : goddess who created humans from clay
  • Cybele : Roman goddess of mountains, nature, wild animals
  • Dea Dia : goddess of growth
  • Dea Tacita : The Silent Goddess
  • Decima : measurer of the thread of life
  • Dei Lucrii : early gods of wealth
  • Deverra : protected midwives and women in labor
  • Diana : virgin goddess of the hunt
  • Dius Fidus : god of oaths
  • Disciplina : personification of discipline
  • Discordia : goddess of discord
  • Dis Pater : god of wealth and the underworld
  • Domiduca : protects children on their home
  • Domiducus : goddess who brought brides to their husbands houses.
  • Domitius : god who kept wives in their husbands homes
  • Edusa : goddess of child nourishmen
  • Edesia : goddess of food
  • Egeria : water nymph/goddess
  • Empanda : goddess of generosity
  • Epona : protector of horses, donkeys, mules
  • Eventus Bonus : Roman god of success
  • Fabulinus : god of children and their first words
  • Facunditas : god of the harvest
  • Fama : goddess of fame
  • Fauna : goddess of vegetation.
  • Faunus : god of flocks
  • Faustitas : god who protected livestock
  • Febris : goddess who protected people against sickness
  • Felicitas : goddess of good luck
  • Ferentina : protector of the Latin commonwealth
  • Feronia : goddess of fountains and woods
  • Fides : goddess of loyalty
  • Flora : goddess of flowers and the season of spring
  • Fontus : god of wells and springs
  • Fornax : goddess of bread and baking
  • Fortuna : goddess of good luck
  • Fraus : goddess of treachery
  • Fulgora : personification of lightning
  • Furrina : Roman goddess
  • Glycon : snake god
  • Hercules : god of strength
  • Hermus : river god
  • Herulus : god of the darkness
  • Hippona : goddess of horses
  • Honos : god of military honors
  • Imporcitor : god responsible for the harrowing of the fields
  • Insitor : responsible for owing of the crops
  • Intercidona : minor goddess of childbirth
  • Inuus : god of fertility
  • Invidia : goddess of jealousy
  • Justitia : goddess of justice
  • Juturna : goddess of fountains, wells, and springs
  • Juventas : goddess of youth
  • Lactanus or Lactans : god that makes crops prosper
  • Lares : household gods
  • Laverna : patroness of thieves
  • Levana : goddess of newborn babies
  • Liber : roman god of fertility
  • Libera : a goddess of the earth.
  • Liberalitas : goddess generosity
  • Libertas : goddess of freedom
  • Lima : goddess of thresholds
  • Lua: goddess to whom soldiers sacrificed captured weapons
  • Lucina : goddess of childbirth
  • Luna : goddess of the moon
  • Lupercus : god of shepherds.
  • Manes : souls of the dead
  • Mania : ruler of the underworld.
  • Mantus : ruler of the underworld
  • Mater Matuta : goddess of dawns
  • Mellona : goddess of bees
  • Messor : minor agricultural god
  • Minerva : crafts and wisdom
  • Mithras : was popular with soldiers
  • Moneta : minor goddess of prosperity
  • Muta : goddess of silence.
  • Mutinus Mutunus : god of fertility
  • Necessitas : Roman mythology goddess of destiny
  • Nemesis : goddess of revenge
  • Nemestrinus : god of woods and forests
  • Nerio : ancient war goddess
  • Nixi : goddesses of childbirth
  • Nodutus : made knots in stalks of wheat
  • Nona : minor goddess
  • Nox : goddess of night
  • Obarator : minor god of agriculture
  • Occator : for growth and harvesting of the crops
  • Orchadis : for the olive groves
  • Ops : goddess of fertility
  • Orbona : goddess of children
  • Orcus : punisher of broken oaths
  • Palatua : guarded the Palatine Hill
  • Pales : deity of shepherds, flocks and livestock
  • Parcae : personifications of destiny
  • Partula : goddess of childbirth
  • Patalena : goddess of flowers
  • Paventia : goddess who comforted frightened children
  • Pax : goddess of peace
  • Penates : household gods
  • Picumnus : minor god of fertility
  • Pietas : goddess of duty
  • Pilumnus : protection of infants at birth
  • Poena : goddess of punishment
  • Pomona : roman goddess of fruit trees, gardens and orchards
  • Porus : god and personification of plenty
  • Porrima : goddess of the future
  • Postverta : goddess of the past
  • Potina : Roman goddess of childrens drinks
  • Priapus : god of the shade
  • Promitor : minor agricultural god
  • Prorsa Postverta : goddess of women in labor
  • Proserpina : goddess of springtime
  • Providentia : goddess of forethought
  • Pudicita : goddess and personification of chastity.
  • Puta : goddess of pruning vines
  • Quiritis : goddess of motherhood.
  • Redarator : minor god of agriculture
  • Robigo : protected crops
  • Robigus : protected crops
  • Roma : personification of the Roman state
  • Rumina : goddess who protected breastfeeding mothers
  • Runcina : minor goddess of agriculture
  • Rusina : protector of farmland
  • Rusor : minor agricultural god
  • Salus : goddess of public welfare
  • Sancus : god of loyalty
  • Sarritor : minor god of agriculture
  • Securita or Securitas : goddess of security
  • Semonia : goddess of sowing
  • Sentia : goddess who oversaw childrens development
  • Silvanus : minor god of woodlands and forests
  • Sol Invictus : Roman sun god
  • Somnus : god of sleep
  • Sors : god of luck
  • Spes : goddess of hope
  • Spiniensis : minor agricultural god
  • Stata Mater : protected against fires
  • Sterquilinus : god of fertilization.
  • Strenua : goddess of strength and endurance
  • Suadela : goddess of persuasion
  • Summanus : god of nocturnal thunder
  • Tempestes : goddess of storms
  • Terra or Tellus : goddess of the earth and land
  • Tiberinus : river god
  • Tibertus : god of the river Anio
  • Tranquillitas : goddess of peace and tranquility
  • Trivia : goddess of magic
  • Ubertas : minor agricultural god
  • Unxia : minor goddess of marriage
  • Vacuna : protected the farmers sheep
  • Vagitanus : minor god of children
  • Venti : the winded
  • Vertumnus : god of the seasons
  • Vervactor : minor agricultural god
  • Vesta : virgin goddess
  • Vica Pota : goddess of victory
  • Victoria : goddess of victory
  • Viduus : god who separated soul and body after death
  • Virbius : a forest god, the reborn Hippolytus
  • Viriplaca : goddess of marital strife
  • Volumna : Roman mythology goddess of nurseries
  • Volturnus : god of the waters
  • Voluptas : goddess of pleasure

Vervain
Was a sacred plant to the ancient Romans. It was believed the Vervain was able to repel the enemy during times of war. Vervain was associated with Mars and was worn by Ambassadors in their missions to other nations. Vervain was also sacred to the Druids who used it in spells.

Heracles
Was a legendary hero. He gained fame for his great strength and bravery. He was the son of Zeus. However his mother was a mortal, Alcmene. Hera, the wife of Zeus, was angry at Heracles. She sent two serpents to kill him as a child. But Heracles, even strong and brave as a child, killed the serpents. As an adult, Hercules consulted the Delphic Oracle who told him to go into service for King Eurystheus. During this time he performed the “twelve labors of Heracles”.

Janus
Was the Roman God who gave his name to the month of January. Janus presided over openings, beginnings and doorways. Janus was often depicted with two faces because he could look backward and forward at the same time. Janus was originally a household spirit. Those praying to the Gods always mentioned Janus first. The arch of Janus was opened when Rome went to war and stayed that way until the army came home.

Vesta
Originally started out as a household spirit. She was later personified and given the stature of her Greek equivalent, Hestia. In the temple of Vesta her flame was kept alive by Vestal Virgins. June 9 was the feast day for Goddess Vesta.

Genius
Was the guardian spirit of the family. Eventually over time the Genius came to be the guardian of places and even institutions.

Penates
A group of household Spirits. These Spirits oversaw the household supplies and made sure there was never want in the house.

Mithraism
Originally came from the Middle East and India. Mithras was very popular among Roman soldiers. Mithras was a soldier God of life, the Sun and fertility, and was a mediator between Heaven and Earth. Mithraism promised life after death.

Cybele
Was a Mother Earth Goddess who was popular among women. Cybele`s lover Attis castrated himself and bled to death. The initiation rites for Cybele`s priests required them to castrate themselves. Roman celebrations were on the cycle of the seasons and life after death.

Necessatis
Was the Roman Goddess of Destiny for humankind. She was the counterpart of Greek Goddess Themis. Necessatis was also the mother of the three Fates.

Lupercalia
This was a fertility festival in ancient Rome that was held on February 15 and was sacred to Lupercus. It included rites that protected the domestic animals from wolves. There were also purification ceremonies that aided in the renewal of life and nature.

Larvae
Were the souls of dead people who were restless due to violence committed while alive on Earth. The Larvae are similar to a type of poltergeist. It was believed the Larvae caused madness in the living.

Fortuna
Was the Roman Goddess of good fortune and happiness. On certain lucky people of her choice she bestowed large fortunes. However, on those that had fallen from her grace she bestowed poverty. Fortuna was also regarded as the Goddess of chance.

Saturn
The God of harvest and agriculture. Saturn is also the husband of Ops. His very famous harvest festival, the Saturnalia, was held every year in December.

Vestal Virgins
Were priestesses who dedicated themselves to serving Vesta, the Goddess of the Earth. The Vestals entered training at between 6 to 10 years old. The period of training took ten years. They then remained in full service for 10 years. During this time they tended the sacred fire on the altar of Vesta, carried water from the fountain, and and served as custodians of the Palladium from Troy. After this the Vestals spent another 10 years in training the vestal students. Only after this were they free to renounce their vow of celibacy and marry. The Vestal Virgins were held in very high esteem in Rome. It is believed the first Vestal Virgins were selected by Aeneas.

Manes
Were the spirits of the dead who resided in the underworld. Three times a year festivals were held in their honor. On these occasions the Manes would come back to haunt the living. In the underworld the Manes were ruled by Goddess Mania.