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Gods and Goddesses

The Roman Pantheon

The Roman's had more gods than you could shake a stick at. Unlike the Greeks, the Romans had no history of mythological narrative. They did, however, have a highly developed system of rituals and a rich set of legends about the founding of Rome.
Through time the original religion of the early Romans was modified by the addition of numerous and often conflicting beliefs, and by the assimilation of a vast amount of Greek mythology.

To this pantheon of gods were added neighbouring local gods as the Roman state conquered the surrounding territories. The Romans commonly granted the local gods of the conquered territory the same honours as the earlier gods who had been regarded as peculiar to the Roman state.


The Major Deities

Deity Origin
Original Name
Description
Apollo
Greece
Apollo
One of the most important of the Olympian deities. The son of Zeus and Leto, and brother of Artemis, Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of light and the sun, truth and prophecy, medicine, archery, music and poetry.
Asclepius
Greece
Asclepius
The god of medicine and healing in ancient Greece. Father of Hygieia and Panacea. Asclepius represented the healing aspect of medicine. The rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, remains a symbol of medicine today.
Bacchus
Greece Dionysus
The god of wine and intoxication and as Dionysus, a major figure of Greek mythology, one of the twelve Olympians. To the Romans he was also the patron deity of agriculture and the theatre.
Ceres
Greece
Demeter
Goddess of the harvest and maternal love. Daughter of Saturn and Opis, sister to Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Juno and Veritas. Ceres made up a trinity with two other gods associated with farming, Liber and Libera.
Cupid
Greece
Eros
God of love and beauty. The son of Venus and Mars. Cupid's power was supposed to be even greater than his mother's, since he had dominion over the dead, the creatures of the sea and the gods in Olympus.
Cybele
Phrygia
Kybele
The great mother (magna mater), goddess of caverns and mountains, walls and fortresses, nature and wild animals.
Diana
Greece
Artemis
Goddess of the hunt, the moon, fertility and childbirth, animals and woodlands. The daughter of Jupiter and Latona and the sister of Apollo, Diana completed a trinity of Roman deities with Egeria the water nymph and Virbius, the woodland god.
Faunus
Greece
Pan
One of the oldest Roman deities, he was a legendary king of the Latins, who came with his people from Arcadia. Faunus was the horned god of the wilds, forest, plains and fields. He came to be equated in literature with the Greek god Pan.
Hercules
Greece
Herakles
God of victory and commercial enterprise. Based, via the Etruscan hero Hercle, on the Greek god Herakles, the son of Zeus and the mortal Alcmena. The Romans adopted the myths of Herakles including his twelve labours, essentially unchanged, but added anecdotal detail of their own.
Isis
Egypt
Isis
Goddess of the earth. The cult originated in the Nile delta and gradually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the goddess of nature and magic and was the patron of a swathe of different groups including slaves, sinners, maidens, aristocrats and the wealthy.
Janus
Etruria
Ani (possibly)
The god of gates, doors, beginnings and endings. Janus was usually depicted with two heads facing in opposite directions, and was one of the few Roman gods who had no ready-made counterpart. The month of January is named after him.
Juno
Greece
Hera
Queen of the Gods and protector of the Roman state. Daughter of Saturn and Opis, sister and wife of Jupiter, sister to Neptune, Pluto, Ceres and Veritas, she was also mother of Juventas, Mars, and Vulcan. The month of June was named after her.
Jupiter
Greece
Zeus
The king of the gods, and the god of sky and thunder. As the patron deity of ancient Rome, he ruled over laws and social order. The son of Saturn and Opis, he was also brother to Neptune, Pluto, Veritas, Ceres and Juno (the later two were both also his wives). Jupiter was worshipped as part of the Capitoline Triad alongside Juno and Minerva.
Mars
Greece
Ares
The god of war and the most prominent of the military gods. The son of Juno and Jupiter, husband of Bellona, and the lover of Venus, he was also the legendary father of Romulus, the founder of Rome. Originally god of fertility and agriculture and the protector of cattle. The month of March was named after him.
Mercury
Greece
Hermes
Messenger of the gods and bearer of souls to the underworldAlso the god of trade, profit and commerce. Mercury is portrayed wearing winged shoes and hat, carrying the caduceus, a staff with two entwined snakes that was Apollo's gift to Hermes.
Minerva
Greece
Athena
Goddess of wisdom and war. The daughter of Jupiter, she was also the goddess of commerce and trade, arts and crafts, medicine and schools.
Mithras
Persia
Mithras
Possibly god of the sun; several inscriptions describe him as 'deus sol invictus' (unconquered sun god). Little is known about the beliefs of the cult of Mithras.
Neptune
Etruria
Greece
Nethuns
Poseidon
God of the sea. Son of Saturn and Opis and brother of Jupiter, Pluto, Juno, Ceres and Veritas. In Rome, however, Neptune was actually far more worshipped for his role as the god of horses and horse racing as Neptune Equester (the Circus Flaminius, had a temple sanctuary dedicated to him).
Opis
Greece
Rhea
Goddess of riches, abundance, and prosperity. Sister and wife of Saturn, mother of Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Juno, Ceres and Veritas. Often referred to as the 'Mother of the Gods'.
Pluto (Dis)
Greece
Plouton

God of the underworld and its riches. Son of Saturn and Opis, he was also brother to Neptune, Pluto, Veritas, Ceres and Juno. Also god of the dead, terminally ill, and those wounded in battle.
Saturn
Greece
Cronus
God of harvest and agriculture. Husband of Opis, father of Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Juno, Ceres and Veritas. Saturday is named after him.
Venus
Greece
Aphrodite
Goddess of love, beauty and fertility. Originally based on the Etruscan goddess of vegetation and gardens, over time she became more associated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite.
Vesta
Italy
Vesta
Goddess of the hearth, home and family. Little is known about the goddess herself. Vesta's fire was guarded at her temples by her priestesses, the Vestales who had to observe absolute chastity for 30 years. It was from this that the Vestales were named the Vestal virgins.
Vulcan
Greece
Hephaestus
God of the forge, fire, and blacksmiths. He was the son of Jupiter and Juno, and husband to Maia and Venus. His forge was believed to be situated underneath Mount Etna in Sicily.




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