Roman Mythology
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"Oh Mighty Jupiter Optimus Maximus - if you wish to be addressed by this name, otherwise I hail you by whichever name it is that you wish to hear - you who are whichever sex you prefer, you who are the spirit of Rome - accept this offering made to you as an atonement, and accept too the gold from the horns and hooves of your victim and keep it to adorn your new temple"

Invocation of Jupiter, as used in Colleen McCullough's Fortune's Favourites

Basic Information

Roman Mythology refers to the Legends, Folklore, and body of Mythology of Ancient Rome.


All-Inclusive Pantheon

The Ancient Romans had a huge pantheon of gods.

When Livius Andronicus translated The Odyssey into Latin, he didn't just translate. He substituted the names of the Greek gods in Homers work for the names of Roman gods that shared characteristics with them. This new work, called the Odyssia, opened the doors for the Romans to just start borrowing and converting various gods and mythologies over to their own system. Most of the gods and goddesses of Greek Mythology and Etruscan Mythology were "rolled into" their Roman counterparts. To get an idea or two about the gods they stole parts of from other cultures, see Interpretatio Graeca.

In addition to this melding process, some gods and goddesses were taken "whole cloth" - that is, they were added to the Roman Pantheon instead of merely tacked on as another incarnation of an existing god. An example would be Mithras, who was original part of Persian Mythology, but was liked enough to be plucked from his original context and reforged as a Roman.

Also, no mention of the abundance of gods in Ancient Rome would be complete without mention of the Manes (ancestral and familial gods), the Lares and Penates (household gods), the Numina (the power of a god, contained in a place or thing), Genius Loci (the spirit of a place), and the Imperial Cult (the worship of past and present Emperors as divine). In some ways, Roman religion seems to be built up in a series of layers from something that started out close to animism - the Interpretatio Graeca and the similar absorbtion of Etruscan deities appears to have put human forms and faces on far less anthropomorphic beings. The anthropomorphisation process was, however, far from universal - a good few of the deities of Rome remained as numinae - in some cases with even their gender being considered a guess.

Major Deities

  • Apollo - god of the sun, poetry, music, and oracles, and a Dii Consentes
  • Bona Dea - goddess of fertility, healing, virginity, and women. Also known as Fauna
  • Bacchus - god of wine, sensual pleasures, and truth, not considered a Dii Consentes by the Romans
  • Carmenta - goddess of childbirth and prophecy, and assigned a flamen minor. The leader of the Camenae.
  • Ceres - goddess of the harvest and mother of Proserpina, and a Dii Consentes, and assigned a flamen minor
  • Cybele - earth mother
  • Diana - goddess of the hunt, the moon, virginity, and childbirth, twin sister of Apollo and a Dii Consentes
  • Divus Augustus – Emperor Augustus was deified while still alive and serving as Emperor.
  • Divus Julius - Gaius Julius Caesar was deified 2 years after his death
  • Flora - goddess of flowers, and assigned a flamen minor
  • Fortuna - goddess of luck, usually good luck. Also the goddess of fate.
  • Janus - two-headed god of beginnings and endings and of doors
  • Juno - Queen of the Gods and goddess of matrimony, and a Dii Consentes
  • Jupiter (mythology) - King of the Gods and the storm, air, and sky god, and a Dii Consentes, and assigned a flamen maior
  • Mars (mythology) - god of war and father of Romulus, the founder of Rome, and a Dii Consentes, and assigned a flamen Maior
  • Mercury (mythology) - messenger of the gods and bearer of souls to the underworld, and a Dii Consentes
  • Minerva - goddess of wisdom and war, and a Dii Consentes
  • Neptune (mythology) - god of the sea, earthquakes, and horses, and a Dii Consentes
  • Ops - goddess of plenty
  • Pluto (mythology) - Pluto a name given to him by the Romans from Greek myths, he is the King of the Dead, and of the underworld.
  • Pomona - goddess of fruit trees, and assigned a flamen minor.
  • Portunes - god of keys, doors, and livestock, he was assigned a flamen minor.
  • Proserpina - Queen of the Dead and a grain-goddess
  • Quirinus - Romulus, the founder of Rome, was deified as Quirinus after his death. Quirinus was a war god and a god of the Roman people and state, and was assigned a flamen maior.
  • Saturn (mythology) - a titan, god of harvest and agriculture, the father of Jupiter, Neptune, Juno, and Pluto
  • Sol Invictus - sun god
  • Venus (mythology) - goddess of love and beauty, mother of the hero Aeneas, and a Dii Consentes
  • Vesta (mythology) - goddess of the hearth and the Roman state, and a Dii Consentes
  • Volturnus - god of water, was assigned a flamen minor.
  • Vulcan (mythology) - god of the forge, fire, and blacksmiths, and a Dii Consentes, and assigned a flamen minor
  • Uranus (mythology) - god of the sky before Jupiter. Based on the greek Ouranos.

Minor Deities

  • Abeona - a goddess who protected children the first time they left their parents' home, safeguarding their first steps alone
  • Abundantia - goddess of good fortune, abundance, and prosperity
  • Acca Larentia - goddess of cornfields. A mythological figure who started out as mortal but was later deified.
  • Acis - river god near the Etna, son of Faunus and the nymph Symaethis
  • Adeona - goddess who protected children as they returned home
  • Aeolus - god of storms and winds,
  • Aequitas - goddess of fair trade and honest merchants
  • Aera Cura - goddess associated with the underworld
  • Aesculapius - god of health and medicine
  • Aeternitas - goddess and personification of eternity
  • Alemonia or Alemona - goddess responsible for nourishing the unborn child
  • Alexander Severus - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Angerona - goddess who relieved men from pain and sorrow
  • Angita - early goddess of healing, magic and witchcraft. May be the same as Angitia
  • Angitia - goddess associated with snakes, later goddess and derived from Angita
  • Anna Perenna - early goddess of the "circle of the year", her festival was celebrated March 15
  • Antevorta - goddess of the future and one of the Camenae; also called Porrima
  • Antoninus Pius - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Arimanius - an underworld god derived from the Greek Areimanios.
  • Attis - semidivine chariot-driving eunuch-consort of Cybele
  • Aurelian - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Aurora - goddess of the dawn
  • Averna - goddess of the underworld. May be equivalent to Proserpina
  • Averruncus - god of childbirth. Averts calamity, whilst bringing good fortune.
  • Bellona or Duellona - war goddess
  • Bromius - god of wine. Later used as an epithet of Bacchus
  • Bubona - goddess of cattle
  • Caca - originally an ancient hearth goddess, later demoted to a minor figure in mythology and replaced by Vesta.
  • Cacus - originally an ancient god of fire, later demoted to a giant.
  • Caelus - god of the sky
  • Camenae - four goddesses with various attributes including fresh water, prophecy, and childbirth. There were four of them: Carmenta, Egeria, Antevorta, and Postvorta.
  • Candelifera - goddess of childbirth
  • Caracalla- an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Cardea - goddess of health, thresholds and after being assigned by Janus, door hinges and handles.
  • Carmenta - goddess of childbirth and prophecy
  • Carmentes - two goddesses of childbirth: Antevorta and Postvorta or Porrima, future and past.
  • Carna - goddess who presided over the heart and other organs
  • Carus - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Cinxia - goddess of marriage
  • Claudius - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Clementia: goddess of forgiveness and mercy
  • Clitunno - god of the Clitunno River
  • Cloacina - goddess who presided over the system of sewers in Rome
  • Commodus - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Concordia: goddess of agreement, understanding, and marital harmony
  • Constantine I - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Constantius Chlorus - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Consus - chthonic god protecting grain storage
  • Convector - god who oversaw the bringing in of the crops from the field
  • Cuba - goddess of infants who was invoked by mothers to help their babies sleep
  • Cunina - the protectress of infants
  • Cupid - Roman god of love. The son of Venus. Greek name is Eros
  • Cura - goddess who created humans from clay
  • Cybele - a goddess of caverns and mountains, walls and fortresses, nature, wild animals
  • Dea Dia - goddess of growth
  • Dea Tacita (The Silent Goddess) - goddess of the dead; later equated with the earth goddess Larenta
  • Decima - minor goddess and one of the Parcae (Roman equivalent of the Moirae). The measurer of the thread of life, her Greek equivalent was Lachesis
  • Decius - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Dei Lucrii - early gods of wealth, profit, commerce and trade. They were later subsumed by Mercury
  • Devera - goddess who ruled over the brooms used to purify temples in preparation for various worship services, sacrifices and celebrations
  • Deverra - goddess who protected midwives and women in labor
  • Diana Nemorensis - Local version of Diana
  • Diana - virgin goddess of the hunt
  • Diocletian - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Dis Pater or Dispater - god of wealth and the underworld, later subsumed by Pluto and Jupiter
  • Disciplina - personification of discipline
  • Discordia - goddess of discord. Greek equivalent is Eris
  • Dius Fidus - god of oaths, associated with Jupiter
  • Domiduca - goddess of protecting children on the way back to their parents' home
  • Domiducus - goddess who brought brides to their husbands' houses.
  • Domitian – an emperor who declared himself a god while he was still alive
  • Domitius or Domidius - god who kept wives in their husbands' homes
  • Edesia - goddess of food who presided over banquets
  • Edusa - goddess of nourishment who guarded over children as they learned to eat solid foods
  • Egeria - water nymph/goddess, later considered one the Camenae
  • Empanda - goddess of generosity and charity
  • Epona - protector of horses, donkeys, mules
  • Eventus Bonus - god of success in agriculture and commerce.
  • Fabulinus - god of children, the god responsible for teaching children to speak.
  • Facunditas - god of the harvest.
  • Falacer - obscure god. He was assigned a Flamen Minore.
  • Fama - goddess of fame and rumor.
  • Fauna - a miess of vegetation. Also a title of other vegetative goddesses such as Bona Dea, Ops, and Terra.
  • Faunus - god of flocks.
  • Faustitas - god who protected herd and livestock.
  • Febris - goddess who protected people against fevers and malaria.
  • Felicitas - goddess of good luck and success.
  • Ferentina - patron goddess of the city Ferentinum, Latium, protector of the Latin commonwealth.
  • Feronia - rural goddess of woods and fountains.
  • 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.
  • Fraus - goddess of treachery. Her Greek equivalent was Apate.
  • Fulgora - personification of lightning.
  • Furrina - goddess whose functions are mostly unknown; may be associated with water. One source claims she was a goddess of robbers and thieves. She was assigned a Flamen Minore. Name could also be Furina.
  • Gallienus- an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Genius Loci - the spirit of a place, every building had one
  • Glycon - snake god. His cult originated in Macedonia.
  • Gordian I - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Gordian II - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Gordian III - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Gratiae - Roman term for the Charites or Graces
  • Gratian - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Hadrian - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Hercules - god of strength
  • Herennius Etruscus - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Hermus - a river god with a sanctuary at Sardis
  • Herulus or Erelus - god of the darkness of Hades
  • Hespera - goddess of dusk
  • Hippona - goddess of horses
  • Honos - god of military honours, chivalry and as once source claims, military justice
  • Hora - Quirinus' wife
  • Imporcitor - god responsible for the harrowing of the fields. Minor attendant of Ceres
  • Indiges - the deified Aeneas
  • Insitor - god responsible for the sowing of crops
  • Intercidona - minor goddess of childbirth; invoked to keep evil spirits away from the child; symbolised by a cleaver
  • Inuus - god of fertility and sexual intercourse, protector of livestock
  • Invidia - goddess of envy or jealousy
  • Iris - goddess of the rainbow
  • Julian the Apostate - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Justitia - goddess of justice
  • Juturna- goddess of fountains, wells, and springs
  • Juventas - goddess of youth
  • Lactanus or Lactans - god that made the crops prosper or "yield milk"
  • Larentina - goddess of death
  • Lares - household gods
  • Laverna - patroness of thieves, con men and charlatans
  • Levana - goddess of newborn babies
  • Liber - a god of fertility, assimilated with Dionysus
  • Libera - a goddess of the earth.
  • Liberalitas - goddess or personification of generosity
  • Libertas - goddess of freedom
  • Libitina - goddess of death, corpses and funerals (also Naenia)
  • Lima - goddess of thresholds
  • Lua - goddess to whom soldiers sacrificed captured weapons
  • Lucina - goddess of childbirth
  • Lucius Calpurnius Piso Frugi - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Lucius Verus - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Luna - goddess of the moon
  • Lupercus - god of shepherds; a name for the Greek god Pan.
  • Mana Genita - goddess who presided over burials, mother or leader of the manes
  • Manes - the souls of the dead; came to be seen as household deities
  • Mania - goddess of the dead and ruler of the underworld, wife of Mantus. Not to be confused with the Greek figure of the same name.
  • Mantus - god of the dead and ruler of the underworld, husband of Mania.
  • Marcus Aurelius - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Mater Matuta - goddess of dawn and childbirth; also seen as patroness of mariners
  • Maximian - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Mefitis or Mephitis - goddess and personification of poisonous gases and volcanic vapours.
  • Mellona or Mellonia - goddess of bees and beekeeping
  • Messor - minor agricultural god concerned with the growth and harvesting of crops; attendant of Ceres.
  • Minerva - goddess of crafts and wisdom
  • Mithras - god worshipped in the Roman empire; popular with soldiers
  • Moneta - minor goddess of prosperity; the spirit of the mint. Also used as an epithet of Juno
  • Mormo - a poorly understood figure from Roman occult practice who may have been a goddess, or possibly just a boogeyman
  • Mors - personification of death and equivalent of the Greek Thanatos.
  • Morta - minor goddess of death and one of the Parcae (Roman equivalent of the Moirae). The cutter of the thread of life, her Greek equivalent was Atropos.
  • Murtia or Murcia ("Of the Myrtle")- a little-known goddess who was associated with the myrtle, and in other sources was called a goddess of sloth and laziness. Later equated with Venus in the form of Venus Murcia.
  • Muta - goddess of silence.
  • Mutinus Mutunus - god of fertility; equivalent of the Greek Priapus
  • Naenia - goddess of funerals (also Libitina)
  • Necessitas - goddess of destiny, the Roman equivalent of Ananke
  • Nehalennia - Celtic goddess who protected of travelers, especially seagoing travelers
  • Nemesis (mythology) - goddess of revenge
  • Nemestrinus - god of woods and forests
  • Nerio - ancient war goddess and the personification of valor
  • Nerva - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Nixi - goddesses of childbirth, called upon to protect women in labour
  • Nodutus - god who made knots in stalks of wheat
  • Nona - minor goddess, one of the Parcae (Roman equivalent of the Moirae). The spinner of the thread of life, her Greek equivalent was Clotho.
  • Nox - goddess of night, derived from the Greek Nyx.
  • Numerian - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Obarator - minor god of agriculture. Responsible for overseeing the top-dressing of crops.
  • Occator - minor agricultural god responsible for the growth and harvesting of the crops; attendant of Ceres.
  • Ops - goddess of fertility (more properly Opis)
  • Orbona - goddess of children, especially orphans. She granted new children to those who had become childless
  • Orchadis - minor god responsible for the olive groves; attendant of Ceres.
  • Orcus - a god of the underworld and punisher of broken oaths
  • Palatua - obscure goddess who guarded the Palatine Hill. She was assigned a Flamen Minore.
  • Pales - deity of shepherds, flocks and livestock
  • Parcae - personifications of destiny (Nona, Decima, and Morta)
  • Partula or Parca - goddess of childbirth; determined the length of pregnancy.
  • Patalena - goddess of flowers
  • Paventia - goddess who comforted frightened children
  • Pax - goddess of peace; equivalent of Greek Eirene.
  • Penates or Di Penates - household gods
  • Pertinax - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Philip the Arab - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Picumnus - minor god of fertility, agriculture, matrimony, infants and children
  • Pietas - goddess of duty; personification of the Roman virtue pietas.
  • Pilumnus - minor guardian god, concerned with the protection of infants at birth
  • Poena - goddess of punishment
  • Pomona - goddess of fruit trees, gardens and orchards
  • Porrima - goddess of the future. Also called*Antevorta. One of the Carmentes or the Camenae
  • Porus - god and personification of plenty
  • Postverta - goddess of the past and one of the two Carmentes (other being Porrima)
  • Potina - goddess of children's drinks
  • Priapus - localised god of the shade; worship derived from the Greek Priapus
  • Probus - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Promitor - minor agricultural god, responsible for the growth and harvesting of crops; attendant of Ceres.
  • Prorsa Postverta - goddess of women in labor
  • Proserpina - goddess of springtime
  • Providentia - goddess of forethought
  • Publius Septimius Geta - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Pudicita - goddess and personification of chastity, one of the Roman virtues. Her Greek equivalent was Aidôs.
  • Puta - goddess of pruning vines and bushes
  • Quiritis - goddess of motherhood. Originally Sabine or pre-Roman, she was later equated with Juno.
  • Redarator - minor god of agriculture, associated with the second ploughing
  • Robigalia
  • Robigo or Robiga - goddess of blight, who protected crops from disease. Sister of Robigus
  • Robigus - god of blight, who protected crops from disease. Brother of Robigo.
  • Roma - personification of the Roman state
  • Rumina - goddess who protected breastfeeding mothers (also known as Diva Rumina)
  • Runcina - minor goddess of agriculture, associated with reaping and weeding.
  • Rusina - protector of the fields or farmland (also known as Rurina)
  • Rusor - a minor agricultural god and attendant of Ceres
  • Salus - goddess of the public welfare of the Roman people; came to be equated with the Greek Hygieia
  • Sancus - god of loyalty, honesty, and oaths
  • Sarritor or Saritor - minor god of agriculture, god of hoeing and weeding
  • Securita or Securitas - goddess of security, especially the security of the Roman empire
  • Semonia - goddess of sowing
  • Sentia - goddess who oversaw children's mental development
  • Septimius Severus - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Silvanus - minor god of woodlands and forests
  • Somnus - god of sleep; equates with the Greek Hypnos.
  • Soranus - a god later subsumed by Apollo in the form Apollo Soranus.
  • Sors - god of luck
  • Spes - goddess of hope
  • Spiniensis - minor agricultural god; prayed to when removing thorny bushes
  • Stata Mater - goddess who protected against fires. Sometimes equated with Vesta
  • Statanus - god also known as Statulinus or Statilinus. Presided over the child's first attempt to stand up. Along with his wife Statina protected the childred as they left home for the first time and returned.
  • Statina - goddess who, along with her husband Statanus protected the childred as they left home for the first time and returned.
  • Sterquilinus ("manure") - god of fertilisation. Also known as Stercutus , Sterculius , Straculius , Struculius,
  • Strenua or Strenia - goddess of strength and endurance
  • Suadela- goddess of persuasion
  • Summanus - god of nocturnal thunder
  • Tempestes - goddess of storms
  • Terminus - the rustic god of boundaries
  • Terra Mater or Tellus - goddess of the earth and land
  • Tiberinus - river god; deity of the Tiber river.
  • Tibertus - god of the river Anio, a tributary of the Tiber
  • Titus - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Trajan - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Tranquillitas - goddess of peace and tranquility
  • Trivia - goddess of magic
  • Ubertas - minor agricultural god, associated with prosperity
  • Unxia - minor goddess of marriage, concerned with anointing the bridegroom's door
  • Vacuna - ancient goddess who protected the farmers' sheep and was later identified with Nike-Goddess of Victory and worshipped as a war-goddess.
  • Vagitanus - minor god of children, guardian of the infant's first cry at birth
  • Valerian (emperor) - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Vediovus or Veiovis - obscure god, a sort of anti-Jupiter. May be a god of the underworld
  • Venti - the winds, equivalent to the Greek Anemoi. North wind: Aquilo(n) or Septentrio; South wind: Auster; East wind: Vulturnus; West wind: Favonius; North west wind: Caurus or Corus.
  • Veritas - goddess and personification of the Roman virtue of veritas or truth.
  • Verminus - god of cattle worms
  • Vertumnus, Vortumnus or Vertimnus - god of the seasons, and of gardens and fruit trees
  • Vervactor - minor agricultural god, deity of the first ploughing
  • Vespasian - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Vesta (mythology): virgin goddess of the hearth, home, and family
  • Vica Pota - goddess of victory and competitions
  • Victoria: goddess of victory
  • Victorinus - an emperor who was deified after his death
  • Viduus - god who separated soul and body after death
  • Virbius - a forest god, the reborn Hippolytus
  • Viriplaca - goddess of marital strife
  • Virtus - god or goddess of military strength, personification of the Roman virtue of virtus
  • Volturnus - god of the waters
  • Volumna - goddess of nurseries
  • Voluptas - goddess of pleasure

Legendary Mortals


Roman Mythology as Religion

Offices and Titles

Beliefs and practices


See Also:

Sources

Bibliography
1. Wikipedia List of Roman Deities - the source from which the vast majority of the above list and descriptions were drawn.
2. Wikipedia on the Di Indigetes - a list of just the gods and goddesses that were native to Rome, not those that were adopted from other mythologies.
4. Non-Fiction Book: Mythology For Dummies by Blackwell and Blackwell
5. Non-Fiction Book: How To Mellify A Corpse by Vicki León

Game and Story Use

  • Most of the links on this page correspond to the names of pages on Wikipedia, so if you need more information than is presented here, go search for a wikipedia page of the same title.
  • The religious practices of Ancient Rome can be as complex and multi-layered as you and your play group have the patience for. A campaign could:
    • focus on a single cult or deity,
    • stick just to the major gods and goddesses, blending the greek and roman interpretations (see Classical Mythology) as desired,
    • pay very light lip service to a great number of divine personages in passing, just to catch a little local color, or
    • be an arcane jumble of continual sacrifice, punctuated with cameos by lesser divinities, with an ever-present conflict between cults for control of the bureaucracy and culture that would make modern Conspiracy Theories look like child's play.
  • Some Roman Emperors were, officially, an actual God-on-Earth.
    • Even if that title it doesn't come with actual powers, it's certainly going to swell their egos. In a game system where Willpower and confidence matter, that could give them a sizable edge. In a setting where Mythago exist, the Emperor may find their Legend defines them, and not the other way around.
    • In any setting, all the attention and power is likely to make them a Chessmaster, or maybe even a Magnificent Bastard. In other words, a perfect Big Bad Evil Guy.
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