THE ANTONINE GUARD
LIVING ROMAN HISTORY
 
Roman Gods and Religion
 
 

Throughout their history, the Romans showed a remarkable readiness to welcome and accept foreign cults and religions. hence, they revered a great many gods and goddesses, from those of the early Italic tribes and the Greeks to all kinds of deities worshipped by various peoples whom they conquered.

Most of the important Roman gods were equivalents of Greek deities, such as Jupiter, whose temple stood on the Capitoline Hill, (equivalent to the Greek god Zeus, king of all gods). his wife the sky-goddess Juno (the Greek Hera). Their family included Bacchus (the Greek Dionysus), god of wine and revels, Ceres (the Greek Demeter), the earth-mother, goddess of the harvest, Diana (the Greek Artemis), the moon goodess and huntress, Mars (the Greek Ares), god of war, Mercury (the Greek Hermes) messenger of the gods and protector of trade, Minerva (the Greek Athena), goddess of wisdom and of crafts, Neptune (the Greek Poseiden), god of the sea, Jupiters brother, Saturn (the Greek Cronus), god of farming, Venus (the Greek Aphrodite), goddess of love and mother of Cupid (the Greek Eros),

In addition to their family gods and goddesses, Romans tended to give a personal nature to Luck and Peace for example, so their goddesses included Fortuna, Concordia, Flora and Roma. During the period of the Empire, emperors were often raised to the level of the gods and it was the citizens duty to pay rhem religious homage.

Among the many gods absorbed from other countries were Apollo, the Greek god of light, prophecy and music, Cybele, a mother goddess from Asia Minor, Isis, the Egytion goddess of many mysteries, and Mithras, the Persian god of light, who was especially popular with the soldiers.

Religion was central to the roman home, and every family had a shrine sacred to the household gods, the Lares and Penates, to whom daily prayers and offerings were made. The Lares guarded the house and the Penates the larder or storeroom. Other gods of the home included Janus, god of the doorway, and Vesta, goddess of the hearth. In Rome's ancient temple of Vesta, a sacred fire was tended by six maidens, known as the Vestal Virgins.

an altar to Jupiter