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Roman mythology is the body of
myths Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the ca ...
of
ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who stud ...
as represented in the
literature Literature broadly is any collection of written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entitie ...
and visual arts of the Romans. One of a wide variety of genres of
Roman folklore Roman folklore is the folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the ca ...
, ''Roman mythology'' may also refer to the modern study of these representations, and to the subject matter as represented in the literature and art of other cultures in any period. Roman mythology draws from the mythology of the
Italic peoples The Italic peoples were an ethnolinguistic group identified by their use of Italic languages, a branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family. The Italic peoples are descended from the Indo-European speaking peoples who inh ...
and ultimately from
Proto-Indo-European mythology Proto-Indo-European mythology is the body of myths and deities A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/super ...
. Roman mythology also draws directly on
Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psyc ...
, potentially as early as Rome's
protohistory Protohistory is a period between prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history between the use of the first stone tools by hominins 3.3 million years ago and the invention of writing systems. The u ...
, but primarily during the
Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period spans the period of History of the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium in 31  ...
of Greek influence and through the
Roman conquest of Greece Greece in the Roman era describes the Roman conquest of Greece, as well as the period of Greek history The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern nation-state of Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ...
, via the artistic imitation of Greek literary models by Roman authors. The Romans
identified ''Identified'' is the second studio album by Vanessa Hudgens, released on July 1, 2008 in the U.S. June 24, 2008 in Japan, February 13, 2009 in most European countries and February 16, 2009 in the United Kingdom. The album rec ...
their own gods with those of the
ancient Greeks Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era was ...
—who were closely historically related in some cases, such as
Zeus Zeus or , , ; grc, Δῐός, ''Diós'', label=genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Ling ...

Zeus
and
Jupiter Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the List of Solar System objects by size, largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant with a mass more than two and a half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined, but ...
—and reinterpreted myths about
Greek deities The following is a list of gods A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as "a God (male deity), god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion)", or anything ...
under the names of their Roman counterparts. Greek and Roman mythologies are therefore often classified together in the modern era as
Greco-Roman mythology Classical mythology, Classical Greco-Roman mythology, Greek and Roman mythology or Greco-Roman mythology is both the body of and the study of myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, su ...
. Latin literature was widely known in Europe throughout the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
and into the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
. The interpretations of Greek myths by the Romans often had a greater influence on narrative and pictorial representations of "
classical mythology Classical mythology, classical Greco-Roman mythology, Greek and Roman mythology or Greco-Roman mythology is both the body of and the study of myths from the ancient Greeks and ancient Romans as they are used or transformed by reception theory, cu ...
" than Greek sources. In particular, the versions of Greek myths in
Ovid Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō (; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known in English as Ovid ( ), was a Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom ...

Ovid
's ''
Metamorphoses The ''Metamorphoses'' ( la, Metamorphōsēs, from grc, μεταμορφώσεις: "Transformations") is an 8 AD Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. ...
'', written during the reign of
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
, came to be regarded as
canonical Canonical may refer to: Science and technology * Canonical form In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geo ...
.


Nature of Roman myth

Because
ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community. Rituals are characterized, ...

ritual
played the central role in Roman religion that myth did for the Greeks, it is sometimes doubted that the Romans had much of a native mythology. This perception is a product of
Romanticism Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to ...
and the
classical scholarship Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Any ...

classical scholarship
of the 19th century, which valued Greek civilization as more "authentically creative." From the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
to the 18th century, however, Roman myths were an inspiration particularly for
European painting The history of Western painting represents a continuous, though disrupted, tradition from classical antiquity, antiquity until the present time. Until the mid-19th century it was primarily concerned with Representational art, representational ...
.Wiseman, ''The Myths of Rome'', preface. The Roman tradition is rich in historical myths, or
legend A legend is a genre of folklore that consists of a narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfictional ( memoir, biography, news report, documentary, Travel literature, tra ...

legend
s, concerning the foundation and rise of the city. These narratives focus on human actors, with only occasional intervention from deities but a pervasive sense of divinely ordered destiny. In Rome's earliest period, history and myth have a mutual and complementary relationship. As T. P. Wiseman notes:
The Roman stories still ''matter'', as they mattered to
Dante Dante Alighieri (), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to Mononymous person, simply as Dante (, also ; – 14 September 1321), was an Italian Italian poetry, poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Co ...

Dante
in 1300 and
Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national p ...

Shakespeare
in 1600 and the
founding fathers of the United States The Founding Fathers of the United States, or simply the Founding Fathers or Founders, were a group of American revolutionary Patriots (also known as Revolutionaries, Continentals, Rebels, or American Whigs) were those colonists of the Thi ...
in 1776. What does it take to be a free citizen? Can a
superpower A superpower is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Co ...

superpower
still be a
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
? How does well-meaning
authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of Empiric ...

authority
turn into murderous
tyranny A tyrant (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following peri ...
?
Major sources for Roman myth include the ''
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...
'' of
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
and the first few books of
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditiona ...
's history as well as Dionysius's ''Roman Antiquities''. Other important sources are the ''
Fasti In ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian i ...
'' of
Ovid Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō (; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known in English as Ovid ( ), was a Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom ...

Ovid
, a six-book poem structured by the Roman religious calendar, and the fourth book of elegies by
Propertius Sextus Propertius was a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of ...
. Scenes from Roman myth also appear in Roman
wall painting File:Túmulo 100.JPG, 350px, prehistoric Egypt, Prehistoric Egyptian mural painted on a Nekhen tomb wall c. 3,500 B.C. with aspects in the Gerzeh culture style A mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or othe ...

wall painting
,
coins A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of metal A metal (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hell ...
, and
sculpture Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving (the removal of material) and modelling (the addition of material, as clay), ...

sculpture
, particularly
relief Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term ''wikt:relief, relief'' is from the Latin verb ''relevo'', to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is to give the ...
s.


Founding myths

The ''Aeneid'' and Livy's early history are the best extant sources for Rome's founding myths. Material from Greek heroic legend was grafted onto this native stock at an early date. The Trojan prince
Aeneas In Greco-Roman mythology, Aeneas (, ; from Greek language, Greek: Αἰνείας, ''Aineíās'') was a Trojan hero, the son of the Trojan prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite (equivalent to the Roman Venus (mythology), Venus). His father ...
was cast as husband of
Lavinia In Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of myths of ancient Rome as represented in the Latin literature, literature and Roman art, visual arts of the Romans. One of a wide variety of genres of Roman folklore, ''Roman mythology'' may a ...

Lavinia
, daughter of King
Latinus Latinus ( la, Latinus; grc, Λατῖνος) was a figure in both Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...

Latinus
, patronymical ancestor of the
Latini The Latins (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Rep ...
, and therefore through a convoluted revisionist genealogy as forebear of
Romulus and Remus In Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of myths of ancient Rome as represented in the Latin literature, literature and Roman art, visual arts of the Romans. One of a wide variety of genres of Roman folklore, ''Roman mythology'' m ...

Romulus and Remus
. By extension, the Trojans were adopted as the mythical ancestors of the Roman people.


Other myths

The characteristic myths of Rome are often political or moral, that is, they deal with the development of
Roman government
Roman government
in accordance with divine law, as expressed by
Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ethnic religion of Ancient Rome that the ancient Romans, Romans used to define themselves as a people, as well as the religious practices of peoples brought under Roman rule, in so far as they became widel ...
, and with demonstrations of the individual's adherence to moral expectations ''(
mos maiorum The ''mos maiorum'' (; "ancestral custom" or "way of the ancestors," plural ''mores'', cf. English "mores"; ''maiorum'' is the Genitive case, genitive plural of "greater" or "elder") is the unwritten code from which the Ancient Rome, ancient Roma ...
)'' or failures to do so. *
Rape of the Sabine women The Rape of the Sabine Women ( ), also known as the Abduction of the Sabine Women or the Kidnapping of the Sabine Women, was an incident in Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of myths Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is ...

Rape of the Sabine women
, explaining the importance of the
Sabines The Sabines (; lat, Sabini; grc, Σαβῖνοι ''Sabĩnoi''; it, Sabini, all exonyms) were an Italic peoples, Italic people that lived in the central Apennine Mountains of the ancient Italian Peninsula, also inhabiting Latium north of the An ...
in the formation of Roman culture, and the growth of Rome through conflict and alliance. *
Numa Pompilius Numa Pompilius (; 753–673 BC; reigned 715–673 BC) was the legendary second king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest ...

Numa Pompilius
, the Sabine second
king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the two different meanings of magistrate have often overlapped and ...
who consorted with the
nymph A nymph ( grc, νύμφη, nýmphē, el, script=Latn, nímfi, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the dialects of the Gree ...

nymph
Egeria and established many of Rome's legal and religious institutions. *
Servius Tullius Servius Tullius was the legendary sixth king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the two d ...
, the sixth king of Rome, whose mysterious origins were freely mythologized and who was said to have been the lover of the goddess
Fortuna Fortuna ( la, Fortūna, equivalent to the Greek goddess Tyche) is the goddess of fortune and the personification Personification occurs when a thing or abstraction is represented as a person, in literature or art, as an anthropomorphism, anthro ...

Fortuna
. * The
Tarpeian Rock The Tarpeian Rock (; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...

Tarpeian Rock
, and why it was used for the execution of traitors. *
Lucretia According to Roman tradition, Lucretia ( /luːˈkriːʃə/ ''loo-KREE-shə'', Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the ...

Lucretia
, whose self-sacrifice prompted the overthrow of the early Roman monarchy and led to the establishment of the Republic. *
Cloelia Cloelia ( grc, Κλοιλία) was a legendary woman from the early history of ancient Rome. As part of the peace treaty which ended the Roman-Etruscan Wars#War with Clusium in 508 BC, war between Rome and Clusium in 508 BC, Roman hostages were t ...

Cloelia
, a Roman woman taken hostage by
Lars Porsena Lars Porsena (Etruscan: Pursenas; sometimes spelled Lars Porsenna) was an Etruscan king known for his war War is an intense armed conflict between states, government A government is the system or group of people governing an o ...

Lars Porsena
. She escaped the Clusian camp with a group of Roman virgins. *
Horatius at the bridge
Horatius at the bridge
, on the importance of individual
valor Valor, valour, or valorous may mean: * Courage, a similar meaning * Virtue ethics, roughly "courage in defense of a noble cause" * Valor (DC Comics), a DC Comics superhero * Valor (EC Comics), ''Valor'' (EC Comics), an EC Comics title * Valor Commu ...

valor
. * Mucius Scaevola, who thrust his right hand into the fire to prove his loyalty to Rome. *
Caeculus In Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to th ...
and the founding of
Praeneste Palestrina (ancient ''Praeneste''; grc, Πραίνεστος, ''Prainestos'') is a modern Italian city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or mun ...
. *
Manlius and the geese
Manlius and the geese
, about divine intervention at the Gallic siege of Rome. * Stories pertaining to the Nonae Caprotinae and
PoplifugiaThe poplifugia or populifugia (Latin: ''the day of the people's flight''), was a festival of ancient Rome celebrated on July 5, according to Varro, in commemoration of the flight of the Romans, when the inhabitants of Ficulea (ancient Latin town), Fi ...
festivals. *
Coriolanus ''Coriolanus'' ( or ) is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1605 and 1608. The play is based on the life of the legendary Roman Republic, Roman leader Gaius Marcius Coriolanus, Caius Marcius Coriolanus. Sh ...
, a story of politics and morality. * The
Etruscan__NOTOC__ Etruscan may refer to: Ancient civilisation *The Etruscan language, an extinct language in ancient Italy *Something derived from or related to the Etruscan civilization **Etruscan architecture **Etruscan art **Etruscan cities **Etruscan ...
city of
CorythusCorythus is the name of six mortal men in Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the Cosmogony, origin and Cosmolog ...
as the "cradle" of Trojan and Italian civilization. * The arrival of the Great Mother (Cybele) in Rome.


Religion and myth

Narratives of divine activity played a more important role in the system of Greek religious belief than among the Romans, for whom ritual and cult were primary. Although Roman religion did not have a basis in
scriptures Religious texts are texts related to a religious tradition. They differ from literary texts by being a compilation or discussion of beliefs, mythologies, ritual practices, commandments or laws, ethical conduct, spiritual aspirations, and for c ...

scriptures
and
exegesis Exegesis (; from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is app ...
, priestly literature was one of the earliest written forms of Latin prose. The books ''(libri)'' and commentaries ''(commentarii)'' of the
College of Pontiffs The College of Pontiffs ( la, Collegium Pontificum; see ''collegium A (plural ), or college, was any association in ancient Rome with a legal personality. Such associations could be civil or religious. The word literally means "society", f ...
and of the
augur An augur was a priest and official in the classical Roman world. His main role was the practice of augury Augury is the practice from ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religiou ...

augur
s contained religious procedures, prayers, and rulings and opinions on points of religious law. Although at least some of this archived material was available for consultation by the
Roman senate
Roman senate
, it was often ''occultum genus litterarum'', an arcane form of literature to which by definition only priests had access. Prophecies pertaining to world history and to Rome's destiny turn up fortuitously at critical junctures in history, discovered suddenly in the nebulous
Sibylline books The ''Sibylline Books'' ( la, Libri Sibyllini) were a collection of oracular An oracle is a person or agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, r ...
, which
Tarquin the Proud Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (died 495 BC) was the legendary seventh and final king of Rome, reigning from 535 BC until the popular uprising in 509 BC that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. He is commonly known as Tarquin the Proud, fr ...
(according to legend) purchased in the late 6th century BC from the
Cumaean Sibyl The Cumaean Sibyl was the priestess presiding over the Apollonian oracle at Cumae, a Greek colony located near Naples, Italy. The word ''Sibyl (oracle), sibyl'' comes (via Latin) from the ancient Greek word ''sibylla'', meaning prophetess. There ...
. Some aspects of archaic Roman religion survived in the lost theological works of the 1st-century BC scholar
Varro Marcus Terentius Varro (; 116–27 BC) was a Roman polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo universalis, "universal human") is an individual whose knowledge spans a substantial number of subjects, known ...
, known through other classical and Christian authors. The earliest pantheon included Janus, Vesta, and a leading so-called
Archaic Triad The Archaic Triad is a hypothetical divine triad, consisting of the three allegedly original deities worshipped on the Capitoline Hill in Rome: Jupiter (mythology), Jupiter, Mars (mythology), Mars and Quirinus. This structure was no longer clearly ...
of Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus, whose flamens were of the highest order. According to tradition,
Numa Pompilius Numa Pompilius (; 753–673 BC; reigned 715–673 BC) was the legendary second king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest ...

Numa Pompilius
, the
Sabine The Sabines (; lat, Sabini; it, Sabini, all exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Sou ...

Sabine
second
king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the two different meanings of magistrate have often overlapped and ...
, founded Roman religion; Numa was believed to have had as his consort and adviser a Roman goddess or
nymph A nymph ( grc, νύμφη, nýmphē, el, script=Latn, nímfi, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the dialects of the Gree ...

nymph
of fountains and of prophecy, Egeria. The Etruscan-influenced
Capitoline Triad The Capitoline Triad was a group of three deities who were worshipped in Religion in ancient Rome, ancient Roman religion in an elaborate temple on Rome's Capitoline Hill (Latin ''Capitolium''). It comprised Jupiter (mythology), Jupiter, Juno (my ...
of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva later became central to official religion, replacing the Archaic Triad – an unusual example within
Indo-European religion Proto-Indo-European mythology is the body of myths and deities associated with the Proto-Indo-Europeans, the hypothetical speakers of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language. Although the mythological motifs are not directly attested ...
of a supreme triad formed of two female deities and only one male. The cult of Diana became established on the
Aventine Hill The Aventine Hill (; la, Collis Aventinus; it, Aventino ) is one of the Seven Hills on which ancient Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus Romulus was the legend ...
, but the most famous Roman manifestation of this goddess may be
Diana Nemorensis Diana Nemorensis ("Diana of Nemi"), also known as " Diana of the Wood", was an Italic form of the goddess who became Hellenised during the fourth century BC and conflated with Artemis Artemis (; grc-gre, Ἄρτεμις Artemis, ) is the G ...
, owing to the attention paid to her cult by J.G. Frazer in the mythographical classic ''
The Golden Bough ''The Golden Bough: A Study in Comparative Religion'' (retitled ''The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion'' in its second edition) is a wide-ranging, comparative study of mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expres ...
''. The gods represented distinctly the practical needs of daily life, and Ancient Romans scrupulously accorded them the appropriate rites and offerings. Early Roman divinities included a host of "specialist gods" whose names were invoked in the carrying out of various specific activities. Fragments of old ritual accompanying such acts as plowing or sowing reveal that at every stage of the operation a separate deity was invoked, the name of each deity being regularly derived from the verb for the operation.
Tutelary deities A tutelary () (also tutelar) is a deity or a Nature spirit, spirit who is a guardian, patron, or protector of a particular place, geographic feature, person, lineage, nation, culture, or occupation. The etymology of "tutelary" expresses the concep ...
were particularly important in ancient Rome. Thus,
Janus In ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ethnic religion of Ancient Rome that the ancient Romans, Romans used to define themselves as a people, as well as the religious practices of peoples brought under Roman rule ...

Janus
and Vesta guarded the door and hearth, the
Lares Lares ( , ; archaic , singular ''Lar'') were guardian deities in ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ethnic religion of Ancient Rome that the ancient Romans, Romans used to define themselves as a people, as well ...

Lares
protected the field and house,
Pales In ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ethnic religion of Ancient Rome that the ancient Romans, Romans used to define themselves as a people, as well as the religious practices of peoples brought under Roman rule, in so ...
the pasture,
Saturn Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest in the Solar System, after Jupiter. It is a gas giant with an average radius of about nine and a half times that of Earth. It only has one-eighth the average density of Earth; how ...
the sowing,
Ceres Ceres most commonly refers to: * Ceres (dwarf planet) Ceres (; minor-planet designation: 1 Ceres) is the smallest recognized dwarf planet, the closest dwarf planet to the Sun, and the List of notable asteroids, largest object in the main astero ...
the growth of the grain, Pomona the fruit, and
Consus In ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion or Belief#Religion, belief associated with a particular ethnic group. Ethnic religions are oft ...
and
Ops OPS may refer to: Organizations * Obscene Publications Squad, a former unit of the Metropolitan Police in London, England * Oceanic Preservation Society * Office of Public Safety, a former US government agency *Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbour ...

Ops
the harvest. Even the majestic
Jupiter Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the List of Solar System objects by size, largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant with a mass more than two and a half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined, but ...
, the ruler of the gods, was honored for the aid his rains might give to the farms and vineyards. In his more encompassing character he was considered, through his weapon of lightning, the director of human activity. Due to his widespread domain, the Romans regarded him as their protector in their military activities beyond the borders of their own community. Prominent in early times were the gods
Mars Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System, being larger than only Mercury (planet), Mercury. In English, Mars carries the name of the Mars (mythology), Roman god of war and is often referred to ...
and
Quirinus In Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of myths Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or ...

Quirinus
, who were often identified with each other. Mars was a god of war; he was honored in March and October. Modern scholars see Quirinus as the patron of the armed community in time of peace. The 19th-century scholar
Georg Wissowa Georg Otto August Wissowa (17 June 1859 – 11 May 1931) was a German classical philology, classical philologist born in Neudorf, near Breslau. Education and career Wissowa studied classical philology under August Reifferscheid at the Un ...

Georg Wissowa
thought that the Romans distinguished two classes of gods, the ''
di indigetes In classical Latin, the epithet ''Indiges'', singular in form, is applied to Sol ''(Sol Indiges)'' and to Jupiter Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant A gas giant is a giant ...
'' and the ''di novensides'' or ''
novensiles In ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion or Belief#Religion, belief associated with a particular ethnic group. Ethnic religions are often ...
'': the ''indigetes'' were the original gods of the Roman state, their names and nature indicated by the titles of the earliest priests and by the fixed festivals of the calendar, with 30 such gods honored by special festivals; the ''novensides'' were later divinities whose cults were introduced to the city in the historical period, usually at a known date and in response to a specific crisis or felt need.
Arnaldo Momigliano Arnaldo Dante Momigliano (5 September 1908 – 1 September 1987) was an Italian historian known for his work in historiography, characterised by Donald Kagan as "the world's leading student of the writing of history in the ancient world". Biograph ...
and others, however, have argued that this distinction cannot be maintained. During the war with Hannibal, any distinction between "indigenous" and "immigrant" gods begins to fade, and the Romans embraced diverse gods from various cultures as a sign of strength and universal divine favor.
William Warde Fowler William Warde Fowler (16 May 1847 – 15 June 1921) was an English historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who studies a ...
, ''The Religious Experience of the Roman People'' (London, 1922) pp. 157 and 319; J.S. Wacher, ''The Roman World'' (Routledge, 1987, 2002), p. 751.


Foreign gods

The absorption of neighboring local gods took place as the Roman state conquered neighboring territories. The Romans commonly granted the local gods of a conquered territory the same honors as the earlier gods of the
Roman state religion Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in ...
. In addition to
Castor and Pollux Castor; grc, Κάστωρ, Kástōr, beaver. and Pollux. (or Polydeukes). are twin half-brothers in Greek mythology, Greek and Roman mythology, known together as the Dioscuri.; grc, Διόσκουροι, Dióskouroi, sons of Zeus, links=no, f ...

Castor and Pollux
, the conquered settlements in Italy seem to have contributed to the Roman pantheon Diana,
Minerva Minerva (; ett, Menrva) is the Roman goddess Roman mythology is the body of of as represented in the and . One of a wide variety of genres of , ''Roman mythology'' may also refer to the modern study of these representations, and to ...

Minerva
,
Hercules Hercules (, ) is the Roman equivalent of the Greek divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed p ...

Hercules
,
Venus Venus is the second planet from the Sun. It is named after the Venus (mythology), Roman goddess of love and beauty. As List of brightest natural objects in the sky, the brightest natural object in Earth's night sky after the Moon, Venus can ...
, and deities of lesser rank, some of whom were Italic divinities, others originally derived from the Greek culture of
Magna Graecia Magna Graecia (, ; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic ...

Magna Graecia
. In 203 BC, Rome imported the cult object embodying
Cybele Cybele ( ; Phrygian: ''Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya'' "Kubileya/Kubeleya Mother", perhaps "Mountain Mother"; Lydian Lydian may refer to: * Lydians, an ancient people of Anatolia * Lydian language, an ancient Anatolian language * Lydian alphabet * ...
from
Pessinus Pessinus ( el, Πεσσινούς or Πισσινούς) was an Ancient city and archbishopric in Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( l ...
in
Phrygia In classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related ...
and welcomed its arrival with due
ceremony A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious ...
. Both
Lucretius Titus Lucretius Carus ( , ; 99 – c. 55 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Rom ...
and
Catullus Gaius Valerius Catullus (; ), often referred to simply as Catullus (), was a Latin poet of the late Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public ...

Catullus
, poets contemporary in the mid-1st century BC, offer disapproving glimpses of Cybele's wildly ecstatic cult. In some instances, deities of an enemy power were formally invited through the ritual of ''
evocatio The vocabulary of ancient Roman religion was highly specialized. Its study affords important information about the religion, traditions and beliefs of the ancient Romans. This legacy is conspicuous in European cultural history in its influence on ...
'' to take up their abode in new sanctuaries at Rome. Communities of foreigners ''(
peregrini ''Peregrinus'' (Latin: ) was the term used during the early Roman empire, from 30 BC to AD 212, to denote a free provincial subject of the Empire who was not a Roman citizen. ''Peregrini'' constituted the vast majority of the Empire's inhabitants ...
)'' and former slaves ''(libertini)'' continued their own religious practices within the city. In this way
Mithras Mithraism, also known as the Mithraic mysteries, was a Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rom ...

Mithras
came to Rome and his popularity within the
Roman army The Roman army (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in ...

Roman army
spread his cult as far afield as
Roman Britain Roman Britain is the period in classical antiquity when large parts of the island of Great Britain were under Roman conquest of Britain, occupation by the Roman Empire. The occupation lasted from AD 43 to AD 410. During that time, the ...

Roman Britain
. The important Roman deities were eventually identified with the more
anthropomorphic Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an ...
Greek gods and goddesses, and assumed many of their attributes and myths.


See also

*
Ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who stud ...
*
Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psyc ...
*
Kanglei mythology Meitei mythology, also known as Kanglei mythology or Manipuri mythology, are the body of narrative myths Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradi ...
* List of deities in Sanamahism * List of ''Metamorphoses'' characters * List of Roman deities * Roman Polytheistic Reconstructionism * The Golden Bough (mythology)


References


Sources

* Beard, Mary. 1993. "Looking (Harder) for Roman Myth: Dumézil, Declamation, and the Problems of Definition." In ''Mythos in Mythenloser Gesellschaft: Das Paradigma Roms.'' Edited by Fritz Graf, 44–64. Stuttgart, Germany: Teubner. * Braund, David, and Christopher Gill, eds. 2003. ''Myth, History, and Culture in Republican Rome: Studies in Honour of T. P. Wiseman.'' Exeter, UK: Univ. of Exeter Press. * Cameron, Alan. 2004. ''Greek Mythography in the Roman World.'' Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. * Dumézil, Georges. 1996. ''Archaic Roman Religion''. Rev. ed. Translated by Philip Krapp. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press. * Fox, Matthew. 2011. "The Myth of Rome" In ''A Companion to Greek Mythology. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World. Literature and Culture.''Edited by Ken Dowden and Niall Livingstone. Chichester; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. * Gardner, Jane F. 1993. ''Roman Myths: The Legendary Past''. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press. * Grandazzi, Alexandre. 1997. ''The Foundation of Rome: Myth and History.'' Translated by Jane Marie Todd. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press. * Hall, Edith 2013. "Pantomime: Visualising Myth in the Roman Empire." In ''Performance in Greek and Roman Theatre.'' Edited by George Harrison and George William Mallory, 451–743. Leiden; Boston: Brill. * Miller, Paul Allen. 2013. "Mythology and the Abject in Imperial Satire." In ''Classical Myth and Psychoanalysis: Ancient and Modern Stories of the Self.'' Edited by Vanda Zajko and Ellen O'Gorman, 213–230. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. * Zahra Newby, Newby, Zahra. 2012. "The Aesthetics of Violence: Myth and Danger in Roman Domestic Landscapes." ''Classical Antiquity'' 31.2: 349–389. * Wiseman, T. P. 2004. ''The Myths of Rome.'' Exeter: Univ. of Exeter Press. * Woodard, Roger D. 2013. ''Myth, Ritual, and the Warrior in Roman and Indo-European Antiquity.'' Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.


External links

* ''Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae'' (LIMC) (1981–1999, Artemis-Verlag, 9 volumes), ''Supplementum'' (2009, Artemis_Verlag).
LIMC-France
(LIMC): Databases Dedicated to Graeco-Roman Mythology and its Iconography. {{Authority control Roman mythology,