In classical Roman religion, a genius loci (plural genii loci) was the protective spirit of a place. It was often depicted in religious iconography as a figure holding attributes such as a cornucopia, patera (libation bowl) or snake. Many Roman altars found throughout the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire were dedicated to a particular genius locus. The Roman imperial cults of the Emperor and the imperial house developed in part in connections with the sacrifices made by neighborhood associations (vici) to the local genius. These 265 local districts had their cult organised around the Lares
Lares Compitales (guardian spirits or lares of the crossroads), which the emperor Augustus
Augustus transformed into Lares
Lares Augusti along with the Genius Augusti. The Emperor's genius is then regarded as the genius loci of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire as a whole. Roman examples of these Genii can be found, for example, at the church of St. Giles, Tockenham, Wiltshire where the genius locus is depicted as a relief in the wall of a Norman church built of Roman material. This shows "a youthful and curly-haired Roman Genius worked in high relief, holding a cornucopia in his left hand and a patera in his right', which previously has been "erroneously identified as Asclepius".
1 Asian usage 2 Western usage 3 Art and architecture 4 Modern fantasy 5 See also 6 References 7 Further reading 8 External links
The numinous spirits of places in Asia are still honored today in city
pillar shrines, outdoor spirit houses and indoor household and
In contemporary usage, genius loci usually refers to a location's
distinctive atmosphere, or a "spirit of place", rather than
necessarily a guardian spirit. An example of contemporary usage might
be along the lines of "Light reveals the genius loci of a place."
Art and architecture
Consult the genius of the place in all; That tells the waters or to rise, or fall; Or helps th' ambitious hill the heav'ns to scale, Or scoops in circling theatres the vale; Calls in the country, catches opening glades, Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades, Now breaks, or now directs, th' intending lines; Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.
Pope's verse laid the foundation for one of the most widely agreed
principles of landscape architecture. This is the principle that
landscape designs should always be adapted to the context in which
they are located.
A priori, archetype, and genius loci are the primary principals of
Neo-Rationalism or New Rationalism. Pioneered by the Italian architect
Aldo Rossi, Neo-Rationalism developed in the light of a re-evaluation
of the work of Giuseppe Terragni, and gained momentum through the work
of Giorgio Grassi. Characterized by elemental vernacular forms and an
adaptation to the existing environment, the Neo-Rationalist style has
adherents beyond architecture in the greater world of art.
In the context of modern architectural theory, genius loci has
profound implications for place-making, falling within the
philosophical branch of "phenomenology". This field of architectural
discourse is explored most notably by the theorist Christian
Norberg-Schulz in his book, Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of
In modern works of fantasy, such as
Dungeons and Dragons
Chenghuang, the Chinese urban equivalent Genius (mythology) Jinn Landvættir Shekhinah Tomte Tudigong, the Chinese equivalent Tutelary deity Zashiki-warashi Zeitgeist
^ Number is for the city of Rome, cf. Plin. Nat.Hist. III 66 ^ Woolf, Greg. (2008). "Divinity and Power in Ancient Rome" in Religion and Power: Divine Kingship in the Ancient World and Beyond ed Nicole Brisch (Oriental Institute Seminars No. 4), Chicago:The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago ^ Toynbee, J.M.C. (1978). "Two Romano-British Genii", in Britannia, Vol 9, p330. London:Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies
Patterson, Barry (2005). The Art of Conversation with the Genius Loci. Cappall Bann Books. ISBN 1-86163-169-3.
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