Friday, 30 March 2012

Imagining the Gods

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Apollo, God of light and the sun, healing (or disease), music (especially stringed instruments), poetry, archery and prophecy
Statue of Apollo from Pompeii

Bacchus (Dionysus), God of grapes, fruitfulness, vegetation, wine, ecstasy and madness
"Young sick Bacchus" (1594) by M da Carravaggio

Castor and Pollux (Dioscuri) Twin Gods of sailors and horsemanship; associated with camaraderie 
"Abduction of the daughters of Leucippus" (c. 1617) by P P Rubens

Ceres (Demeter), Goddess of agriculture, plant growth and crop fertility
"Ceres, Goddess of the Harvest" (17th century) by S Vouet 

Diana (Artemis), chaste Goddess of the hunt, animals (esp. wild), woodlands, childbirth and the moon 

"Diana the Huntress" by G Saint-Pierre (b. 1833)

Faunus (Pan), woodland God who brings fertility to fields and flocks; associated with pleasure-seeking
Detail of A Rackham's illustration of Pan in "The Wind in the Willows" (1940)

Flora (Chloris), Goddess of flowering plants; associated with spring, fertility and sexual licentiousness
Detail of "Flora and the Zephyrs" (1897) by J W Waterhouse 

Fortuna (Tyche), Goddess of increasing prosperity, good fortune, ill fortune, chance and luck
"Fortuna" (c. 1670) by H Gascar

Freyja (Germanic equivalent of Venus), Goddess of love, life and fertility*
"Freja" (1910) by J Bauer

Freyr (Germanic equivalent of Faunus), fertility God associated with good times, peace and plenty
Viking era statue believed to be Freyr, from Sweden. Source:

Hercules (Herakles), God of heroism, strength and perseverance
"Hercules and Prometheus" (1656) by M Preti

Janus, God of beginnings, transitions, openings, closings and entrance-ways
Bust of Janus, Capitoline Museums

Juno (Hera), Goddess of women, marriage and motherhood

"Juno and Argus" (c. 1617) by O Riminaldi

Jupiter (Zeus), protecting God of the sky and weather, esp. rain and storms; associated with oaths
"Jupiter and Thetis" (1811) by J Ingres

Magna Mater (Cybele), Earth Goddess, great mother of the Gods and all beings

"Cybele" (c. 1675) Tredegar House 

Mars (Ares), God of war, valour and virility
Mars Ultor, Palazzo Altemps, Rome

Mercury (Hermes), God of financial gain, trade, travel, writing, language, communication, cunning and psychopomp

"Mercury" (1780) by A Pajou

Minerva (Athena), Goddess of wisdom, skilled workmanship and strategy

"Minerva (and the Centaur)" by S Botticelli (d. 1510)

Neptune (Poseidon), God of water, the sea and horses

"Neptune's Horses" by W Crane (1893)

(Germanic equivalent of Mercury), God of writing, wisdom, cunning, 
eloquence, prosperity, travel and psychopomp 
"Odin the wanderer" (1886) by G von Rosen

Pluto (Hades) & Proserpina (Persephone), Deities of death, the underworld and mineral wealth

"The Rape of Proserpina" (1622) by G L Bernini

Salus (Hygeia), Goddess of safety, good health and well-being
"Hygeia" (circa 1615 CE) by P P Rubens 

Saturn (Kronos), God of agricultural abundance, sowing, seeds; ruler of a past golden age
"The Temple of Saturn" (19th century), Villa Torlonia, Rome

(Germanic equivalent of Jupiter), protecting God of the sky, thunder, lightning and rain

"Thor battering the Midgard Serpent" (1790) by H Fuseli

Trivia (Hekate), Goddess of crossroads (usually three-way), ghosts, the undead and witchcraft

"Hekate" (1795) by W Blake

Tyr (Germanic equivalent of Mars), God of war and bravery
Tyr losing his hand to the bound wolf Fenrir; from an 18th century Icelandic manuscript (Royal Library, Copenhagen)

Venus (Aphrodite), Goddess of sexual love, relationships, passion, pleasure, beauty, charm and fertility
"Venus of Urbino" (1538) by Titian

Vesta (Hestia), Goddess of the hearth-fire and home; associated with purity and virginity

"Herm of a Vestal Virgin" (1822) by A Canova 

Victoria (Nike), Goddess of victory, especially military victory

"Triumph of Victoria" (c. 1614) by P Rubens

Vulcan (Hephaestus), God of potent fire, the forge and blacksmithing
"Vulcan forging the thunderbolts of love" (1638) by P Rubens

* It is possible that Freyja and Frigg are in fact different names for the same great fertility Goddess of the Germanic tribes. Note that among the western German tribes "Frija" became the consort of Woden and was equated with Venus, hence "Freitag" (lit. Frija's day, or Friday) was used in place of the Latin name for the day the Romans called "dies Veneris" (lit. the day of Venus). Freyja-Frigg may even be the same deity as the great Earth-Mother Goddess whom Tacitus called "Nerthus" - who seems to have been associated, like Freyja, with boars. 

Written by M. Sentia Figula; find me at and Roman Pagan on Facebook

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