Sunday, 17 May 2015

A Long List of Deities


Janus head on a silver quadrigatus coin (225 BCE)
Ancient Roman polytheism was a bit like the English language, insofar as "new" Gods were continually borrowed and absorbed into the Religio Romana from other pantheons, just as English continually borrows and absorbs foreign words, without being particularly concerned with maintaining linguistic "purity". Similarly, the traditional mindset of Roman spirituality is open and diverse, and it is perhaps for this reason that there are more Deities associated with Roman polytheism than can possibly be counted. Thus, it is impossible to list all of them. Even if a historian was able to tell you the name of every Deity recorded from the Roman era (and such a list would surely list Deities in the hundreds if not the thousands) this would still not comprise a complete list, because from the polytheistic world view every river, every grove, every force of nature is divine and likely has some kind of spirit, or Deity, attached to it. Due to these facts the following attempt to list over 100 of the more well known Roman Deities is not comprehensive: 
  • Abundantia: Goddess of abundance, sometimes conflated with Ops. 
  • Adonis: a God associated with the cycle of life, death and rebirth; beautiful lover of Venus who dies but is reborn every spring.
  • Aesculapius: God of healing.
  • Anna Perenna: personification of the year (annus), whose festival on 15 March involved drinking and singing of licentious songs by women.
  • Annona: numen / spirit / personification of the food supply.
  • Antinous: deified 19 year old (probable) lover of Hadrian; associated with young, masculine beauty, love and homosexuality.
  • Apollo: God of light and the sun, healing (and disease), music (especially stringed instruments), poetry, archery and prophecy.
  • Aquilo: the north wind.
  • Attis: Cybele's consort.
  • Aurora: Goddess of dawn.
  • Auster: the south wind.
  • Bacchus: God of the vine, grapes, fruitfulness, vegetation, wine, ecstasy and madness.
  • Bellona: Goddess of war and belligerence.
  • Bona Dea (also Damia): the "good Goddess"; fertility Goddess mostly worshipped by women; see also Fauna.
  • Britannia: numen / spirit / personification of the British Isles.
  • Camenae: healing Goddesses identified with the Greek Muses, thus music.
  • Cardea: Goddess of door hinges.
  • Castor and Pollux: Gods of camaraderie and strong friendship; associated with sailors and men of the cavalry who travel far and wide.
  • Ceres: Goddess of agriculture, plant growth and crop fertility.
  • Clementia: Goddess of mercy and clemency.
  • Concordia: Goddess of Concord.
  • Consus: Deity of the granary / grain storage.
  • Cupid: God of love and desire.
  • Cybele: see Magna Mater.
  • Dea Dia: agricultural Goddess of growth.
  • Diana: chaste Goddess of the hunt, animals (esp. wild), woodlands, childbirth, light and the moon.
  • Dii familiares: collective term for all household Gods; guardians of home and family; includes the Lares, the Penates, Janus, Vesta, etc.
  • Dis Pater (also, Orcus or Pluto): God of the underworld and mineral wealth.
  • Dius Fidius: God of oaths; though Jupiter is also strongly associated with oaths.
  • Discordia: Goddess of discord and strife.
  • Dryad: general term borrowed from Hellenism denoting a tree Deity.
  • Egeria: protectress of pregnant women and childbirth; a water spirit worshipped in connection with Diana and the Camenae.
  • Epona: Celtic Goddess of horse riding whose cult was adopted by the Roman cavalry and spread throughout much of Europe.
  • Eurus: the east wind.
  • Fama: numen / spirit / personification of rumour, fame and infamy.
  • Fauna: Goddess of the fertility of woodlands, fields, and flocks; counterpart to Faunus; possibly another name for Bona Dea.
  • Faunus: God of the earth who brings fertility to fields and flocks; associated with sexuality and pleasure.
  • Fides: numen / spirit / personification of good faith, trust and honesty.
  • Flora: Goddess of flowering plants; associated with spring, fertility and sexual licentiousness.
  • Forculus: God of doors.
  • Fortuna: Goddess of increasing prosperity, good fortune, ill fortune, chance and luck. 
  • Genius: protecting male spirit; the feminine counterpart is a "juno".
  • Graces: Goddesses of charm, grace and beauty; hence associated with Venus.
  • Hercules: God of heroism, strength and perseverance.
  • Honos: numen / spirit / personification of honour and virtus
  • Hymen Hymenaeus: God of weddings.
  • Isis: Egyptian earth Goddess worshipped as an ideal mother and wife, as well as being a patroness of magic and the downtrodden.
  • Janus: God of beginnings, transitions, openings, closings and entrance-ways.
  • Juno: Goddess of women, marriage and motherhood. 
  • Jupiter: protecting God of the sky and weather, especially thunder, lightning, rain and storms; also associated with the swearing of oaths.
  • Juturna: Goddess of fountains.
  • Juventas: Goddess of youth.
  • Lar (plural Lares): protecting spirit/s of the household.
  • Larvae (also, Lemures): malevolent spirits of the dead.
  • Latona: mother of Apollo and Diana (twin Deities of light).
  • Liber: see Bacchus.
  • Libera: consort of Liber / Bachhus; identified with the Greek Ariadne.
  • Libertas: numen / spirit / personification of liberty and personal freedom.
  • Libitina: Goddess of the dead.
  • Limentinus: God of the threshold.
  • Lucifer: the morning star; literally "bringer of light".
  • Luna: Goddess of the moon, may be considered an aspect of Diana.
  • Lymphae: general term for Deities of springs, streams and similar water divinities; similar to Greek Naiads.
  • Magna Mater: Phrygian earth Goddess of nature; great mother of all.
  • Manes: spirits of the dead, generally friendly. 
  • Mars: God of violence, war, valour and virility.
  • Matuta: Goddess of uncertain nature; perhaps associated with growth (of crops, children etc); worshipped mostly by young women; associated with Aurora and the Hellenic Leucothea. 
  • Mercury: God of financial gain, trade, travel, writing, language, communication, cunning, trickery and psychopomp.
  • Minerva: Goddess of skilled thought leading to skilled action, thus wisdom, workmanship and strategy.
  • Miseria: numen / spirit / personification of misery and wretchedness, Cicero refers to her as kin to other spirits of unhappiness, including Dolus (deceit), Metus (anxiety), Invidentia (envy), Mors (death), Tenebrae (darkness), Querella (lamentation), Fraus (fraud / delusion) and Pertinacea (obstinacy). We may add to this list Melancholia (alternately, Melancholica); note that mania and psychosis almost certainly belong to the domain of Bacchus. See also Discordia. 
  • Mithras: Persian God of light.
  • Nemesis: numen / spirit / personification of divine retribution.
  • Neptune: God of water, the sea and horses.
  • Nox: Goddess of night.
  • Nundina: Goddess associated with the purification and naming of children (for girls on the 8th day and for boys on the 9th).
  • Ops: Goddess of the wealth of the harvest, consort to Saturn.
  • Osiris: consort to Isis.
  • Pales: Deity of shepherds, flocks and livestock.
  • Parcae: the fates; Goddesses of childbirth and destiny (Nona, Decuma and Morta); determining the length of a person’s life and their allotment of suffering. 
  • Pax: Goddess of peace.
  • Penates: spirits of the household provisions / food stores / pantry.
  • Picus: agricultural Deity associated particularly with the fertilisation of the soil with manure; associated with Faunus.
  • Pietas: personification of a respectful and faithful attachment to Gods, country and family.
  • Picumnus and Pilumnus: agricultural Gods associated with childbirth.
  • Pomona: Goddess of fruit.
  • Portunus: God of harbours.
  • Priapus: God of animal and vegetable sexuality and fertility; protector of gardens.
  • Proserpina: Goddess of the underworld, associated with spring and the life, death, rebirth cycle; consort to Dis Pater.
  • Quirinus: deified Romulus, the founder of Rome.
  • Robigo: God of mildew and wheat rust, a fungal disease affecting grain. Robigo can therefore protect crops from wheat rust.
  • Roma: numen / spirit / personification of Rome.
  • Rumina: Goddess of breastmilk.
  • Sabazius: Phrygian God of vegetation.
  • Salus: Goddess of safety, good health and well-being.
  • Serapis (also Sarapis): Greco-Egyptian God of the sky; associated with healing and fertility.
  • Saturn: God of agricultural abundance, sowing, seeds and mythological ruler of a past golden age. 
  • Silvanus: God of the woods and fields.
  • Somnus: God of sleep.
  • Sol: God of the sun, may be considered as another name for Apollo.
  • Spes: numen / spirit / personification of hope.
  • Tellus: Goddess of the earth; Ovid states she is one and the same as Vesta.
  • Terminus: God of property boundaries; may be associated with steadfastness.
  • Trivia: (also Hekate / Hecate), Goddess of crossroads (usually three-way), ghosts, the undead and witchcraft. 
  • Venus: Goddess of love, relationships, passion, pleasure, beauty, charm and fertility.
  • Vertumnus: God of orchards.
  • Vesta: Vesta is the Goddess of ritual-fire, hearth-fire, and home; associated with purity and virginity. 
  • Victoria: Goddess of victory, especially military victory. 
  • Vulcan: God of destructive and creative (virile) fire.
  • Zephyrus: the west wind.
Sources: drawn from this blog neo polytheistbritannica.com; Kamm, The Romans (Routledge); Ovid, Fasti (Penguin Classics); Turcan, The Gods of Ancient Rome (Routledge);  Scheid, An Introduction to Roman Religion (Indiana University Press).

Written by M. Sentia Figula. Find me at neo polytheistRoman Pagan and on Facebook.

2 comments:

  1. Wonderful and useful post (as usual).

    I think it's extremely difficult to provide an exhaustive list of Roman Deities. Just consider the roman attitude in reducing any activity, act, phenomenon, status, event, etc. at its elementary and minimal fraction, elementary element and component. This is the base i.e. of the Roman Law but it was transposed to any dimension of life. Even in "religion" any single component of the existence, of the Being, etc. has been reduced, in a rather scientific way, at its minimal essence and in there it has been identified "something Divine".

    I have even longer lists and Indigitamenta (including also may local Deities - above all Goddesses rather than Gods) strongly connected to the "Science of the Names". I think however that it's more important to perceive and understand this undelying aspect of this TRaditional Spirituality: the capability to perceive the Divine presence (not so easy considering our moder way of life...) and the capability to somehow identify him/her (even more difficult).
    Pax
    Carmelo

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    1. Thank you:) I have seen longer lists than this one online but the list I created is 100% sourced from authors I consider to be reputable. I wanted to create a broad list that I personally could trust (but note that I don't think St Augustine is a reputable author so I have tried to avoid listing Deities which we have only heard of through him). Thus certainly this list is not even close to being exhaustive. I think of it as a point of reference only. I do get really frustrated with scholarly books on Roman polytheism which focus so much on the State religion of ancient Rome and so little on the Gods themselves. The longest list of Deities I was able to find in a scholarly source was only around half as long as this list.

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