It recently came to my attention that there are still people who think that Roman Gods are Greek Gods with Latin names. The following is what I wrote in the Fall 2018 issue of “Witches and Pagans.”
Are Roman Gods the same as Greek Ones?
This was a long held opinion by many religious historians until the 19th century. Then scholars began to see that the two were not the same. Of course, there is overlap since the Romans adopted Gods from everywhere. For example, Ceres and Apollo were adopted directly from the Greeks, and became included in di Consentes. For the Romans, They had different aspects. Apollo became a healer when He ended the plagues raging in Rome. Ceres guarded the grain supply with Liber and Libera (ancient Roman agricultural Gods). With Them, She became known as the Aventine Triad guarding the rights of the poor.
Because the world is filled with Numina (Holy Powers), The Roman pantheon has many Gods with specific attributes. For example, Comus is the God of the Nightlife and Revelry, whilst Febris wards off fevers. Familiar Gods such as Jupiter, who has more power, also have more aspects. Amongst Jupiter’s aspects are Iuppiter Capitolinus (Jupiter of the Capitol) and Iuppiter Lapis (Jupiter of Oaths).
Although people often regard Roman Gods as only Greek Gods with Latin names, there are Gods who are uniquely Roman. The two-headed Janus is one of them. As the Doorkeeper for the Gods, He guards the liminal space of the door. He acts as Janus Patulcius (Janus the Opener), and Janus Clusivus (Janus the Closer).
Di Consentes: the Twelve Gods
Jupiter (Iuppiter): Sovereignty
Juno (Iuno): Defense and Women
Minerva: Wisdom and the Arts
Vesta: Hearth and Home
Diana: Moon and Wild Places
Mars: War and Defense
Mercury (Mercurius): Commerce
Neptune (Neptunus): Water
Vulcan (Volcanus): Raging Fire
Apollo: Good Order, Prophecy
Other Gods and Goddesses
Bona Dea: Healing
Silvanus: The Wild Land
Faunus: The Borders of Cultivated Land
Consus: The Granary
Lecouteux, Claude, “Demons and Spirits of the Land.” Rochester (VT): Inner Traditions. 2015.
“The Tradition of Household Spirits.” 2013.
Scheid, John, “An Introduction to Roman Religion.” Indianapolis: Indiana University. 2003.
Triarius, L. Vitellius, “Religio Romana Handbook.” Charleston (SC): self-published. 2014.
Turcan, Robert, “The Gods of Ancient Rome.” New York: Routledge. 2001.