Roman Mythology


ROMAN MYTHOLOGY, various beliefs, rituals, and other observances concerning the supernatural held or practiced by the ancient Romans from the legendary period until Christianity finally completely supplanted the native religions of the Roman Empire at the start of the Middle Ages. The original religion of the early Romans was so modified by the addition of numerous and conflicting beliefs in later times, and by the assimilation of a vast amount of Greek mythology, that it cannot be reconstructed precisely. Because extensive changes in the religion had already taken place before the literary tradition began, its origins were in most cases unknown to the early Roman writers on religion, such as the 1st-century B.C. scholar Marcus Terentius Varro. Other classical writers, such as the poet Ovid in his Fasti (Calendar), were strongly influenced by Alexandrian models, and in their works they frequently employed Greek beliefs to fill gaps in the Roman tradition.

Gods of the Roman People.

The Roman ritual clearly distinguishes two classes of gods, the di indigetes and the de novensides or novensiles. The indigetes were the original gods of the Roman state, and their names and nature are indicated by the titles of the earliest priests and by the fixed festivals of the calendar; 30 such gods were honored with special festivals. The novensides were later divinities whose cults were introduced in the historical period. Early Roman divinities included, in addition to the di indigetes, a host of so-called specialist gods whose names were invoked in the carrying out of various activities, such as harvesting. 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. Such divinities may be grouped under the general term of attendant, or auxiliary, gods, who were invoked along with the greater deities. Early Roman cult was not so much a polytheism as a polydemonism, the worshipers' concepts of the invoked beings consisted of little more than their names and functions, and the being's numen, or power, manifested itself in highly specialized ways.

The character of the indigetes and their festivals show that the early Romans were not only members of an agricultural community but also were fond of fighting and much engaged in war. The gods represented distinctly the practical needs of daily life, as felt by the Roman community to which they belonged. They were scrupulously accorded the rites and offerings considered proper. Thus, Janus and Vesta guarded the door and hearth, the Lares protected the field and house, Pales the pasture, Saturn the sowing, Ceres the growth of the grain, Pomona the fruit, and Consus and Ops the harvest. Even the majestic Jupiter, 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 and, by his widespread domain, the protector of the Romans in their military activities beyond the borders of their own community. Prominent in early times were the gods Mars and Quirinus, who were often identified with each other. Mars was a god of young men and their activities, especially war; he was honored in March and October. Quirinus is thought by modern scholars to have been the patron of the armed community in time of peace.

At the head of the earliest pantheon were the triad Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus (whose three priests, or flamens, were of the highest order), and Janus and Vesta. These gods in early times had little individuality, and their personal histories lacked marriages and genealogies. Unlike the gods of the Greeks, they were not considered to function in the manner of mortals, and thus not many accounts of their activities exist. This older worship was associated with Numa Pompilius, the second legendary king of Rome, who was believed to have had as his consort and adviser the Roman goddess of fountains and childbirth, Egeria. New elements were added at a relatively early date, however. To the royal house of the Tarquins was ascribed by legend the establishment of the great Capitoline triad, Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, which assumed the supreme place in Roman religion. Other additions were the worship of Diana on the Aventine Hill and the introduction of the Sibylline Books, prophecies of world history, which, according to legend, were purchased by Tarquin in the late 6th century BC from the Cumaean Sibyl.Inclusion of Other Deities.

The absorption of neighboring native gods took place as the Roman state conquered the surrounding territory. The Romans commonly granted the local gods of the conquered territory the same honors as the earlier gods who had been regarded as peculiar to the Roman state. In many instances the newly acquired deities were formally invited to take up their abode in new sanctuaries at Rome. Moreover, the growth of the city attracted foreigners, who were allowed to continue the worship of their own gods In addition to Castor and Pollux, the conquered settlements in Italy seem to have contributed to the Roman pantheon Diana, Minerva, Hercules, Venus, and other deities of lesser rank, some of whom were Italian divinities, others originally derived from Greece. The important Roman deities were eventually identified with the more anthropomorphic Greek gods and goddesses, whose attributes and myths were also taken over. Religious Festivals. The Roman religious calendar reflected Rome's hospitality to the cults and deities of conquered territories. Originally Roman religious festivals were few in number. Some of the oldest survived to the very end of the pagan empire, preserving the memory of the fertility and propitiatory rites of a primitive agricultural people. New festivals were introduced, however, to mark the naturalization of new gods. So many festivals were adopted eventually that the work days on the calendar were outnumbered. Among the more important of the Roman religious festivals were the Saturnalia, the Lupercalia, the Equiria, and the Secular Games.

Under the empire, the Saturnalia was celebrated for seven days, from December 17 to 23, during the period in which the winter solstice occurred. All business was suspended, slaves were given temporary freedom, gifts were exchanged, and merriment prevailed. The Lupercalia was an ancient festival originally honoring Lupercus, a pastoral god of the Italians. The festival was celebrated on February 15 at the cave of the Lupercal on the Palatine Hill, where the legendary founders of Rome, the twins Romulus and Remus, were supposed to have been nursed by a wolf. Among the Roman legends connected with them is that of Faustulus, a shepherd who was supposed to have discovered the twins in the wolf's den and to have taken them to his home, in which they were brought up by his wife, Acca Larentia.

The Equiria, a festival in honor of Mars, was celebrated on February 27 and March 14, traditionally the time of year when new military campaigns were prepared. Horse races in the Campus Martius notably marked the celebration.

The Secular Games, which included both athletic spectacles and sacrifices, were held at irregular intervals, traditionally once only in about every century, to mark the beginning of a new saeculum, or era. The tradition, however, was often neglected.

Roman Temples.

The numbers and architecture of Roman temples also reflect the city's receptivity to all the religions of the world. The temple of Isis and Serapis in the Campus Martius, built of Egyptian materials and in the Egyptian style to house the Hellenized cult of the Egyptian deity Isis, is typical of the heterogeneity of Roman religious monuments. The most noteworthy temples of Rome were the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus and the Pantheon. The temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, on the Capitoline Hill, was dedicated in 509 BC to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. Constructed originally in the Etruscan style, it was rebuilt or restored several times under the empire and was finally ruined by the Vandals in AD 455. The Pantheon was built from AD 117 to 138 by Emperor Hadrian and dedicated to all the gods; this building replaced a smaller temple built by the general and statesman Marcus Agrippa. The Pantheon became a Christian church in 607 and is now an Italian national monument.

Decline of the Roman Religion.

The transference of the anthropomorphic qualities of Greek gods to Roman religion, and perhaps even more, the prevalence of Greek philosophy among well-educated Romans, brought about an increasing neglect of the old rites, and in the 1st century BC the religious importance of the old priestly offices declined rapidly. Many men whose patrician birth called them to these duties had no belief in the rites, except perhaps as a political necessity, and the mass of the uneducated populace became increasingly interested in foreign rites. Nevertheless, the positions of pontiff and augur remained coveted political posts.

A thorough reform and restoration of the old system was carried out by Emperor Augustus, who himself became a member of all the priestly orders. Even though the earlier ritual had had little to do with morality, being mainly a businesslike relation with unseen powers in which humans paid proper service to the gods and were rewarded by security, it had promoted piety and religious discipline and thus was fostered by Augustus as a safeguard against internal disorder. During this period the legend of the founding of Rome by the Trojan hero Aeneas became prominent because of the publication of Vergil's Aeneid.

In spite of the reforms instituted by Augustus, the Roman religion in the empire tended more and more to center on the imperial house, and eventually the emperors were deified after death. Such deification began even before the establishment of the empire, with Julius Caesar. The emperors Augustus, Claudius, Vespasian, and Titus were also deified, and after the reign (AD 96-98) of Marcus Cocceius Nerva, few emperors failed to receive this distinction.

Under the empire, numerous foreign cults grew popular and were widely extended, such as the worship of the Egyptian goddess Isis and that of the Persian god Mithras, which was similar to Christianity in some respects. Despite persecutions extending from the reign of Nero to that of Diocletian, Christianity steadily gained converts, and it became an officially supported religion in the Roman state under Constantine I, who ruled as sole emperor from AD 324 to 337. All the pagan cults were prohibited in AD 392 by an edict of Emperor Theodosius I.


Roman and Greek God Comparisons
Roman Greek
Apollo Apollo
Bacchus Dionysus
Ceres Demeter
Coelus Uranus
Cupid Eros
Cybele Rhea
Diana Artemis
Hercules Heracles
Juno Hera
Jupiter Zeus
Latona Leto
Mars Ares
Mercury Hermes
Minerva Athena
Neptune Poseidon
Pluto Hades
Proserpina Persephone
Saturn Cronus
Ulysses Odysseus
Venus Aphrodite
Vesta Hestia
Vulcan Hephaestus

Aeneas

Aeneas, was a Trojan hero and the son of Anchises and Venus, the Roman goddess of love. He was the favourite of the Romans, who believed that some of their eminent families were descended from the Trojans who fled westwards with him from Asia Minor after the Greek sack of Troy. Upstart Rome was only too aware of its lack of tradition and history in comparison with Greece, so the exploits of Aeneas conveniently provided a means of reasserting national pride. It was not a coincidence that the first Roman emperor, Augustus, took a personal interest in the myth.

During the Trojan War, Anchises was unable to fight, having been rendered blind or lame for boasting about his relationship with Venus. But young Aeneas distinguished himself against the Greeks, who feared him second only to Hector, the Trojan champion. In gratitude Priam gave Aeneas his daughter Creusa to have as his wife, and a son was born named Ascanius.

Although Venus warned him of the impending fall of Troy, Anchises refused to quit the city until two omens occurred: a small flame rose from the top of Ascanius' head and a meteor fell close by. So, carrying Anchises on his back, Aeneas managed to escape Troy with his father and his son. Somehow Creusa became separated from the party and disappeared. Later, Aeneas saw her ghost and learned from it that he would found a new Troy in distant Italy.

After sailing through the Aegean Sea, where the small fleet Aeneas commanded stopped at a number of islands, the fleet came to Epirus on the eastern Adriatic coast. From there it made for Sicily, but before reaching the Italian mainland it was diverted to North Africa during a sudden storm sent by the goddess Juno, the Roman equivalent of Hera, who harassed Aeneas throughout the voyage. Only the timely help of Neptune, the Roman sea god, saved the fleet from shipwreck. At the city of Carthage, the great trading port founded by the Phoenicians, Venus ensured that Aeneas fell in love with its beautiful queen, the widow Dido. Because of her own flight to Carthage, Dido welcomed the Trojan refugees with great kindness and unlimited hospitality.

Time passed pleasantly for the lovers, as Aeneas and Dido soon became, and it seemed as if Italy and the new state to be founded on its shores were both forgotten. But watchful Jupiter, the chief Roman god, dispatched Mercury with a message to Aeneas, recalling him to his duty and commanding him to resume the voyage. Horrified by his intention to leave, Dido bitterly reproached Aenas, but his deep sense of piety gave him strength enough to launch the fleet again. Then the weeping queen mounted a pyre which she had ordered to be prepared and, having run herself through with a sword, was consumed by the flames.

When the Trojans finally landed in Italy, near the city of Cumae, Aeneas went to consult Sibyl, who was a renowned prophetess. She took him on a visit to the underworld. There Aeneas met his father's ghost, who showed him the destiny of Rome. Anchises had died of old age during the stay in Sicily, but his enthusuastic outline of the future encouraged his son. Aeneas also saw Dido's ghost, but it did not speak to him and hurriedly turned away.

Afterwards, Aeneas steered for the mouth of the River Tiber, on whose river banks the city of Rome would be built centuries later. Conflict with the Latins, the local inhabitants, was bloody and prolonged. But peace was made when Aeneas married Lavinia, the daughter of King Latinus. It had been foretold that for the sake of the kingdom Lavinia must marry a man from abroad. The Trojans, in order to appease Juno, adopted the Latins' traditions and language.

Amulius

Amulius, in Roman mythology was a descendant of the Trojan hero Aeneas. He usurped the throne of Alba Longa from his younger brother Numitor and forced Numitor's daughter Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin so as to deny her father an heir. When Rhea Silvia was raped by the war god Mars, Amulius imprisoned her and ordered that her twin sons, Romulus and Remus, be drowned in the Tiber. But the two boys escaped a watery death and grew up in the countryside. Once they realised their parentage, Romulus and Remus returned to Alba Longa and killed their uncle Amulius.

Ascanius

Ascanius, was the son of Aeneas and Creusa. According to the Romans, he founded the city of Alba Longa thirty-three years after the arrival of the Trojan refugees in Italy. An alternative tradition makes Ascanius' mother Lavinia, a Latin princess whose marriage to Aeneas brought peace and unity to the Latin and Trojan peoples. It was in her honour that Aeneas founded Lavinium within three years of landing. This would mean that Ascanius was king of Lavinium following Aeneas' death, and before he left to take up residence in a new city at Alba Longa. Early rivalry between the two cities probably explains the removal myth.

The family of Julius Caesar, the Julii, claimed descent from Aeneas through Ascanius, who was also called Iulus Ilus ("made of Ilium"), Ilium being the old name for Troy.

Apollo

Apollo was the son of Jupiter and Latona (Leto). His twin sister was Diana also referred to as Artemis the virgin huntress. He was one of the most important deities of both Greek and Roman religions, and was the god of prophecy, archery (far shooting with a silver bow) and music, playing a golden lyre. The origin of his name is uncertain but it is probably non-European. A fight with gigantic erath-serpent Python at Delphi gave Apollo the seat of his famous oracle. Python was an oospring of Gaia, mother earth, which issued revelations through a fissure in the rock so that a priestess, the Pythia, could give answers to any questions that might be asked. After he slew the earth-serpent, Apollo took its place, though he had to do penance in Thessaly for killing. Indeed, Zeus twice forced Apollo to be the slave of a mortal man to pay for his crime.

Apollo's interest in healing, suggests an ancient association with the plague and its control. In Greek mthyology, Apollo's son Asclepius was also identified with healing and connected with sites in northern Greece. Indeed, so accomplished was Asclepius in medicine that Zeus slew him with a thunderbolt for daring to bring a man back to life. Apollo was also known as the god of light, the god of truth, who can not speak a lie.

One of Apollo's more important daily tasks was to harness his chariot with four horses an drive the Sun across the sky.

His tree was the laurel. The crow his bird. The dolphin his animal.

 

 

Ceres

Ceres daughter of Saturn and Rhea. Wife-sister of Jupiter and mother of Prosperpina. Ceres is the goddess of grain, growing plants and the love that a mother bears for her child. Personified and celebrated by women in secret rituals at the festival of Ambarvalia, held during the month of May.

Cincinnatus

Cincinnatus was a Roman hero who was instrumental in saving the early Republic. In 458 BC, Rome was in danger of being destroyed by the Aequi, a neighbouring Italian tribe. To defeat this threat, the Senate voted to appoint Cincinnatus as dictator, a temporary office vested with unlimited powers. A deputation was sent ot his small farm, which was the smallest landholding allowed to qualify for citizenship. The senators found Cincinnatus at work tending his crops. He was told of the Senate's decisin and was saluted as dictator. However, the plebeians, the ordinary people, feared that Cincinnatus might abuse his position. Their fears proved groundless and, after the defeat of the Aequi, they voted Cincinnatus a golden wreath at the end of his sixty days of office. He then returned to his fields and was remembered as the perfect example of a virtuous and dutiful Roman citizen.

Cupid

Cupid was the Roman god of love and the son of the love goddess Venus. He was depicted as a beautiful but wanton boy, armed with a quiver full of ärrowed desires". Some of the arrows, however, would turn people away from those who fell in love with them.

According to one myth, Venus was jealous of Psyche ("the soul") and told Cupid to make her love the ugliest man alive. But Cupid fell in love with Psyche and, invisible, visited her every night. He told her not to try to see him, but, overcome by curiosity, she did try and he left her. Psyshe searched the world for him, until the sky god Jupiter granted he immortality so that she could be Cupid's constant companion. The couple's daughter was named Voluptas ("pleasure").

Curtius

Curtius is the subject of a strange incident in Roman mythology. Around 363 BC a great chasm appeared in the Forum of Rome, which led straight down to the underworld. It has appeared because Romans forgot to make appropriate sacrifice to the dead. Marcus Curtius therefore plunged on horseback into the bottomless pit and was seen no more.

Diana

Diana

Diana is the mother of wild animals and forests, and a moon goddess. Oak groves are especially sacred to her. She is praised for her strength, athletic grace, beauty and her hunting skills. With two other deities she made up a trinity: Egeria the water nymph, her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius, the woodland god.

 

 

 

 

Faunus

Faunus was the Roman god of the countryside and identified with the Greek Pan, god of the mountainside. Faunus was said to be the grandson of Saturn and was credited with prophetic powers, which on occasion inspired the Romans to renew efforts on the battlefield in the face of defeat. Perhaps this is the reason for Faunus sometimes being seen as a descendant of the war god Mars. His mortal son, Latinus, was the king of the Latin people at the time of Aeneas' arrival in Italy after the long voyage from Troy.

Janus

Janus was a very old Italian god who the Romans associated with beginnings. In Rome, his double-grated temple in the Forum was always kept open in time of war and closed in time of peace. The month of January - a time for people to look backwards and forwards - was sacred to Janus. There are few myths concerning him, although his extra eyes did on one occasion enable him to catch the nymph Carna, who liked to tease her lovers with sexual advances before suddenly running away. Their son became a king of the important city of Alba Longa.

Juno

Juno was the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Hera and was considered the Roman supreme goddess, married to the ruling god, Jupiter. She is believed to watch and protect all women and was called by the Romans "the one who makes the child see the light of day". Every year, on the first of March, women hold a festival in honor of Juno called the Matronalia. To this day, many people consider the month of June, which is named after the goddess who is the patroness of marriage, to be the most favorable time to marry. Juno's own warlike aspect is apparent in her attire. She often appears armed and wearing a goatskin cloak, which was the garment favoured by Roman soldiers on campaign. In Rome she was worshipped on the Capitol hill along with Jupiter and Minerva, goddess of wisdom and the arts.

Jupiter

Jupiter was the Roman sky god, the equivalent of the Greek god Zeus. The cult of the Jupiter Optimus Maximus ("the best and greatest") began under the Etruscan kings, who were expelled from Rome around 507 BC. At first, Jupiter was associated with the elements, especially storms, and lightning, but he later became the protector of the Roman people and was their powerful ally in war. The games held in the Circus in Rome were dedicated to him.

Mars

Mars was the son of Juno and a magical flower and initially was the Roman god of fertility and vegetation but later became associated with battle. As the god of spring, when his major festivals were held, he presided over agriculture in general. In his warlike aspect, Mars was offered sacrifices before combat and was said to appear on the battlefield accompanied by Bellona, a warrior goddess variously identified as his wife, sister or daughter. Mars unlike his Greek counterpart, Ares, was more widely worshipped than any of the other Roman gods, probably because his sons Romulus and Remus were said to have founded Rome. As the consort of Rhea Sylvia and father of Romulus and Remus, Mars was considered the father of the Roman people.

Mercury

Mercury was the Roman messenger god, and was also the deity who watched over trade and commerce, as his name suggests. He was associated with peace and prosperity. He was apparently imported from Greece around the fifth century BC. Mercury is usually depicted in the same way as his Greelk counterpart Hermes, with a winged hat and staff.

Minerva

Minerva (whose name may have originally meant "thought") was the daughter of Jupiter and Juno. Considered to be the virgin goddess of warriors, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, crafts, and inventor of music. She was the equivalent of the Greek goddess Athena. Ovid called her the "goddess of a thousand works." Minerva was worshipped throughout Italy, though only in Rome did she take on a warlike character. Minerva is usually depicted wearing a coat of mail and a helmet, and carrying a spear. The Romans celebrated her worship from March 19 to 23 during the Quinquatrus, the artisans' holiday.

Neptune

Neptune was an ancient Italian water god whom the Romans identified with Poseidon. Compared to Poseidon, however, Neptune plays a minor role in Roman mythology.

Proserpina

Proserpina

Proserpina is the counterpart of the Greek goddess, Persephone. She was kidnapped by Pluto and taken to his underworld and made queen of the dead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rhea Silvia

Rhea Silvia was the mother of Romulus and Remus. She was the only child of Numitor, the king of Alba Longa. When he was deposed by his younger brother Amulius, the new king forced Rhea Silvia to become a vestial virgin. However, Amulius could not guarantee Rhea Silvia's protection from the attentions of the gods and she was raped by Mars in his sacred grove. Her twin sons, Romulus and Remus, were then cast into the swollen Tiber, where she may have been drowned.

Romulus and Remus

Romulus and Remus were the twin sons of Rhea Silvia and Mars, and the two founders of Rome. Rhea Silvia had been the only child of King Numitor of Alba Longa. When Numitor's brother Amulius deposed him, he also forced Rhea Silvia to become a vestal virgin, thereby ensuring that there would be no other claimant to the throne. But the war god Mars raped her in his sacred grove, and Rhea Silvia gave birth to Romulus and Remus.

Amulius ordered his servants to kill the new born twins, but instead they cast them on the Tiber. Their cradle was carried swiftly away and eventually came to rest on a mud bank. To look after his children, Mars sent his sacred animal the wolf. Later Romulus and Remus were discovered in the wolf's lair by a shepherd named Faustulus, who took the foundlings home. So they were raised as sheperds, although the ability of the brothers to lead others, and to fight, eventually became widly known. One day Numitor met Remus and guessed who he was and so the lost grandchildren were reunited with him, but they were not content to live quietly in Alba Longa. Instead, they went off and founded a city of their own - Rome. A quarrel, however, ensued and Romulus killed Remus, possibly with a blow from a spade. Though he showed remorse at the funeral, Romulus ruled Rome with a strong hand and the city flourished. It was a haven for runaway slaves and other fugitives, but suffered from a shortage of women, which Romulus overcame by arranging for the capture of Sabine women at a nearby festival. After a reign of forty years he disappeared to become, some of his subjects believed, the war god Quirinus.

Saturn

Saturn was an ancient Italian corn god, the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Cronos, though he had more in common with goddess Demeter. He was believed to have ruled the earth during a lost Golden Age. His festival, the Saturnalia, was celebrated in Rome over seven days and was held at the end of December.

Sibyl

Sibyl, in Roman mythology, was the prophetess who dwelt near Cumae, in southern Italy. One tale explains how she became immortal but still grew old. She refused the favours of Apollo, the god of prophecy, so he condemned her to endless old age. She was already ancient when Aeneas consulted her about his visit to the underworld. Another story concerns the famous Sibylline Books, which were a collection of oracles that detailed Rome's destiny. These were offered for sale to Rome during the rule of the Etruscan kings. When the offer was refused, Sibyl burned three books and offered the other six at the same price, but the offer was still refused, so three more were burnt and then she offered the last three at the original price. In haste the Romans closed the deal before all the irreplaceable oracles were totally destroyed.

Tarpeia

Tarpeia was a Roman heroine, the daughter of Spurius Tarpeius, the commander of the Capitoline fortress at Rome. She may have played a role in saving the city. A war between Romans and Sabines, a people of central Italy, had been provoked by Romulus' abduction of Sabine women to provide wives for Rome's men. One tradition says that Tarpeia let the Sabines into her father's fortress after making them promise to give her what they wore on their left arms, their shields. Another mentions only their bracelets. In the first version the Sabines realised that they had been tricked and threw their shields at her and killed her. The Romans could not agree how Tarpeia died but, whatever her motive was, real traitors were always thrown from the Tarpeian Rock.

Venus

Venus

Venus was the Roman equivalent of Aphrodite, the Greek love goddess. Venus was the daughter of Jupiter and Diane, although sometimes portayed as being created by Uranus from the foam of the sea at the moment of his death. As the goddess of love, she is the "queen of pleasure" and mother of the Roman people. She was married to Vulcan, the lame god of the forge, and mother of Cupid, Hymen, Priapus and Aeneas. It was Venus who recovered her son Aeneas' spear during his fight with the Italian champion Tumus, thus saving his life. Venus is also associated with her lover, Mars the god of war. Considered a nature goddess, associated with the arrival of spring. Venus is the bringer of joy to gods and humans.

 

 

Vesta

Vesta was the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Hesta, who was the goddess of the hearth. Vesta, however, was worshipped both as the guardian of the domestic hearth and also as the personification of the ceremonial flame. Ceremonies in her honour were conducted by the vestal virgins, who were young girls from noble families who took vows of chastity for the thirty years during which they served her. Vesta's chief festival, the Vestalia, was held on 7 June.

Vulcan

Vulcan the son of Jupiter and Juno. Husband of Maia and Venus. God of fire and volcanoes, and the manufacturer of art, arms and armor for gods and heroes. His smithy was believed to be situated underneath Mount Aetna in Sicily. At the Vulcanalia festival, which was held on 23 August, fish and small animals were thrown into a fire.


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