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They had similar beliefs, but also immeasurable differences. It was composed of many meaningful gods and goddesses that all played a part in the everyday life of the average Roman and Greek person of that time.
They believed in something called polytheism. It is the belief of many
gods, each given a personality and purpose. And was the subject of many myths and legends that would be told for many generations to come. They were to become the basis for a religion that would last for hundreds of years and would yield thousands of followers to believe in the made stories of these enchanted people or gods as they were called.
The Roman mythology was to consist of twelve to thirteen main gods.
Each having a function in the life of the everyday Roman, that would require some sort of worshipping. The Roman gods were taken from the beliefs of the Greek gods. They are directly descended from their neighboring religion. The Roman mythology consisted of the high god Jupiter, his wife and sister Juno, son Vulcan, son Mercury, daughter Diana, daughter Venus, son Mars, daughter Minerva, son Apollo, sister Vesta, brother Pluto, brother Neptune, and Janus.(Classical Mythology)
Jupiter was the ruler of the gods. He is also known as Zeus to the Greeks. The King of Gods in Greek Mythology Zeus was the ruler of the sky, and had the power to create thunderstorms and lightning as well as earthquakes. He was the child of Cronus and Rhea. As the story goes he was their sixth child, and the father to protect him from being overthrown had eaten the five previous children. Zeus was taken to a city called Crete and hidden from his father. As Zeus grew older and learned of what happened he found a potion to make his father regurgitate the other children. Once this happened they all teamed up and killed their father. Zeus then became the ruler of Mount Olympus, and head of the new line of Gods. Jupiter was the predominant power holder of Roman Gods. He was ruler of the sky, the daylight, all the weather, and even the thunder and lightening.(Ruck,Carl and Staples, Danny, pg 19)
Neptune was the god of the sea. He was worshipped mostly by seaman.
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Pluto was the god of the underworld. He was one of the greediest of the gods and was always looking for more ruling subjects. He is the god of wealth also because of all the precious metals mined from the earth. He is also the king of the dead .(Grimal)
Vesta was the goddess of the hearth and the symbol of the home. She was
the watcher of households and family activities. She is a virgin goddess and
plays no parts in myths. She is known as Hestia in the Greek religion. (Grimal)
Juno was the goddess of marriage and the protectress of women. She was
the queen of the heavens. She was also the wife and sister to Jupiter. In
Greek mythology she was all and the same. She was forced into marrying
Zeus(Jupiter) because he raped her. To hide her shame she married him. (Grimal)
Mars was the god of war, agriculture, and of the state. He appeared in
three different ways: Mars Sylvanus, the god of vegetation, Mars Gradivus, the
god of war, and Mars Quirinius, the god of state. It was only in Greek mythology
he was considered the god of war. He was disliked by his parents and was known as a coward. (Grimal)
Apollo was the god of music, healing and truth. He was the player of the golden lyre, shooter of the silver arrows, teacher of medicine, and a god that could not tell a lie. It was said that he also carried the Sun across the sky by his chariot of winged horses. He was represented in the same way in both the Roman and Greek religions. (Grimal )
Minerva is the goddess of wisdom, art and craft.. She was a
goddess of the dawn. She was originally said to be the daughter of the giant
Palla, but was later said to have sprung from the forehead of Jupiter fully
armed and grown. (Grimal) That is said in both religions, but in the Greek
religion she is the goddess of the city, handicrafts, and agriculture. She is
the inventor of the bridle, the trumpet, the flute, the pot, the rake, the plow,
the yoke, the ship, and the chariot. She represented reason, wisdom, and purity.
Venus was the carrier of four things in the Roman religion as: Venus
Felix, bringer of luck, Venus Victrix, bringer of victory, Venus Verticordia,
protector of female chastity, and Venus Libentina, patroness of sensual pleasure.
(Grimal) In Greek mythology as Aphrodite, she was the goddess of love, desire,
and beauty. She is also said to have a magic girdle that makes anyone she
wishes to desire her.
Mercury was the messenger of the Roman gods. He got around quickly
with his winged shoes and hat. He was also the god of merchants, science,
astronomy, thieves, travelers, vagabonds, and of cleverness. (Grolier) In Greek
mythology he is the god of thieves and messenger of the gods. He guides the dead to the underworld and was the inventor of the lyre, pipes, musical scale, astronomy, weights and measures, boxing and gymnastics. Diana was at first a minor goddess of the forest and woodland, but was later known as a great hunter, supporter of women, and the goddess of the moon. (Grimal)
In Greek mythology Artemis is also the hunter of the Greek gods. She is the protector of the young, goddess of the moon, goddess of chastity, and the over looker of childbirth even though she was a virgin goddess. (www. hunt)
Vulcan was the god of fire and was recommended by the other gods to also prevent fires. He was ugly and lame and married to the ever pretty goddess Venus, but she was unfaithful and involved in many affairs. He married Venus only because she felt sorry for his ugliness. (Grolier) In Greek mythology he was the god of fire and force. He used volcanoes to produce his weapons and armor. He is also the god of smiths and weavers. He was also married to Aphrodite. He is still ugly and lame, but is the kind peace lover of the group. There are many rumors to his lameness. He was either flung from Mount Olympus because Hera was upset with his ugliness and broke his legs as he fell into the sea or he was flung off the mountain as he took Hera's side in an argument with Zeus. (Grolier)
Janus was the god that was not represented in Greek mythology. He was
the god of entrances, coming and going, doorways, bridges, ferries, harbors, and
boundaries. Janus was also the doorkeeper of heaven. He was said to be the
supreme god, but was later said to be second to Jupiter. In Greek mythology
Poseidon was second in charge. He was asked for blessings before the beginning of the day, month, week, and year. He was said to of have two faces that faced each way to see the coming and the going which symbolized how much he knew about the present and the past. (www janus)
. Jupiter’s temple was built in the Capitol, and newly elected counsels offered their first prayers to him. Hera was the wife and sister of Zeus, and the High Goddess of the Greeks. She was extremely jealous of the affairs that her husband was having and often tormented or harmed the mistresses he was fooling around with. Although, when she went too far, or tried to cause death, Zeus would intervene and stop her. Hera tried to ship wreak Heracles on his return from Troy, and with that Zeus ordered her to be hung by the wrists from top of the mountain with an anvil tied to each ankle. The two had four children together. Juno, Hera’s counterpart, was the wife of Jupiter. Juno was the protector of women, especially those who are married. Women often gave offerings to Juno to help with their childbirth. The God of the Underworld, Hades, was the brother of Zeus. He gained Hell, as his share in conquering their father. He is most known for kidnapping his wife, Persephone, while she was picking flowers in a field. As the story goes, Hades had her eat a piece of food in the Underworld, therefore she could not live on the Earth again. Her father, Zeus, made arrangements for her to be allowed on Earth for two-thirds of the year and in the Underworld as Hade’s wife for the rest of the time. This is used as the cause of spring and winter. When she returns to the surface she brings spring with her and when she returns to the Underworld she leaves winter behind her. Pluto, the Roman God of the Underworld, who’s name also means rich. It reflects the rich mineral resources beneath the ground and the rich resources above the earth. In art he is shown with the Horn of Plenty. This horn is most likely why we associate the Devil, or Satan, as having a horn on top of his head. His name was thought of to be bad luck, and therefore was hardly mentioned in myths. Ares was the child of Zeus and Hera. He was the God of War. Whenever he was seen or portrayed he would be fully armed and ready for battle. Any cause to fight or go to war would bring him out and about. He was the uncomfortable lover of Aphrodite. Almost all of his children by mortal women were of a violent nature. Mars, The Roman God of War and Agriculture, was the second most important god after Jupiter. The month March was named after Mars, and was also the first month of the Roman calendar. March was the month when agriculture was reborn and when most people engaged in war.
The Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty was Aphrodite. She was married to the Smith God, Hephaestus, but left him for the God of War. She favored the Trojans during the Trojan War. She was known to have angry mood swings and all the gods and mortals paid dearly for it. Aphrodite and Venus were counterparts in mythology. Venus, the Roman Goddess of Love, was first worshiped in pre-Roman Italy, where she was worshiped for gardens and vegetation. Festivals during the month of April were in recognition of Venus. Her son, Cupid, the Roman God of Love, was also usually represented as a small chubby naked child armed with a bow and quiver of arrows. Mischievously he would aim ‘Cupid’s darts’ at will, at times causing untold chaos as they caused those he pierced to fall in love with the first person they met. In classic arts he is often shown playing a game such as quoits, but sometimes he wears a helmet and carries spear and shield to show that even Mars, God of War, gives way to love. Venus plans backfired and an arrow accidentally touched her. She fell in love with Adonis, the first man she saw, and instantly had a passion to be with him. She was so anxious to be with him that she tried to persuade him not to hunt any longer, but he did and got killed by a boar.
Diana was very similar to the Greek Goddess Artemis. Born on Delos with a twin brother named Apollo, Diana was the Goddess of Hunting. She had two particular shrines in Italy: one at Aricia on the shores of Lake Nemi, where she is known as Diana of the Woods, and the other at Capua under the name of Diana Tifatina, known as the Goddess of the Crossroads (Clayton 69). Her cult allowed human sacrifice, and her priest could be replaced by who ever killed him.
Demeter was the sister of Zeus and one of the five children that was eaten by Cronus. Demeter was the God of Fertility, and often referred to as the essential mother. Demeter had a baby girl by the name of Persephone. Her father was Zeus, Hera’s husband as well as Demeter’s brother. Hades kidnapped Persephone and took her to the Underworld with him. After searching everywhere for her lost daughter, Helios the God of the Sun, told her he saw what had happened. She vowed not to return to the gods or continue any of her tasks till her daughter was returned. Demeter went to Zeus and demanded that her daughter be returned from the Underworld. Zeus agreed under the condition that she had not eaten anything while she was down there. Zeus then found out she had eaten something, and told Demeter that he could not bring her back from the Underworld. When she found out she withdrew her support of earth and mankind. Demeter caused the fields to become unfertile, and finally a deadlock was reached. Soon a compromise was reached between Demeter, Zeus, and Hades. Persephone would be allowed to earth during the spring, but she would be required to return to the Underworld during the winter. Ceres, the God of Corn and Harvest, is the Roman equivalent to the Greek Goddess Demeter. She shares all the same legends and stories.