Roman Divinities in the Archaic Period

(from Seltzer 11)


deus/dea represent powers (numen) in relation to the luminous sky (divum) in opposition to man (homo = humus = earth)


Juppiter =ju (to shine) + pater = father


The Latins represents this divine power (numen) as an individual and personal being.


Tendency toward divinized abstraction

Ceres, goddess of grain, as
Vervactor (plowing)
Reparator (renewal of cultivation)
Imporcitor (furrow marking)
Insitor (sowing)
Obarator (surface plowing)
Occator (harrowing)
Sarritor (weeding)
Subruncinator (hoeing)
Messor (harvesting)
Convector (carting harvest)
Conditor (storing)
Promitor (distributing)

A Roman divinity is essentially defined by its action.

Divinity associated with location.

pomerium (boundary)

Religio = religare ("to tie")


Bond between god and human

care to avoid divine wrath

desire to win god's favor


Roman gods reflect Roman history

territorial expansion

procession in March to mark expansion of city

political tensions between patricians and plebeians

protection of food supply (Ceres)

Syncretism (influence of Hellenism)

Importance of Public (Civic) Worship

religious ceremonies and ludi


Private Worship

household cults (lares et penates)