Mars Pater (Father Mars)


Mars, god of war, was originally an agricultural god whose character changed with that of His people. For this reason, He is the most Roman of the gods representing the abundance of the fields, and the battles that must be won to keep and enlarge the provinces that kept Rome fed and thriving. He is the son of Juno and Jupiter, husband of Bellona, and the lover of Venus. He was the most prominent of the military gods that were worshipped by the Roman legions. The martial Romans considered Him second in importance only to Iuppiter. His festivals were held in March (named for him) and October.


As the word Mars has no Indo-European derivation, it is most likely the Latinised form of the agricultural Etruscan god Maris. Initially Mars was a Roman god of fertility and vegetation and a protector of cattle, fields and boundaries and farmers. In the second century BC, the conservative Cato the Elder advised “For your cattle, for them to be healthy, make this sacrifice to Mars Silvanus you must make this sacrifice each year” (De Agri Cultura 83). Mars later became associated with battle as the growing Roman Empire began to expand, and he came to be identified with the Greek god Ares. Unlike his Greek counterpart, Mars was generally revered and reviled Jupiter as the most honoured god. He was also the tutelary god of the city of Rome. As He was regarded as the legendary father of Rome’s founder, Romulus, it was believed that all Romans were descendants of Mars.


His priests were dancing warriors, the Salii, who sang their war-songs in the streets during his festivals. His sacred spears and 12 shields were kept in his temple on the Palatine Hill.


Phoebus Apollo


The Roman version of Apollo became more disciplined, militaristic, and warlike. Amongst the most remarkable adventures of this god, was his quarrel with Jupiter, on account of the death of his son Aesculapius, killed by that deity on the complaint of Pluto, that he decreased the number of the dead by his cures. Phoebus, to revenge this injury, killed the Cyclops who forged the thunder-bolts. For this he was banished from heaven, and endured great sufferings on earth, being forced to hire himself as a shepherd to Admetus, king of Thessaly. During his pastoral servitude, he is said to have invented the lyre to sooth his troubles. He was so skilled in the bow, that his arrows were always fatal; the Python and the Cyclops have already experienced their force.


His temple at Delphi became so frequented, that it was called the oracle of the earth; all nations and princes viewing it in their munificence to it. The Romans erected to him many temples.



Janus Pater (Father Janus)


Father Janus is one of the oldest Roman Gods. He is the God of beginnings, gates and doorways and also is seen in some cases as God of creation. As beginner of all things and all acts he would be offered to first in a ritual that called in a group of deities. Cicero wrote, "In all matters, beginnings and ends are the vital features. This is why they cite Janus first in the sacrifices. (Nat Deor. II 67)" Janus says to Ovid in the Fasti that He is recited first in all prayers so that "through Me, the Doorkeeper, you may attain access to whatever Gods you please (Fasti I.173-4).


Janus has many titles – Geminus (the seminal seed), Patulcius (the opener), Clusius (vault of heaven), Matutinus (the dawning light), Junonius (associated with Juno on the Kalends), and Consivius (the beginner of life).


Father Janus is often shown with two faces, one looking forward – the other backward. Ovid explains Janus' biform is because he is Guardian of every household's front doorway, with one face directed outward that "views the people", and one face that looks inward towards the Lar Familiaris of the family's shrine. Ovid also draws the connection of doorkeeper with the dawning sun, calling Him "the ianitor of the celestial court. (Who) observes the east and the west together (Fasti I. 135-40). When the calendar was changed making January the beginning of the New Year, the month was named for Janus and January 1st was dedicated to him. There is a festival on the Agonalia in January when the Rex Sacrorum would sacrifice a Ram to Janus. There is also the 17th of August where people offer keys to His fire to bless their homes.


The oldest temple in the Forum Holitorium in Rome was the Temple of Janus built in 260 B.C.E. by Gaius Duilius, dedicated on August 17th (the Portunalia). But the most important shrine of Janus in Rome was the Temple of Janus Geminus, which was possibly a double bridge that brought the Sacra Via over the Cloaca to the Comitium. This structure had doors at each end, which could be closed. The temple's foundation is connected with Numa Pompilius and was associated with war and peace in Rome. When Rome was at peace the doors were shut, but when the Romans were at war the doors were left open so Janus could come to their aid if needed because during the war with Titus Tatius a flood of scalding water gushed forth from the temple pushing the enemy back. When the basilica was built in 179 B.C.E. the shrine was moved and apparently rebuilt not as a double bridge, but a smaller structure depicted on the back of some coins of Nero, shown with doors shut signifying peace. In Domitian's time it was moved again to the Forum of Nerva where he replaced the small rectangular structure (ianus) with an image of Janus Quadrifrons (with four faces).

Father Janus is worshipped ritus Romanus and some offerings to him include a ram (on the Agonalia), incense, wine and cakes.


Magna Mater


Magna Mater is an ancient Oriental and Greco-Roman deity, known by a variety of local names; the name Cybele or Cybebe predominates in Greek and Roman literature from about the 5th century bc onward. Her full official Roman name was Mater Deum Magna Idaea (Great Idaean Mother of the Gods).


In all of her aspects, Roman, Greek, and Oriental, the Great Mother was characterized by essentially the same qualities. Most prominent among them was her universal motherhood. She was the great parent not only of gods but also of human beings and beasts. She was called the Mountain Mother, and special emphasis was placed on her maternity over wild nature; this was manifested by the orgiastic character of her worship. Her mythical attendants, the Corybantes, were wild, half-demonic beings. Her priests, the Galli, castrated themselves on entering her service. The self-mutilation was justified by the myth that her lover, the fertility god Attis, had emasculated himself under a pine tree, where he bled to death. At Cybele’s annual festival of Hilaria (March 15–27), a pine tree was cut and brought to her shrine, where it was honoured as a god and adorned with violets considered to have sprung from the blood of Attis. On March 24, the “Day of Blood,” her chief priest, the archigallus, drew blood from his arms and offered it to her to the music of cymbals, drums, and flutes, while the lower clergy whirled madly and slashed themselves to bespatter the altar and the sacred pine with their blood. On March 27 the silver statue of the goddess, with the sacred stone set in its head, was borne in procession and bathed in the Almo, a tributary of the Tiber River.

Dis Pater (Father Death)


Dis Pater, or Dispater (cf. Skt. Dyaus Pitar), was a Roman god of the underworld, later subsumed by Pluto or Hades. Originally a chthonic god of riches, fertile agricultural land, and underground mineral wealth, he was later commonly equated with the Roman deities Pluto and Orcus, becoming an underworld deity. Dis Pater was commonly shortened to simply Dis (much like how Dyaus Pitar was also simply called Dyaus). This name has since become an alternate name for the underworld or a part of the underworld, such as the Dis of The Divine Comedy. Dis Pater was originally a god of wealth, much like the Roman god Pluto (from Greek Πλούτων, Ploutōn, meaning "wealthy"), who was later equated with Dis Pater. Dis is contracted from the Latin dis (from dives meaning "rich"), and pater ("father"), the literal meaning of Dis Pater being "Wealthy Father" or "Father of Riches" [citation really needed].

Julius Caesar writes in Commentarii de Bello Gallico that the Gauls considered Dis Pater to be an ancestor. In thus interpreting the Gauls' god as Dis, Caesar offers one of his many examples of interpretatio Romana, the re-identification of foreign divinities as their closest Roman counterparts. The choice of Dis to translate whatever Celtic divinity Caesar has in mind - most likely Cernunnos, as the two are both associated with both the Underworld and prosperity - may in part be due to confusion between Dis Pater and the Proto-Indo-European deity *Dyeus, who would have been addressed as *Dyeu Phter ("Sky Father"). This name is also the likely origin of the name of many Indo-European gods, including Zeus and Iuppiter, though the name's similarity to Dis Pater may be in part coincidental.

Like Pluto, Dis Pater eventually became associated with death and the underworld because the wealth of the earth—gems and precious metals—was considered in the domain of the Greco-Roman underworld. As a result, Dis Pater was over time conflated with the Roman god Pluto, who became associated with the Greek god Hades as the deity's role as a god of death became more prominent than his role as a wealth god. In being conflated with Pluto, Dis Pater took on some of the Greek mythological attributes of Pluto/Hades, being one of the three sons of Saturn (Greek: Cronus) and Ops (Greek: Rhea), along with Iuppiter and Neptune.

He ruled the underworld and the dead beside his wife, Proserpina (Greek: Persephone)[1] . When Dis Pater was in the underworld, only oaths and curses could reach him, and people invoked him by striking the earth with their hands. Black sheep were sacrificed to him, and those who performed the sacrifice averted their faces. Dis Pater, like his Greek equivalent, Hades, had little or no real cult following, and so there are few statues of him. In literature, Dis Pater was commonly used as a symbolic and poetic way of referring to death itself.

In 249 BC and 207 BC, the Roman Senate ordained special festivals to appease Dis Pater and Proserpina. Every hundred years, a festival was celebrated in his name. According to legend, a round marble altar, Altar of Dis Pater and Proserpina (Latin: Ara Ditis Patris et Proserpinae), was miraculously discovered by the servants of a Sabine called Valesius, the ancestor of the first consul. The servants were digging in the Tarentum on the edge of the Campus Martius to lay foundations following instructions given to Valesius's children in dreams, when they found the altar 20 feet (6 m) underground. Valesius reburied the altar after three days of games. Sacrifices were offered to this altar during the Ludi Saeculares or Ludi Tarentini. It may have been uncovered for each occasion of the games, to be reburied afterwards, a clearly chthonic tradition of worship. It was rediscovered in 1886–87 beneath the Corso Vittorio Emanuele in Rome.