gods was a big part
of ancient Roman daily life.
There were many thousands of Roman
gods. The ancient Romans believed that gods lived everywhere - in trees, under a bush, by the side of the
road, in a burrow, in a flower, in a stream, under the bed, and
perhaps even in the stove in your house. There was even a deity
who lived inside the latch that opened the door to each home.
In ancient Rome, everything had a spirit in charge of it. Remember
Io, the little spirit
that Jupiter turned into a little white cow?
Io’s job, before her run in with the gods, was to guard the creek
where she lived.
There were impressive temples all over the
Roman Empire. Every day, the ancient Romans brought offerings
of meat and other items to at least one nearby temple. Usually they
visited more than one temple every day.
Gods: Each home had a personal
household god that kept things running smoothly at home. Some
ancient Romans kept a whole room of their house for a grand display
to honor their personal household god. Others had a small display somewhere
in the kitchen. Whenever the ancient Romans prepared a meal, they
ate it in honor of the household god.
Not all of the gods that the ancient Romans
worshiped were originally Roman gods. The Romans did a lot of
traveling as they expanded their empire. Each time the Romans
heard a myth about a god or goddess or spirit or deity from the
people they met (and conquered), if they liked it, they adopted it
and made it their own.
When they heard about the Greek gods,
they adopted nearly all of them! The Roman changed many of
the Greek god names to Roman names. Zeus became Jupiter. Hera was
renamed Juno. But the Romans left their personalities intact.
Roman Gods: The
Romans had many gods of their own. There was a festival nearly every
day for one god or another. Pax, for example, was the Roman goddess
of peace. Her festival is January 3. Fornax is the Roman goddess of
bread-making. Her festival is February 17. Juturna is the goddess of
wells and springs. Her festival is January 11. Consus was the Roman
god of good advice. He was so important that he had two festival
days - August 21 and December 15, and a temple in the Circus Maximus.