In ancient Greece, the
12 major gods were called the
Olympians. They lived on Mount Olympus. Mythology is not
really clear whether or not Mount Olympus was a place on earth or in
the heavens. But the Greeks did name the tallest mountain peak Mount
In ancient Rome, the 12
major gods were called the Dei Consentes - the Roman Council. The Dei
Consentes was created around BCE 200 or so, after Hannibal had beaten
the Romans badly in the north. Hannibal
had not yet made it to Rome, but he was targeting Rome, and the Romans
The Roman Senate called on the Roman
College, the professors and teachers in Rome, and asked for advice.
The College thought about it and came back with an idea. They
suggested the problem was that Rome needed to present a special
public display honoring the top twelve gods, along with a special
The Roman Senate decided that was a
great idea. They named this Roman council of 12 gods the Dei
Consentes. They ordered six couches to be set up
in public, and ordered their top artists to create sculptures of 12
god heads - no bodies, just heads.
These sculptures were displayed in
public on the couches in pairs - Jupiter and Juno, Neptune and
Minerva, Mars and Venus, Apollo and Diana, Vulcan and Vesta,
Mercury and Ceres - six couches, 12 gods, no Pluto. In Roman
mythology, Pluto was not a member of the Council of 12, the Dei
Consentes, but Vulcan was.
Hannibal never made it to Rome, so the
people believed that this display created in the honor of the Council
of Gods - the top 12 - worked! It saved Rome!
Forever after, the ancient Romans
believed that if Rome was threatened, the Dei Consentes, the 12 most
powerful gods in the heavens, would defend Rome. They truly believed
this. This belief gave the ancient Romans a lot of confidence.