The Dii Consentes referred to the 12 principle deities within the Roman pantheon. There were other deities who were at the bottom of the hierarchy if you may. When the Greek religion was adapted in Rome, the Romans had an already established religion taken from the Etruscans. Below is a table of the Roman and Greek deities with their cultural name differences. The ‘properties’ of each of the gods may differ, they were associated with each other, but they weren’t the same. Jupiter is a prime example, Zeus loved his people but he heard, acknowledged and answered the prayers from his people, whereas Jupiter only heard prayers and sometimes answered prayers.
|Greek Gods||Roman Gods|
|Athena||Minerva (Etruscan: Menrva)|
These deities’ were paired together, Jupiter and Juno, Minerva and Neptune, Mars and Venus, Mercury and Ceres, Apollo and Diana and finally Vulcan and Vesta. Some of the ‘couples’ here weren’t known for sexual or fertility based recognition. Vesta and Diana were virgins, whereas Mars and Venus were a couple, eventually having children who were Gods themselves. These gods were Concordia (Greek: Harmonia), Cupid (Eros), Pavor (Phobos), Metus (Deimos) and Anteros, which his is Greek name.
Above all Jupiter was ruler of the Gods, and head of the Capitoline Triad; Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. They were worshipped in a very elaborate temple at the top of the Capitoline Hill known as the Capitolium. For almost 93%-95% of the Roman empire, its middle and lower class citizens, known as plebs, honoured the Aventine triad, consisting of Ceres, Liber and Liberia. Liber meaning ‘The Free Father’ was associated as being Liberia’s partner, as Liberia was translated to The Free One. The funny thought here is that Liber was Ceres’ daughter, thus officially being partnered with her Greek counterpart as Persephone. Liber on the other hand, was associated with Bacchus and Dionysus, but he wasn’t them, he was an individual.
To make it easier to understand how the Romans honoured/prayed to their patrons, if you were of nobility you would honour the Capitoline Triad, hence why Jupiter is seen as this big almighty no nonsense deity who happily punished you if you fucked up, and most importantly he ‘ran’ the government of the Gods and thus was associated with the peoples government. If you were middle class or ‘poor’ your patrons were the Aventine Triad. Make note the slaves were even less, and they carried their own faiths and religions, and often worshipped with the family of whom they worked for.
These Gods and Goddesses are actually much older than mentioned in history. It is believed they derived from the Hittite gods, possibly of Lycian deities’ from the Roman period. By 400BC there was a precinct in the marketplace of Xanthos, Lycia built to honour each of these featureless male deities. Be careful when researching the origins of Dii Consentes as its origin has a lot of similarities with other pantheons such as the Egyptian twelve and the Olympian and Etruscan twelve. I got most of this info from 2 books which I will be reviewing in time, like the Egyptian selection from last month.
Over time I’ll give you all an historic look into who these deities’ are as well as a personal look into my practise with particular Gods such as Apollo.
Hopefully this will clarify something… off to watch HBO Rome! =]