The Roman Gods: Names & Facts

Instructor: Jason Nowaczyk

Jason has a masters of education in educational psychology and a BA in history and a BA in philosophy. He's taught high school and middle school

This lesson will list and describe some of the main Roman gods and the animals, attributes and symbols that the ancient Romans associated with them. A short quiz will follow this lesson to check your understanding.

Introduction

Perhaps as a child, you had dreams and fantasies of being a superhero or a character in some fairy tale land. As you got older you understood that these dreams and fantasies were not real. However, for some early cultures, like the ancient Romans, these thoughts were not dreams and fantasies but were dedicated religions and a way to explain what they saw going on in the world.

Take for example the act of getting sick. Today we understand that getting sick is caused by viruses and bacteria. In the days of ancient Rome, getting sick could have easily been seen as a curse from the gods for not obeying or paying tribute (a payment or gift of adoration). Thus, the ancient Romans strived to please the gods who they thought had an important influence on their lives. Let us go ahead a take a look at who some of these gods were.

Roman Gods and the Planets

The ancient Romans were familiar with seven bright heavenly bodies up in the night sky and thus named those bodies after their most important gods. They decided which heavenly body would get which name based on the movements of the stars in the sky over time.

Roman God Description Heavenly Body Reason
Jupiter the king of the gods planet Jupiter it is the biggest planet
Saturn the god of time planet Saturn it is the slowest planet
Apollo the god of music and enlightenment the Sun the object that shines the brightest
Diana the goddess of hunting the Moon it is the next brightest object in the sky after the Sun (Apollo and Diana are also brother and sister so it is natural that the Sun and Moon were associated with one another as well)
Mercury the messenger of the gods planet Mercury it is the fastest planet
Venus the goddess of love planet Venus it is the brightest planet/star (the Romans did not consider the Sun and Moon stars or planets
Mars the god of war planet Mars the red planet compared to the blood of war

Roman God Family Tree

Some of us may have very large families, and it is hard to keep track of all the relationships that exist in a family over time. The same can be said of the Roman gods. Their family tree is quite complex but a simplified version is listed below.

diagramRomanFamilyTree

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