Who were the most influential Roman gods and goddesses?
The Roman Empire was a primarily polytheistic civilization, meaning the people recognized and worshiped deities. Despite the presence of monotheistic religions within the Empire, such as Judaism and early Christianity, Romans strongly honored multiple gods and goddesses that they believed helped shape the events of people’s lives on a daily basis.
Father of Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Ceres, Vesta, and Juno, Saturn was known for having eaten five out of his six children. Luckily, Jupiter managed to save them all in some way.
Queen of the Roman gods and goddesses, Juno was the wife and sister of Jupiter and mother to Mars. She was the goddess of marriage and childbirth.
Famously known as the Roman god of war, Mars was also guardian of agriculture and the embodiment of virility and aggression.
Possibly the best known of all the Roman deities, Venus was the goddess of love and beauty. She had two main lovers: Vulcan, her husband, and Mars.
The Roman god of fire, volcanoes, metal work, and the forge, Vulcan made the weapons of the gods. Married to Venus, it was believed that Vulcan had a forge under Mount Etna, and whenever she was unfaithful the volcano would erupt.
The father of the gods, Jupiter was the god of the sky and thunder. In fact, his Latin name, luppiter, means "sky father." He was known for using his thunderbolts as a weapon.
Her role was so important that Romans believed that when she was unhappy, all crops would die. They believed that the cycle of seasons coincided with her moods, and the coldest months were when she was the saddest.
The goddess of hearth, home, and domestic life, Vesta was daughter to Saturn and Ops. The cult of the Vestal Virgins, who guarded the perpetually burning flame protecting the city of Rome, was entirely dedicated to her. It was believed that if the flame went out, she'd get terribly angry and Rome would be left without protection.
Minerva was born of the head of Jupiter after he swallowed her mother Metis, having been told that the child he had impregnated her with could be more powerful than he was. Metis created commotion by making armor and weapons for her daughter inside of Jupiter, and the god demanded that his head be split open to let them out.
According to legend, Diana was the one who brought out the moon every night, and the moon's size would depend on her mood. The smaller the moon, the moodier Diana was.
Janus was the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, and endings. He’s usually depicted with two faces, one facing the past and the other facing the future.
The god of winemaking, festivity, and fertility, Bacchus also represented insanity. Basically, it seemed to be all about partying when it came to Bacchus.
The god and personification of sleep, Somnus resided in the underworld. He was the brother of Death, and the father of the Somnia, which were shapes that appeared in peoples' dreams.
Perhaps most importantly, he's the god of sun and light. Also, Apollo was one of only a few Roman gods who kept the same name as his Greek counterpart.