Whats Makes the Roman Gods different from the Greek Gods?

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Whats Makes the Roman Gods different from the Greek Gods?

Postby Titus Iulius Nero on Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:24 pm

Salvete omnes,

I have been asking questions here like a storm, but I have a lot on my mind. :P

We all know the similarities between say Jupiter and Zeus, Juno and Hera, etc... however what makes the Roman Gods different from their Greek counterparts? In essence, why is it that the Religio Romana and Hellenismos worship the seemingly same gods but separately?

What makes Mars different from Ares, Minerva from Athena, Vesta from Hestia?

Why are there two versions of what some would say are the *same* gods.

Are the Greek Gods the same as ours?

In Pax Deorum,
Iulius Nero



***this mostly stems from postings I have seen at other discussion forums on the web, and I wanted to see what all of your thoughts are on the subject.***
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Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Sat Jan 20, 2007 11:40 am

Salve Nero

A valid question. One that isn't easy to answer. Ever since the Romans got in contact with the Greeks in South Italy, a proces was started where the Romans started to borrowing the myths of the Greeks and replace the Greek names with their Roman counterparts. Over time and by the time of Augustus, the assimilation of the Greek Gods into the Roman Gods was complet. At first the Roman Gods were very different from the Greek Gods. From what I know, the Roman Gods had no real myths, no antropomorphic looks like their Greek counterparts.
But not all Greek Gods corrospond with the Roman Gods. Roman Gods like Janus or lower deities that are associated with harbours, barriars, etc.... did not have any Greek counterpart. Even so, some Gods were imported like Apollo, Cybele and if not mistaken Dionysos as Bacchus.
I think the Religio Romana was influenced heavily not just by the Greeks, but also by the Etruscans. Which is normal for any religion.
Well i suppose Piscine can tell us more about this.
vale

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Deii Graeae Romanis Deis Collati

Postby Valerius Claudius Iohanes on Tue Jan 30, 2007 1:22 am

Salvete et Aureli Orce et Iulii Nero -

I'm not sure of the development of the Greek Ares, but I've heard that Roman Mars originated with some humble elements in his makeup. Geese, so I've read, were sacred to Mars - apparently because he was a god of boundaries and the defense of territory: geese being vehement and vocal in their disputes over their own little territories, they became his emblem.

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Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Tue Jan 30, 2007 11:20 am

Salve

Well as I understand it Mars used to be a agricultural deity and there is enough reason to speculate that Ares also had agricultural roots at one time. I don't remember all the details about it. But it would make sense seeing how wars used to be about fighting over food and cattle.
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Deii Graeae Romanis Deis Collati....

Postby Valerius Claudius Iohanes on Wed Jan 31, 2007 3:23 am

Salve, Aurelii Orci -

Yes, and it makes sense also if we can say correctly that both the Greek hoplites of Ares and the original legionaries of Mars would have been in their livelihoods mostly farmers of one kind or another. Both the gods could have developed from the farmers' sweat in the fields to their sweat (and blood) in battle.

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Re: Whats Makes the Roman Gods different from the Greek Gods

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:56 pm

Salvete

Titus Iulius Nero wrote:What makes Mars different from Ares, Minerva from Athena, Vesta from Hestia?

Why are there two versions of what some would say are the *same* gods.

Are the Greek Gods the same as ours?



Em, I can't say that I am very familiar enough with Greek ideas or practices to detail differences. The Romans came upon their Gods in Italy. That is, they came to places where they recognized the presence of a God or Goddess. In some cases these were sacred places of earlier peoples. One example may be a recent discovery http://tinyurl.com/255fd8

Such a place, used as a shrine in the Neolithic, adopted later by a Bronze Age culture, then continued in use as later peoples arrived, each in turn recognizing the presence of a Goddess. A few of these neolithic shrines were used by Samnites as sanctuaries of Mefitis, and when the Romans arrived they either respected the Samnite cultus of the sanctuary or converted them over to a Romanized cultus for Ceres.

The Greeks did something similar, but seem, from the little I've read on the subject, to have superimposed their religious ideas over an earlier culture. Some Greek Goddess can be traced to an earlier culture. And that "Old European" Neolithic culture was the same culture, found in the Balkans and in Apulia. Then during the Bronze Age contact between Italy and the Eastern Mediterranean began. Italy was already becoming a Mediterranean culture before the emergence of Greeks and Romans. "Greek influence" on the religio Romana, if that is what you want to call it, would had to have begun as early as 1500 BCE, which is a date from which some wares from Greece began to appear in southern Italy and Sicily. Stronger still, in the Late Bronze Age, was the influence from the Levant and even Egypt. But they were only influences. They did not recreate Italian religion, and remember also that influences tend to move in both directions. One characteristic feature of the Italian Bronze Age was the homogeneity of the material culture throughout Italy. Regional diversity begins to appear in the Late Bronze Age as further contacts with the East developed. Then those contacts were disrupted in the 12th century. Italy and Greece began to develop separately at that point. But back in Italy, you have the Roman religion growing out of the Latin religion, which emerged from an Italian tradition that had already had influences from the East. Contact with the East is renewed about a hundred years later. Etruria and other coastal regions react somewhat differently. We talk about Etruscan influences on Rome, when there is more differences than similarities that can be brought out. When it comes to religion, the Latins and Sabines influenced the Etruscan just as much as the other way around. And further south, as the Greeks arrived, they were influenced by native Italians and earlier peoples just as much as the Greeks were to influence them. What eventually arrived at Rome from southern Italy was not purely Greek but a southern Italian tradition that was strongly influenced from elsewhere in the Mediterranean.

So we are dealing more with how humans perceived the Gods to be rather than the question on whether They are the same Gods. With some, like Ceres and Demeter who can be traced back into the Neolithic, I would you are considering the same Goddess. With Athena and Minerva it is more difficult to say. Athena was a Goddess of the earlier people in Greece. But She is different in some respects from Minerva. I don't find much similarity between Ares and Mars, other than both played roles in warfare. As a God of War Mars develops from His earlier form as a protector of animals, crops, and humans from disease. This is perhaps seen in the rites of the Salii, which is a rite of purification rather than a ritual of war, and its main purpose was to rid the City of evil spirits that bring disease. The Carmen Arvalum also has more to do with warding off disease than that it relates to war, even though it refers to disease as barabarians. Mars develops into a God of War in a sense of protective wars defending the home and hearth. Ares gives me the impression of a God of raiding parties.

Zeus, too, was later to be assimilated with Roman Jupiter. To understand some of the differences between Them I think we have to look more closely at Italic Giove. There are some differences between Rome's Jupiter Capitolinus and the Giove that is found among different Italic tribes. I may have to come back to that in order to explain.

Anyway, my general view is that in most cases the Greeks Gods are not the same as the native Roman Gods. It may be a different story with some Greek Goddesses however. And later when some Greek attributes were assimilated to Roman deities, the Greek Gods were being Romanized at the same time. Greek Zeus was submerged into Roman Jupiter just as earlier Italic Giove had been, rather than Jupiter being made over into some sort of Roman version of Zeus.

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