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An introduction to the Roman gods

An introduction to the Roman gods

An introduction to the Roman gods

My latest book, The Echoes of Love, is set in Italy: Venice, Tuscany and Sicily. I love Italy for its passion, its beauty, its long and fascinating history, its rich and inspiring cultural heritage… and that which symbolises all: Roman mythology.

The Echoes of Love is a modern novel, set at the turn of the millennium, and it is pure romance, not fantasy. But no love story set in Italy is complete without paying homage to the gods, and so in the book I give a sense of those omnipresent and omniscient beings. Who better, for example, to stand as a comparator for my handsome romantic hero, Paolo?

Dressed in a navy-blue silk robe, Paolo was leaning against the trunk of a tree smoking, bathed in auroral light, looking positively unearthly, like a powerful Roman god in an ancient, timeless myth.

But I also like to give a hint of the majestic power of those looking over the mortals in this once god-fearing land:

Paolo’s eyes, that had been serious, impenetrable, and perhaps a little questioning in their depths, changed now, reflecting utter peace. Leaning forward, he bent and kissed her gently, on her forehead first, then on her parted lips. As they stood there close to each other, ringed by moonlight in La Sirena’s garden above the sea, he could see her face, always newly mesmerising to him, become more captivating still – so tranquil was it. Then a cloud engulfed the moon, and dark breezes whipped up. It was as though they themselves were not permitted to look on their full delight in case it angered the gods, and so Paolo picked up Venetia and went into the cottage.

Do you know the Roman gods? Here’s a brief look at the main Roman deities and their domains:

Gods:

  • Bacchus – wine, festivals, madness, merriment
  • Cupid (son of Venus) – love
  • Faunus – nature and fertility
  • Janus – gates and doors
  • Jupiter (king of the gods) – lightning and the sky
  • Mars – war
  • Mercury (messenger) –thieves, commerce and travellers
  • Neptune – the sea
  • Pluto – the Underworld
  • Saturn – agricultureandharvest
  • Vulcan – fire, volcanoes and blacksmiths

Goddesses:

  • Bellona (wife of Mars) – war
  • Ceres – farming and the earth
  • Diana –the moon
  • Fortuna –luck
  • Juno (wife of Jupiter) – marriage
  • Minerva – wisdom, handicrafts
  • Proserpina (wife of Pluto) – springtime
  • Venus (wife of Vulcan) –love and beauty
  • Vesta – home
  • Victoria – victory

For the purposes of a love story, the most important deities are Venus, her son Cupid and the all-powerful Jupiter. But what about Eros, you may be thinking, god of love, lust and sex? He is indeed, but in Greek, not Roman, mythology. It’s so easy to confuse the Roman gods with the Greek ones! Here’s a rundown of important Roman gods with their Greek counterparts.

  • Bacchus – Dionysus
  • Bellona – Enyo
  • Ceres – Demeter
  • Diana – Artemis
  • Faunus – Pan
  • Fortuna – Tyche
  • Juno – Hera
  • Jupiter  – Zeus
  • Mars – Ares
  • Mercury  –Hermes
  • Minerva –Athena
  • Neptune – Poseidon
  • Pluto – Hades
  • Proserpina –Persephone
  • Saturn – Cronus
  • Venus –Aphrodite
  • Vesta –Hestia
  • Victoria – Nike
  • Vulcan – Hephaestus

I have these Greek gods in mind at the moment, as I work on a forthcoming novel…

I will leave you today with Paolo and Venetia of The Echoes of Love, both mere mortals wounded by life and love. Once the echoes of their love reach the gods, will the deities decide they deserve their happy ever after?

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