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Author Topic: Key differences between Greek and Roman Deities  (Read 26827 times)
Melamphoros
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« Topic Start: February 08, 2009, 05:58:45 pm »

What are the key differences between individual Greek and Roman Gods?

For example, what are the main differences between Hera and Juno, Artemis and Diana, Poseidon and Neptune, etc?

Are there some deities who may be one in the same or are the differences so great that it is unlikely?
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« Reply #1: February 08, 2009, 06:02:55 pm »

What are the key differences between individual Greek and Roman Gods?

For example, what are the main differences between Hera and Juno, Artemis and Diana, Poseidon and Neptune, etc?

Are there some deities who may be one in the same or are the differences so great that it is unlikely?

Oh interesting topic.
I'm afraid I can't contribute much, but I'm highly interested in the answers.
I have the feeling the Romans just decided at one point to 'make' a pantheon and used the Greek one.
But then there are subtle - very subtle - differences, some Etruscan traces....

*sits down in thread with a cup of coffee and waits for the knowledgeable people to enlighten her*  Cheesy
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« Reply #2: February 08, 2009, 09:22:32 pm »

Oh interesting topic.
I'm afraid I can't contribute much, but I'm highly interested in the answers.

I'm interested in the answers as well, because as I know there are differences between the deities, I'm hard-pressed to coherently explain them. This is a topic that really bugs me in theatre history class (we just finished our Antiquity section) when people are like "Oh, the Romans just STOLE EVERYTHING FROM THE GREEKS OBVIOUSLY THEY'RE UNORIGINAL AND BAD."

Um, well, there's a lot of Greek influence on Roman culture as the Romans did dominate the Greeks and that tends to happen with societies that dominate/are dominated, but there is also Atellan and Etruscan influence on Roman culture, so Roman culture isn't really "stolen goods"...not in the narrow sense my classmates are talking about anyway. It's not exactly like the cultures that influenced it. As for unoriginal -- welcome to humanity, dudes.

But of course I have all these half-formed facts floating around in my head and not the encyclopedic knowledge I'd like to have on the subject, so I never speak up in class. Sad

*sits back with Tana and waits for others to enlighten* Smiley
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« Reply #3: February 08, 2009, 09:30:28 pm »

For example, what are the main differences between Hera and Juno, Artemis and Diana, Poseidon and Neptune, etc?

Unfortunately, I'm not familiar enough with the Roman deities to list these differences -- except for a couple of obvious ones. Mars completely lacks Ares love of destruction in war for its own sake. His warfare was more like Athena's than Ares.
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« Reply #4: February 09, 2009, 07:01:04 am »

What are the key differences between individual Greek and Roman Gods?
In my experince, Dionysos and Bacchus are one in the same.  (Or at least Dionysos is comfortable answering to Bacchus - probably because that's one of his Greek epithets.)  Liber, the original Roman wine god, OTOH, seems to be someone completely different - less interested in madness and more with viniculture.
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« Reply #5: February 09, 2009, 07:14:59 am »

Mars completely lacks Ares love of destruction in war for its own sake. His warfare was more like Athena's than Ares.

Do you think that this could reflect changes to the role of war in society, or to the attitudes of people to war, rather than indicating a separate individual? I can't help wondering whether it's us who have changed rather than the detiy.
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« Reply #6: February 09, 2009, 07:26:23 am »

Do you think that this could reflect changes to the role of war in society, or to the attitudes of people to war, rather than indicating a separate individual? I can't help wondering whether it's us who have changed rather than the detiy.

You know, this is something that I have thought about.  Just look at what war gave to the Romans compared to what it gave to the Greeks (before Alexander, that is).  Then again, if this was so, then why wasn't Athena portrayed like her fellow war-deity Ares?
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« Reply #7: February 09, 2009, 07:32:44 am »

You know, this is something that I have thought about.  Just look at what war gave to the Romans compared to what it gave to the Greeks (before Alexander, that is).  Then again, if this was so, then why wasn't Athena portrayed like her fellow war-deity Ares?

Straight up, I don't know, but I'd put money on it having to do with things like: the role of women in society; the popular and philosophic definitions of wisdom current at the time; the level of participation of Roman culture within the aspects of manifest reality that Athena is concerned with (possibly including geographic areas of interest); attitudes toward the city/state of Athens and its historic role; and conceptions of war in the Roman mind.
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« Reply #8: February 09, 2009, 07:38:43 am »



On a different tangent, it's an area that always finds me reminding myself that religions (or at least the veneration of particular deities) is and was a living tradition. Understandings and attitudes change, information is lost, practices become less practical or relevant. I don't know that this is at the heart of the issue, but if I was interested in investigating it thoroughly these are things that would certainly be on my list to research. (Although this assumes that the Roman religion was historically later; I'm not sure to what exptent this was the case. I'd have to explore the Roman understanding of their deities at the time when religious practice was contemprary with Greek religious practice in relation to a comparable pantheon. I suspect you'd have to look at Etruscan religion and belief systems too.)
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« Reply #9: February 09, 2009, 07:30:25 pm »

I have the feeling the Romans just decided at one point to 'make' a pantheon and used the Greek one.
From what I know, it'd be closer to the mark to say the Romans wanted to anthropomorphize their pantheon, and drew heavily on the Greek views of deities to do so - it's not that the Romans didn't have deities, or that they chucked out the pantheon they'd had in favor of the Greek one, it's that the earlier Roman view of deity was numinous rather than anthropomorphic.  (The Roman idea of numinous deities is a little like archetypes in modern paganism, except that archetypes are usually applied as a way to put a human face on the concepts/"forces of nature" involved, to make them more accessible.)

IMO, "decided" and "at one point" aren't all that good a description; my guess is that it was a gradual, organic process - possibly driven in part by Roman admiration of Greek culture, possibly just the common human tendency to anthropomorphize.  But it's hard to express the idea you were expressing (which I think has quite a bit of usefulness when trying to be concise on the subject and not write an essay) without using words that imply conscious volition and points in time.

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« Reply #10: February 09, 2009, 08:11:11 pm »

In my experince, Dionysos and Bacchus are one in the same.  (Or at least Dionysos is comfortable answering to Bacchus - probably because that's one of his Greek epithets.)
My UPG:  They're not one and the same, but they don't mind answering to each other's names.  (I can - and started to - elaborate on this, but decided it was too far off-topic for both the thread and the folder; if people want to hear about/discuss the Dionysos/Bacchus relationship from a modern eclectic UPG-based POV, I can start a spinoff thread someplace better suited.)

Sunflower

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« Reply #11: February 09, 2009, 10:13:07 pm »

My UPG:  They're not one and the same, but they don't mind answering to each other's names.  (I can - and started to - elaborate on this, but decided it was too far off-topic for both the thread and the folder; if people want to hear about/discuss the Dionysos/Bacchus relationship from a modern eclectic UPG-based POV, I can start a spinoff thread someplace better suited.)

Sunflower

I wouldn't mind hearing about it.  I'm not really connected to any Greek or Roman dieties (that I know of) but I've always been interested in their myths.  They've always felt like 'real' people to me, I think that's why I have no problem with the thought of Dieties being real people not just energy. Okay, that was a tangent thought. Cheesy
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« Reply #12: February 09, 2009, 10:45:21 pm »

My UPG:  They're not one and the same, but they don't mind answering to each other's names.  (I can - and started to - elaborate on this, but decided it was too far off-topic for both the thread and the folder; if people want to hear about/discuss the Dionysos/Bacchus relationship from a modern eclectic UPG-based POV, I can start a spinoff thread someplace better suited.)

Sunflower


I would be very interested in this as well.
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« Reply #13: February 09, 2009, 11:37:55 pm »

I wouldn't mind hearing about it.
I would be very interested in this as well.
Done.

Sunflower
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« Reply #14: February 10, 2009, 01:14:39 pm »

From what I know, it'd be closer to the mark to say the Romans wanted to anthropomorphize their pantheon, and drew heavily on the Greek views of deities to do so - it's not that the Romans didn't have deities, or that they chucked out the pantheon they'd had in favor of the Greek one, it's that the earlier Roman view of deity was numinous rather than anthropomorphic.  (The Roman idea of numinous deities is a little like archetypes in modern paganism, except that archetypes are usually applied as a way to put a human face on the concepts/"forces of nature" involved, to make them more accessible.)

Does this kind of explain deities of doorhinges, toilets, children right after birth, children that start walking and so on?

IMO, "decided" and "at one point" aren't all that good a description; my guess is that it was a gradual, organic process - possibly driven in part by Roman admiration of Greek culture, possibly just the common human tendency to anthropomorphize.  But it's hard to express the idea you were expressing (which I think has quite a bit of usefulness when trying to be concise on the subject and not write an essay) without using words that imply conscious volition and points in time.

I think you got what I was trying to express.
Of course I don't think they gathered and said: Ok, now agenda point 2 - let's make a pantheon - oh how about the greek one? - oh good idea!  we just take other names Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy
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