I’m sure you guys all know how many deities are in the Roman pantheon. I’ve probably mentioned that a good few times.
And how there are a metric tonne of different groups, each overseeing different functions. I’ve probably mentioned a couple of those, as well: The Big 12, the Hidden Deities, the Lares…etc.
This post is on deities associated with agriculture.
Agriculture was and still is incredibly important, and yet I don’t often appreciate those deities who preside over that field nearly as much as I should. Hence this post as both a learning lesson and a sort of way for me to get closer.
So. Prepare yourselves. Names are coming.
Probably the most recognizable of the Roman agricultural deities are Ceres and Tellus. Ceres is also a deity said to have given mankind laws, and is quite possibly a kind of psychopomp, but that’s another story. Tellus I wrote an earlier PBP post on, which you can find here: she’s essentially the Mother Earth figure, quite literally seen in her later Latin name Terra Mater.
According to someone – I think it was Augustine, though who exactly is escaping my mind at the moment – attributed a group of…well, functional deities as “helper deities” to Ceres. These deities are a group who oversee the basic functions of agricultural planting and harvesting:
- Vervactor, the plougher;
- Reparator, who prepares the earth;
- Imporcitor, who ploughs with a wide furrow;
- Insitor, who plants seeds;
- Obarator, who traces the first plowing;
- Occator, who harrows;
- Serritor, who digs;
- Subruncinator, who weeds;
- Messor, who reaps;
- Convector, who carries the grain;
- Conditor, who stores the grain;
- Promitor, who distributes the grain
Along with these deities are whole other bunch who don’t accompany Ceres. There is Rusina, a goddess who protects fields; Rusor and Altor, gods who nourish plants and make them grow; Sator, a sower god invoked in the Carmen Saliare; Seia, a goddess who protects sown seeds; Segesta, who makes those seeds grow; Messia, the female equivalent of Messor; Noduterensis, god of threshing; and more.
Other fairly-well known deities include Flora, goddess of flowers, and Venus, goddess of, not love, but fertility and the growth of fruit.
There is also Sterculinus, god of manure. Poor guy; what a job.
GAH. A couple other deities keep coming up, saying “HEY IULLA, don’t forget about me 😦 ”
So I am being obliging and putting in a mention of Pomona and Vortumnus. This couple is amazing, and Vortumnus is hilarious. There is a myth centering around the two of them which I’ll have to write up someday – it’s one of my favorites. Pomona is the goddess of gardens and fruit trees, Vortumnus the god of seasons, change, plant growth, and gardens and fruit trees.
I’m probably – no, I am missing several other deities. Sorry, guys 😥