Difference Between Greek and Roman Mythology
Many people get Greek and Roman Mythology confused. Are you one of those people? Today we examine the difference between Greek and Roman Mythology. Let’s break this down and make it simpler by taking the breakdown of Greek mythology and comparing to Roman to understand shall we?
The Roman Mythology does not really cover most of the primordials at all. The creation stories of Roman mythology doesn’t go back to the origins of man. Instead it goes back to the founding of the Roman empire and the Trojan war. The only one that it addresses is Gaia.
- Gaia– Mother Earth who gave birth to the other primordial and who along with consort and son Uranus gave birth to the Titans.
According to Roman Mythology Gaea is also known as Terra. She is still seen as mother earth. There is no complex description or storyline to accompany the deity.
The only members of the titans that is melded into the Roman mythology are Helios, Cronus and Eos. It is unclear what happened to the remainder. Their personalities and traits may have simply been merged into other Gods or they may have been no longer relevant to society and forgotten. Although as typical they have been given new names.
- Helios– Sun God Known to Romans as Sol
- Eos– Dawn God Known to Romans as Cupid
- Cronus– Leader of the Titans. Known to Romans as Saturn
The Olympians are incorporated into Roman mythology as was typical when the Romans conquered a new area they melded with the local culture and religions. Most of the stories are retold by new authors with the new names. Each cultures religion was merged into what later became known as Roman mythology.
This could explain why it is so confusing to try and separate the two mythologies. Greek and Roman eventually became one. Roman wouldn’t exist at all had they not borrowed from the Greek.
- Hestia Goddess of The Hearth and Family Life Became In Roman Vesta
- Demeter Goddess of Fertility and Agriculture Became In Roman Ceres
- Hera Queen of the Gods. Became In Roman Juno
- Hades God of the Underworld Became In Roman Pluto
- Poseidon God of the Sea Became In Roman Neptune
The Remainder of the Olympians are all children of Zeus. In Roman mythology this association is unclear. They simply include the deities they need to represent different aspects of daily life.
- Aphrodite Goddess of love and Beauty. Became In Roman Venus
- Athena Goddess of Wisdom and Intellect. Became In Roman Minerva
- Apollo God of Music, arts and healing. Became In Roman Phoebus/Apollo
- Artemis Goddess of hunt, Wild animals and virginity. Became In Roman Diana Later associated also with the moon.
- Ares God of War. Became In Roman Mars
- Hephaestus God of the Forge Fire. Became In Roman Vulcan
- Hermes Messenger God. Became In Roman Mercury
- Dionysus God of Wine and Merriment. Became In Roman Bacchus
- Persephone Goddess of Spring. Became In Roman Proserpine
- Pan God of the Wild. Became In Roman Faunus
Since the Romans incorporated Gods into their belief system as they conquered they also had a few Gods that the Greeks did not. Such as:
- Lares Guardian God of the Field and House
- Pales Guardian God of Pasture
- Pomona Guardian Goddess of Fruit
- Janus/ Vesta Guardian of the House and Hearth
- Consus/ Ops Guardian of the Harvest
- Quirinus God of Armed community during peace times
- Cybele Great Mother Goddess acquired from Phrygia or Current Asian Turkey
- Mithra God depicted as Bull Slayer Acquired from Iran. Created cult following with no clear definition of what he was God of.
Aside from changing the names of the Gods they merged into their own mythology there are a few other differences between Greek and Roman. Of course the most obvious difference is that the Romans came nearly 1000 years later.
- The Greeks based their associations of the Gods on human personality traits.
The Romans associated their Gods with Objects.
- The Greeks placed importance on the current life.
The Romans focused on doing good deeds to attain a good place in the afterlife along with the Gods.
- The Greeks considered the acts of Mortals and the Gods to be of near equal importance.
The Romans thought the acts of the Gods to be of only importance and Heroic. They hardly considered man at all in their tales.
- The Greeks favored creativity and the mind as the most important aspects of life.
The Romans favored physical feats as opposed to those of the mind.
- The Greeks depicted their Gods as having beautiful bodies with ideal proportions and looks.
The Romans did not have physical depictions of their Gods. Preferring to keep it all in the imagination.
- The Greeks believed in the Gods as part of the religion.
The Romans believed the Gods represented practical needs in daily life. A parable or lesson to be learned.
Different Yet the Same
While the mythologies handed down from Greek and Roman times are certainly different in many ways. They show the changing tides of human thought. At one point we were awestruck by the idea of the Gods. We attributed great things to them and aspired to be like them.
As times changed we began to realize they were not real beings and were instead moral stories to learn from. We took lessons from them and enjoyed them as entertainment much as we do now.
One thing remained the same however. They have always served as a means to teach lessons to the younger generations. Whether because we feared the Gods wrath or simply could value the information to be passed on. Check out my Greek mythology family tree by clicking here. What is your take on these lessons? Do you think they are still applicable today? Please comment below.