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Tales beyond belief

Discover the legends and myths and religious beliefs surrounding Neptune, the Roman god of the seas and water. Neptune was the god of springs, lakes and rivers before becoming a god of the sea and was the god of earthquakes and often referred to as the 'Earth-shaker'. Neptune descended from the ancient line of primordial sea gods and was the son of Saturnus and Ops who were both from the race of Titans.

Neptune was also the patron god of horse racing as he was believed to have been the creator of the horse. The Greek counterpart of this ancient Roman deity was Poseidon.

Who was Neptune?
Neptune was the Roman god of the seas and water. He was designated as the god of springs, lakes and rivers before becoming a god of the sea and venerated by the Romans as the father of all living beings on Earth through the fertilising power of rainwater.  He was represented in art as a god of the sea, with black or dark hair wearing garments of an azure or sea-green color and seated in a large shell chariot drawn by whales, horses or sea-horses. He is always pictured with with his trident in his hand and is usually attended by sea gods and sea goddesses and a retinue of Tritons and sea-nymphs. On ancient some coins and medals he is depicted mounted on the beak of a ship as a clear indication that he presided over the seas. Neptune was also the patron of horse racing, and was believed by the ancients to have been the creator of the horse. A temple dedicated to him was situated near the Circus Flaminius which was a Roman racetrack. The Circus Flaminius was the venue for horse races with one rider and his horse going around the turning posts, unlike the Circus Maximus which was the venue for chariot races in Rome.

Facts about Neptune
The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Neptune:

  • Roman Name: Neptune

  • Role & Function: The function of Neptune is described as being the god of the seas, springs, lakes and rivers

  • Status: Major God and one of the 'Dei Consentes', the Council of Gods.

  • Symbols: His symbols include the horse, the trident, the dolphin and the bull

  • Gender: Male

  • Greek Counterpart: The Greek name for this god was Poseidon

  • Name of Wife: Amphitrite the Queen of the sea, the daughter of Nereus and Doris

  • Name of Father: Saturnus (Saturn)

  • Name of Mother: Ops (Opis)

  • Name of siblings: Brothers & sisters: Jupiter, Pluto, Vesta, Juno and Ceres

  • Names of Children: The merman Triton, Proteus and the sea Nymphs Rhode and Benthesicyme

Children of Neptune
The children of Neptune are most commonly named as Triton, Proteus, Rhode and Benthesicyme. However according to some ancient myths and legends he was also the father of:

  • Ephialtes a giant son

  • Halirrhothius a son of Neptune who was slain by Mars

  • Otus a giant son of Neptune who was slain by Diana and Apollo

  • Polyphemus a Giant son of Neptune blinded by Ulysses

Facts about Neptune in Roman Mythology
Discover interesting information and facts about Neptune, the Roman god of the seas and water.

  • He was the son of Saturnus and Ops, the brother of Jupiter, Pluto, Vesta, Juno and Ceres and the husband of Amphitrite

  • Neptune was worshipped by the Romans as the god of horses, under the name Neptunus Equester

  • He delayed the return of Odysseus from the Trojan War by causing his boat to be shipwrecked.

  • The Neptunalia was the festival that took place in honor of Neptune on July 23. It was one of the 'dies comitiales' when committees of Roman citizens could vote on civil or criminal matters

  • Neptunalia was a water-related festival held in honor of the god.

  • During sacrifices to the Roman gods, at festivals like Neptunalia, the sex of the victim had to correspond to the sex of the god to whom it was offered. White animals were given to the gods of the upper world whereas black victims to the gods of the underworld.

  • He ravished Medusa, a beautiful priestess on the floor of a temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva. The poor girl was then changed into the mythical creature called Medusa, a monstrous mythical creature called a Gorgon

  • In earlier times the Roman god Portunes or Fortunus who was thanked for naval victories

  • Neptune had two temples in Rome. One temple was located near the the Circus Flaminius, the Roman racetrack. The second temple was called the the Basilica Neptuni was located on the Campus Martius and was built by Agrippa in honour of the naval victory of Actium

  • The planet Neptune was named after the Roman god, as its deep blue gas clouds gave the early astronomers the impression of great oceans and seas.

The Symbols of Neptune
The Roman god of the sea was often illustrated with pictures, mosaics and images representing his symbols. He was often depicted seated on his sea shell chariot drawn by mythical creatures called Hippocamps, which were the horses of the sea with the head and fore-parts of a horse and the tail of a fish.

  • The Symbol of the Trident: The trident of power represented his ability to control water. The trident were made by the Cyclopes before the war between the Olympians and Titans.

  • The Symbol of the Horse: The symbol of the horse is because Neptune was believed to have created the first horse. The horses that pulled his sea shell chariot were called Hippocamps

  • The Symbol of the Dolphin: The symbol of the dolphin was sacred to Poseidon, dolphins as they reflected his ability to move in and out of water

  • The Symbol of the Bull: The symbol of the bull is associated with the god due to the mythology of the Cretan Bull

Neptune (Greek Counterpart was Poseidon)
The Romans habitually assimilated various elements from other cultures and civilisations, including the gods and goddesses that were worshipped by the Greeks and other nations. When the Roman Empire conquered the Greeks in 146BC many of the Greek gods and goddesses were adopted by the Romans.  The Romans simply changed the Greek gods names to Latin equivalents. The Greek counterpart of Neptune was Poseidon. The Roman religion significantly differed from the Greeks in that it was officially endorsed by the state and exerted influence over the government of Rome. Politicians took the offices of influential priests, called pontiffs, to gain control of the popular worship, Roman gods and goddesses like Neptune were worshipped at every public event, including the gladiatorial games, where blood sacrifices were made to the gods. In ancient Rome, the pantheon of 12 major gods, including Neptune, were called the 'Dei Consentes' meaning the Council of Gods.

Gods and Deities
Roman Gods and Goddesses

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