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A statue of the sacred trio of gods, the Capitoline Triad. This depicts Jupiter (center), his wife Juno (right), and daughter Minerva (left). Credit:

Numerous references are made to Roman religion and mythology throughout the series, and one of the themes is the role of the divine, as opposed to man's agency, in determining fate. Roman characters like Lucretia are frequently seen to be worshipping the Greco-Roman pantheon of gods by participating in rituals, praying, and discussing divine omens. Even slaves and rebels frequently mention the gods as part of everyday conversation, and some characters like Sura and Sibyl actively worship them.

The Roman Pantheon[]

While there were innumerable gods, goddesses, and entities worshipped by the Romans, a select few called the Dii Consentes were considered primary, most of whom had direct equivalents in Greek paganism.


Jupiter is king of the gods, the highest-ranking among them and one of the most worshipped. He is the husband of Hera and a father of many children, including Apollo, Diana, Minerva, the demigod Hercules, and numerous others. His Greek counterpart is Zeus, and he is the god of the sky, thunder, lightning, and storms. He is often associated with the eagle, which is the symbol of the Roman state. Roman legions were symbolized by a statue of an eagle, which they carried with them everywhere and worshiped as a symbol of divine authority. As the chief deity, he had many festival days devoted to him, often celebrated with chariot races and gladiator fights.

Quotes and references[]

"Never lose focus! Not if Jupiter himself rips open the heavens and dangles his cock from the skies! A gladiator's first distraction is his last!"

-Oenomaus training the men, Legends


Mars is the god of war and, in the early republic, agriculture. He is the son of Juno, brother of Vulcan, and lover of Venus. Mars held a special place in Roman religion, as war was a core of Roman life and identity. He was idolized in particular by soldiers and gladiators. The original founding myth of Rome held that Mars had impregnated a Vestal Virgin, who yielded the twins Romulus and Remus. After killing his twin brother, Romulus would found Rome and become king of the land of the seven hills which make up the territory of Rome. Because of this myth, Romans felt a special connection to Mars, and also felt superior to others because their heritage originated with a god. Mars's status as the god of both war and agriculture is a reflection of the Roman philosophy of war and statehood, and differentiates him from his Greek counterpart Ares. Another difference between them is that Ares was reviled by Greeks and their myths, who viewed him as the personification of the worst aspects of war. That Romans worshiped these aspects shows the ideological divergences between Greek and Roman cultures.

Quotes and references[]

"He stands as Mars, ready for war. Is there truth to the legends--gladiators share the blood of the gods?"

-Licinia about Spartacus, Mark of the Brotherhood


Juno is the goddess of women, marriage, childbirth, and the hearth. She is the wife of Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. She is the feminine counterpart to Jupiter, but still ranks below him. Her Greek name is Hera. She is the protector of the state and generally considered to be the goddess of women's lives. She, Jupiter, and Minerva were part of a sacred trinity in the religion of early Rome, having a special place of worship on the Quirinal and later the Capitoline Hills.

Quotes and references[]

"Juno's lips, Juno's heart, Juno's belly."

-Lucretia's prayer to Juno for fertility, The Thing in the Pit


Minerva is the goddess of wisdom, civilization, trade, professions, and eventually war. She is the daughter of Jupiter and Metis, and one of the most revered deities in the Roman pantheon. Her nearest Greek counterpart is Athena.


Vulcan is the god of metalworking, destructive fire, and the forge. He is the son of Jupiter and Juno and brother of Mars, and his Greek parallel is Hephaestus. The Romans believed Vulcan dwelled a few miles west of Neapolis, in the volatile volcanic plane called the Phlegraean Fields. They believed this because the seismic activity produced earth quakes, smoke or steam, heat, poisonous air, and foul vapors, and was responsible for the strange, frightening, and dangerous volcanic activity in the area. His home was the Forum Vulcani, a volcanic crater now called Solfatara.

Quotes and references[]

"I'm not dying in the pits. I'll show these fucking cunts that my cock was forged in Vulcan's flames! I'll fuck. them. ALL!"

-Kerza, The Thing in the Pit, his last words


Diana is the goddess of the hunt, domestic and wild animals, and eventually the moon and chastity. Her Greek counterpart is Artemis.

"Do you think she would approve? When Acteon saw her bathing she turned the poor bastard into a stag and set her own dogs upon him!"

-Licinia to Lucretia while holding the mask of Diana, Whore


Venus is the goddess of beauty, cultivated fields, gardens, and love. She is he daughter of Jupiter and the lover of Mars. Her Greek parallel is Aphrodite.

Quotes and references

"Has Venus herself ever appeared in such rare form?"

-Quintus about Lucretia, Missio


Apollo is the god of the sun and truth. He bears the same name in both Roman and Greek mythology.


Pluto is the god of the underworld. He is the brother of Zeus and the husband of Proserpina, his Greek counterpart being Hades.

Quotes and references

"Pluto's asshole! The answer has no balance with your actions."

-Varro to Spartacus in the hole, Legends


Saturn is the god of seed and planting. He is the father of Jupiter and several other gods and goddesses, and his Greek equivalent is Kronos.


Ceres is the goddess of agriculture, fertility, and the cycle of life and death. Her Greek name is Demeter.

Neptune (Poseidon)[]

Neptune is the god of the sea. He is the son of Saturn, brother of Jupiter, and husband of Amphitrite. His Greek name is Poseidon, after whom the town of Poseidonia (Roman Paestum) was named.


Bacchus is the god of wine and pleasure. His worship was controversial, and his festivals were banned in some periods for their excessive and orgiastic practices. His Greek name is Dionysus.


Proserpina is the goddess of spring. She is the daughter of Jupiter and Ceres and wife of Pluto. Her Greek name is Persephone. She was kidnapped by Pluto (Hades) and taken to the underworld to be his wife. The rape of Persephone is a common subject in art from and about the classical era. She is also called Kore, which may inspire the name of the character Kore, given her shared history with sexual violence.


Mercury is the messenger of the gods and mediator between gods and mortals. He is also the god of travel, thieves, the economy and trade, ground resources, translators, eloquence, communication, and trickery. His Greek counterpart is Hermes.

Other gods, goddesses, and figures[]


Quirinus is believed to be the deified version of Romulus, the founder and first king of Rome. The name is derived from a Sabine settlement Quirium, which was absorbed by the early city of Rome and is now called the Quirinal Hill. One of the earliest distinctly Roman gods, surprisingly little is known about him today. His was one of the first and oldest temples in Rome. Some scholars believe he is synonymous with Mars, but there is no true consensus. By the time of the late republic, he and the deified Romulus are considered one in the same.


Sol is an ancient Roman god of the sun, one of the earliest deities of Roman religion. His Greek counterpart is Helios.


The personification of the city of Rome, similar in appearance and values to Minerva.


Charun is the ferryman, a god who transports the souls of the dead on his boat across the rivers of the underworld to receive judgment. His Greek name is Charon or Kharon.


Medusa is a gorgon, an mythological creature with the head and torso of a beautiful woman, hair made of live snakes, and a serpent's tail for a lower body. Her image appeared often on phalerae and interior design, as she was believed to protect people and frighten or turn to stone any evil-doers. She appears in both Greek and Roman mythology.


The Capitoline Wolf[]

The Cybele[]

Magna Mater[]




Greek Influences[]

Other Influences[]

Worship and Customs[]

The Romans had many practices and customs through which they worshiped their gods, and these practices varied temporally and geographically throughout the republic.


In the public space, temples were built at which the gods could be worshiped by the population. While only priests and staff were permitted in the core of the temples, worshipers could pray and leave offerings at a public altar just outside the temple, in an outer courtyard of the temple, or inside a peripheral chamber at the temple entrance. Offerings could be purchased at a kiosk nearby which could then be sacrificed. The blood would be offered to the gods upon an altar, the organs (exta) would be given to priests so they could be read for omens by the haruspices, and the meat was eaten by the community, sometimes at a communal feast.

Offerings and Sacrifices[]

For large dedications, animals would be slaughtered as sacrifices to the gods, while smaller offerings included sacrificial cakes called liba (sing. libum), coins, and small items of value, particularly ornamental metallic brooches.

During particularly difficult times, many large animals could be sacrificed in a single instance. Families or communities would sacrifice individual animals, the size of which varied depending on what they could afford. Animals for sacrifice may include chickens and other poultry, piglets, hogs or sows, goat kids, mature goats, lambs, sheep, calves, mature cows, and bulls, though regional practices outside of Rome may have included other animals, depending on the traditions of the area. The Roman practice of hecatombe, as mentioned by Magistrate Calavius and Solonius in Shadow Games, was a mass sacrifice in which one hundred cattle were sacrificed to one or to multiple gods. The exceptional cost of sacrificing that amount of animals, as well as the volume of meat, blood, and exta to be processed, meant it was employed only in times of extreme public distress.

Holidays and Festivals[]

Roman religion included a vast expanse of holidays and festivals dedicated to their many gods. While many holidays were celebrated by everyone, some were only to be observed by certain people. During other festivals, certain people would receive honors, such as soldiers during the festival of Mars.