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Gods

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Britons. The gods of the ancient Britons. Taramis (the father of the gods and master of thunder), Teutatēs (patron of commerce and inventor of letters), Esus (god of war), Belinus (= Apollo), Ardena (goddess of forests), Belisarna (the queen of heaven and the moon.

Carthaginian gods. Urania and Moloch. The former was implored when rain was required.

“Ista ipsa virgo [Urania] cœlestis pluviarum pollicitatrix.”—Tertullian.

Moloch was the Latin Saturn, to whom human sacrifices were offered. Hence Saturn was said to devour his own children.

Chaldeans. The seven gods of the Chaldeans. The gods of the seven planets called in the Latin language Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Apollo [i.e. the Sun], Mercury, Venus, and Diana [i.e. the Moon].

Egyptian gods. The two chief deities were Osīris and Isis (supposed to be sun and moon). Of inferior gods, storks, apes, cats, the hawk, and some 20,000 other things had their temples, or at least received religious honours. Thebes worshipped a ram, Memphis the ox [Apis], Bubastis a cat, Momemphis a cow, the Mendesians a he-goat, the Hermopolitans a fish called “Latus,” the Paprimas the hippopotamus, the Lycopolitans the wolf. The ibis was deified because it fed on serpents, the crocodile out of terror, the ichneumon because it fed on crocodilesʹ eggs.

Etruscans. Their nine gods. Juno, Minerva, and Tinʹia (the three chief); to which add Vulcan, Mars, Saturn, Hercules, Summaʹnus, and Vedius. (See Aesir.)


Lars Porsĕna of Clusium,

By the nine gods he swore

That the great house of Tarquin

Should suffer wrong no more.

By the nine gods he swore it.

And named a trysting day.”


Macaulay: Horatius, stanza 1.

Gaul. The gods of the Gauls were Esus and Teutatēs (called in Latin Mars and Mercury). Lucan adds a third named Taranēs (Jupiter). Cæsar says they worshipped Mercury, Apollo, Mars, Jupiter, and Minerva. The last was the inventor of all the arts, and presided over roads and commerce.

Greek and Roman gods were divided into Dii Majõrēs and Dii Minõrēs. The Dii Majorēs were twelve in number, thus summed by Ennius—


Juno, vesta, Minerva, Cerēs, Diana, Venus, Mars, Mercurius, Jŏvĭ, Neptunus, Vulcanus, Apollo.


Their blood was ichor, their food was ambrosia, their drink nectar. They married and had children, lived on Olympus in Thessaly, in brazen houses built by Vulcan, and wore golden shoes which enabled them to tread on air or water.

The twelve great deities, according to Ennius were (six male and six female):

Latin.

Greek.

Jupiter (King)

Zeus (1 syl.).

Apollo (the sun)

Apollõn.

Mars (war)

Arēs.

Mercury (messenger)

Hermēs.

Neptune (ocean)

Poseidon (3 syl.).

Vulcan (smith)

Hephaistos (3 syʹ

Juno (Queen)

Hera.

Cerēs (tillage)

Demēter.

Diana (moon, hunting)

Artĕmis.

Minerva (wisdom).

Athēna.

Venus (love and beauty)

Aphroditē.

Vesta (home-life)

Hestĭa.

⁂ Juno was the wife of Jupiter, Hera of Zeus; Venus was the wife of Vulcan, Aphroditē of Hephaistos.

Four other deities are often referred to:

Bacchus (wine)

Dionȳsos.

Cupid (the lad Love)

Eros.

Pluto (of the Inferno)

Plutõn.

Saturn (time)

Kronos.

⁂ Of these, Proserpine (Latin) and Persephŏnē (Greek) was the wife of Pluto - Cybĕlē was the wife of Saturn, and Rhea of Kronos.

⁂ In Hesiod’s time the number of gods was thiry thousand, and that none might be omitted the Greeks observed a feast called θεoζενια or Feast of the Unknown Gods. We have an All Saintsʹ day.


Tριζ γαρ εισιν χθoνι πoυλυβoτειρη

Aθανατoι Zηνoζ, φυλακεζ μερoπων ανθρωπων.


Hestod, i. 250.


“Some thirty thousand gods on earth we find

Subjects of Zeus, and guardians of mankind.”

Persian gods. The chief god was Mithra. Inferior to him were the two gods Oromasdēs and Tremanius. The former was supposed to be the author of all the evils of the earth.

Saxon gods. Odin or Woden (the father of the gods), to whom Wednesday is consecrated; Frea (the mother of the gods), to whom Fri-day is consecrated; Hertha (the earth); Tuesco, to whom Tues-day is consecrated; Thor, to whom Thurs-day is consecrated.

Scandinavian gods. The supreme gods of the Scandinavians were the Mysterious Three, called Har (the mighty), the Like Mighty, and the Third Person, who sat on three thrones above the Rainbow. Then came the Æsir, of which Odin was the chief, who lived in Asgard, on the heavenly hills, between the Earth and the Rainbow. Next came the Vanirʹ, or genii of water, air, and clouds, of which Niörd was chief.

Gods and goddesses. (See Deities, Fairies.)

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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