Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Roman and Egyptian Gods

Here's an impressive list of gods and goddesses from the Roman and Egyptian pantheons, compiled by Giorga, our dramaturge. I'm going to ask the cast to look through the lists in search of gods which they feel their characters might worship, or even just relate to. Then we can use the imagery (animals, objects, activities) of the gods to inform how the characters look and act onstage.

I've included links to the Wikipedia pages that describe each of these gods, so that the cast can get even more information, and hopefully images as well. There are probably lots of other online resources to tap.

Roman Deities

Apollo (aka Phoebus) is the Greek god of the sun and light, music and poetry, healing, and the flocks. The Romans adopted their worship of him from the Greeks and he has no Roman equivalent. He is portrayed as the image of idealized male beauty.

Cupid is the Roman equivalent to Eros, the Greek god of love, although the Roman incarnate propagated only sexual desire. The Greek Eros symbolized all attractions that provoke love. Both the Greeks and Romans saw him as cruel and disruptive, and he is portrayed as young and beautiful.

Faunus (aka Lupercus) is a god of the forests and fertility and is opposed to civilized society. His temple, Lupercal, is the cave in which Romulus and Remus (characters in the foundation myth of Rome) were suckled by the she-wolf. He is associated with the Greek Pan and is represented as half man, half goat.

Fortuna is the goddess of fate, chance, and luck. A golden statuette of Fortuna always had to remain in the sleeping quarters of Roman Emperors.

Hercules is derived from the Greek Heracles, who was originally a hero (mortal man with godlike powers born to a human mother and a god) and later developed into a immortal divinity with a cult. According to the Greek myth, Athena, who guided him throughout his life, brought him to Olympus after his death. He was thought to have the ability to avert evil and is the patron of military training. He was recognized and worshiped as a god by the Romans and later emperors often identified with him. He is primarily associated with the activities of men and not considered important to women.

Janus is the god of all doors and gates, of departure and return, and is associated with the key. He is also the god of beginnings as he presides over daybreak and the month of January and is considered the father of the gods. He was Chaos at the beginning of creation, then his Janus form emerged. Normally he is represented with a double face (to represent looking both ways as a door does and the confusion of his state at creation) or as an older man with a beard.

Juno is the goddess of light and childbirth (newborn baby is brought into the light); she is the feminine counterpart to Jupiter with respect to light. She is the goddess and symbol of the Roman matron and is important to ceremonies of marriage and married life. She is the sister and wife of Jupiter and mother of Mars.

Jupiter is associated with the Greek Zeus and is king of the gods and the god of light (sun and moon) and celestial phenomena (wind, rain, thunder, tempest, lightning). He was the patron of the violent aspect of supreme power but also a political god who symbolized great virtues such as justice and honor and exercised his power within the law. His symbol is the scepter, the Roman symbol of power, and is the protector of the Roman empire. He is usually represented as bearded older man.

Oceanus is the Greek personification of the world’s great ocean, which was believed to be a great river encircling the world.

Orcus is a god of the underworld who carried the living to the Underworld by force.

Mars is the most important Roman god after Jupiter. He is an important figure in the history of Rome since he is the father of Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome. His primary function is to be the god of war and battle but he may have originally been the god of vegetation and fertility; the warrior function may have evolved as Rome became a stronger conquering nation. He is associated with the Greek god Ares.

Mercury is the god of merchants who presides over commerce and messages. He is portrayed as beardless, with a winged staff entwined with two snakes, winged sandals, and carrying a purse.

Minerva is the goddess of wisdom, warfare, and handicrafts and protector of commerce, industry, and schools. She is associated with the Greek Athena and is represented in a similar fashion, with wings and holding an owl.

Saturn is the god of agriculture, a working god and a vine grower. He has the same status as Jupiter and Janus.

Venus is the goddess of love and beauty and patron of all seductions and is associated with the Greek Aphrodite.

Vesta is the goddess of the hearth and fire used in the household and religious ceremonies. She is a virgin yet also the symbol of ideal motherhood because fire nourishes. She is considered among the most beautiful of divinities but always represented as veiled.

Vulcan is the god of destructive fire and worshiped to avert fires. He is identified with the Greek god Hephaestus.

Egyptian Mythology

Amun is the king of the gods who represents the forces of generation, reproduction, and renewal. In myth he is a universal god who permeates the cosmos, a god of fertility and sexuality, and a solar god. As a solar god, he takes on attributes of Ra to become the composite Amun-Ra. The most powerful Pharaohs are considered his sons and he gave them victory. He is represented as a human with bronzed skin and kingly attributes (royal headdress, sitting on throne); sometimes represented with the head of a ram.

Anubis is the god of the dead who opens the road of the other world for the deceased and ensures that offerings for the deceased reach them. Upon Osiris’ death Anubis invented funeral rites and bound Osiris’ mummy to preserve him. He was born of Nephthys and abandoned, and was raised by Isis. He is represented as black jackal or black-skinned man with head of jackal or dog (the dog is sacred to Anubis).

Anhur (aka Onuris) is the god of battle, war, and hunting. He is often associated with Ra, as a warlike personification. He is represented with warrior traits—warrior headdress, long embroidered robe, brandishing a lance.

Hathor is the goddess of women, motherhood, and female sexuality as well as joy, dance and music, and foreign lands. She is a protector of women and a mother goddess associated with all aspects of childbearing. Her maternal roles include being a mother to the Pharaoh and nourishing the living with her milk, and being the mother to Horus in myth. She is also said to be a creator goddess closely associated with Ra. She is usually represented as a human woman similar to Isis, but is also represented as a cow or cow-headed woman.

Horus is the god of kingship, the son of Osiris and Isis, and avenger of Osiris. His presence in the palace indicates the Pharaoh as a mediator between the heavens and earth. He is represented with the head of a falcon.

Imhotep was a high official of the Pharaoh Djoser of the 3rd dynasty who was eventually raised to god status after his death. He was likely a highly skilled physician and as a god is the patron of medicine, whom worshippers pray to for healing. He was also an architect and highly learned and is a patron of writing and knowledge.

Isis is the most important Egyptian goddess, the sister, wife, and consort of Osiris. She helped in his civilizing of Egypt and revived Osiris with magic. During the late period of Egypt she absorbed the qualities of all the other goddesses. She is mother to Horus and his protector until he was old enough to avenge his father. She is also an archetype of the mourner and the protector of the dead in the afterllife. She is represented as a human in a long sheath dress and a throne crown or horns and a solar disk (appropriated from Hathor).

Khnum is a god associated with Nile, its fertile soil, and the creation of life. He is portrayed as potter who shapes all living things at his wheel. He is usually depicted as a ram-headed man.

Maat is the goddess of law, truth, and justice, and represented the universal order and balance.

Nephthys is a funerary goddess who is subordinate to her sister Isis. She is also sister and wife of Set, but unable to bear his children, so she made her other brother Osiris drunk and had a tryst that resulted in Anubis. She represents the desert’s edge, typically arid but fruitful when the Nile floods are high.

Osiris was originally a god of nature and vegetation that ceaselessly dies and born again. Later he became the god of the dead and achieved first rank in Egyptian mythology. According to Egyptian myth, Osiris instituted the cult of the gods, building the first temples and sculpting divine images, and abolished savagery and civilized Egypt, then wished to spread civilization around the whole world through nonviolent means. When he returned to Egypt he fell victim to a plot by his brother Set, but was resurrected by his wife Isis with the aid of Thoth, Anubis, and Horus. He did not return to ruling Egypt but instead became lord of the Underworld.

Ra (aka Re) is the sun god, lord of the sky and heavens, and supreme creator of the world. Originally he ruled the earth but ascended to the sky when he became too old and weary. He is considered the father and ancestor of all Pharaohs. He is usually depicted with a solar disk above his head, and sometimes with the head of a falcon. This deity can be fused with Amun to become Amun-Ra.

Sekhmet is a goddess of war who has both a violent and destructive aspect and a protective and healing aspect. She is the patron of the military and a symbol of the Egyptians’ military power. She is represented as lioness or human with head of a lioness.

Set is the god of violence, chaos, and confusion. He is Osiris’ evil younger brother, born violently with white skin and red hair, which was an abomination to the Egyptians. He was jealous of Osiris and assassinated him. Originally he had a cult but was driven from the pantheon in the tenth century and made god of the unclean and enemy of all gods. He is associated with the ass, the antelope, and other desert animals as well as the hippopotamus, boar, crocodile, and scorpion, animals in which the god of evil takes refuge. He is usually represented as an unidentifiable animal (or man with the head of this animal) with a thin curved snout, square-cut ears, and a stiff forked tail.

Thoth is the god of writing and knowledge as well as the patron of history, the kingdom’s sacred scribe, keeper of divine archives, and herald of the gods. He is vizier to Osiris and later Horus. He is endowed with complete knowledge and wisdom, invented hieroglyphics and all arts and sciences, and is associated with truth and integrity. . He was also lord of time and measured time into calendar divisions. He is represented with head of an ibis (wading bird with long downward-curving bill). Seshat is his female counterpart.


Anonymous said...

you did a really good job but i would put the other name in paraentheses like if a god had more than one name

Anonymous said...

i think

Anonymous said...

Isis was often shown with a throne as a head dress. This symbolised the throne that supported the Pahroahs