14 Lesser-Known Roman Gods and Goddesses

The Roman pantheon was vast, and while the major gods and goddesses are often discussed, there were many lesser-known deities that played roles in various aspects of Roman religious life.

Here are fourteen lesser-known Roman gods and goddesses:


Goddess of good fortune and luck, Felicitas’s name means “good fortune” in Latin, and she was often depicted holding a caduceus (symbol of peace and prosperity) and a cornucopia (symbol of abundance).

Felicitas is often depicted holding a caduceus (a staff associated with the god Mercury and commerce) and a cornucopia, or horn of plenty, symbolizing abundance and prosperity. These symbols reinforce her association with favorable outcomes and the fruitful rewards of hard work and enterprise.

There were several temples dedicated to Felicitas in Rome. The oldest known was vowed by Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 81 BC, and another was built by Marcus Aemilius Scaurus.

Roman emperors and other political leaders sometimes used coins bearing the image of Felicitas to promote and celebrate their achievements or the prosperity of their reign. Such coins were distributed to promote the idea that the emperor brought good fortune and success to the Roman Empire.

Over time, the concept of Felicitas expanded to include not just personal luck or fortune but also the success and prosperity of the Roman state. Thus, there was Felicitas Temporum, or “Prosperity of the Times,” and Felicitas Publica, the “Fortune of the People” or public prosperity.

Apart from state-sponsored temples and cults, many Romans might have had personal shrines to Felicitas in their homes, asking for her favor in various endeavors, from business ventures to personal relationships.

READ MORE: Most Influential Roman Emperors

In essence, Felicitas embodied the idea of good fortune in both personal and public contexts. She was both a divine figure people could appeal to in hopes of personal success and a symbolic figure utilized by the state to represent the prosperity and stability of the Roman Empire. Image: Felicitas Augusta holding a caduceus and a cornucopia, two symbols of health and wealth, on the reverse of an aureus issued under the emperor Valerian


In Roman mythology, Terminus was the god of boundaries and landmarks, both of private properties and larger territories. The worship of Terminus was deeply rooted in Roman beliefs about the sanctity and inviolability of boundaries.

Terminus was often represented by a stone or wooden post stuck in the ground. These boundary stones, known as “termini,” were consecrated in ancient rituals and marked the boundaries of properties or territories.

The Terminalia was celebrated on February 23 in honor of Terminus. Neighbors would come together at the common boundary marker. They would perform rituals, including the sacrifice of a lamb or a pig, and pray for peace and prosperity. The celebration emphasized the peaceful coexistence and mutual respect between neighbors.

The origin of the cult of Terminus is ancient, possibly predating the founding of Rome. As the Roman state expanded, the importance of Terminus grew, as marking and respecting boundaries became essential for maintaining peace and order in the vast Roman territories.

There’s a famous legend related to the god Jupiter and the establishment of his temple on the Capitoline Hill. When Tarquin the Proud, the legendary seventh king of Rome, wished to build the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, it was required to remove shrines to several gods. All the gods agreed to be relocated except Terminus. This refusal was interpreted as a positive omen, indicating that the city’s boundaries would remain fixed and secure. As a result, Terminus’s shrine was incorporated into the new temple, signifying that all gods were subservient to Jupiter but also highlighting the sanctity of boundaries.

With the expansion of Rome and the gradual fading of the significance of physical boundaries within the vast Roman Empire, the cult of Terminus declined. However, his symbolism persisted, especially in literature.


Flora, the goddess of flowers, plants, and fertility, had a popular festival called the Floralia. It was held between April 28 and May 3. Image: Ancient Roman mosaic of Flora in the Carthage National Museum

Flora, in Roman mythology, is the goddess of flowers, spring, and vegetation. She was one of several fertility goddesses in the Roman pantheon, and her symbolism and importance were deeply connected with the life-giving qualities of plants and flowers.

Her origins can be traced back to ancient Italic traditions before the rise of Rome. She might have been adapted from older local deities associated with fertility and springtime.

One of the main events dedicated to Flora was the festival called “Floralia,” celebrated from April 28 to May 3. It was a time of great festivity, marked by dancing, games, and theatrical performances. People would wear colorful garments and floral wreaths, and various flowers would be scattered to ensure the crops’ fertility.

According to Ovid’s “Fasti,” Flora was a nymph who transformed her dead lover, Zephyr, into a flower. In another story, she received the power to bring plants to bloom from Juno, using a special flower to grant Hercules the gift of invulnerability.

Flora was often paired with Zephyrus, the god of the west wind, who was also associated with the coming of spring. Together, their coupling symbolized the natural rebirth and growth that occurs with the arrival of the spring season.

In Roman art and its later influences during the Renaissance, Flora was typically depicted as a youthful, beautiful woman adorned with flowers, sometimes scattering petals as she goes.

Beyond mythology and celebrations, Flora had a lasting impact on Western culture. The name “Flora” is still used as a personal name, and the term “flora” in biology refers to the plant life of a particular region or time period, reflecting the goddess’s association with plants and flowers.

Roman goddess Flora was a symbol of nature’s rebirth during spring and the beauty and fertility that plants bring to the earth. Her celebrations and stories highlight the importance of the changing of the seasons and the cyclical nature of life in ancient Roman culture. Image: Flora by Dutch Golden Age painter Rembrandt, 1654



Vediovus is often depicted as a young god, sometimes with the horns of a goat, holding arrows or thunderbolts. This presentation often links him to destructive powers. The presence of a goat also connects him with the sacrifice rituals in ancient Rome.

His primary known place of worship was on the Capitoline Hill in Rome. The location of this temple, between the two groves of the Arx, is often cited in relation to his possibly ambiguous or dual nature. His feast day, known as the “Agonalia,” was celebrated on January 9, March 17, and May 21.

While not entirely clear, Vediovus seems to have been associated with the underworld and may have been considered a chthonic or underground deity. Some suggest he might have been a god of healing, similar to the Greek god Asclepius, due to the presence of the goat (a symbol also linked to Asclepius) in some of his representations.

The etymology and origins of his name remain uncertain. Some theories suggest that Vediovus might have been an old Italian or Sabine god incorporated into the Roman pantheon, while others propose that he was an original Roman deity.

Vediovus has sometimes been associated with solar deity Apollo, mainly because of the shared iconography of arrows. Some also link him to the underworld gods, like Dis Pater or Pluto, because of the inferred chthonic characteristics.

A lesser-known god of the underworld, Vediovus was often associated with Pluto, the lord of the underworld. He was sometimes depicted with a bifurcated beard and bearing a bundle of arrows.


Protector of woods, fields, and boundaries, Roman god Silvanus was often depicted with a sickle and a canine companion, representing his role in the protection of domesticated animals. Image: Altar decorated with a bas-relief depicting the god Sylvanus Capitoline Museums in Rome.


This Roman deity is often depicted as a god of woods and wild places, but he also had connections to agriculture and was invoked to protect fields, crops, and cattle.

Silvanus was seen as a protector. In the context of agriculture, he safeguarded fields and ensured the prosperity of crops and livestock. Additionally, he was sometimes invoked as a protector of the household.

Silvanus also had a role in boundary demarcation, and small shrines to him could often be found at the edges of Roman properties.

He’s typically portrayed as an older man carrying the trunk of a tree or a branch, emphasizing his connection to the forests. In some depictions, he’s accompanied by a dog or carrying a shepherd’s crook, reinforcing his role as a protector of flocks.

Silvanus had no major temples in the main urban centers. Instead, his worship was often more localized, with shrines in the countryside or at the boundaries of properties.

His festivals weren’t as grand as those of the major Roman deities, but he was deeply significant on a personal level to many Romans, particularly those outside the urban centers.

One notable legend involves the nymph Egeria, who became a source of waters with healing properties. After her lover, King Numa, died, she wept profusely, turning into a spring. In some versions, it’s Silvanus who consoles her.

While there are similarities between Silvanus and Pan (both have connections to the wild, forests, and flocks), it’s essential to recognize that the Romans viewed Silvanus as a distinct entity.

Additionally, Silvanus can be compared to the Roman god Faunus (see below). Both have pastoral connections, but again, their roles and worship practices often distinguished one from the other.


Cardea, also known as Carda, holds a specialized place within the Roman pantheon. She is the goddess of door hinges, thresholds, and, by extension, domestic boundaries. As with many minor deities, Cardea represents specific aspects of daily Roman life and household rituals that were significant to ancient Romans.

She was invoked as a protective deity, one that could ward off harmful spirits or influences from entering a dwelling.

Cardea was also seen as a protector of newborns and young children. One of her roles was to guard against vampiric creatures called striges, which were believed to snatch away infants. Rituals invoking Cardea would be performed to protect babies from these malevolent beings.

She was believed to possess the power to open what is closed and to close what is open, and this extended to the idea of protecting children from harmful influences.

Cardea had a role in the annual festival of Vestalia, celebrated in honor of Vesta (Hestia in Greek mythology), the goddess of the hearth. During this time, rituals were performed to cleanse and bless the inner sanctum of Vesta’s temple, where only the Vestal Virgins were typically allowed. Cardea’s connection to domestic protection and boundaries made her an important figure during this festival.

Hawthorn was sacred to Cardea. She was believed to use hawthorn to ward off evil from the thresholds of homes. It was often hung at doors during specific rituals as a protective measure.

Some sources mention a ritual where the Vestal Virgins would prepare a special ritual cake for Cardea during the Vestalia festival.

Some myths and legends link Cardea with Janus, the two-faced god of beginnings, gates, transitions, and doorways. Given the overlap in their domains, it’s easy to see how these associations came about. Some sources even describe Cardea as a consort or companion of Janus.


Originally a Persian god of light and sun, he became popular in Rome, especially among soldiers. Image: Late 4th-century Sasanian relief of Mithra

Mithras is a god whose worship has its origins in ancient Persia, but he became especially significant during the Roman Empire where he was associated with a mystery cult known as the Mithraic Mysteries.

The earliest references to Mithra (in Avestan, it’s Miθra) are found in the ancient Zoroastrian scriptures, the Yashts and the Avesta. In these texts, Mithra is a deity of covenant, oath, and light, and is often paired with the god Ahura Mazda.

Mithra functioned as a god of truth, justice, and the rising sun. He was considered a guardian of order against the forces of chaos.

It’s believed that the worship of Mithras was introduced to the Roman Empire by soldiers and merchants who came into contact with Persian cultures.

The most iconic representation of Mithras in Roman art is the “tauroctony,” an image of Mithras slaying a bull inside a cave. Other animals, like a dog, a snake, a raven, and a scorpion, are also typically present in this scene. The exact symbolic meaning of this scene remains a subject of debate among scholars.

Also, Mithras was considered a cosmic deity. The act of bull-slaying was seen as a cosmic event that brought life to Earth. Mithras was also associated with the sun and was often called “Sol Invictus” (Unconquered Sun).

The Mithraic Mysteries declined in the 4th century AD, especially after Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Some scholars believe there was competition between early Christianity and the Mithraic Mysteries due to similarities in rituals, ideas of salvation, and other practices.

Mithraic temples and sanctuaries

The image of Mithras’ slaying a bull appears to be central in every relief and sculpture works of the Mithraic Mysteries. Image: A mithraeum (i.e. a Mithraic temple) found in the ruins of Ostia Antica, Italy.


While Feronia might not be as renowned today as Jupiter, Juno, or Minerva, she had a distinct role and significance in ancient Roman religious practices, especially in specific locales and among certain classes of people. Her connection to freedom, fertility, and health showcases the multifaceted ways the Romans interacted with and revered their gods.

Feronia is believed to have ancient Italic origins, perhaps associated with the Sabines or the Etruscans. Her cult predates the Roman civilization and was later assimilated by the Romans.

In some interpretations, slaves regarded her as a patroness, and there were instances where they would be freed at her sanctuaries.

The primary sanctuary of Feronia was at Lucus Feroniae, located in the territory of Capena near the Via Salaria. This sanctuary was a major pilgrimage site during her festivals and was also a market center.

Another famous temple of Feronia was situated at Terracina. Miracles of healing were reported to have occurred at this site, and it became a prominent place for her worship.

The festival for Feronia, called the Feroniae, was celebrated on November 13th. Pilgrims, particularly freedmen and slaves, would gather at her sanctuaries for this occasion.

In the Aeneid, Roman poet Virgil mentions that Feronia was honored in a grove where a lowly chthonic deity named Silvanus took his prize, Egeria.


Another lesser-known deity in the Roman pantheon was the goddess Laverna. The Romans believed that she was the goddess of thieves, frauds, and cheats. As a result, she was invoked by those who wanted to deceive others and was believed to be the protectress of all who committed theft and other fraudulent acts.

Laverna was said to be skilled in the arts of deception and illusion. She was invoked not only by thieves but also by those who felt they had been wronged and wanted to exact some form of deceitful revenge.

She wasn’t merely a goddess of common thieves; she also had a role in protecting fraudulent merchants and dishonest businessmen.

In one legend, Laverna deceived a priest and a god (often interpreted as Hercules) by making promises to each. To the god, she promised to dedicate a piece of land, and to the priest, she vowed to give a certain amount of her produce. However, when it was time to keep her word, she reneged on her promises. The two deceived parties then brought her before the other gods to demand justice. Laverna tried to hide, turning herself into a mare or a woman without a head and then into a head without a body. Eventually, she addressed the assembly of gods and gave a moving speech, and, impressed by her cunning, the gods let her go, allowing her to continue as the protectress of thieves.

There was a sanctuary dedicated to Laverna in Rome, situated on the Aventine Hill. This location was fitting, as the Aventine was traditionally associated with the lower classes and sometimes with the seedier elements of Roman society.

In addition to the Aventine sanctuary, there was also a grove dedicated to Laverna between Rome and Veii, where thieves would go to divide their spoils.


Pomona is the Roman goddess of fruit trees, gardens, and orchards. Unlike many other Roman deities, Pomona doesn’t have a Greek counterpart. Image: Statue of Pomona, Naples Archaeology Museum (late 2nd century AD)

Pomona is a unique figure within the Roman pantheon because, unlike many Roman deities, she does not have a direct Greek counterpart. She was the goddess of fruit trees, orchards, and gardens. Her name is derived from the Latin word pomum, which means “fruit.” This indicates her dominion over fruit-bearing trees and plants.

The ancient Romans often depicted her as a beautiful young maiden, sometimes holding a cornucopia filled with fruits. At other times, she might be seen with pruning knives, indicating her role in the care and cultivation of orchards and gardens.

Unlike many other agricultural deities, Pomona was not associated with the planting or harvesting of crops but specifically with the cultivation and care of fruit trees.

One of the most famous myths associated with Pomona is her relationship with the god Vertumnus. Vertumnus, the god of seasonal change and plant growth, was deeply in love with Pomona. However, she was not interested in him or any other suitor. To win her heart, Vertumnus disguised himself in various forms, including as an old woman, to get close to her. In his guise as an old woman, he praised the virtues of Vertumnus, and when that did not work, he reverted to his true form and won her over. Their union was said to be harmonious, symbolizing the fruitful blending of the seasons.

Pomona had her own priest in Rome, known as the Flamen Pomonalis. Also, the festival of Vertumnalia, celebrated on August 13, was dedicated to both Pomona and Vertumnus. It revolved around the themes of nature’s bounty and the changing of seasons.

Vertumnus and Pomona by William Hamilton


Portunus’ primary role was as the god of gates, doors, and harbors. His name is derived from the Latin word “portus,” which means “harbor” or “port.” This connects him deeply with the protective and governing aspects of maritime activities.

He is often depicted holding a key, symbolizing his role as a protector and gatekeeper. As a god of harbors, he was invoked by sailors and merchants for safe sea voyages and successful trading ventures. As a guardian deity, he was also seen as a protector of stored grain and warehouses.

The chief festival dedicated to Portunus, called Portunalia, was celebrated on August 17th. During this festival, people would throw keys into a fire as an offering to him, symbolizing the safeguarding of one’s home and possessions.

Over time, and with the blending of cultures and religions, Portunus was often identified with the Greek god Palaemon. However, while Palaemon was more directly connected with sailors and the sea, Portunus had broader associations, including gates and livestock.


Known in the Greek pantheon as Pan, Roman god Faunus was seen as a rustic god of the forests, plains, and fields. Image: Faunus and Daphnis practising the Pan flute (Roman copy of Greek original).

Faunus is an ancient Roman deity associated with nature, the wilderness, and pastoral life. His attributes and characteristics were similar to the Greek god Pan, and over time, many of their myths and legends were blended together.

In the myths, Faunus is said to be the grandson of Saturn (the Roman equivalent of the Greek Cronus) and the son of Picus, an ancient Italian deity associated with agriculture.

This deity is also known to have a gift of prophecy, and in one legend, he gave the gift of prophecy to the Sibyl of Tibur after she rejected his advances. He also predicted the future for Aeneas in Virgil’s “Aeneid.”

The Romans linked him with several nymphs and goddesses, including Marica, with whom he fathered Latinus, a legendary king of the Latins.

Faunus was worshipped throughout the Roman countryside as a god of the land and a protector of agriculture. One of the major festivals dedicated to him was the Lupercalia, celebrated on February 15th. This ancient festival involved purification rituals, the running of young men dressed in animal skins, and the symbolic “whipping” of women with thongs to promote fertility. Another festival in his honor was the Faunalia, held on December 5th, which was a rustic festival celebrated by farmers with dancing and merrymaking.

Lares and Penates

The Lares and Penates were household deities that were worshiped in tandem. Lares were guardian deities while Penates were associated with the pantry and storeroom.

The Lares were often seen as ancestral spirits that ensured the family’s safety and prosperity. They were typically depicted as young men dancing or in a running stance, possibly indicating their readiness to intervene or assist. Each household would have its Lararium, a shrine to the Lares, where offerings were made, especially during significant occasions like birthdays, marriages, and other milestones. Apart from household Lares, there were Lares of crossroads (Lares Compitales), Lares of the city (Lares Praestites), and even Lares of the fields (Lares Rurales).

On the other hand, the Penates were invoked to ensure the family always had enough provisions. They were also considered protectors of the household in general. Often depicted holding a cornucopia, dish, or bowl, the Penates honored before meals with a portion of food and wine. Like the Lares, they had their place in the household’s Lararium.

Lar holding a cornucopia from Axatiana (now Lora del Rio) in Roman Spain, early first century AD (National Archaeological Museum of Spain)


Salus is the goddess of health and prosperity in the Roman pantheon. Her name is derived from the Latin word “salus,” meaning “health” or “well-being.”

The Romans often depicted Salus holding a snake, which drinks from a bowl she carries, and sometimes with a staff. These symbols are reminiscent of the Greek god of medicine, Asclepius, and his daughter Hygieia, with whom Salus shares many similarities. Indeed, Hygieia’s association with health and cleanliness in Greek tradition was integrated into the Roman concept of Salus.

In Roman state religion, she was seen as a guardian of the Roman people’s well-being and was often invoked in times of crisis or disease. The Romans perceived the welfare of the state and its citizens as intertwined, and thus, Salus became an embodiment of both personal health and the health or safety of the state.

The cult of Salus dates back to at least the 5th century BC in Rome. She had a temple on the Quirinal Hill and another on the Esquiline Hill. Every March 30, an annual festival called “Salus Publica Populi Romani” was held in her honor. This festival was significant, underscoring the state’s dedication to the health and welfare of its citizens.

This goddess  was a popular figure on Roman coins, especially during the Imperial period. She was often depicted feeding a snake or with attributes of health and well-being. The use of her image on coins might have been symbolic of the emperor’s commitment to the well-being and health of the empire.

Salus, seated and holding a patera (libation bowl), on an aureus issued under Nero

READ MORE: List of Roman Deities and their Greek Counterparts

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