Neptune: Meet the Poseidon of Roman Mythology


     Neptune or Netune is the name given, in Roman Mythology, to the Greek God Poseidon (or Posídon). Neptune is the Sea King. He is also considered the god of animals and even of the earth.

Poseidon in Roman Mythology:

     Neptune is the god of fresh water and the sea in Roman Mythology and Religion. He is the counterpart of the Greek god Poseidon. In the Greek tradition, he is the brother of Jupiter and Pluto; the brothers preside over the kingdoms of heaven, the earthly world, and the underworld. Salacia is his wife.

     Depictions of Neptune in Roman mosaics, especially in North Africa, were influenced by Hellenistic conventions. He was probably associated with freshwater springs before the sea. Like Poseidon, he was also worshiped by the Romans as a god of horses, like Neptunus equestris (a patron of horse racing).

Neptune was, the God of Greek Mythology, Poseidon.

The festival of Neptune:

     Neptunalia, the Roman festival of Neptune, was held at the height of summer (usually on July 23). The date of the feast and the construction of shelters from tree branches suggest that Neptune was a god of water sources in times of drought and heat. The oldest Roman calendar marked Neptune's holiday on July 23, between the Feast of Lucaria of the Grove and the Feast of Furrinalia of July 25, when freshwater sources were lower.

     It has been speculated that the three festivals fall into a logical order. Lucaria was dedicated to clearing overgrown bushes and uprooting and burning excess vegetation. This was followed by Neptunalia, dedicated to the conservation and drainage of surface waters. These culminated in Furrinalia, sacred to Furrina (the goddess of springs and wells).

     Neptunalia was passed under twig huts in a forest between the Tiber and Via Salaria, with participants drinking spring water and wine to escape the heat. It was a time of revelry, when men and women could mingle without the usual restrictions of Roman society. There is an additional agricultural fertility context to the festival, as Neptune received the sacrifice of a bull.

God of Horses:

     Before Poseidon was known as the god of the sea, he was linked to the horse and may have originally been depicted in equine form. This connection reflects the violent and brutal nature of Poseidon the earthshaker, the bonding of horses and springs, and the psychopomp character of the animal.

     Neptune, in contrast, has no such direct connection to horses. The Roman deity Consus was associated with the horse, and his underground altar was in the valley of Circus Maximus, at the foot of the Palatine (place of horse racing). In Consualia summer (21 August) it was customary to bring horses and mules, crowned with flowers, in procession and then to hold horse races at the Circus.

     The festival also traditionally re-enacted the abduction of Sabine (and Latin) women, reflecting the sexual license characteristic of such festivals. On that day, the Flamen Quirinalis and the Vestal Virgins made sacrifices at the underground altar of Consus. The proximity of the two Consualia to the Opiconsivia (the latter were four days later, the winter festival on December 19) indicates the relationship between the two deities referring to agriculture.

     According to Dumézil, the horse has a very different symbolic value in the theologies of Poseidon and Consus. Tertullian (De Spectaculis V 7) wrote that, according to Roman tradition, Consus was the god who advised Romulus about the abduction of the Sabines.

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