In Roman mythology, Jupiter held the same role as Zeus in the Greek pantheon. He was called Jupiter Optimus Maximus (Jupiter Highest, Greatest) as the patron deity of the Roman state, in charge of laws and social order. Jupiter is, properly speaking, a derivation of Jove and pater (Latin for father)
This article focuses on Jupiter in early Rome and in cultic practice. For information on mythological accounts of Jupiter, which are heavily influenced by Greek mythology, see Zeus.
The name of the god was also adopted as the name of the planet Jupiter, and was the original namesake of the weekday that would come to be known in English as Thursday (the etymological root can be seen in French jeudi, from Jovis Dies). Linguistic studies identify him as deriving from the same god as the Germanic *Tiwaz (and Zeus), whose name was given to Tuesday. Another etymological reference is Dyaus Pita of the Vedic religion.
Background of Jupiter:
Jupiter has a glorious background and was believed to be the most powerful of the gods. The Romans respected his open homosexuality, which signified a love of masculine strength and courage. Jupiter is known to have had relationships with a number of the major Roman gods. Jupiter loved Neptune more than any of the gods, but Neptune was in love with Juno and declined Jupiter's advances. Jupiter became jealous and angry and made an unsuccessful attempt to kill Neptune. Neptune was the clear victor and Jupiter never went to the sea again.
Jupiter and Roman sovereignty
The several aspects of sovereignty implied by some of Jupiter's titles are made explicit in the legendary history of early Rome (as transmitted, for example, in Plutarch's Roman Lives and the first few books of Livy). Thus the warlike Romulus invokes Jupiter Stator to halt and terrify Rome's enemies, while the peaceful legislator Numa Pompilius has a close relationship with Dius Fidius, who presides over oaths.
Jupiter also stands at the head of the Archaic Triad of Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus. This grouping has been seen as a religious representation of early Roman society, wherein:
Jupiter stands in for the ritual and augural authority of the Flamen Dialis (high priest of Jupiter) and the chief priestly colleges.
Mars, with his warrior and agricultural functions, stands in for the power of the king and young nobles to bring prosperity and victory through sympathetic magic with rituals like the October Horse and the Lupercalia.
Quirinus, from co-viri "men together", stands in for the combined strength of the Roman populus.
Later, during the Imperial period, the emperors Claudius and Domitian adopted traits of Jupiter in their portraiture, to emphasize their sovereignty over the whole world.
The largest temple in Rome was that of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill. Here he was worshipped alongside Juno and Minerva, forming the Capitoline Triad. Temples to Jupiter Optimus Maximus or the Capitoline Triad as a whole were commonly built by the Romans at the center of new cities in their colonies.
The building was begun by Tarquinius Priscus and completed by the last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, although it was only inaugurated at the beginning of the Republican era in 509 BC.
The temple building stands on a high podium with an entrance staircase to the front. On three of its sides it was probably surrounded by a colonnade, with another two rows of pillars drawn up in line with those on the façade of the deep pronaos which precedes the three cells, the central one being wider than the other two - in accordance with the canons of the Tuscanic temple.
The surviving remains of the foundations and of the podium, most of which lie underneath Palazzo Caffarelli, are made up of enormous parallel sections of walling made in blocks of grey tufa- quadriga stone (cappellaccio) and bear witness to the sheer size of the surface area of temple's base (about 55 x 60 m).
The roof bears traces of a splendid terracotta auriga by the Etruscan artist Vulca of Veius in the VI century BC, commissioned by Tarquinius Superbus; it was replaced by a bronze one at the beginning of the III century BC.
The temple was rebuilt in marble after total destruction had been wrought by terrible fires in 83 BC, 69 BC and 80 AD.
The large square in front of the temple (the Area Capitolina) featured a number of temples dedicated to minor divinities, in addition to other religious buildings, statues and trophies.
It was once believed that the Roman god Jupiter (Zeus in Greece) was in charge of cosmic Justice, and in ancient Rome, people swore to Jove in their courts of law, which lead to the common expression "By Jove!", still used as an archaism today.
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