Oh My Gods: The Capitoline Triad


Before he was tossed out on his backside, Tarquinius Superbus built one main temple to the gods on Capitoline Hill in Rome. It was called the Capitolium, and while the Romans thought it was pretty good, there are some things even great architecture can’t save.

The Capitolium housed the big three in Roman mythology, also known as the Capitoline triad. This consisted of head honcho Jupiter, his wife Juno, and their daughter Minerva. Smaller temples, called Capitolia (are you sensing a trend here?) were built on hills throughout the provinces. So basically these gods had a lot of clout. Like all families that don’t get along, each of the gods had their own chamber within the Capitolium.

Jupiter was the king of the gods, the patron deity of Rome, and a lightning happy little bastard. Many high school students still confuse him with his Greek counterpart, Zeus. As a sky-god, Jupiter was first associated with wine festivals, and then became associated with war and victory. (Romans eventually learned a more productive order was war, victory, then wine.) Zeus had an official cult which offered him a castrated white ox with gilded horns in order to curry favor. I guess Jupiter enjoyed taking the bull by the balls.

Juno was the queen of the gods and kept an eye on all the women of Rome. Like any modern woman, she did it all and was the goddess of marriage, fertility, and sovereignty. She was also beloved by the military, proving once and for all that all is fair in love and war.

Minerva was the goddess of wisdom and was credited with inventing almost everything crafty. While she was revered throughout the empire, only in Rome itself did she inherit the war-like tendencies of her parents. This probably says more about the Romans than it doesn’t. Today Minerva has been appropriated by most universities and Harry Potter.


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