Why Greek and Roman gods are so similar
Both the Roman and Greek gods tell us a lot about how these ancient civilizations viewed the world. Yet, it a shallow dive into their gods show striking similarities.
The Greeks, for instance, had Zeus and the Roman counterpart was Jupiter. Both were considered King of the Gods and held the power of lightning. Hera was the Greek’s goddess of marriage, while the Romans had Juno. The goddess of hunting to the Romans was Diana while the Greeks had Artemis. Party god of wine? The Greeks had Dionysus, and the Romans, Bacchus.
How the Greek gods became part of Roman culture
When the Romans invaded Greece starting in 146 BC, their gods were not as developed and sophisticated as the Greeks. The Romans knew that bridging the differences would add to their influence over the conquered nation.
Captured Greek scholars were used to tutor Roman children because they knew that the Greeks had an excellent educational system comparatively. And because Greek literature was also superior, the Romans adopted much for the Greek literature, much of which was about their gods. The intermixing of the literature resulted in a cross-pollination of all the Greek gods and deities with their own.
The Romans and Greeks also borrowed gods from other ancient cultures
Though some Roman gods like Quirinus, Dis Pater, Liber, and Janus were still preserved in the belief system, most of their gods were borrowed from other cultures. They incorporated not only the Greek gods and deities into their culture but also those of the neighboring kingdoms.
Among those that they borrowed: Magma Mater (the equivalent of the Egyptian god Isis) and Apollo (the Greek god of music who also happened to share similar qualities with his Middle Eastern counterparts including the Hittite god Apaliunas and the Etruscan’s Aplu).