The ancient Romans were religious and had a number of gods. For instance, Janus, Jupiter, Quirinus, Mars, Juno, Liber, Ceres and Libera, Sol, Neptune and Genius, among many other gods.
It is believed that Rome had two different sun gods, namely Sol Indiges and Sol Invictus. Sol indiges was the first and was thought to be unimportant and disappeared at an early period.
The solar cult reappeared later with the coming of Syrian Sol Invictus in Rome. Read on to learn more about Roman’s Sun God, Sol Invictus.
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Who Is the Roman Sun God?
Sol is a deity in the ancient Roman religion and the personification of the sun. People believed that Rome had two different sun gods. In the late Roman Empire, it is said the solar cult reappeared with the coming of Sol Invictus, which was believed to have originated from Syria.
In Latin, sol means “sun” and is associated or equivalent to other solar gods in other countries. For instance Germanic Sol, Greek Helios, Etruscan Usil, Sanskrit Surya, and Lithuanian Saule, among other deities.
It is believed that Titus Tatius (King of the Sabines and joint-ruler of Rome for a number of years) introduced the worship of sol just after the foundation of Rome.
In Virgil, Titus is the grandfather of Latinus, who is the son of Sol’s daughter called Circe. She lived close to Rome at a place called Monte Circeo.
Sol’s shrine was found on the banks of the Numicius which is neighboring other important shrines of early Latin religion. According to Tacitus, Sol had a an old temple located in the Circus Maximus, Rome.
Sol also had an old shrine on the Quirinal where it was mandatory to offer an annual sacrifice to Sol Indiges to commemorate Caesar’s Victory at Pharsala. This annual sacrifice would be made on August 9. Also, the Roman ritual calendar talks about A feast for Luna and Sol that happens on August 28.
Scholars consider Sol Indiges as the earlier, more rural form in which Sol, the Roman god was worshiped. They consider him different from the later Roman Sol Invictus whom they believed originated from Syria.
Sol Invictus is English translated as “unconquered sun”. He was thought to have been of foreign origin from either Palmyra or Emesa in Syria by Aurelian emperor and overshadowing other Eastern important cults until the eradication of classical Roman religion.
The cult of sol was maintained throughout the 4th century by high-ranking pontiffs. A number of Roman philosophers speculated on the sun’s nature without coming to a conclusion.
A typical example is the 1st century scholar Nigidus whose writing has not survived, but Macrobius talks about Nigidus’ writing as one who said that Sol was to be identified with Janus and his counterpart Jana, also known as Luna.
Therefore, they were to be considered as the highest gods who received sacrifices before the rest.
Sol Invictus symbolized victory since it is believed that he conquered darkness and rose every morning. Also, he was the patron of roman soldiers and circuses.
It is believed his birthday is the 25th of December, the time when people celebrated winter solstice. This day is called “dies natalis Invicti”.
It is believed that Rome had two sun gods. One was Sol Indiges who came earlier and was considered insignificant, but this led to his disappearance.
The second was Sol Invictus who is believed to have originated from Syria. He symbolized victory since he conquered darkness, and had an impact on Roman mythology.