Gods and goddesses

At this time, people believed in many different gods, goddesses and guardian spirits. Jupiter was the god of thunder and king of the gods, and was popular in Gaul at this time. In the story, the naked statue in the courtyard garden at Villa Rubia is Venus, goddess of love.

Statue of Venus found in Arles. Photo Marie-Lan Nguyen via Wikimedia Commons

The little statue wearing a crown of grapes in the cellar at Villa Rubia is the wine god Bacchus.

Roman wall painting of the wine god Bacchus. Photo Marie-Lan Nguyen via Wikimedia Commons

The statue Valentia prays to on her birthday is Juno, the protector of women and girls and the words she uses to describe her guardian spirit are from a 3rd century text On the Birthday written by a teacher called Censorinus.

At the bathhouse, the statue of a muscly god is Hercules, who fought a lion, and the goddess with a snake is Hygeia, goddess of health. The statue in the market in Arelate is of Fortuna, goddess of luck and good fortune.

3rd century statuette of the goddess Fortuna. Photo Jononmac46 via Wikimedia Commons

People offered wine, incense, flower garlands and food so that gods and spirits would be pleased and look after them. Emperor Constantine was the first Roman emperor to adopt Christianity and he visited Arelate (Arles) in 314 CE for a meeting with some of the earliest Christians there (the men in white robes in the forum in chapter 34).

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