Roman religion was originally nuministic (nūmen, nūminis neut. 3 “divine spirit”), seeing specific religious forces at work in all aspects of life, and hence hundreds of deities were recognized and continued to be worshipped. Rome’s agricultural origins can be seen in, for example, Vervactor, Reparator, Imporcitor and Obarator, who oversaw various stages of ploughing, Occator, Runcina, Saritor, Spiniensis and Subruncinator, all deities of weeding, Robigo and Robigus, who protected crops from mildew, and Stercutus, who gave mankind the technique of manure-spreading.

Well before the classical period, however, the Romans had adopted a strongly anthropomorphic pantheon. Among the most prominent deities were:

This group of twelve deities, six male and six female, were known collectively as the Deī Consentēs. The significance of this term is not known. It may mean “The deities who are present together” (from cum + sens [the present participle of sum found in absens and praesens]). The number twelve may have been derived from the Etruscans, but the Romans associated them more with their Greek equivalents: their gilt statues stood in the forum, just as the altar of the Twelve Gods stood in the Athenian agorā.

cerves(i)a, -ae fem. 1 “beer” (cf. Sp. cerveza) is made from cereals (the main responsibility of the goddess Ceres). Pliny devotes a whole book of the Natural History to vines and wines, but only one paragraph to beer, which was regarded as a drink for barbarians. By contrast, the Germans, though notoriously heavy drinkers, did not permit the importation of wine, for fear of its debilitating effects on both the body and the mind (vīnum omnīnō ad sē importārī nōn patiuntur, quod eā rē ad labōrem ferendum remollescere hominēs atque effēminārī arbitrantur [Caesar, Gallic War 4.2]). (The Germans also thought saddles were a sign of weakness, and their horsemen would attack Romans cavalry units no matter how outnumbered they were.)

The irregular declension Iuppiter, Iovis arises from the use of pater in the nominative and vocative only, equivalent to Ζες πατρ (Zeus pater, “father Zeus”). The spelling “Jupiter” goes back in English at least as early as the 13th century.