Neptune was the Roman god of the seas and water. He was designated as the god of springs, lakes and rivers before he became a god of the sea and revered by the Romans as the father of all living things on earth through the fertilizing power of rainwater.
Neptune was also the patron of horse racing, and the ancients believed that he was the creator of the horse. A temple dedicated to him was located near the Flaminio Circus, which was a Roman racetrack. The Flaminio Circus was the place for horse racing with a rider and his horse running around the stalls, unlike the Circus Maximus, which was the place for chariot racing in Rome.
Who is the God Neptune ?
Neptune is the Roman god of the sea. He is the brother of Pluto and Jupiter. He is very similar to Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. Often associated with fresh water, he was first mentioned in Roman mythology as being associated with water around 399 BC.
Given a name that means «wet» in Latin, Neptune is often depicted with a three-pronged fisherman’s spear. He is often shown to be an older man with a long beard. Neptune is sometimes seen with fish and other sea creatures around him. He is also associated with sports horse racing. This is due to early depictions of him being dragged across the sea in a horse-drawn carriage.
What Attributes Does the God Neptune Have ?
- He was represented in art as a god of the sea, with black or dark hair, dressed in blue or green sea clothes, and sitting on a big snail chariot pulled by whales, horses or seahorses.
- He is always represented with his trident in his hand and is usually assisted by sea gods and sea goddesses and a retinue of Tritons and sea nymphs.
- The cross at the bottom of the trident symbol represents the root of things, the essence of nature. The three points can be interpreted to have various meanings, including birth, life and death, or mind, body and spirit.
- The trident also represented their ability to control the waters. It was originally created by the Cyclops before the war between the Olympic athletes and the titans.
- On some ancient coins and medals, it is depicted mounted on the peak of a ship as a clear indication that he presided over the seas.
- He was the god of the sea in Roman mythology. He is more identifiable as a tall, white-bearded figure carrying a trident, a three-pronged fisherman’s spear.
- Appropriately, he is often depicted with fish, as well as horses, another animal with which he is closely associated, as he was also thought to have overseen the sport of horse racing.
- These horses drew the chariot that was said to travel over the sea. Like many figures in Roman mythology, Neptune appropriated the Greek tradition and became analogous (but not identical) to Poseidon, also the Greek God of The Sea.
- He also represents the god of the sea, the horse, as it was believed that he created the first one. Horses that pull their chariot of sea snails are called hippocampus.
- Another closely related symbol is the dolphin, as it reflects Neptune’s abilities to move in and out of the water. He is often seen surrounded by dolphins, fish, whales, and other sea creatures.
- The bull is still a symbol of Neptune and a nod to its counterpart, Poseidon of Greece.
What is the Power of the God Neptune ?
Responsible for natural and supernatural events, mainly those associated with the marine world and ship saviors. He possessed a trident that was so powerful that it could shake the earth. Neptune could cause storms and earthquakes, drown land, destroy rocks and had the ability to finally restore peace.
He can control, create and manipulate water, like turning an entire ocean into a puddle, create tsunamis, destroy entire cities with the sea, he can breathe underwater for all eternity, he can also breathe oxygen and he is the best swimmer on earth.
Neptune carries a trident forged by the Cyclops that he made with his essence and it is a symbol of his great power, with one blow of it he can cause diverse events.
History of the God Neptune
Originally, Neptune was an ancient Italian god who was not associated with the sea because the Italians did not have such a god at that time. Saturn was the father of Neptune, Pluto, and Jupiter.
His mother was Ops, the earth mother. He also had three sisters: Vesta, JUNO and Ceres. It is said that Neptune’s father swallowed his children. It was his mother, Ops, who saved her children by tricking Saturn into swallowing a stone.
In his attempt to get rid of the stone from her womb, the children were released. Then they turned to their father and joined together to defeat him.
After SATURN was defeated, the three brothers divided the control of the world among themselves. Jupiter took control of the sky. Pluto became the ruler of the underworld. And Neptune became the god of the sea.
Neptune is known for his violent character and temperament. There are many stories that describe him as difficult and vengeful. His behavior is said to reflect the unpredictable nature of the sea.
According to one story, it was his unpredictable nature that made Neptune try to overthrow his brother Jupiter and become the ruler of the underworld. However, he failed in his attempt to accomplish this task.
Neptune and Earthquakes
Because of Neptune’s violent character, it was also associated with earthquakes. At that time, there was very little understanding of what really caused earthquakes. And the ancient Romans thought that they came from the sea, but they had no scientific knowledge of things like plates and displacement of the earth.
Since Neptune was the god of the sea, it was thought that an earthquake occurred when he got angry.
Relationships of the God Neptune
According to some stories about the Roman god Neptune, he had a wife named Salacia. Little is known about her. In ancient Italian mythology, she may have been the goddess of salt water.
Neptune had three children with Salacia. The best known of the three was Triton. Like his father, he is depicted carrying a trident (three-pronged staff).
Triton also represents the sea in his physical appearance as a «merman», the male version of a mermaid. Neptune also had a reputation of being a lady’s man.
Neptune and the Water Nymph
Amphitrite is also a woman who is said to be Neptune’s wife. She is the woman most often considered to be his wife instead of Salacia. According to a story about this relationship, Neptune saw Amphitrite, a water nymph, dancing on the island of Naxos.
He was captivated by her beauty and instantly fell in love and asked her to marry him. She refused him. Not to be deterred, Neptune sent one of his servants, a dolphin, to try and find her again.
The clever and charming dolphin was able to convince Amphitrite to change her mind and agree to marry Neptune. As a reward for what the dolphin did, he made the creature immortal and gave it a place of honor in the heavens in the constellation of Dolphinus.
This is the reason why the dolphin is sometimes included in the depictions of Neptune.
Neptune was once a minor god who did not stand out as a key player in the stories that were told about the Roman gods. In fact, it was often the god Fortunus who was associated with the sea before Neptune.
Fortunus was also the god who was usually given credit for any Roman victory in the sea. Only when the tales of the Greek god Poseidon became known, was Neptune elevated to his current status among the ROMAN GODS.
Eventually, he would be the god who would be given credit for Roman victories during battles at sea.
Because of the belief that he was helping the Romans to win important victories, including the ability to take the ancient city of Veii, two temples were built to honor him. Special gifts were brought to the temple to keep Neptune happy.
The idea was that by pleasing this god, the seas would remain favorable to the Romans. On one occasion, the ancient Romans held a festival in July to honor Neptune.
There is no denying that Neptune’s legacy remains with us today. It is Neptune’s name of «Neptune Equester» in reference to his association with horse racing that gave us the word «equestrian», i.e. related to horse racing or referring to someone who rides a horse.
It is clear that many of the qualities associated with Neptune were taken from Poseidon.
He is considered to be the ultimate Roman god of the sea. In 1846, it was decided to name the planet Neptune as this god because of the blue color of the planet. This is just one example of how the legacy of this Roman god continues to endure today.
Myths About the God Neptune
After Gigantomania, the Great War with the giants, Jupiter, Neptune’s brother, had overthrown his father Saturn as ruler and the three brother gods, Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto were accused of ruling the worlds.
Jupiter took over the sky, Neptune became the ruler of the sea and Pluto’s domain was the underworld. Finally, Jupiter became the supreme god who ruled over the entire earth and sky, while Neptune married Salacia and stayed in the sea, and Pluto went to the underworld where he presided over the afterlife.
Neptune was known to have a violent character and a lustful nature. Ocean storms and earthquakes were a reflection of his behavior.
Given his difficult beginnings, it is not surprising that Neptune had a temperamental personality.
Saturn ate everything along with his brothers to avoid the possibility of any of the descendants taking on his ruling status, although in the end this plan was not effective. Saturn was killed by Jupiter and the sons achieved the status of ruler, at which time Neptune took over the sea.
The story of the courtship of Neptune and Salatia (counterpart of the Greeks of Amphitrite) began on the island called Naxos in the Aegean Sea. Salacia was dancing with her sisters, and the moment Neptune saw her, he decided he wanted her as his wife.
Unfortunately for the god of love, the goddess was not interested in his proposal or in giving up her life as a virgin of the sea and she ran to the Atlas mountains to hide.
Being the persistent type, Neptune summoned Delphinus, the king of the dolphins, to find the goddess and convince her to marry him. The clever and gentle natured dolphin set out on the mission. After weeks of searching, I finally found her.
The dolphin was such a lovely creature that Salacia was drawn to it and listened to its persuasion. Delphinus explained that her firmness would balance Neptune’s volatile nature and that if she married him, there would be harmony in the sea and joy for all.
As a reward for bringing his bride, the god placed an image of Delphinus in the heavens. The constellation is in the northern sky near the celestial equator.
Neptune and Salacia had three children together, Benthesicyme, the wave nymph, Rhodes, the island namesake, and Triton, the infamous merman and legendary father and leader of 3000 mermaids and 3000 Triton (merman).
Once they were married, the sea god returned to his usual ways and had numerous affairs with other goddesses, nymphs and mortals.
Medusa and Neptune
Medusa was originally an exceptionally beautiful young woman with beautiful, shiny blonde hair. Many desired her, but before she had a chance to choose a suitor for marriage, the lecherous Neptune found her worshipping in the temple of Minerva (goddess of wisdom) and raped her.
As punishment for violating the grounds of her sacred temple, Minerva turned Medusa’s golden braids into snakes and from that day on, anyone who looked directly at her would be turned to stone.
Minotaur and Neptune
When Poseidon sent a pure white bull to the King of Crete as a sign, it was destined to be sacrificed later in honor of the sea god. However, the bull was such a fine specimen that the king could not bear the thought of killing it and exchanged it for an inferior earthly bull to be sacrificed.
Furious at this outrage, Poseidon called upon the goddess of love to cast a spell on the queen, who fell in love with the white bull and gave birth to the child Minotaur.
Sons of the God Neptune
It is said that he had numerous affairs. Because of these relationships, he had many other sons and daughters in addition to the three children he had with his wife.
The most notable of these children are Pegasus and Atlas. Neptune’s children are more commonly named as Triton, Proteus, Rhode and Benthesicyme. However, according to some ancient myths and legends, he was also the father of them.
Ephialts a Giant Son
Halirrhothius, a son of Neptune who was killed by Mars.
Otus, a giant son of Neptune who was killed by Diana and Apollo.
Polyphemus, a giant of Neptune who was blinded by Ulysses.
Temples of the God Neptune
Neptune was honored with two temples in Rome. The first was located near the Circus Flaminio, the hippodrome. The second temple, the Basilica of Neptune, near the site of the Roman Pantheon, was built by the statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa to celebrate his naval victories.
In Homer’s Odyssey, Neptune delayed Odysseus’ return from the Trojan War and caused his ship to be wrecked.
Neptunalia was a festival celebrated in honor of Neptune on July 23rd every year. In the midst of the dry and hot season, the Romans sought the protection of its irrigated waters.
Bulls were sacrificed to Neptune and small huts were built to provide shade for people to have a picnic.
In general, Neptune was not elevated in cult status to the degree of its Greek counterpart. However, there were two temples dedicated to him in Rome.
The first one, built in 25 BC, was located near the Flaminio Circus, the Roman hippodrome, and contained a famous sculpture of a marine group of Scopas. Its location is undoubtedly influenced by Neptune’s function as the patron saint of horses.
The second, the Basilica Neptuni, was built on the Campus Martius and was dedicated by Agrippa in honour of Actium’s naval victory. Neptune also had a sanctuary located between the Palatine and Aventine hills where a current once flowed.
In general, Neptune received much patronage from the seafarers, who prayed to him in the hope that he would make sure that his voyages were safe.
Neptunalia, a civic festival celebrating the control of water and drainage basins, was dedicated to Neptune.
The festival was held quite appropriately on July 23, during the peak of summer, when drought was a possibility.
Little is known about the nature of the festival, other than the fact that people built tents or huts out of tree branches, which they probably used for feasting and drinking. Also, on this day, citizens’ committees could vote on civil or criminal matters.
Other Gods of Mythology in ALPHAPEDIA
Other Topics of Interest in ALPHAPEDIA
Images of the God Neptune